It was a long day, and a surprisingly successful one. I expected to finish in 9+ hrs (it at all), and hoped that maybe if I put it all together I could be near 8.5, so I was shocked that I was able to finish as well as I did, particularly against a stacked and talented (albeit small) field.
If'n ya wanna read more about the race, here's a nice link:
Thanks to RD John McGovern for organizing this event, and to the Mohonk Preseve for allowing us to hold it there. It really was an amazing venue. (FYI - John is a local, and super-studly duathlete himself, who has won pretty much everything he's ever entered. It was his passion and vision that made this event a reality)
And thanks to all the awesome volunteers - it wasn't a particularly fun day to be standing around outside (41 degs, cloudy, damp, windy
), and we couldn't have done it w/o you.
And of course, thanks to all the sponsors. This was a VERY well supported (and schwagged
Here's a race report for ya, apologies in advance if it runs too long...
The night before, my wife is actively trying to talk me out of racing. It's monsooning out, and there's lightning, and the temps drop into the upper 30's.
Alarm goes off at 3:50am.
It's still raining, lightly.
Fast forward to the start of the race. John M's daughters/nieces are singing the National Anthem. They start off quietly, but then gain confidence and then most of the competitors join in.
It's a very low-key small race, but you get the feeling that you are part of something that will become much bigger. Must've been what it was like doing one of the first Ironman events.
Race starts - it's still kinda dark, and very wet. We set out on the first run loop, which we will be revisiting later 3 more times, after a brief cycling interlude.
Feet get soaked and muddy - hey! this is just like adventure racing.
Finish the run, somehow I am one of the first half-dozen or so to the TA. I don't even know this at the time. Throw on bike shoes, vest, helmet, and go.
After riding down the dirt and gravel access road to Spring Farm, you head up towards the Mohonk Mtn House gate. It's steeeep. I'm in 39x27, "spinning" at like 65 rpms, but feeling pretty good.
Descend down from the top at mach schnell, but the road is twisty (w/ decreasing radius turns, what engineering school dropout thought *that* was a good idea?) and wet and covered in leaves, and then hit the straightaway, top speed about 49 mph. Bang a hard R at the stop sign, and cruise out Butterville Rd (absolutely gorgeous, in spite of the clouds and fog) to 299. Ride up past the Mtn Deli and the hairpin, gee, it sure is quiet here today...
Whip down past W. Trapps, then up, and up and up, past Minnewaska.
The sun came out briefly, and there were shining white cliffs, raging waterfalls, and brilliant foliage, it was like being in a kaleidoscope
Now, it's "all downhill from here". I make the insanely sharp R turn onto Rt 27, a volunteer tells me I'm in 4th place. Huh? No f'n way. Spin along back roads all the way back to the bottom of Mohonk, and head back up. Another cyclist catches me, it's a guy I "know" from a Tri website, and he passes me. I try to limit the damage, and stay w/in a minute or so of him on the climb.
Then, we head downhill, and I am Il Falcon !
, and I reel him in on Butterville Rd. We ride relatively together for a while (NO drafting), and as we're climbing the tail end of the 2nd big climb from the hairpin to Minne, another cyclist goes by us, looking strong. Is this guy doing Short Course? I figger he might have been a Pro who missed the start. Turns out he was a Pro, who got lost on the first run leg and ran an extra 1.5m. Ooops.
I've only now, after climbing up Mohonk AND up to Minne, started to thaw out from the prior lap's descending. (the course is pretty much all climbing or descending, not much flats). My hands felt like wood, and my feet were 2 frozen cinder blocks. And I'm wearing tights, l/s base, l/s bike jersey, vest, long finger gloves. The Pro (whom we later learn is Ryan Jones, a very accomplished Pro Tri and Duathlon athlete) was wearing a sleeveless Tri top and bike shorts, and THAT'S IT.
Turns out he ended up begging some socks from a volunteer, and some gloves from the RD's daughter along the way.
OK, no biggie, now I'm in 6th. Still way better than I ever could have hoped or expected. Matt and I chat a bit, he says "You never hear long course athletes saying 'gee, I wish I'd ridden harder on the bike'" - good point. Don't wanna blow up, there's still a bit of trail running in our near future.
Lap 3, Matt pulls over to take another leak. I figger I'll be seeing him again shortly, like the last 2 times he stopped for the pause that refreshes, but this was not to be the case. Back end of the bike loop, I pass a guy who is hurting, standing going up a moderate hill. I try to say something encouraging, I don't know if it was even intelligible. The last climb SUCKS. I am shot.
Finally roll into the TA, I'm in 4th place, yougottabekidding! A bit over 5 hrs on the bike, by far my longest and hardest ride all year, ok, pretty much hardest ride EVER.
Lose the tights, vest, gloves and jersey, put on some nice (and dry, for the moment) socks, and trail running shoes. Wow, my toes are completely numb. This is like ice climbing, only without the Jameson and Samalanches and dropped ice tools.
I head out amongst enthusiastic cheering from the small crowd of volunteers, spectators, and finished short course athletes at the Slingerland Pavillion. Thanks gang! (I don't find out until much later that one particularly attractive cheerleader is none other than Uber-tri goddess Desiree Ficker
) OK, I'm running now (which is really hard to do on frozen feet) but man, do I need to pee, I haven't gone in over 5 hrs now...
I employ a jog/power-walk strategy on all the steep technical singletrack uphills, and then run reasonably fast on the carriage road descents. I keep waiting for the wheels to fall off, but they don't. I had mentally budgeted an hour a lap for these last 3 laps, and amazingly I come across in 46, 47, and 48 mins.
Thank you Hammer Gel (and Red Bull). Where science fails, sugar and caffeine succeed.
I'm a pretty mediocre runner, so I keep expecting one of the gazelles to catch me from behind, but I never see anyone back there....
Just keep moving, run/jog/shuffle as much as you can, and don't stop.
There's the finish line, run up the stairs of the Pavillion, break the tape that the kids have across it, and I'm done. Get some dry clothes on (I'm feeling borderline hypothermic, since it's still in the low 40's, and started to drizzle at the end), and then grab some nice hot stew and a Keegan Ales Mother's Milk - yummy!!
Chat up all the other competitors, including my buddy Jordan who was the overall winner, he came across in an amazing 7:12 finishing time, 25 mins ahead of 2nd place. He is an up and coming (and local) multi-sport Pro, you'll be hearing much more about him in the future, I'm sure.
A great race, a great event, at a great venue. If it had been easier, it wouldn't have been as rewarding.
A truly spectacular and challenging experience. Being able to participate in something like this, at my "second home" up in and around Gunklandia, was just tremendously rewarding and humbling.
I hope to see some of you there next year.
(PS - No, didn't use the new bike. Didn't make sense not to dance w/ the girl that brung me