Friday, October 12, 2007

Back To The Story

We show up at the transition area on Saturday morning to get everything set up. This is when real doubts start creeping into my mind. It seems that most of the other athletes had crews of several people and well stocked tables full of everything you could think of for a race. My crew consisted of my wife and a small cooler. For you that know Cynthia, you know at least I had a crew with as much energy as 3 normal people.

We drove up the river to the start. The roads were very narrow. Remember the big truck we were driving, Cynthia decided that she did not think she could drive back to the transition area. I had to inform her that she was on her own for that. I had to concentrate on the little 281.2 miles before me.

The race started with each athlete asigned their own Kayak to crew for them in the swim. The river was very intimidating. I had swam in rivers around bardges, but here there were actual cruise ships. We swam near an oil tanker that was docked. Although I was not all that close to it I remember not being able to see the top of the ship when I turned my head to breath. The current in the river was kind of crazy. I would be making good time and then I would be swimming in the same place for a time. All in all it was a good swim and I came out of the water in second place by about 10 minutes.

When I exited the water I could hardley walk. It took a few minutes to get my legs back under me. Happily, I saw that Cynthia had survived the drive back to the transition area, and had even found a double cheeseburger for me on the trip. I ate the burger drank something and mounted up for the ride.

The bike was what I had been waiting for. Things were going just as planned. I took the lead after a few hours. I was riding well. There were only 2 people on the course riding faster. The first was a member of a relay team. I do not know his name, but this guy was a freak. It seemed like every time I looked he was lapping me again. I was certainly glad he was not doing the entire thing. The other person who was riding faster in the begining was a guy from England, Arthur Puckrin. While it is not unusual for someone to be riding faster than I Arthur was 65 years old at the time. He is now 69 and has not slowed down much at all.

As the ride progressed I had a few questions. The first one being if I have to get off my bike every so often to go to the bathroom, why is nobody else getting off their bikes? As gross as the answer to that is, it really does save time. The second question was, why am I doing this again? I had not done much night riding so things got a little interesting after the sun went down. I had no real problems, but I kept hitting the same pot hole every lap. I increased the lead I had pretty well. I think as I mentioned that doing well on the bike was unexpected on me. By the time people realized I was a threat the lead was already fairly wide.

When I dismounted the bike I was ready to go. Running well along a beautiful river, and in the lead as a bonus. Life was good. Well it was good for a while. About half way through things started sucking really bad, but I just kept moving forward. The memerable things about the run were the people. A Swiss doctor, Beat, was doing the race. Cynthia ran portions of the race with me. Each time we would see Beat she would offer words of encouragement. His response was always the same "hi". We just assumed he did not know english. This went on over and over us cheering and Beat saying hi. With just a few hours left in the race we once again see Beat and offer words of encouragement. As a change of pace he responded is good english "my ass hole hurts". That may not seem real funny now, but at the time I almost fell over. Since that race I have learned that Beat not only speaks 6 languages well, he never is a lack for something to say in any of them. The next memorable thing was a girl for Puerto Rico. She was sponsored by Hawian Tropic. I only had a few more miles to go when she told me it looked like we would get to split the prize money as the winning male and female athlete. The great thing about that was that until that very moment I did not know there was any prize money. In the end I walked away with $750 Canadian. Not enough to cover the trip, but every little bit helps. A single iron was also put on during the weekend. We had met the person who ended up winning. With just 4 miles left to go he showed up to cheer me in to the finish. He brought his wife and dog with him. I stopped to say hi and to pet the dog. I finished the race in 24 hours and 7 seconds. I tell people I would have gone under 24 if not for that dog.

It was a great experience. All the local media were at the finish line. It is never a real good idea for me to speak to people after 24 hours of exercise with no sleep. At my best I don't look good or speak well. The best quote in the paper the next day was when I was asked what I was going to do next and I said I was not sure, but it would involve a steak and a beer.

I came home with a title, Champion of the Americas, many great memories and most importantly many new friends from around the world.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

We interupt this story

We will finish the ultra story on Wed. There was an interesting happening today. USAT is thinking about changing the age group rule. They went to the current procedure of determining the age of the athlete on December 31 a few years ago. They are considering changing the rule back to determining the age by the actual age on race day.

Being on the Mideast region board I was asked about this. I gave my opinion, but I would like to have some feedback from the athletes. If anyone has any input let me know.

Remember that it is you the average athlete that pays the bills at USAT. If you have any ideas, problems, etc. Let your representative know. If you happen to live in Kentucky that would be me

Monday, October 1, 2007

An Ultra Story

It has been a tough few weeks. So much needs to be posted, but I need a break. So instead of any important stuff how about I just tell a story. Since I first posted on this blog, several people have asked about the ultra triathlons I have done.

I was looking for a race to do when I came across this event in Canada on the internet. It was a double iron distance race in Levi, Canada. I decide to do races the way an impulse buyer shops. It sounded cool, so I signed up. The race was billed as the Championship of the Americas.

I did a little research and found that there was actually more than one of these type of races. The International Ultra Triathlon Association is the governing body for these events. The community of athletes who compete is relatively small and scattered around the world. It was easy to find the results from previous races. I assumed it was an advantage that I had no record in these type of events.

I decided if I was going to compete I was going to try to win. To do so I was going to remake myself as an athlete. I was a runner who did some triathlons. To win I knew that I had to come up with something else. I figured that just as I did others would look me up. They would find that I was an OK runner even up to 100 miles, but little else. My plan was to make my weakness my strong point. Namely the bike.

I did just enough running to assure myself that I could finish. The swimming I did was an entirely new program I made up. That is the topic of another post sometime latter. I rode my bike almost all the time. The main workouts I did were a long swim on Friday, long run of at least 20 miles every Saturday, and a long bike of at least 100 miles every Sunday. Every Wed. consited of 1.2 mile swim/56 bike/13.1 run. The rest of the week was shorter stuff.

I trained like that for several months. As the race approached I was feeling fairly confident. The sort of confidence that comes with having no idea what you are getting into.

We flew into Quebec City and were met at the airport by the race director. We rented a vehicle and got a tour. I had reserved a Ford Ranger, but they did not have one so we were upgraded to a V10 duely. The redneck in me could not have been happier. Quebec was incredible. It looked like someone had plucked an old European City and dropped it in Canada. The old city is completely walled. The race course consisted on 4.8 miles in the St. Lawrence River. Looking at the river was intimidating. The bike course was a loop with one short but steep climb, it would be best handled by going into it with enough speed to not loose all momentum. One end of the bike was a hairpin turn that was an issue because although I had increased my speed on the bike I still was a poor bike handler. The run was 1 mile out and 1 mile bike. Out was mostly uphill and back was down.

The most amazing thing about the race site was the fact that when we got there at 9:00pm there were people everywhere. They were walking, running, cycling, rollerblading etc. It seemed amazing that in a place where it is so much colder that there was so much more activity than there was at home. The entire culture was different. Even though, from what I could see, the local economy looked much the same as home the focus seemed different. There were not the huge homes everyone seems to be striving for here. The cars people drove were not as fancy as what you may see here. The thing was that almost every vehicle had a rack for bikes, or skis. It was a cool place.

The day before the race we had a race meeting and for the first time I had to submit to a drug test before a race. I had not studied, but I passed anyway. Everything was set, all that was left to do was the race. I'll cover that next time.