Monday, May 19, 2014

On Zofingen, an extra three miles, and sleeping with the race director and his wife....

OK, first off, this isn't going to be another one of those classless, smutty, bisexual, race reports that get pumped out on daily basis and I know you all are used to, so get you're mind out of the gutter and focus!!! We are talking about the hardest duathlon in the US here people! Also, SPOILER ALERT: in no way did I fornicate with the race director and his wife but how else was I supposed to hook you in to reading my self-centered sermon here?? (PS everyone knows you are not supposed to get your rocks off before a race) SO, now that I have your attention, get your coffee, pop your corn, lean in and click that chair back a notch or two and I'll tell you a story about how I spent a half a minute short of one third of my day on May 18th, 2014 and subsequently took home a pretty bad ass mug for 3rd place...(yes that is 7hrs 59min 16seconds for all you math whizzes out there!)

It starts the Saturday before the race  - I got on the bike for a quick half an hour "shake out ride" to make sure everything feels OK. Quick ten minute T-run after.... things felt miserable. Nothing felt good - I felt awkward on my bike, my throat was scratchy from sinus and breathing sucked. Runny nose to boot and I was sniffling the whole time. It was a struggle keeping 50% for the half an hour.... 

It's OK just throw some lame Facebook post up about how you feel like shit and the world will know you have an excuse for why you sucked eggs at the race tomorrow. It's all good. Just do it.... I fought the knee jerk reaction and voice inside telling me to do this allllllll damn day... and it only got worse... I said... Yeah, Yeah, I'll post something like that... just not right now... see you you feel in 5min - just don't make the decision RIGHT now... things could get better...

I debated not even going very seriously... No one else I planned on going with was going up anymore and furthermore who wants to drive 3.5 hours by themselves to the Catskills where they haven't even booked a place to stay yet? but said - just pack everything up and THEN see you you feel... things could get better. The last thing I threw in my truck was a tent as a last ditch effort in not finding a place to stay... I left my house at 2pm for a 3.5hr drive and packet pick up ended at 5pm... (cue math whizzes again... this wasn't going to work out...).... Dude it's not a big deal, you feel like shit... toss that towel in, brah, no one even knows or cares if you do this anyways.... it's going to huuuuurt and youa re going to feel like shiiitttt.... just take a nap...  The little bastard on my shoulder kept whispering in my ear... he wasn't winning the battle yet but it was a close match and my "rope a dope" delay tactics weren't hold up too well... just get up there and see how you feel - switch to short course if you have to... no biggie... things might get better...

The command to take a nap was not an exaggeration... the 3.5hr drive was even more miserable than my "shake out" workouts... I had to pull over to a rest stop !!TWICE!! to take a nap because I was nodding off at the wheel... My new ETA was 6:30pm and I felt even more like shit... things might get better I thought you never know... just don't make the decision RIGHT now...

FINALLY - I get up to the check in... Don't ask me why I still even tried to go there... It was seriously an hour and a half past the posted "end of packet pick up" but something told me to give it a shot and check the place out... hell, for all I know at this point, I am pitching a tent in the transition area for the night!...

This is actually where the weekend turns around for me... I rolled up to this gazebo on this gorgeous cliff/reserve/trailhead... There's a woman smiling ear to ear going thru packets that haven't been picked up and built/badass looking guy ripping into the bagpipes like they owe him money, and another very happy looking man filling water jugs up... This whole scene made me extremely happy (still felt like crap but it's a start)... the woman (Lucy) was the RD's wife - she scooped my number and we got to chatting a bit (weather, race, blah blah blah) she was really happy about everything and I could tell she was my kind of person! Then John (the bagpipe punishing RD) came over and started telling me about all his races and how he has been putting this race on for 10 years... I get pumped up talking to people about their races... What can I say? I love to hear about people who are just as enthusiastic about pushing their limits as me... Then, Kevin, came over and joined in the convo... he was one of the first to do this race the inaugural year and did it for the first 6 years and was telling me all about how he just did the 28 mile loop today roads were great and that I was going to have a blast... OK -things might be turning around a bit... 

