Gina and I set out early Friday to beat traffic and get to NH early in order to relax and have plenty of time to check things out. The weather was nice (70-80′s) with no wind, but plenty of threatening clouds. The Birch Knoll hotel was just off a section of Lake Winnie and we had our own ‘beach’ access to it. The hotel is family owned and open only during the spring-summer, but has couples and family rooms (with 2 deck chairs overlooking the lake), a heated pool, and a deck with gas grills in case you wanted to BBQ. At night, it gets cool, but very comfortable and quiet (enough to hear crickets which G likes).

We figured out where the expo was and registered. Gunstock is a ski area where most of the pre/post race stuff was being held, but we both agreed they shouldn’t bother. They should just hold everything at Ellacoya State Park where the race was. Localize as much as you can and it’ll be easier to get questions answered, especially in a race where the athletes are scatterred in lodging and you have a good number of rookies. We found ourselves going back and forth some 7 miles between the places. We picked up some stuff at Shaw’s and ate out on the deck. We packed it in early in order to get a sample of that ‘race day’ feeling on Saturday.

We had no problems getting up and with the lake right by us, I hit the water to get a feel for it. Comfy, mid 70′s, clear. Very nice. I spun the bike a bit and jogged but then the rain started to fall. They predicted showers all day Sat and early Sunday. We tried to make our way to the Pancake breakfast but after a small traffic delay (the sprint race was being held), we managed to get there in time to have 3 pancakes each before an announcement was made that they ran out of mix!!! It was run by the NH Humane Society and was from 8:30-11. Mind you it wasn’t even 10 yet and the line was long. Gina and I, as usual, made notes on how they could have better organized the whole thing (we do this alot and more on her idea later).

We of course had some stuff from home we brought and made a quick visit to good ol’ D&D on the way back.

We played a little chess (she’s getting better) as the rain poured for a good hour or so. With a small clearing, we went to Gunstock to try to get some answers on parking questions for Sunday and came to the conclusion that we would leave at 4:30am to be one of the first in line for the limited parking at Ellacoya. We watched the kids’ tri that took place at Gunstock and lasted all of 30 minutes. It was fun to see about 100 of them (10-13yrs old I believe) jump into the pond one by one, then go through the whole transition thing. Inspiring.

It was still a small drizzle when we checked the bike in at Ellacoya. I covered it with a tarp and we went off to Mass at a small church a few miles from the hotel. Mind you when I did a search for churches in the area this one was the closest but not listed. This was nice too – and surprisingly attended by more people at our parishes.

On the way back we decided to pick up some pizza and a well known place called Wally Peppers. Homemade and family run (and a big supporter of The Biker Ride), you got your pick of fresh lobster rolls, pizza, subs, etc. We opted to split the Greek calzone which I think was bigger than the 14 inches as advertised. Man, that was good!!

We relaxed and mapped out our plan for race day. It was still a bit misty and the forcast called for some serious rain in the morning. You hope and get some rest. I felt fine knowing I had Japan under my belt and rain shouldn’t be a problem especially with 1500 others in the same boat. The only thing was G told me to be careful on the wet roads and just get it done. Yes coach.

We were up at 4 and out by 4:30. It had rained overnight, and was still drizzling when we got to the park (about 10th in line). It continued up to about an hour before the start. The sky didn’t look promising either. I opted not to wear shades on the bike and set up my transition area, went through a pre-race check, and was ready to go have some fun. The water was nice (72) and clear but oddly you could go out some 150 yards and still be waist deep in water. With wave starts, I had a good 20 minutes before my age group went off. The 50+ crew had a 10 minute lead on us, along with another 6 minutes for the Elite wave and the people doing only the swim and bike (called Aquabike race).

Off we went and I settled nicely off to the left behind a few people. I had a close call at the first turn bouy when one guy decided to breaststroke and hit me on the right side of my chest with his leg. Whew! Turned on the jets and got away from that. I soon caught some of the 50+ crew. Actually alot of them. But it was smooth from that first turn and had a fine swim almost under 30. I made my way thru T1 and hit the roads. They were slightly wet but the weather cleared and it got nice but humid. I was use to that. Only problem was my tire selection was subpar and had a small wobble in my rear. When I hit a good speed, it would ‘thump’ and cause me to slow down especially on decents when it became more pronounced. Relax, at least it isn’t flat. I wind up cruising the bike and keeping my mind on the race. Everything was fine. Some interesting sights were the voluptious Hawaii “girls” in skirts (they were guys) and the woman devil on the first big climb. I also got to see some lovely homes and found myself wondering if G and I could live in a place like that after a MegaMillions win. The packs were there since with such a staggered start, everyone was on the course. You were never alone.

After under 3 hrs, I jumped off and was ready to roll. I practiced the bike-run alot this year and needed a confidence boost. I took off following a woman who was holding a good sub 7 pace (I was wearing Garmin). I follwed a strict hydration/cooling routine at each mile as it got very warm and sunny. After 3 miles I moved ahead and set my own pace. My mind was tranced and I was locked in. There was a young girl dancing to Irish music, a violin player, and the “Circus Zone’ at the turnaround where clowns, the devil, and a cast of characters managed a water station. It was fun to “Have just entered the Circus Zone” twice since it was 2 loops.

I upped up the final 2 miles and boosted my mobile. Charging to the finish I high-fived one of the 2 cross-dressing dudes, one who helped at the start – this one at the finish, and earned the announcment that I was “from Brooklyn and not afraid to high-5 a crossdresser!”

I didn’t know my spilts but after meeting G we both headed to the lake and jumped in to cool off. That was a good race and knowing that the things I worked on were right, it was just the mechanical issue of the bike that I have to nail. Indeed to nail at the season finale Mighty Montauk. I finished in 5:05, 140th out of the 1300+ and had the 21st fastest run split.

Now it was time to soak the sun, gather the goodies, and see the other finishers. G had a great idea in that she would have made sure there was a hospitality tent for family members and sherpas alike. Have a tent where folks could get breakfast, drinks, information, even diaper changing!!! BRILLIANT! – (She witnessed a mother changing a baby in the trunk of a car). She has a great point. We both decided to volunteer at a race and try it.

We were soon able to get out of the area after all the bikers came in and we added a few more decals to our car. We have a bug that commited suicide on our front licence plate and has been there since Saturday (yes, even now on Tuesday, it is still there!!) With the sun beaming and picking up a few iced c’s at D&D, we headed back to the hotel and promptly jumped in the pool. What a great day!

After a snafu with the post-dinner tix, we opted (love those plan B’s) to eat at the well-known Patrick’s Pub – at least in NH). But we first decided to stop at a farmers’ market and came out with a ‘wicked’ WhoopiePie. Then it was some homemade (yes that is the best thing about these unique places) ice cream on the dock overlooking a setting sun over the lake. That was icing on the daycake. People actually come from across the lake by boat to get this stuff! We continued to compare stories from the day and easliy fell asleep after packing up.

We had a great time.

My big toes were the only sore spots. I felt fine and should be ok for the BBall championship game on Tuesday. Unfortunately, my ribs were sore when we got back. G has ordered that I take it easy for the next few days before the final fury into Montauk. Yes coach.

I made my notes and will analyze it with her as well. We walked alot last night to shake out the legs from the drive home and get a taste of “reality” again.

A special thanks to ELETE for the product samples the past month and I firmly believe in your product. Also to GWiz, who gets the finishers’ tshirt, for the small donation.

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