I said last week that I didn’t think there was a chance I would even sniff the podium at Lobsterman. If I was talking about the overall podium, I was right.
Last year at this time, I was already focused on Marine Corps, so my report was very brief. I didn’t have as good a day as I would have hoped (I had the expected slow swim, a decent bike given the lack of biking I had done, and a slower than hoped for run). This year was a bit different.
We left Boston around 7PM, stopped for dinner, and made it to the hotel in time to pass out nearly instantaneously (but not before finishing this fascinating article about Everest). Slept horribly (dreamed I had to kill someone to keep myself and my family alive) and an early morning wakeup was followed by a quick trip to the gas station to get breakfast: 20 oz of Coke and a granola bar. Into transition where I set up pretty quickly and then had a lot of time to wait. Tri-Slided up and put on my wetsuit to stay warm and just walked around the swim start. Saw Greg, Jon, Lisa, and a bunch of other Team Zoom athletes at the swim start, listened to the pre-race announcements, and got in the water to get ready to go.
The start was hectic, as usual. I was feeling ok, but didn’t feel like I was making a good move. Spotting was good (thanks to heavy cloud cover) but I felt like either I was zig-zagging all over the place or everyone in front of me was. Sticking on feet was just not an option. After the first turn I settled down and started feeling my rhythm. I don’t know if it was the BlueSeventy Helix or just everyone else slowing down, but I started passing a ton of people in my wave as we headed northeast. This elation was short lived as I was passed by a guy from the wave behind me (meaning he was more than 4 minutes faster than me on the swim) and couldn’t even stay on his feet for a moment. Mentally I went to a very dark place; the last 300-400 meters felt like they were taking forever and I had lost my ability to swim a line to the swim out. I remember last year having a really tough time getting out of my wetsuit (I think I had a 3:00 transition or something). This year: no such issues with the wetsuit, though I did fumble with my helmet and shoes a bit.
I struggled with the bike last year because I hadn’t realized that Maine actually had hills. These are not hills like Wildflower or Quassy, but they kick up steeply and are fairly unrelenting. This year, Steve and I decided I would crush the uphills, rest when I was going fast enough, and maintain a steady output on the flats. I don’t remember much about the bike; I was so focused on suffering (but not too much) that I didn’t spend any time really looking at what I was riding past. Did pass one guy in my AG, and also futzed around with my barrel adapter on the RD. Not a brilliant idea as by the end of the race I think I was down to only a 4 or 5 gears on the cassette. It also rained just long enough to make the road slick; I almost lost the road at one corner as wet brakes and wet paint conspired to make me a bit tentative in my grabbing a fistful of traction. As there was in Portland, I had a nagging fear that perhaps I had blown my race by going too hard on the bike. Transition off the bike went relatively smoothly (or as smoothly as it can for a spaz like me); I dropped my watch and forgot to tighten my laces… all told, I lost maybe 15 seconds?
I started off the run and my pace was hovering right around 6:30. Thoughts raced through my head of how horribly I had messed up; I had burned too many matches on the bike and now I was just plain cooked. I steeled myself against these thoughts and by the first mile marker, I passed the runner in front of me. A volunteer told me I was now in 20th place on the course (though that meant nothing to me: I had no idea how many in front of me were in my AG, how many had started behind me, how many had started in front, etc). I knew an overall podium spot was out of the question: I could see the overall leaders 2 miles ahead of me. But that again meant nothing: maybe they were all from the wave in front of me. Maybe they were older. So I continued on. Passed a second runner at the mile 2 aid station, and set my sights on the runner in front of me. HE WOULD NOT COME BACK AT ALL. Seriously, I tried as hard as I could to reel him in through miles 3-5, but it wasn’t until we got to the hills of the final mile and a half that he started slowing enough to make the catch. In fact, he caught the runner in front of him at the same time I caught him. At this point, I was wheezing from the short little kicker we had run up, but I couldn’t let this guy come back for the pass (though he stayed right behind me for the rest of the day). Seriously, I was running 6:02 miles (14 seconds/mile faster than we both had been) and this guy was sticking right behind me. I had done all the work to pass him (and act strong while doing so) and he was repaying me by trying to beat me to the line?! He didn’t. I was feeling pretty much all out at the finish line, but I think had I needed to I could have added yet another gear.
Over to the finish board, I saw that I was 18th with a 2:13:13. But as I scanned up the results, I couldn’t see anyone in the M30-34 above me. Lots of M35-39 and M25-29, but no M30-34. Was this really my first true AG win?
So I PRed the course by 12 minutes, improving significantly on every aspect and making it more difficult to decide which goal to go for next year. With all that said, I would’ve been 5th place in the M25-29 (by 6 or so minutes) and 9th in the M35-39. So while there’s a lot to take away from this race positively, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Sat down to talk to a friend of Laura’s after the race and he was asking who I trained with, how my day was, etc. So I told him about Steve, and then he asked if I did any strength training. I don’t, and this upset him a bit. As did my time. As did the fact that my dinner the night before was fast food. And my breakfast was Coke and a granola bar. Of those, only the time and strength training are things I’m really proud of; the other two are a result of a lack of forethought and a mountain of immaturity.
Drove to New Hampshire, we had gin o’clock on the dock, dinner, more drinks, and Doctor Who. The next day? Recovery was walking 18 beautiful holes of golf with no shortage of trips to the beach, wind or hills.