After my tri at St. Andrews the week before, I was concerned about my ability to swim 0.62 miles, so I wrote to Vig, asking if I could form a relay team with Sadj: she would do the swim, and I would do the bike and run. Vig's response included several rude and true comments on my manhood. So I went out to the Chesapeake (Sandy Point) on Thursday, and swam backstroke in very choppy water for 35 minutes. I figured that after that, I might be able to handle Lake Centennial.
When Dawn Rudolph heard of my concerns, she volunteered to be on the swim kayak team, with the specific purpose of keeping an eye on me, and Ed O'Malley offered to be a swim buddy. At least I wouldn't drown! On Saturday, Maura Dunnigan brought over a goodie bag, with Swedish Fish, a pack of LifeSavers, and a war paint kit, to ward off evil spirits.
After a completely sleepless night, I was up at 4 am for a quick cereal and coffee breakfast, and got to the park just as it was opening. I set up my transition station in the 12 inches allotted to me and got some meaningful and helpful advice from Mike Stone of Princeton Sports. As I was walking over to the MidMaryland tent, I realized that I had never before experienced the pre-race tent, because I was always setting up the swim finish before our races. And it definitely lived up to the hype! Just being with the other racers, some (almost) as nervous as me, was a treat! The camaraderie, the food, and everyone supporting everyone else was just great. Many thanks to Jeanine, Raminta, Debbie, Mark and the whole crew for just being there to serve us. (And to Melissa Emery, who I'm sure was directing everything from afar.) Sadj applied my war paint, I met up with Ed, and off we went to the start.
I also realized about then that I had never witnessed a swim start before, for the reason stated above. Baptism by fire! We were in the third wave, and as I was going down the ramp with Ed, I just relaxed. He has that effect on people. There seemed to be a lot of folks in our wave, so we held back a bit, then headed to the outside, where we spotted Dawn, as promised. The game plan was that Dawn would stay ahead and to the outside, and Ed would stay right behind me. I was going to do a mix of back stroke and breast stroke, but I couldn't get the breast stroke to work, so I stayed on my back. As you may know, sighting is very difficult doing the back stroke, so I relied on Ed for course changes, as required. I found that I tend to the right (politically and swimmingly!), and was constantly correcting to the left. As we progressed, slowly, wave after wave were passing us, and having Ed behind me created a bit of a shield to prevent me from getting swum over. Finally, after what seemed like forever, we rounded the island and headed for the finish. Getting out of the water, and seeing Sadj, Nelson and Michelle Bull, Cat Paquin, and Abby Glassburg waiting for us was such a rush! Now I understand what others have told me for all these years about the fun and relief of seeing the swim finish team waiting for them. (Total swim time: 52 minutes!)
This took a little longer than usual, since I hugged and thanked everyone at the finish line, especially Ed. When I got to my bike, I found my area completely trashed, with my bike on its side, and my gear scattered all over. Not nice! I'm not yet a T1 expert, and putting on all that stuff just takes time. I finally got it all on, checked once or twice, and headed for the Bike Out. (T1=5:45)
The bike ride was fun, relaxed, and totally uneventful. I passed a bunch of people, and was passed by the last waves leaving the water, mostly by guys in their teens and 20s, with Zipp wheels and aero helmets. As I turned off 108 and into the Park, I could hear the cheering, and got a glimpse of a bunch of MMTCers right before the bike dismount, but was going sooo fast (ahem), I couldn't see who they were. (Total bike time:1:10:43, 14.8 mph)
Also uneventful; change shoes, dump the helmet and gloves, put on my Ace wrap and cap, and I'm off. So what took so long? (T2=3:11)
Ahh, finally my specialty. But I took off way too fast, a dumb rookie mistake. After a half mile, my breathing and heart rate were completely out of control, and I spent the next three miles trying to calm them down. I did a lot of fast walking/jogging, but was pretty wasted. I put on my game face as I approached our water station on GatorAde Hill, and was blown away by Bryan McMillan and his crew! They were jumping up and down and cowbell ringing as if I were the lead runner. Fantastic rush! After the loop and the return, they were still at it, as loud and energetic as before. Finally, over the dam, still passing the crippled and lame, and approaching the finish, I heard Alan Davis doing his Howard Cosell routine, runner by runner. He did a fantastic job all day. As I crossed the finish line, I was greeted by Sadj and my daughter Christine. What a sight for tired old me. I can honestly say I was more exhausted at that moment than I was crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon! (Run Time = 35:13)
After getting a couple of cold towels and a drink, I made my way back to the MMTC tents. Many congrats, hugs, high fives, and hand shakes for all. And the food: perfect and delicious! And after Nicole Thomas, Heather Beutel, and Kim Sheridan recorded everything for posterity, we made our way up to the awards ceremony, where Vigorito was being his gracious and loquacious self. I was proud to see how much hardware MMTC folks picked up.
This was such a great event for me. The help and support and encouragement I received over the last week or so was appreciated, humbling, and most useful. And my intention now is to learn how to swim "like the big kids" and do much better next year!
I know this report is long, but I wanted to mention everyone I could remember who participated and supported me. But the amazing thing is, except for my kayaker and swim buddy, this is the support we ALL get at every race we do. The MidMaryland Triathlon Club has become a phenomenal support machine, one that we all participate in, enjoy, and benefit from. We are truly blessed!
PS I'm two-thirds of the way through "Bob's Trifecta", raising money for Global Partners for Development. This is a terrific, highly rated charity run by a fellow marathoner, doing lots of good stuff in Africa. Please check out their website (www.GPFD.org) to be truly inspired. Go to the Events tab, and click on Bob's Trifecta. Please donate!