We started talking about the short/mid/long courses and the fastest times and pacing...blah blah blah... and that's when I barfed out a fateful sentence that would change my weekend plans by about 3 hours... SO, are there any extra spots for the long course to switch into?? I said out loud followed quickly by a thought to myself WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG YOU -YOU ARE A DIPSHIT, NUMBSKULL, MORON!!!

John's eyes widened, "YEA! For sure! I'll switch you over right now! Usually people bump down a distance when they get up here! I've never had anyone (read: moron) ask to bump UP!" Fateful papers shuffle for a second. "Here you go #757! Great number! You're going to be flying around the course tomorrow!" (OK - it WAS a badass number.... but seriously WTF DOOD!)

For those of you who don't know the race it is essentially a 5mile trail run loop and a 28mile bike loop... the course just depends on how many loops you do...
short course= 5m run + 28m bike + 5m run
medium (which i was planning on doing) = 5m run + 28m bike +5m run + 28m bike + 5m run
long = 5m run + 84m (three straight loops) bike + 15m (three more loops) run

Now that that is over with I figured we had a bonding moment followed by him saying "you have no idea what you are in for do you" I smiled I guess ignorance is bliss... and if he solved that problem so fast I might as well hit him with another... Oh yea, by the way, I came up here with no plan at all - do you know of any motels, BnBs, or Inns around here I could crash at? He fired right back "Ahhhh I like your style! When I did Lake Placid back in '86 I did the same thing and some guy I met at registration took me in and I slept in his hotel.... You can come stay with us tonight! We have pizza on the way...

For those of you who don't know me - I live for this kind of stuff... I pick up hitch hikers and pull over to help people change tires... maybe one day it'll get me in trouble but I firmly believe 90% of humans are good people and give everyone the benefit of the doubt all the time (almost to a fault)...

It was an amazing dinner with the RD, his amazing wife (who offered to cook me pasta even after 3 slices of pizza), Kevin (who drove from Ohio just to help out with the race), and his youngest daughter (who was heading to Harvard next year to study economics and also just as pumped about the race)... these people were my people for sure... laughs..race talk... more laughs... more race talk... more making fun of how much of an idiot I was to move to the  long course... 

Suddenly I forgot all about how bad I felt and knew everything was going to be awesome tomorrow... it was 930pm and time to get ready for tomorrow and sleep. I filled my bottles up with my signature 50/50 mix of scratch labs and arginine  (which admittedly bears a disgusting aroma very much similar to that of a dumpster full of naked homeless people having an orgy) but the stuff works!!! Alarm set for 4:15am and I passed out pretty quickly....

RACE DAY WAKE UP!!!! I felt OK - better than yesterday physically but I thought back to how amazing the past day had been and how things naturally fall in to place if you just let go and stop worrying about EVERYTHING! My spirits were up and I threw on my pre-race play list (consisting of mostly Diplo, Skrillex, Deadmau5, Knife party...) as I sucked down 4 cups of applesauce, a large ice coffee, a Chobani, and two cliff bars... I dawned the onesie I would be racing in for the first time and then my sweats and it was back to sleep for half an hour or so...

Got up to pee and get rid of the dead weight I just put on via breakfast and realized it was hard to go the bathroom in a onesie... There's nothing like a 5am reminder that you will be pissing all over yourself for the rest of the day... that was the least of my problems though - I actually kind of giggled about it...

Anyways... I got the transition area around 6am -set everything up and laid down next to all my stuff and I always seem to think about setting up my first transition ever in a tri and how much of a noob I was... notice the shoes... made for a great T2 ;-)

As people trickled in it became extremely obvious that there were no chumps here... everyone was rocking the latest equipment and even though I had upgraded recently (this would be my first time racing the new Felt DA4) myself I felt incredibly out of my league... Then I overheard that some guy was riding this course last weekend and hit a dear at 40mph.... needless to say he wasn't racing today... WTF?? Where the hell am I and who are these people? Are they crazier than me?

