TOUGHMAN – WORD

So the season has taken a cooler feel to it as the AC has been off for a few weeks and the weather has started to get the SAD in me with sunrise now well past 6:30am. The body feels it is coming close to an end of season and as we put final touches on our wedding plans, we are now one month out from that. I registered for the Westchester Toughman Half Ironman for several reasons – Polar was a sponsor and having a representative rockin the gear was on the agenda, so I felt obligated to at least toe the line, and with Wayne working the expo and supporting several vendors, was to be in good company. Gina and I also volunteered for the 3 Toughkids races on Saturday so we booked a room at the host hotel Marriot and to make a weekend out of it. a LONG weekend.

It started at 5am on Saturday as we boarded up and headed to get there by 7am. The weather was nice and crisp and the ride out was quick as we hit no traffic. We did stop off at a D and D for some java and I actually got a Chuncky Monkey donut. Those I didn’t finish it until Sunday, it looked promising, but disappointed that the inside was more custard than peanut butter. Now we were jacked up so as we got there we signed in, got our cool volunteer shirts, and were assigned the transition area for the day. Ahh, the centralized area of chaos. Don was in charge here and he was a fun guy to work with for the day. We teamed up with a group of stundents from New Platz and took our roles as parents and kids started arriving for the 10am start. There were 3 races and age groups: 11-14, 7-9, and then 4-6. Yes, that young.  Don knew we had been to a few races in our day so we quickly became the go to poeple for the heavy directing. We bodymarked the kids and tried to organize how the athletes and their parents set their stuff up in the correct areas. As more and more arrived, it started to get a bit hectic. Parents need Ironsherpa 101 lessons and it was amazing how they were more nervous and razzled than the kids, who looked more like the just wanted to run around than anything else. Fun to see and witness.

Gina decided to work the bike entrance area since she felt it was an area that needed the most direction once the race started. I stayed in the transition area in case any kid needed help with their stuff and getting in and out of the area. Soon there was calm as everyone had to clear the area for the start of the first race. It was 10am and we wouldn’t stop to breathe until 1pm. Talk about fun (and exhausting), but these kids were chargin in and grabbing their bikes. Their parents were yelling (not really cheering) but yelling with urgency which made half of them almost forget where they left their bike. Once out on the bike, it was a small quiet, but as they came back, it got worse. Now they were just throwing their bikes anywhere, making a mess, and many were running with their helmets still on!!! Their parents were telling them to “throw your bike”,  “just leave it there”, and “go, go, go!!!”. I must have picked up 30 bikes and re-racked them cause of this. But it was nice to see how some kids just took it in stride and were just out to have some fun. Pleasurable and worth the time.

It was really warm and Gina was even getting tired since she thinks most kids didn’t know how many loops they were suppose to do and didn’t know where to turn back into the area. The 4-6 yr olds capped it off as they all did it with their parents. Most held hands, rode bikes with training wheels, and probably out ran their parents to exhaustion. Awesome stuff. By 1pm we were done and ready to go. We thanked everyone invloved and made our way to get checked in for my race tomorrow. All went smoothly and scooped ourselves out of there and to the hotel. Due to some traffic as we had to make our way through several small towns like Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, and the crossing of Main St and Broadway, we didn’t actually get to the hotel until 2pm!! (it’s less than 10 miles too). Once checked in, we hit the luxury bed and crashed for a quick snack and nap. Oh it felt good to have so many pillows, and Gina loves the mattress. Very similar to HInn’s, but at this point, it was pure luxury. She chilled a bit longer as I took a quick swim then spin in the parking lot. That helped loosen up and a shower just energized us for a few hours before having dinner at the Tavern in the hotel. We weren’t going anywhere, just chillin and having a relaxing time. We set up for the next day’s race and crashed comfortably at 9pm.

