Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chicopee Speedo Challenge

Last Sunday was the Journey for Sight Chicopee Sprint Triathlon. This is a great race for my club because it is so close to home and as a result we provide a good 30% of the entire field. I had ridden with Jim and a few others the day before and it was then that we decided to have a little fun with this race. We wanted to pay tribute to all the great triathletes of the late 80s and early 90s that raced in speedos, tanks that were too small and sheer determination.

Jim dug up this gem of a race speedo that was purple with a "creamsicle" orange and teal stripe, in addition it had a small pad built in for the bike, truly a vintage piece of equipment. I settled for my SC racing speedo along with a tank top that was far too small. Jims wife Kelly threw down on the speedo challenge as well as Ryan Ochoa in his orange and black plastic Wayfarers and my creamsicle shorts that, to put it simply need thicker material. This little stunt created a really fun atmosphere for our team and I am sure some curiousity and concern for non team members.

I showed up nice and early for the race along with many other 'Nauts and began setting up transition. After all was set and ready to go, I changed into my race attire, signaled to Jimmy and off we went for a warm up spin on our bikes. It was quite a site to see 2 dudes with sweet race bikes, race wheels, aero helmets, and oh yea.....speedos cruising down the road at 7:30 in the morning. After picking up SteveO during warm up (making him guilty by association) the three of us headed back to transisiton.

When I got back I met up with Kara, her parents, and family friend Andy. They decided to come watch me race for the first time because it was such a local race. I apologized to them before the race began because they picked one hell of a race to watch (hopefully they weren't too embarassed).

I think one of the funniest moments of the day came when I was walking down to the swim start with wetsuit around the waist, and my shirt up way to high, as I looked back over my shoulder and saw about 5 or 6 young ladies sitting on the beach wall pointing and laughing at me! I couldn't blame them, it was quite a unique look, but thats what is was all about, laughs and good times.

I was in the first of 2 waves, and as the gun went off my arms started spinning. I felt great through 2 turns and had the lead was we turned for the home stretch of the swim. My arms were being to tire and I noticed someone picking up the pace to my right. I get a certain joy if I am out of the water first (even though the race is never won in the swim), and I put in whatever i have left in my arms and maintain my lead out of the water. After a quick T1 I am out on the bike still in first place and pick up a police escort after leaving the park. I feel great on my bike and am moving down the flats at 24-25 mph.

About 4-5 miles into the race I hear to disc wheels coming up behind me. One minute I am leading, and the next I am in 3rd. Knowing that my bike is stronger than my run, I decide to up the pace and hold on as long as I can. I go back and forth with 2nd place until I passed him the 3rd and final time and just hammered to gap him as much as I could. I jam through lap 1 of 2 on the bike, and as I begin lap 2 I see teammate JayO starting lap one. After some friendly good lucks to the Newbie teammate I continue my quest for 1st.

I see more and more teammates as the bike continues and always exchange a "nice job" and "keep it up!" I am finishing lap 2 as I get a friendly "Go gettum Paulito!!" from Amy V, then its past Speedo teammate Kelly and onto T2. As I enter T2 I see Kara and her family cheering, and in less than a minute I am in and out of T2 in second place and feeling pretty good.

The run is 3.5 miles, also a 2 lap course with a pretty gnarly uphill. As I reach the top of the hill on the first lap, I see teammate Dawn (not racing) running in the opposite direction and gives me updates on the race leader that is 100 meters ahead of me. I look up and sure enough there he is and I slowly pick up the pace. My plan is to slowly make up ground on him and make the pass with less than 1/10th of a mile to go. As I am half way up the hill on lap 2 I hear heavy breathing behind me. As the climb continues 3rd place passes me and is looking strong. I figure there is no way I am going to beat him, so I remain focused on the current race leader who is now less than 100 meters ahead.

I see the pass happen between 1st and second place and keep charging. I notice 2nd place keeps looking back and as he does I realize he is beginning to crumble. I pick up the pace even more as we head up the final incline and head for home. I now know that the finish line is less than 1/10th of a mile away and I charge up behind 2nd place. The line is now in view as well as Kara, her family, and the rest of the spectators. I take one look over my shoulder, see that a small gap is created and drive for home. I crossed in 2nd place, with a best time by 2 minutes for the course. I lost to 1st place by 52 seconds and beat out 3rd by 3 seconds. Jimmy came across the line in 7th and then the cyclonauts continued to pour across the finish line.

After a change of the clothes and a few snacks, some of the teammates and I relax with some coronas (its still not noon yet), claim our prizes and head out. It was a great day and a fun race. Next up is FIRMMAN, a half iron in Rhode Island, 2 weeks after Chicopee. I have done the Half twice and am looking to improve on my best for that course which was a 4:39 which included a lifetime best 1:38 half marathon. For now its back to the training and studying

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