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Monday, September 11, 2006

Survival of the Shawangunks 2006

I wasn’t sure how I would do at this race. I had a stressful couple of days leading up to it and I doubted that I could get my mind around biking 30 miles, running 18 miles and swimming 2 miles. At dinner the night before the race a surge of doubt entered my mind and a deep fear struck me that I would be crazy to attempt it. Luckily, the feeling passed after a few minutes and I settled down thinking everything would be ok. My wife suggested on a couple of occasions during the weekend that I could always forget about the race and just relax and enjoy the scenery at Mohonk Mountain. Not the type of encouragement that I needed to do a race, but it did sound like a good idea. I remembered that I was looking forward to this race though and I figured if I just got started I would be fine.

Since stayed at Mohonk Mountain House, I was left with a logistical problem of getting to the start on race morning. Fortunately, I befriended another athlete the day before and he offered to give me a ride to the start. Otherwise it would have been a 10 mile ride down a steep and narrow mountain road before sunrise. Having a ride down was quite convenient, since I was able to veg out and stay warm in the car for the time before the race. I still wasn’t sure how I was feeling physically, but at least I didn’t doubt whether or not I should be doing the race.

The race starts on the bike with a relatively flat and fast 20 miles. My legs seemed to have shown up for the race and I was easily averaging over 20 mph. The last 10 miles and especially the last 5 become very hilly which lowered my average speed for the bike segment to 19.9 mph. On the flat sections of the course no one would ever pass me. Once we hit the hills I would play cat and mouse with a few other riders, including my friend Rob, but for the most part I was able to hold everyone off.

My wife and kids met me at the bicycle transition. While I was on my way there, I wondered what I would do if they didn’t show up. Funny thing is, I wasn’t sure that I would be all that upset, because it would have given me a good reason to bail out of the race. As I found out later though, they made it to the transition area with only two minutes to spare. She got lost on the way to the transition and made it in the nick of time.

When I got to the spot my wife had laid out, my children looked very happy to see me. My son started to unstrap my bike shoes and my daughter pulled off my cycling gloves. Once I got my running shoes on my son started to yell for me to start running. I kissed them goodbye and headed out for the first 4.5 mile run.

My first run went well. It wasn’t as tough as I’d remembered it. I suppose this was a really good sign. I had a strong HR and steady pace and the miles ticked off fast enough.

The first swim didn’t go as smoothly as planned. I decided to wear a once piece tri-suit and getting my sneakers tucked inside it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I should have practiced with it beforehand, but I didn’t think it would be a big deal. The biggest problem I had though was with the small race pack that I used to carry my goggles while running and my glasses while swimming. With tri shorts, I was able to tuck it below the waistband. With the one piece suit, this wasn’t possible. The darn thing acted like a sail in the water causing a huge amount of drag. I finally had to stop and stuff in down the front of my suit. Between the sneakers in the back and the pouch in the front I made for a very unstreamlined swimmer. By the time I got out of the water, my friends Todd and Rob had passed me by several minutes. I knew this because I eventually passed Rob again who told me that Todd had just passed him. I couldn’t catch Todd though. I will have to work on my swimming. No way should he have beaten me in this race, but I guess I’ll know for sure when the official results are posted on the website.

My conclusion of this fact is that I am a very crappy swimmer comparatively speaking. I don’t know if it’s my stroke or if I just forgot how to push myself in the water. After the first two swims, I passed the same people on the run on the preceding runs. It sucked having to pass the same people more than once.

For some reason, I thought the second run of the day was the 8 miler. I wasn’t really paying attention to my lap timer, but I thought I had an excellent split for the distance. I didn’t realize that I hadn’t yet done the 8 mile run until I was well into it. I remarked to someone I passed that this was the longest 5 mile run ever or I am going very slowly. He replied that he thought it was the 8 miler and it wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realized he was right. This was a good thing or else I would have been running worse than 10 minute miles.

Other than knowing I was going very slowly I enjoyed the swims. I found them refreshing. On the last swim, I realized that my upper body was getting tired as I could feel my muscles strain with each stroke. It was a good feeling though and I slowly and steadily made progress towards the shore and the last run of the day.

The run up to Skytop wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and ended quickly. With that I had successfully survived another SOS Triathlon. My wife and kids were there to greet me at the finish and they made sure I got something to eat and a place to sit down. My kids were excited to see me and my daughter kept her arms around me to keep warm.

The best part of doing this race was that I was able to forget about all the pressures and worries that have been on my mind for the past few weeks. It was nice to lose myself in a race, at least for a while. I was mostly too busy or working too hard to let the negative thoughts in my mind and it was a much welcome respite.

Other than slow swims, I rode and ran very well. SOS is such a scenic course. It's challenging and very enjoyable. For most of the race, you are running alone, except for the occasional person that I passed. The solitary nature of it suited me fine.

I finished in 5:28:21. 6th for my AG and I think 36th overall. I beat my previous time of 5:39:42, so I will be happy with my PR.

After the race, I still had some energy left, so I showered, changed and took my kids row boating in Lake Mohonk. We were just in time to see the last swimmer come out of the water. We cruised around the lake and then went to the fabulous post race BBQ.


Blogger Brooklyn said...

A PR, hazzah! Sounds like a good race, glad you had a good time.

Don't forget to email any Hammer needs. I'm going to put my order in Tuesday night.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous saagalu2@yahoo.com said...

Hi Beast.

Did you carry power gels or other energy with you? Do they go in your fanny pack?

How do you think you'll carry your shoes if you do the race again?


8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse for that I interfere ?To me this situation is familiar. Let's discuss.

12:16 AM  

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