Alarm rings at 4am. We are both you and ready to roll. Main goal for this race was to get a good steady paced workout in so I can continue training the rest of the week before my 2 week taper for Nationals. I was ready to have some fun too and looking forward to testing some of my new gear, breaking out the race wheels, helmet, and sneakers. I had my Polar gear laid out happy it didn’t rain overnight. We left in darkness under mild skies and no breeze. Felt great. We got there in 15 minutes and found a spot right on target to the transition area. I got bodymarked, racked the Black Widow and had plenty of time to walk around. We found Wayne and talked a bit. People started strolling in and cars were lining up like Field of Dreams. It’s always an interesting sight. I had an issue with my tire pressure on the front wheel and it was easily handled by tech support on site. Now the sun was rising and it seemed like the rain in the forcast would hold off for us. We made our way to the beach after “suiting up” and it was so calm. The water was warm so a stark contrast from what the kids had to swim in yesterday.  After a 9/11 tribute and bagpipes, it was time to line up. A few kisses with G and into the water I went.

I lined up near the front and my group had 80 people in it. It was a running beach start but the trick was the water was so shallow for at least 50 yards. Three deep breaths. The horn sounds. Hop and hop, dolphin dive, hop, hop, oh crap here comes the crowd. It was contact time as after a few strokes I got hit in the arm and then once I got the foot to the face (goggles stayed on), I had enough and did some clearing out myself with a few people’s feet.  I was able to get a clear line before the turn bouy and get into a great rhythm. The swim was fast in a time of 28 minutes, but given the fact that we had to hop, hop, dolphin dive the last 50 yards again – I’ll take it.

Into transition and thanks to the wetsuit strippers it made for a quick one. G was right there and got some great pix. Off onto the Black Widow in what would be a comfortable, Zone 2-3 type ride along the beautiful rolling hills of Westchester County. Several groups did a good job pacing and drafting off each other and more power to them since I never saw a motorcycle ref. Didn’t matter since the hills broke those up, but I was on a good pace for under 3 hours which for me on this day was just fine. I worked on my form and gears, and pushed the hills when I could, and the sweet humming of the wheels. I was hyperhydrated so I only had a few sips of my “mix” and 2 gels. I did get a bit cold since the sun never came out and I don’t think the temps got above 70. In I came at 2:53 and ready to hit the pavement. Solid.

A quick transition and off I went. I gave G a big kiss and started picking off folks. The course took you on trails and it was perfect! Hilly as well, but I was in a good groove and never really had any issues. I DID hit the PortoJohn for some “relief” and lost a minute, but heck, NOW I was really loose. They had a group of HS cheerleaders along one big hill and then coming back we crossed the beautiful dam with the roar of waterfalls. Unfortunately running the tangent on a trail at good speed had me hit a hole and fall into a hand plant on the ground. No injury, just a cut on my hands, but I washed it with water at each aid station. Was pretty funny. I then saw Superman and his wife in costume cheering up the final hill at Mile 10 and from there it was a home stretch. I picked up the pace for a few sub 6 miles and into the finish I came.  My run time was 1:22 and the fastest overall and I finished in a time of 4:47 (goal was around 4:45) and placed 29th overall, 5th in my age group.  A big hug and kiss from G, a few fist pounds from Wayne and it was chillin time!!!! I was fine as we walked around a bit to stay loose and enjoy the other finishers coming in while snacking on some goodies.  A perfectly executed race and it got me really excited about Myrtle Beach in a few weeks.

We got to thanks everyone we met that weekend, including race directors and vendors before high tailing it back home as the rain started to fall. We got home quickly since we hit no traffic and once we finished unpacking and all, G mandated a nappy time on the couch where under the cool breeze in the window and the now downpouring rain, we passed out for a good 2 hours. At dinner, we made our new “sangria slush” to toast the weekend. A great busy, tiring weekend.  Bedtime once again at 9pm.

Now we set our sights on Myrtle Beach to end the season on Oct. 2nd. The goal is to PR and qualify for the ITU World Long Distance Championships in 2011.  We are both looking forward to relaxing as well before the wedding since we both need a few extra days of just being by ourselves. Granted my sister Lisa plans to treat us as often as she can since she lives there and will be attending the race, but I honestly am looking forward to finishing 2010 on a peak performance.    

Special thanks to Kerrie and crew at Amy’s Bread for handling our choice of cake selection. Only the best by the best and that was another item off the checklist. Yum Yum!!

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