"Long course starting in 5min" came from the megaphone. I ditched the HR monitor last minute and put on my trusty bandanna (it has become a bit of a Linus-esque safety blanket for me... I also put on my cycling gloves before the start and dabbed a bit of eucalyptus oil on each of the thumbs... (what? I like the smell... back off...) It also keeps me calm when I want to get out of the zone and hammer 500W up the next hill... I will take a whiff and get back in the right mindset... it's badass... try it!

The gunshot fires and the crew is off for (what we thought was going to be) the first 5mile loop...

We get about a mile in... to the top of the first hill (kind of) and see a sign pointing right and a very convincing ribbon blocking off the path to the left... naturally the whole crew (everyone was still kind of together at this point) goes right... then the rumbling start, "Oh a new run course! This is cool!" I thought to myself, WTF I just spent the night with the RD and he didn't say ANYTHING about a new run course... OH well... let's go...

We get about a mile and half down the wrong trail and everyone that has done the race in years past made the executive decision that we need to turn back... sounds good to me. Whatever. Let's go.

We get back to the arrow, now having run an extra three miles, four total and being at the 1 mile mark... the group flips the sign over and changes the ribbon back... here is where the trouble starts...

The lot of the group wanted to turn back and run the easy way back to the start... inform the RD of the mess up, and subsequently get on the bikes... (their logic was sound, after all, it would have ended up being 5 miles total anyways)... Me, you ask? I say they can go take their Di2s and Hokah one-one Elevens and inherent lack of testicular fortitude and shove it... I decided as they were heading down the trail back to transition that it was time to flex my still very adequately lubricated nuts and show these guys the error in thier ways/attitude... I lowered my voice an octave or two and put on my best Wahlberg (after all I was wearing a uniform with a big bold BOSTON on it... 

HEY!! YOU FAH-KIN GUYS SIGNED UP FOR A HUNDREHD MIHLE RACE AND YAH BEIN' PUSSIES ABOUT AN EXTRA TWEHNTY MINITS?? (if I knew anything about influencing a group of endurance athletes I knew you just had to poke them in the ego a bit...seemingly for this crowd who I  initially had a ton of respect for, their ego rested just an inch and a half passed their labia and up a little bit... I kind of curled my finger up a bit juuuust to make sure I hit the right spot... wait... that might be a different spot I'm thinking about but anyways, back to my exhortation...)

The second I realized what kind of bear I just poked I also realized the only thing I could do after stepping off my soap box was to lay down a dead sprint up the next hill and not even give them a chance to rebut... As I turned I heard a voice from one of the guys "but wait we all have to do the same thing or else it's gonna be fucked up"...I KNOW SO LETS GO!!! I said with out hesitation... 

One guy caught up to me... "Dude that was badass. I love your style..." we fist bumped and he took off like a mad man... I admired his curly locks sprouting from the bottom of his cap and bouncing around still happy go luck and not yet bogged down from sweat. This guy was MOVING! We introduced each other, his name was Tony, he had a bad ass accent too... man-crush was initiated... I told him I couldn't hold his pace and to have a great race... I wanted this guy to dominate and win the race immediately... a little baby part of me wondered if he could hold it together for the bike/run 3 more times... I thought I might see him on the bike depending on how fast he crushed this now 8 mile run...

But seriously... look at these curls... man-crush material...amirite?


Unfortunately - the other gentleman were not as happy with my decision... I got passed a few more times... "Fuck you, Boston!" "I hope you're happy!" and my favorite... "Asshole you better lay down a 4:30 bike split for that kind of shit!" I told him I had never done this race before so I had no idea what a 4:30 bike split would be... This didn't help the situation... "HOLY SHIT WE FOLLOWED YOU AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE DOING!?!?" hahaha sometimes you just have to fake it till you make it and say what you want to say with enough confidence what it makes people follow you whether they like it or not... It didn't matter... I was in their heads now and I was laughing about it the whole time...

