Sunday, April 27, 2008

The race that almost wasn't

We made good time to Aiken, and got to the race venue in time to pick up my race packet. I checked my phone and noticed a text from Wes asking if we had left home yet. Hardy freakin har! So I called him back and made some loose dinner plans. Knowing the layout of the area, Mendy and I decided to just drive to Aiken and meet Wes and the lovely Dee Dee at their hotel, vice checking into ours. This wound up being a very good move.

We arrived on the directions Wes provided Mendy, and noticed the RSV (Race Support Vehicle) of Chris and his lovely wife Janis. Looked like we were at the cool club meeting place! By the time the ignition was de-keyed, Chris was on the balcony, and Wes and Dee Dee were coming out. All of us made the introduction rounds, while Mendy and I quickly decided we would just stay there vice the motel that would offer a more treacherous route to the race site in the morning. We got a "non-smoking" room that smelled like a thousand cigar enthusiasts had taken turns living there for the last 10 years.

Chris and Janis went for milkshakes, and the 5 of us went downtown for grub. It was a great dinner, but even better company. Sadly, it had to end for some bike preps and some sleep. It was all going to plan...

So, we get to the race site, and the clouds look ominous. The forecast was for 10% chance of rain until about 11 AM, where it turned to 40%. Yeah, not so much. As Jeremy Davis, the evil race director/route planner for the SCTS was calling all the eager (smart) athletes in from the water from warming up, moments before the race...


"Uh, we are going to have a short delay...about 15 minutes, and then start the race. So, uh, about 10 minutes and we'll get started."


Then the animals began to line up, two-by-two, as the flooding rains came down.

So, eventually they let us get started, 1 hour late, no warm-up time, and with a shortened bike course. My heart had already decided I wasn't swimming, so I wasn't mentally prepared anymore. But, I got going with a bit of drama (some choking, some bracingly cool water, and a lot of human traffic), and then settled into a nice comfy pace. I strayed a bit after one buoy, but largly it went well.

Back on sweet dry land, I was almost ready to vommit: high heart rate while running while peeling a wetsuit off while wearing goggles is not a good combo. I made it to my bike, poured 3 inches of water out of my helmet, and got going. I hammered as well as I could, but my cycling hasn't been up to par of late. Into transition, rack the bike, and off on the run. Holy crap, my butt was hurting me like I just did a hitch in the state pen! I guess it was that I did a lot more climbing than I was used to doing on my tri saddle, which I normally ride just on the ol' taint. It slowly worked out, and I was making good time. I hoped for 7min/mile or better, and was happy to see 13:xx as I passed mile 2.

Near the turn-around, I saw regional speedy girl, Katie Malone just a bit ahead. She looked like was facing some nutrition challenges, probably due to the 1 hour delay. She absolutely smoked me on the run at Festival of Flowers last year, so I was happy to be this close. Katie was now my rabbit, but with all respect in the world. I finally caught her about 1 mile from the finish, and as I passed I tried to light-heartedly encourage her with, "Come on, you aren't going to let some boy beat you, are you?" She laughed and encouraged me right back with well wishes, and I was ready to finish. I tried to stair-step the pace up in that last mile, finishing with as close to a sprint as I could muster.

So, I was anticipating great results, but found that many of the dudes in my age group came in from out of state. And were blisteringly fast. As in, 4th and 9th overall fast. Of the "regulars" to the SCTS series, I think I went 2nd in my AG, but on paper I was 7th. Disappointing, but my numbers were decent (for me): 8 minutes faster on the swim than last year at Festival of flowers, 21mph average speed on the bike course that included a long uphill, and a 6:39 average run pace.

Post-race, there was sort of a feeling that most people had resigned this to a B or C race, and it became almost laughable as the torrential rain started again, and the RD announced that all sound equipment they had didn't work.

It was a good weekend, and a fun time. The race? Well, it was a nice training day. And we got to hang out with Wes & Dee Dee, Chris & Janis, the rest of the dudes from our team, Ashley and our mutual friend Matt, Chris, and a bunch of other cool peeps.

**Update: okay I just found out the winner of our AG was Rafael Fiallo, ITU pro from Venezuela racing as an age grouper. Thanks dude.


Marcy said...

Duuuuuudddeee, awesome job! Always nice to have at least one rockin out pic hehe.

I won't EVEN touch the "butt" sentence. So many things to say about that . . .

Wes said...

Damn sandbaggers. Don't you just hate that! It was great watching you race, dude! You will always be a speedy peep in my book :-)

swimshady said...

Not a single piece of hardware from our AG stayed in SC. We gotta step it up! I'd actually forgot about the out-of-towners and thought I had the AG win in the bag. It was kind of a slap in the face to then miss the podium altogether. I know it's a free country and all, but Rafael had no business in our AG.

Mendy said...

Totally agree with Nick. What tha? Seriously, there were a lot of folks that placed that were not even in the Open category. I bet a lot of other folks felt the same way.

You did great and should be very proud of that race!

The 311 Boys Mom said...

Awsome job there guy!!!

you rocked & had a great time!!

love the pics & the wet suit, well, I'm jsut disappointed more guys don't wear them..... ;o)

Again, Awesome job!@!

Eric said...

Whoa Nelly! 8 minutes?!?! Dude, unlucky the pros were out there!

J~Mom said...

You did awesome David!! It's too bad so many came and took your podium spot! :<( You are number one in all of our books...well most of them anyway.

Keep it up..the season is still young!

And what was wrong with that wetsuit picture?

Bob Gentile said...

"non-smoking" room
AHHHHH that is the worst, happened to me a few times in my traveling career. Only good thing that happens from that is I won't pay--lol

Great race Bro & I agree with Wes u are a speedy mofo...way to finish strong!

Lily on the Road said...

Wow David, GREAT race, sweet times...

Don't you just hate the "no-smoking" rooms....gah, choke me with a ......, well you know Monica L, loved cigars...LOL!!!

good job!!

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Aww great pics and great report. What up with a Venezuelen pro?? Geez.

Jealous on the blogger meet ups!! :D