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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mike’s First Half Iron Distance Race (Cathy’s husband guest blogger)

4:40am wakeup; 5:30am departure
It was a warm, cloudy late summer morning on September 7.  I will get back to that in a moment.  Having missed my connection from Philadelphia, I was a little stressed, but the way the Cape Air crew on Saturday morning handled the flight from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard was a precursor to the fun and good times that were to ensue upon making it to the Vineyard for the triathlon on Sunday.  Our first good decision was to drive the bike leg of the triathlon which literally covered the entire island.  We had one less thing to worry about on race day after having racked our bikes and registered for the race the day before.  I was number 74 and it didn’t look like many folks signed up for the entire half iron distance event – 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.  Then we had an early dinner at famous Giordano’s and stopped at State Beach on the way home so Eric (aka the Belgian Block layer) could take a practice swim.  Afterward we headed to Diane’s (aka Name that Tune Diane) friend’s place a few miles from where we live on the Vineyard for some excellent dessert and good times.  After getting home, we went through our triathlon checklist and made sure our beverages, Shot Blocks and other nutritional items were good to go.  We were in bed by around 10 PM.

Men 40 and over lining up
After my best sleep before a race yet, I woke up when my alarm went off at 4:40 AM and had a quick breakfast with coffee, loaded the truck, made sure we had everything we would need and headed out with Cathy (aka Aquabike Specialist) and our friends.  Allison (aka Southern Belle), who recently relocated from NYC to Dallas, couldn’t participate due to an injury, decided to come along first thing in the morning even though the sun was not yet up.  She was our cheerleader with a reinvigorated Southern accent, photographer and spiritual advisor for the event.  Way to go Allison and don’t forget there is always next year!

Go - into choppy waters!
My start time was scheduled for 6:47 AM but the transition area as they call it was to close at 6:15 AM.  Having practiced getting my gear together before, we had plenty of time to get organized, head to the beach, swim for a few minutes and make sure we had our wetsuits and swimming gear on properly.  The surf was up so by the time they put the last buoy in the water it was really hard to see it about a half mile away.  The surf also makes for some challenging open water swimming.   The good news is that none of us were deterred and all of us were able to complete the swim leg.  My biggest issue was seeing the buoys well. The jelly fish that stung me in the hand and the neck didn’t bother me too much - luckily I had experience with that.  I missed the last buoy by about 300 yards and I am sure that added to my time which was about 15 minutes longer than I expected at close to one hour.

Only 56 cycling miles to go
I felt pretty good coming out of the water.  After making it to the transition area, I peeled off my wetsuit and was pleased that the Trislide spray I used really worked to ease getting out of it.  Earlier I was a little out of it at 5 AM when we arrived and realized I left my socks in the truck where Allison was peacefully catching up on some rest due to our loud neighbors and the noise they made the night before.  Thankfully, my wish to have somebody deliver my socks to the transition area was answered – thank you Name that Tune Diane.  I dried my feet, put on my socks and put on a tri shirt from a Sprint Triathlon we did earlier this year over my tri-suit not realizing I was putting it on backward.  No worries, after slipping on my cycling shoes and clicking in I was off and riding - Riding for 56 miles that is!  Other than having to make a bio break, I never stopped pedaling.  By mile 46, I really wanted to get off of my bike.  As I have said many times before, if you get through the ride without a mechanical issue like a flat tire, the ride leg is a success.  So, for all of us doing the cycling leg, aquabikers and relay partners, we had success.

One of the best things about beginning the run is that the transition is really fast – Get off the bike, change shoes, take off your helmet, put on a hat, take some water and Shot Blocks and go!  Did I mention, you need to remove your cycling gloves…oops…forgot to take those off.  The good news was that the excellent tri organizers set up six water stops so I could drop my gloves at the first one.  After mile one, I met Lori, part of a team that is friends with Peter Frates, the guy for whom the entire ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was created.  We were running the same speed so she told me all about Peter, his wife and baby and it was hard not to get emotional.  For the next 10 miles we ran together.  For that distance, you need to talk to somebody.  At mile 11, I decided my time was slipping so I went ahead.  A short while later, I thought I saw behind me a Vineyard buddy, Wayne, who was with Price Waterhouse and now runs Hinckley Lumber with his family on the Island.  I slowed nearly to a walk thinking it would be fun to run to the finish together.  As “Wayne” approached, I realized this guy looked a bit younger than Wayne and more to confirm what I already knew, I said, “Are you Wayne,” and as he flew past me, he said “Wayne, NO I am not Wayne.”  I was a little bewildered and decided I better pick it up.  We started closing in on the finish line but I realized the Wayne look-alike was going too fast for me and I was passed by Keri, a relay runner and friend of Lori and Peter’s.  I turned it on but couldn’t catch Keri either.  I did manage to outrun a few others so I was pumped by that.  I figured just completing a 13.1 mile run was something.
Home stretch!

After about six and a half hours, it felt great to complete the event.  It was unbelievable to have Cathy, Allison, Diane, Eric and Richard (aka Steve) greet me at the finish line.  It always provides a burst of adrenalin when you hear your friends and family cheering you on!  The icing on the cake was the massages purchased by our house guests for those of us who participated – those were really sweet!

After such a great day, I want to thank my friends and family who were involved and those who wished us good luck.  The volunteers, triathlon organizers and police all did a great job (except maybe for that guy who forgot to tell me which way to go on Moshup Trail).  In all seriousness, it was a great event and I look forward to more people joining us in the future.  Go to google and search for Vineyard Triathlon  to find out more and see you next September. 
70.3 Miles Done!

Celebrating success at the Lookout Tavern

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