We finished the 8miles in about an hour... hopped on the bike... I felt good... 84miles of ups and downs to come... I knew I wanted to push it but was told very many times to keep it together and not to hammer the bike I picked out a number to stay at... 70%... alll race no matter what I would stay at 70% power... I had my watch display set to 1-average power 2-lap power 3- power 30s average and 4 instant power... I would be a slave to the power number for the next (hopefully 4.5 hours)... one guy bombed by me and said, "Bet you wish you had the 3 miles back now asshole!"... this guy was nuts... my response was to blow him a kiss and wink thru my Rudy's (all without breaking areo of course)... I knew I'd see that guy again...

To sum up the bike course... you can't it was absolutely the epitome of riding and climbing... hills, switchbacks, more hills, pain, gorgeous views... more pain... switchbacks... screaming descents...  I was in my glory... I stayed hydrated and kept up on my nutrition. Most importantly, I stayed at my number the whole three loops... 70%=gold.

A few notable things from the bike: A lot of people ask, "What do you think about during the whole time?"... Answer: a lot of things... mostly haikus... I think of haikus 50% of the time I am on my bike... IDK why... I sing to myself... A lot of weird things - A couple times I wondered how far ahead those curls were and if i were going to see them again... but this was my first time racing with power and I focused on that number a while...

I caught up the giant douche who I blew a kiss to almost right after the end of the first loop... He kept looking back at me... I've never seen someone so concerned about where someone else was at such an early part of the race... It wasn't healthy and as i closed the gap I wondered if he knew I was only cruising at 70%... I felt bad for this guy... Not the kind of "felt bad" where you want to crush his soul but the kind of "felt bad" where I was genuinely concerned for him... I called for a water bottle (strictly a flush-er) at the aid stop right before the start of lap two - it was a decent 15% climb over a mile to start the lap... the douche stood up and kept looking back at me... he was really really grinding to hold me off and the more he cranked and looked back at me the worse I felt for him... It was time to put him out of his misery and remind him to "race his own race" and not to worry about me... I kicked it up a notch (still in the saddle) and crept up on him as the pressure in my bladder was rising and the fresh flusher was ready to go... He was still standing up and cranking away viciously now... I passed him sitting down and once I had enough distance on him, I backed my power off back down to 70% and decided to break the seal... I rinsed off with the water bottle in one hand (still seated and climbing) to make a statement that I wasn't working nearly as hard as him and as we crested the hill I knew I wouldn't see him again...

Come to think about it... I did not see any other long coursers on the bike at all... I wasn't paying any attention to time but felt like I was doing alright. The descents we crazy... the kind of descents where you are in the perfect areo-tuck still pedaling and leaning forward just enough that you may or may not be on the edge of raising the flag to half mast because the Adamo saddle is positioned perfectly on either side of your gootch that it may or may not be externally stimulating a perfectly natural reaction of the male reproductive organ... WAIT... focus... can't waist the blood flow... back to the race... you guys know what I'm talking about... amiright?.... amirightttt?? ahhhh OK anways....

Another climb... another decent... last lap... I decided I was going to gun-deck this last lap and bump it up a little bit... just a little... I pushed it... another notable descent (and, I would argue, milestone in my life as an endurance athlete) concluded with me, now a lot more comfortable on the descents and turns and such peeing my pants at 48 miles per hour... the 5 year old in me giggled... it was time to get off the bike...

My legs felt a little bit less than great but as rolled into transition, I looked down, and realized I was exactly where I wanted to be... Thanks to a great plan by a great coach and an amazing pre-race rundown by another great friend who won this thing a few years back ;-)... Kevin (who was running transition) yelled to me... "HELL YEAH BILLY YOU'RE IN 6th PLACE!"

