Wow, I am finally caught up! A race report within 48 hours of racing, that is unheard of for me.
I left good ole Belchertown at 6:00am, Saturday morning to drive out to Millbury to meet up with Andy who was also going to be racing the Mighty Man Half. After loading my stuff up in his truck we headed into town for a big breakfast. We eat managed to polish off 3 large blueberry pancakes, 2 slices of french toast, 2 eggs, and home fries...no small task. Our plan was to head down to Montauk Long Island for around noon. Three ferry rides later we arrived just as they were wrapping up the first race briefing. We decided it would be best to get some food, drive the bike course and be back in time for the 2:30 race briefing.
The bike course is 2 loops of 28 miles with a total of 2300 feet of elevation, not too bad if you ask me. There were 5 out and backs so we would have plenty of chances to see who was around us on race day. One particular out and back goes out to the Montauk Lighthouse. It was here that we decided to be good citizens (or complete idiots) and pick up a hitchhiker that was looking for a ride back into town. It turned out be a nice gesture rather that a horror film...phew. Our outlook on the bike course was that there were some decent hills but also a fair amount of flat spots that would could potentially allow us to get into a good rhythm.
Race briefing seemed to go on forever (Andy and I both fell asleep "listening") and after that it was time for some more relaxation. 2 hours of Ryder Cup coverage, followed by the run course preview and our dinner. Run course was similar to the bike course in that the first 3 miles were flat, then you had about 2.5 miles of pretty serious hills (not as bad as Providence 70.3 though), followed by the final mile of flat/slight inclined gradient. The funny thing about this run course was that in race history, not many were able to run under 1:30. Andy and I both saw this as an acceptable challenge and couldn't wait til race day.
In bed by 7:30, up by 3:00 for breakfast (need time to digest) then it was off to set up transition around 5:45. Andy and I were both in the first wave which was to go off at 6:40. Conditions were going to be challenging as well as the forecast predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph, clouds, and temps in the low 60s. Water temp for the swim was in the mid 60s. The swim was in a fresh water pond but looked as though it was on the longer side of 1.2 miles. As we lined up I kept running through my race plan in my head, "...swim well, bike better, run best..." Horn went off and the arms started flailing. I attacked the first 200 meters hard and was able to get into a good rhythm for the remainder of the swim. Swim was fairly smooth until we turned to head back to the shore at which time we were hit with more noticeable swells and wind. I exited the water in first with about a 3 minute lead.
Swim Time: 26:15
I decided to forgo the arm warmers and headed out on the bike. The plan here was to average 163 bpm and ride as steady as possible. Man was it windy! My race wheels acted like sails and if I didn't have a good grip on my aerobars I was all over the place. I felt pretty good for the first portion and was looking forward to hitting the first out and back so I could see where my competition was. I would take note of where we passed and see if that changed on the second lap. I did this with multiple out and backs so I would have more references. The funny thing is, whether my lead changed or not, I was going to stay in my proper heart rate zone, so I guess it was more so for frame of mind.
At around mile 45 I counted to see how many minutes my lead was on second place and it ended up being 8 minutes. I was thrilled to figure this out because I had to go #1 pretty bad and if I had a little time to use the port-o-jon in T2 then I would rather than warming my left leg up (if you know what I mean). I got all of my nutrition down that was necessary prior to T2, got off the bike, put on socks and shoes, and headed for the can. The crowd found this particularly humorous because the jons were actually outside of T2, so as I exited transition I gave the mountain biker escort a "hang on one sec" gesture and jumped in to take care of business. Felt wayyyy better after that and now it was time to test the run. My plan here was to keep it under 175 bpm and if I could start out around 6:00 -6:15 pace. After about 3 miles I got word from the bike escort that my lead after T2 was 10 minutes. I kept to the plan and continued to click away mile by mile.
The really fun part about this race was the volunteers at the aid stations and intersections. They were awesome. They cheered for me by name as I came through, made jokes, and really helped take my mind off of the race for brief periods of time while also giving me something to look forward to next time I would see them.
It was in the hills of the run course that I got my first look at second place which ended up being 2 miles back. This gave me even more drive to press forward. I passed Andy and he looked as strong as ever. I swear no matter how fast I'm going (or how fast I feel I'm going), Andy always looks like he is going twice as fast. He was sitting in sixth and looking to hunt people down. I looped by transition to start lap 2 and after a huge applause from the crowd, volunteers, and announcer I was off for the final lap. The energy at this race was unbelievable!! Lap 2 was more of the same great energy and more consistent miles. On the second lap out and back I saw that I had increased my lead, and with just over 1.5 miles to go I knew it was mine. Now it was me vs the clock for a PR. My PR leading up to this race was a 4:29 at Firm Man following Lake Placid in 2008, and I was hoping this was going to be faster. I had no idea what my swim time was while I was on course. I knew I was going to PR I just didn't know by how much. I pushed myself as hard as I could and was able to close the race with a 5:45 mile. I rounded the corner for the finishing shoot and saw 4:16 on the clock!! I gave a quick kiss to my wedding ban (KJ couldn't make it and I usually stop to give her a smooch before the finish line if I can because of all the support she gives me) and crossed the line with arms raised.
Run Time: 1:22.01
Overall Time: 4:16.42 PR
This race was an incredible experience. They really made me feel like a star with a post race interview, a chat with the race director and nonstop congratulatory remarks. Andy crossed in what we thought was third place (ended up being 6th) with a PR as well. He and I had the fastest run splits of the individual racers, both well under 1:30. This race gave me lots of positive energy heading into the final 2 week build for IMFL.
I want to thank Andy for making the trip with me. I think it is safe to say we fed off of each others energy really well and as a result pushed ourselves to race bests. KJ for being so understanding of the time and energy needed to be successful in this sport. To my Coach, Pat who has given me the proper knowledge and information necessary to improve. To the Cyclonauts; the best team around! I have learned so much and grown so much with everyone and attribute any success I experience to the club as a whole. Can't wait to share the IMFL adventure with all of you!!