Confidence, confidence, confidence. The second half od 2005 was all I wanted to work on. After Ironman Japan, I really needed to prove to myself that I can mix things up, try different workouts, and throw in an off day or two if needed to get “to that level” where going into a race, I know I won’t breakdown.

The summer has proven to be worth the experiment. Despite the high temps in the city, I went through afternoon sessions, late night bball games, and the early morning rides. I felt great at Timberman and with the five weeks I had for Montauk, did what I needed to do as the schedule at St. Joe’s began to develop. I even offered to do several late night shifts at Amy’s since they were understaffed. I began to relish in the idea that an “offseason” was approaching. The weather is getting cooler, days shorter (I suffer from SAD a bit), and my body and mind were ready for a shift. The week leading up to Montauk was filled with anticipation: get it done.

The weather was to be great at least. Sure it was cool, heck it was 50 degrees on Thursday! That got me a bit worried since I would freeze on the bike, but the forcast was for bright sunny skies and upper 70′s. As G and I headed out for our final road trip Saturday morning, we loved the idea that it was only 2+ hours away. Montauk was a destination for us during the summer but we never got to it. We arrived early and parked the car (never moved it the entire weekend)at the hotel. Since we had 2 hours before check in, we walked into town and had brunch at the local pancake house. Everything is within a 5-10 minute walk which was great! Also each store has that family atmosphere to it: Herb’s, Jodi’s, etc. The registration was a breeze (you even got bodymarked too), we didn’t have to trek the bike beforehand, and we lounged out by the heated pool and beach. The hotel was right on the water so the crashing of the waves was a nice noise to hear other than a car horn. Alot of surfers and fisherman too. It was interesting that the town didn’t even post that a race was happening.

We went to Mass two blocks away where they are constructing a new building. Currently, the celebrate Mass in a school cafeteria, but they draw a big crowd and the community is very acive. We then made our way over for the pre-race eats of Pizza at the local family owned joint near the church. We ate on the beach deck of the hotel and watched the sun set and stars come out. Knowing that we didn’t have to wake up until 5:30 (usually it’s 4-4:30), we took our time preparing the rest of the evening for Sunday’s race.

I didn’t sleep much, but was anxious to go. G was set, all in Sherpa gear and we walked over to the race area. The sun was beginning to rise, it was about 60, slight wind, but enough to give the air a damp feel, create the chill, and fog the pond. About 500 people were racing and the crowd was very minimal – less than a few hundred. There was no music, no staging area where you could feed off some excitement. Definitely low key. I set everything up, and time went pretty quickly. We got word that 50 volunteers who were on a broken down bus were not going to make it, so the bike and run course aid stations would be minimized. Can’t worry about that now. Off to the water.

This is where they need to improve. The entrace to the pond is about 100 yards of gravel. Trying to navigate barefoot on that is a task, doing so after swimming a mile+ and running to your bike? Oh boy. They only covered half of it with a tarp. Getting into the water was tricky as you stepped your way over irregular rocky edges before “float zone”. The fog was lifting at the end of the pond and one bouy busted so don’t follow the dude in front of you. The water was upper 60′s and comfortable. Let’s do it.

Off we went and I just jumped into a free area and held pace. No problems as things spread out real quick. I had all sights on bouy and zoomed along. With the sun in our eyes on the way back to shore, it warmed up a bit, but blinded us too. Nice an smooth at 30 minutes and somewhere in the top 40. Now don’t cut yourself on the rocks. Skip/hop/skip/hop/skip/oouch, clear.

I had sprayed my arms and legs with this “body lotion silk spray” from Origins and it help my wetsuit come off very comparable to using PAM. The heat from us all fogged the transiiton area, yes still cool out, don’t freeze. Out we went on a beautiful scenic course along the lighthouse, rolling hills, and tucked away sections of Montauk. It was chilly in the shade and I needed an hour to warm back up. Coming back into town required winding “ins and outs” and made things very headsup. No water stops, no port-o-sans. And I had to go. At te 20 mile mark some guy was renovating his house and had a POS. I think he had alot of visitors that day.

Back into town and then out again for another loop. I felt fine (especially after the POS) but my tires lost air. Not enough for a flat, just enough to make me drag. Man I was pissed.

Steady, steady, steady. Damn freakin’ tires! Just focus, focus, focus. You stupid son of….

I made as much as I could of the second loop and saw 3hrs. At this point my vocabulary consisted of only 4 letter words, but as I unclipped and headed to the rack, I was fuming.

Ok, I’m off, I lost time, I’m now where I want to be so let it rip. No pity. I wanted to take everyone in my path out of it. Hell, I almost ran over people instead of moving to the side to pass. Oh yeah, PAC-Man time. Chomp, chomp, chomp. Everyone resembled a dot to me. I didn’t even flinch when “Murder hill” came by – twice since it was a two loop course. Add to that the 4 aid stations handing out dixie-sized cups of water and Gatorade (they were really short on volunteers). I drank some ELETE water out of transition and maybe had the equivelent of 2 cups of fluid the entire run. I didn’t care because I was too focused and determined. I was doing 6:20 miles and after getting my red braclet labeling a loop completed, I was now focused on anyone wearing one on the final loop. No pity. Sorry. The game was still on. With 2 miles left I took it under 6 and hit the gas. Clocked the final mile in 5:50 and just broke 5 hours.

I finally smiled when I found G and gave her a big hug. Nothing beats a race – with its highs and lows – more than a hug from someone you love. She doesn’t even mind the sweat dripping everywhere.

G had spotted my physical therapist, Sue Eby, during the race. She was there with her son cheering on her husband, Ken, who is getting into this triathlon thing. He was doing well and had just gone out on the run. That was a pleasant surprise. We cheered him on as he came by the first loop before heading back to the hotel. BTW, the organizers did a great job with the crew they had and they deserve a big shout out for it.

By now the sun was beaming, the area was filling up with the ususal Sunday crowd, and I simply cooled off in the pool. We spent the rest of the day walking around checking out the sights, did some shopping ( a retail lady was surprised we swan in the pond, she said there are snapping turtles everywhere in it!!!), and taking in dinner at the Irish pub. As we stood on the deck overlooking the ocean, with a fire burning set by a family sitting on the beach, the whole thing just seemed like a perfect ending to the season. Stars above, we recollected how we travelled thousands of miles – AGAIN – this year across the country and abroad. The things we learned, not only from my training and racing, but ABOUT each other, actually added to our confidence IN each other.

If I ever needed a motivation for 2006, it was these last two races. I now feel the confidence I let slip away a year ago in CDA where I questioned my ability to put my mind and body together to race. But with that confidence is the respect I have to rest a bit. Have some fun, lose yourself in work, come back fully ready (see schedule below and know why).

The results from Montauk are:

Finish time of 4:59, 31st out of 350+ racers

4th in my age group out of 61.

1st OVERALL run split with a 1:22 half-marathon

Thanks to everyone who helped this year. I look forward to working with you again in 2006!

If you would like to sponsor a race for next year, here are the BIG races on the schedule for 2006:

Boston Marathon

St. Croix Half-Ironman

Ironman Lake Placid

with a few “little ones” in between!


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