Honestly, I was kinda bummed. I hadn't been keeping track of my place but I had an idea in my head that I was third for some reason... oh well.. fuck it... let's go... I slipped my shoes on to scratch at what ever I could... I had no idea where these guys were but I was going to nail these last three 5mile laps not hard... but consistently... well OK - I was going for a healthy mix of the two...

Bingo! I ran up through the gazebo and saw #5 and #4... ohh damn... a chick... sexy...

Now that I had a sniff at the podium I got my ass in gear... The first lap was tough - a LOT longer than I remembered it to be from  the first leg... even minus the 3 miles... i slowly at a banana a long the way but I was having MAJOR stomach issues... I knew what it was... It was all the gels backing up - this was the first race where I did nothing but gels and liquid calories... i needed to switch to water for the rest of the foreseeable race and manage this stomach or I was doomed... here was my thought process for the next few miles...

lap one... fuck... 10 more miles...  fuck... back up this first hill... fuck... must be 2 miles into the 2nd lap... fuck.... only really half a mile in to the 2nd lap... fuck .... 9.5 more miles... fuck... more hills... fuck... slow down... fuuuuckk... walk this hill...

Then it hit me... I was so worried about the rest of the race that I let my fear of the "future hurt" dictate my pace "right now" I heard one of my favorite yoga teachers I used to go to a lot - she always said, "Just go now" the "now" part of the statement really rang out to me... I realized I hadn't worried about the future once this whole weekend but here I was with an hour and half left in this race and I was worried about how I was feeling the next mile instead of what really mattered, THIS MILE... THIS STEP... you have to stay in the present if you want to excel at anything... just do your best when you can and worry about the next decision when the time comes... I said to myself "Make the next stride the best you've taken all race" and if I am lucky enough to make the same decision a moment later... I will..  the remaining miles floated by as a series of single steps... I didn't care about anything else... it was magical... and I kept smiling... 

About mid way through the 2nd lap I saw something I honestly was not expecting to see for the rest of the race... the curls... there they were (they still looked good)(I wish I could rock long hair like this guy did) the curls were tired though... They weren't as happy as they were when they faded off into the sunrise... I talked to Tony for a few minutes and walked with him up one of the hills... He was the man... I got my hustle on though (after all...there was still a chick close behind!)...

Nothing else mattered... I had this... I kept cruising... I didn't feel my legs screaming, my feet weren't even hitting the ground... each step was taking itself... I was just a vessel for this amazing thing happening... these trails we gorgeous... everything in life made sense... the universe was perfect. I crossed the finish line to the sound of "AWESOME JOB 3rd PLACE OVERALL" - I knew I was in 3rd but I still didn't beleive it. I balled my eyes out like a little baby... I hadn't had that emotional response to a finish since my first marathon in 2011... I entered the marathon honestly not knowing if I could finish the 26.2.... then when I did... It triggered this emotional finish that came from extremely deep... I finished in like 3hrs 40min but it was the finish that counted... Didn't get that emotional finish from anything since... not ironman (yet), not ultras, not crossfit competitions... not anything... I thought back to all the hours I put in on the trainer in my basement in November... the 4hr sub zero trainer rides/T-runs in December... the time my furnace oil tank ran out of fuel and I woke up to a house that was 40 degrees at 430AM and my first thought was to bundle up and hop on the trainer to warm up (THEN after the workout was complete decided to call for an emergency fuel delivery)... I thought about the 20mile runs in negative temperatures when no one else was around... the time in February when my buddies wanted to party in Boston for the weekend so I ran from my house to Back Bay on Saturday, stayed up until 3am, then ran back at 8am... the freezing Battle Roads - all the sacrifices... The focus is dialed in this year and everything is coming together effortlessly... I'll leave you with a quote from a book that literally changed my life when I was so far down in a depression hole that many people see me today and cannot believe the person I was a few years ago...  

"And, when you want something bad enough, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
― Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist


Results here... notice the consistency (and bike split... not 4:30.. but hey!)




1 comment:

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