What the hell is this going to be about ? I know that’s what you’re thinking. Well, I got a little lazy, so here’s a little late season racing recap.
My racing binge began in early September with 70.3 worlds where I was gunning for a top-5 age group finish. I kept myself in the game with a 28′ minute swim, that was possibly my best in a few years. Onto the bike is where things got interesting. It was pretty clean for the first 10k, after which, it was total chaos. I was overtaken by Dudes Riding A Fine Timetrial Echelon Rather Swiftly, or for short, D.R.A.F.T.E.R.S. , who powered on ahead and grew their troop with every passing kilometer. By 20k the road ahead was so congested, at times the peleton was at least 1/2 mile long. With no options to pass, I sat a ways behind and impatiently waited for an opportunity. And waited. And waited….
At 50k the large group came to a slow crawl at the base of a long steep climb. With all rules on the bike seemingly being disregarded by those around me, I snuck down the right shoulder and launched a full on attack. A few D.R.A.F.T.E.R.S. attempted to latch on to my stealthy mountain acceleration, but must have been slowed by the heavy load of all that cheating weighing their conscience. For the rest of the ride, I put my head down and hammered. Not the best pacing strategy, but I was desperate to make up for lost time. Bike time was 2:14. Could have been worse.
Starting the run, my legs were so full of lactate, I couldn’t even feel them. They were numb. Goal pace was under 4′ per km, and even after tearing myself to bits on the bike, it wasnt turning out to be a problem. I steadily ticked off the miles and was feeling pretty damn good. With about 3km to go, an epic Iron-War esque battle ensued between myself and a fellow age group competitor, who informed me we were 4th and 5th on the road. With a potential podium in the works, I kicked things up a notch, dropped my opponent on the final climb into town, and crossed the line in 4:10, with a 1:21 run. BOOM! Hell yeah! I did it!
…and then it turns out I got 12th. Whuu Whaa, but I had a great race and did the best I could give the situation on course.
After a week of recovery, I was still totally destroyed from the race in Mt. Tremblant, but it was time for my next race on the schedule, The Rut 12k in Big Sky, Montana. The Rut is only in its second year, but already draws a world-class field of the best mountain runners out there. The main spectacle of the weekend is the 50k run (maybe next year), but I am a baby, so chose to do the 12k instead.
On my 30′ warm up before the race, I felt so stiff and sluggish, that I almost didn’t start. The highlight of the warm up jog was being charged by an angry Momma Moose, that was standing with her young about 25′ off the side of the road. I’m pretty sure a passing car was the only thing that saved my a$$. This event also took care of my pre race bowel movement.
The race itself was approximately 5 miles and 2000 feet of up (seems to be my thang, lately), followed by about 2.5 miles of steep downhill (not my thing. Ever.) I shot out to an early lead and then held on for dear life. Over my heavy breathing, I could hear unseen creatures running through the woods (hopefully in the opposite direction) as they caught wind of me approaching.
I crested the top of the mountain first, but unfortunately high-viz dude (on the left of the picture) was right on my heels and soon dropped me like a dirty shirt. The downhill ducked in and out of heavy timber, and with only a half mile to go, as far as I could see, my second place was looking pretty safe. I managed to limit the carnage to one butt slide, but unfortunately, it came with photographic documentation.
As I entered the final stretch on cruise control, the announcer shouted out “looks like we have quite a race for second and third here…”….What? A quick glance over my shoulder revealed Dan Campbell (former Olympian, who seems to generate his own gravity) about 10ft behind me. Thankfully the last 100m was fairly flat, and I was able to hold onto second place by 3 seconds.
Onto the next adventure, the first annual Bozeman Bobcat Sprint Tri. A nice little 1000 yrd/20k/5k sprint race held at Montana State University, presumably to rival the famous “Griz” Tri at University of Montana in Missoula. The day before the race, I did some real manly stuff, like mowing the lawn, moving rocks, picking up stuff with a pitchfork. Race morning, my arms have never been sorererer. I wasnt exactly sure how I was going to finish the swim in a timely manner, but what did I have to lose?
My heat started at 11am, in the Montana State pool. Things started out well, but the first issue of the day soon arose – I was bored out of my mind. I hate long swim intervals in the pool. Even the adrenaline of racing couldn’t take the edge off. Plus, my arms where sore as all hell (from doing manly stuff). So I did what anyone would do in the situation, stopped for a chat with my girlfriend on the side of the pool, threw in some backstroke, took my time, etc. I got out onto the bike about 90″ behind the lead, hoping the others where riding Huffys with flat pedals, and I could make up some ground.
The 20k out and back is mostly flat with a few sneaky hills, and on race day, quite a bit of wind. I passed a bunch of people early on, but at the turn around, I was still over a minute behind the two leaders. Hopes of pulling off the win were fading, but my bike legs felt great so I was enjoying the hammer.
In T2 I got a glimpse of the competition heading out onto the run, but I still had about 40 seconds to make up. I felt like garbage for the first mile and was just hoping no one was going to catch me. With no one insight ahead, things were looking grim. Then my morale was boosted as second place came into view, and the lead was not much further ahead. With about 1/2 of a mile to go, all three of us where running together and it was on. I made my move on a final hill and was able to take the win by 20 seconds. Finished the day with the fastest bike, fastest run, and took home about 500 bucks in gift certificates and merch! Glad I showed up!
And finally, the bonus feature – the Portland Marathon. I hadn’t run an open marathon since my epic blow up at NYC 2009. After 5 years, I had forgotten why, so it was time for another go. The first half felt great, although I went out a little fast. I chose not to race with a Timex GPS, which was a mistake, because the mile markers were all over the place, if not just missing. I’d run a 6 minute mile, then a 5 minute mile, then an 8 minute mile, all on relatively flat terrain without really changing my actual pace.
The half went by in 1:19 which was a little aggressive for my 2:44 goal time. Things held together until 17 miles, at which point the course went vertical for a whole mile, up a steep bluff and over a bridge. I shortened my stride and shuffled up the hill, but over the top, I just couldn’t get going again. I my legs were locked into a short, stiff march of death. I didn’t totally unravel, and still managed a 2:53, which was good enough to not get chicked, and represents my new “blow-up PR”. Probably did a little too much racing leading up to this marathon, as this blog has chronicled.