Still, you can just imagine the smack talk going on facebook before race week. It was pretty epic.
Saturday morning came early. Sometimes 4:30 AM just happens. By 4:50 Randy was picking me up and we headed to Brian's house. Brian drove us down there, about a 2 hour drive. We got to White Lake with plenty of time before the transition area closed and started getting ready.
One of my favorite parts is meeting new friends at races. I always end up talking some neat people. This time I was asking the guys if anybody brought sunscreen, turns I forgot almost everything besides my swim gear. Some girls nearby in transition offered me some "if I would ask them nicely", which I did. Then of course, I had take off the shirt and shorts I had on to apply said sunscreen, and got a few funny looks when I was down to a speedo. Randy wanted to use the sunscreen next, just to apply some directly onto his eyeballs so he wouldn't have to see me in a speedo anymore. Good thing we all swim together on the RAM swim team, they were used to it. But I think it took the girls by surprise, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
|Me hanging in TA, wearing a banana hammock and making friends|
|Big transition area, the relay teams were at one end|
|Our end was near the swim finish/run start end.|
|Brian, me, Randy. Hells yea I raced in a speedo. All I had to do was swim.|
The water temp was 82* so no wetsuits. The lake is 2 miles long by 1 mile wide, and only gets about 7' deep at the middle and there's no fish. A little Spanish moss, and a brisk wind blowing, the air temp was only about 65* at race start, so it was a lot warmer in the water. There was a good crowd out there watching the swim start, and there may be some children that need therapy after they saw me walking around. I also ended up talking to the same girls from TA before getting in to warm up. We started at one pier and finished the swim at another one. There were two right turns in between. The water was warm and crystal clear, you could easily see the beer cans at the bottom.
They started the waves 5 minutes apart, and the last wave was all of the relay teams and novice triathletes. The cool part was that we could stay in the water behind the starting line until it was time to take off. My plan was to take off fast, then push it as hard as I could for the rest of the time, breathing every third stroke and sighting every third breath and backing off of my pace slowly until I came down to a steady beat. Watch for the other swimmers around me and try to avoid traffic. Remember the form mechanics that the RAM coaches have been drilling into me lately and just cruise as fast as possible.
Jonathan was the swimmer for the other team, and he's a 6'8" mammoth with a Phelpsian wingspan and size 16 flippers for feet with an ego that he earned as a huge swimmer. He came into the water with a chip on his shoulder really wanting to make me look bad out there, and this kid is legitimately good. Bring it on.
When our wave finally did start at 8:30, I sprinted out of the gate. I gave it the full "25 meter sprint" form and pace from the RAM practice and it worked! There were four sight buoys before the first turn buoy, and when I hit the first one I looked up during a breath and saw nobody ahead of me. I was leading the pack. That's one way to avoid traffic.
By the second sight buoy I was already starting to pass the people from the wave that started 5 minutes ahead of us. That was a little unexpected, but there were still no red caps in my view. There was a little chop on the way out, but it was nothing compared to the ocean swim's 3' waves I was swimming through a few weeks ago, so I just kept on pushing it. By the time I hit the turn buoy I was feeling pretty good. On the lateral part of the course I ran into the most traffic. Other people were everywhere, and I passed as many as I could. I did finally see another red swim cap out there, but I couldn't tell if they were passing me or if I was passing them. I just kept on pushing it.
Made the final turn and had kind of a tough time sighting up to get back to the shore. We had to hit a specific pier to get out of the water and I really tried to push it to get there as fast as I could. My whole body was straining and just aching wanting to slow down and not push so hard, but I kept right on going.
I hit the pier, climbed out and ran as fast as I could into the TA where Brian was waiting on me. He took the chip and ran the bike out of TA. I just tried to catch my breath, then noticed that Scottie was still hanging around. Finally, eventually, Jonathan came running into TA. Scottie grabbed his chip and bike and took off. I've never seen Scottie run that fast before, so I knew he really wanted to make up that time on Brian.
I beat Jonathan out of the water by almost a minute. it was awesome.
|Right after I finished the swim.|
|Got dressed and hanging with the runners. That's Alan and his girlfriend over my shoulder.|
|oh no, I have to enjoy this beautiful lake on a gorgeous day while my friends race.|
|Brian right after he got back from the bike ride|
After getting dressed again I went over to the finishers area for some food and water. The sun was out and the day was really starting to heat up. I knew I had some time while Brian was out there riding, this course was 28 miles. We saw him on the road, and he ran through TA screaming with speed. I grabbed the bike, Randy got the chip and took off out of the TA onto the run. Brian averaged 22 mph on the bike, which sounds blazing fast to us mortals but is pretty normal for him. It was a windy bike course and the heat really came out so I know how hard that really was. He nailed it.
Then we saw Scottie come in. Of course we're talking smack to Alan the whole time too. By the time Scottie came in from his ride, Alan grabbed the chip and took off quick. We knew he was going to be fast, but Brian actually put another 2+ minutes into Scottie. So by our count Randy was running with a 2:50 lead.
We knew Alan was going to be knocking down 7:15 miles, and there is no shade on that course. That guy goes all out all the time and even I've had no luck trying to catch him before. He loves to chase people down, so this was going to be close. As long as Randy didn't give up more than 30 seconds per mile we were going to be ok. Brian and I loaded the gear back up into his car while they were out running, grabbed some food and a chair to watch the big finish.
Before you know what happened, we saw this coming around the corner into the finishers chute
|Jenny (Scottie's fiancé), Brad (won his age group) and the mammoth Jonathan|
|I told you that guy was fast|
Turns out, we were also the first two relay teams to finish! Nothing like snagging a podium spot too. It may be my only one this year. Really it's better for everyone when I win. But you know there's nothing better than local bragging rights.
|Alan, Scottie, Jonathan, me, Randy, Brian. Remember I'm 6'1", these dudes are huge.|
|The award was a soup bowl. First place relay team, I'll take it! Yes thank you.|
The awards ceremony got delayed for a bit but eventually this happened:
|Thanks for the pic Jenny!|
Really this one could have gone either way. if I had gone off course in the water or Brian had a problem on the bike, maybe Alan would have been faster if the heat wasn't so intense. I was grateful to pull off a win, but even more grateful to get to spend that much time with such good friends. We made it back to Raleigh about 4 pm and I grabbed a nap and got to hang with the kids for a while. Our bet is that the losing team has to pay off a bar tab for the 6 of us. It may only be a beer or two, but it's still going to be pretty sweet.
And just to give them the due credit, Jonathan, Alan, Randy and Brian have each done 3 Ironmans, Scottie and Jenny did IMFL with me and IMLou the next year, and I totally beat Brian by 9 minutes at IMFL. Brian and Randy are also doing IM Chattanooga next year. So these are some serious veteran triathletes. Very cool. Also two of my AAA Carolina teammates were there and took age group podium spots. Represent!