Sunday, July 10, 2011

Birthday Rolls!

For the first time in many years I took the summer off to prepare for my first full time teaching position. Of course, i cant prepare everyday, and as a result many, many days where spent on one of my favorite places, the Deerfield River.

Over the years I have made many great friends on the river. Nowadays, i have no problem heading to the river, sticking out a thumb, and finding a friend to paddle with. Afterwards beers are cracked open at the take out or a trip to the Mohawk pub for a BBC River Ale is used as a debriefing session.
I spent my 33rd birthday paddling the Dryway, a classic class 4 run. As tradition holds, the birthday boy must roll their boat for each year he was born. Yet these 33 rolls holds no comparison to the 60 rolls my paddling buddy Bob performed a few weeks after.  Prior to Bobs birthday paddle, Bob got caught up in rock in the gap, broke his paddle into 2, and swam through a rocky line that left him a bit 'dazed and confused'. Bob, who requires 2 hearing aids to hear on land, but cannot use them on the river and thus left virtually deaf, came back to the river with a new paddle. He rolled his boat 60 times and made a clean run through the gap. Bob earned his post paddle beer, old men do rule!

                                           Birthday Paddle 2011
                                           Surfing the new creek boat on Disappointment Wave, Dryway

Friday, July 1, 2011

2011 Patriot Half Ironman Triathlon

I had one goal for this race, to beat the Dearys. The brothers get the best and worst of me, yet its this sort of competition that brings me back to high school track days that I loved. Trash talk began in April during the Tuckerman's Inferno race when i announced that i was racing. David, the younger, said i didn't have a chance. Damn if that didn't fire me up!!!

We are all very close in abilities, David the swimmer, me the runner, and Justin, the unpredictable...As the race approached, predictions were made. Justin did not have a chance, a father of 3, Justin could not put in the training as the rest of us. The race would come down to David and me.

The Patriot half is a fantastically well organized race. I loved it. There was so much energy and excitement in the air. The day was beautiful and the water temperature was perfect. I was nervous and excited all at once.

The swim was perfect. I found a pod of wetsuits to swim with, following their draft as best as i could.. After about 40 mins i popped out of the water to realize David was right next to me. Sweet! This was apparently David's best event. I hollered over to let him know i was ahead and hurried to my bike.

I moved ahead on the bike maintaining a solid 22mph avg pace. I was feeling good and ready to put the hammer down on the brothers. Though, at about mile 45 my hip started tweaking. Having only 5 weeks to train on the new tri specific bike, I wonder if my joints had the opportunity to fully adjust to the new bike. Regardless, I finished well ahead of the brothers and in 50th place overall. They were just entering the transition as i was cruising onto my strongest event, the run. I felt good, time to close the deal.

Maybe my over confidence got the best of me. Maybe it was poor nutrition, hammering the bike too hard, a new bike or a lack of mental toughness, regardless, by mile 6, my goals begin to crumble. My legs cramped, really cramped. My left knee, the one that went through a cash years ago and since then has been symptomatic began to give out. I was dehydrated in the now hot sun. My legs and mind were toast. In my 15 years of racing, I walked for the 2nd time ever in a race(the first due to a massive sprained ankle on a 20 mile trail race). The next 7 miles was torturous, physically and mentally. Geoff Rose, ultra endurance runner extraordinaire, talks about succeeding in endurance races by surviving the low point that happens in every endurance race. I felt like I barely survived. The physical part was hard enough, but mentally, i gave up on running. It was the low point i have not gone through in some time.

Needless to say the Dearys caught up and passed me. Justin took first of the three of us in just over 5 hours. the brother with the least training, but then again that is why we call him the "unpredictable". David, was not too far behind Justin. I came in around 5 hours and 30 minutes.

It took some time to recover, but now as i write this, my mind has forgotten the pain and discomfort of the run. With pain gone and redemption in mind, I will be signing up for the 2012 race. I just hope I can bring back the Deary brothers for a rematch.