It’s unusual for me to wait this long to post a race report. And I definitely don’t have a good excuse. I don't have very many pictures and am hoping that some official ones will be posted at some point.
Summary: I had a fun day at S.O.S. It's a great event and I’m pretty pleased with my result. I think that with more determined and focused training (and without a slight hiccup at transition) I could have raced faster and more comfortably, but I pretty much say that after every race. Hopefully I can take this as a lesson for next season.
We flew to NYC on Thursday, September 1, ten days before SOS. It was a busy ten days and it ended up being more a "break" than a "taper". First, we went out to Princeton, NJ for Gal and Jenny’s wedding. The wedding was a blast and we got to spend time with a bunch of good friends we don’t see very often. On Saturday I got out for a ride in Princeton. I went looking for some hills, but the best I could really do were some bumps. Nevertheless, I'm really glad I got that ride in, because I didn't touch the bike again until race morning! Sunday (our anniversary!) we drove into the City and checked into our hotel in Union Square, where we were staying for the week. My plan was to taper for the week, but still get in a few good, short, intense training sessions. In the end, the only of those adjectives I achieved was "short". The weather was abysmal pretty much all week – I’m not afraid to train in the rain, but I wasn’t interested in being out and about in the City in the pouring rain that was came down most of the time we were there. I ran a couple times on the hotel treadmill, did some strength work and ran the stairs in the hotel. My legs were definitely well rested for the race!
The weather cleared up just in time for Gen Art's fall fashion show on Friday evening. Elizabeth had been working around the clock all week to make it happen and I was excited to see that it was a huge success.
Saturday we drove out to New Paltz for SOS. During the week, Don Davis, the race director, sent out an email explaining that Hurricane Irene had destroyed sections of the course so the race would be changed from eight stages to four, cutting out two swims and two runs. Then, at the pre-race meeting, we heard that due to Tropical Storm Lee, some of the roads were closed and the bike course was changed.
Up at 4:30. A Clif Bar, an apple and a coconut water for breakfast and we were off to the Ulster County Fairgrounds for the start. It was already in the low-60’s by 6:30. SOS is a wave start, with the waves starting one minute apart. The first wave was the Open division and men under 30. I was in the second wave.
Leg #1: 28 mile bike: 1:32:43
I biked well. I was maybe a little too conservative at the beginning. In SOS, especially with the shortened course, there was a real opportunity to push it on the bike. The primary difference between this course and the “normal” one was an additional hill early on – it started at about mile 4 and climbed about 750 feet over 2.2 miles. After the climb, there was a fast descent. While going about 40mph down the hill, the dude in front of me hit some loose gravel, slowed down on the side of the road and fell over. I considered stopping but he didn’t fall hard, looked OK and I was going 40 downhill. Stopping would have been dangerous. It turned out he passed me around mile 17 and then ended up coming in 4th place overall. I talked with him after the race and he agreed that I shouldn’t have stopped!) After the descent, there are 12 flat/rolling miles and then the final climb. You climb about 1,100 feet in 6 miles. It’s tough and a lot different than the rest of the course, but I feel like I’m a decent climber and got through it just fine. I was the first in my age group off the bike.
Transition at SOS should be really quick. Hand off your bike and helmet to your crew person (every racer has to have a crew person), grab running shoes and goggles and go. My transition had a little snafu and I lost at least two minutes there.
Leg #2: 10-11 mile run: 1:16
When I finally got off for the run, I was feeling great. I passed a few guys right away and settled into a just-barely-uncomfortable pace. The first seven miles of the run were downhill or flat. For the entire run I ran with or slightly behind a guy in my age group named Brian McDonald. About two-thirds of the way through, someone passed us and Brian made a little surge to stick with the guy. I didn’t go with him. Instead, from that point on, I was thirty or forty feet back. He was always in my sight, but I never pushed to try to catch him. Just like at Wildflower, I’m a little upset at myself for not making it hurt more. Brian got into the lake about 30 seconds ahead of me.
Leg #3: 0.5 mile swim: 13:28
My swim sucked. Wow. Granted, I lost a lot of swim fitness because of the broken collarbone, but if I'm gonna race triathlons next year, I need to put in some serious pool time. The other part of the reason it sucked was that I swam with my shoes on. When I did SOS in 2008, for each swim, I took off my shoes, shoved them into the back of my shorts and then put them back on after the swim. That worked great. But this year, since it was just the one swim, I decided not to waste the time taking them off and putting them back on. Swimming with shoes – even light ones like the K-Ruuz – is not fun. My feet were heavy and dragging, but the worst part was that every pull felt like I was wearing massive paddles or pulling through thick pudding. If I go back for SOS in 2012, I’ll have to think hard about the shoe strategy. On the other hand, the water was a perfect temperature and it felt great to be in the lake.
Leg #4: 0.7 mile run: 5:53
The final run was tough. And it’s supposed to be. It’s a short 0.7 miles run, but it’s essentially straight up hill. You’re dizzy from just getting out of the lake and trying hard to will your legs to move at all, let alone carry you up the hill. I was a little slower than 2008. I did get a little "assist" up part of the trail by an awesome three year old boy who paced me for a few hundred feet!
Final result: 3:10:50
Age group: 2/14
I crossed the finish line mostly feeling relieved. And extra relief that Hurricane Irene forced the course changes so that I only had to swim half a mile instead of 2.1 miles.
Brian came over and told me that we’d taken first and second in the age group. I had spent the race assuming there was at least one person in front of us. Podium! Goody!
The post-race lunch at the awards ceremony is as fantastic as everyone says it is! Even my sorry-ass vegan self found plenty of delicious stuff to eat.
After the race we drove out to Wainscott to spend a few chill days at the house there. The weather was beautiful on long island and we spent a few hours each day on a the uncrowded, post-Labor Day beach with the dogs.