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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mossman: Know Thy Finish Line!

Beautiful Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT
Who knew that such a great seaside park existed in Bridgeport, CT, which is unfortunately notorious for its high crime index versus the US index and low CT index.  But Bridgeport’s most famous citizen is P.T. Barnum and as the founder and producer of the famous circuses in his name and as the city’s former mayor, he put both talents to use and had a vision for a grand park that was created from 1865 to 1920.  He also donated land that now encompasses the 370 acre park.  Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, already famous for designs of Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City, provided the blueprint.

As we prepared for the Martha’s Vineyard triathlon in September, we got the itch to put this good training to use and after hearing about a great race,  we signed up for the late August Mossman Olympic Triathlon in Seaside Park.  For me, it gave me an opportunity to compete in my second USAT sanctioned Olympic distance Aquabike and get my national ranking.  For Mike, an Aquabike offered up a nice training race as he prepared for his first Olympic distance race.

The day before, we did a warm up swim and loop around the lovely, flat bike course that is almost entirely along the water.  Since this race is in our backyard, we planned for a “just in time” arrival and boy was it!  As race day mornings go, the clock seems to tick faster than normal, and on this morning I seemed to require extra bathroom stops as well as had the chain on my bike come off just as I was about to exit transition – I regretted my seconds ago dismissal of Mike who had asked if I was good to go.  I found myself running down to the water not yet fully suited up as they played national anthem.

Mike is looking good!
Being in the Aquabike category, we were in the last wave.  Based on the waves ahead of us, it was clear the current was extremely low.  While some people were water running to the first buoy, I decided to swim the entire distance – I wanted to accurately know my time and this was the swim event after all, not water aerobics.  The swim felt great – I exited the water at 34:47 which is pretty much on par for my Olympic distance swims this season.  I really wanted to get my bike speed up on this race with it being a flat course.  We had to loop the bike course 5 times and for the first 3 quarters of the race, I was managing to maintain a 17 mph or more speed, but by the time I finished, my computer said 16.9 mph – the head wind was strong in parts and I couldn’t maintain it the whole time, but it still represented my fastest time this season.  I really don’t know how have in previous seasons I managed a 18 mph pace in a couple of races, even if they were shorter – I guess we move up in our age groups for a reason!
I had close to a 17mph bike

So here’s where the story of this race gets interesting.  Both Mike and I each entered the transition area after the bike portion and thought we were done (he was ahead of me by about 25 minutes).  That’s how it worked when I did the Philly Aquabike race.  So we each began changing our clothes.  I checked my Blackberry.  We each began packing up our gear.  We each had the same realization that the chip was still around our ankle so we asked a volunteer where we hand it in, and to our surprise, we had to run out of the transition area and follow the not so well marked, handwritten signs that pointed to the Aquabike finish – which turns out was the same finish line as everyone else.  So Mike went running out with his flip flops on, and I ran out with my water bottle and Blackberry in hand, producing some pretty silly finish photos! 

Well, in the end I penalized myself around 10 minutes with that error but it would just have meant I would have come in 4th out of 6 woman instead of 5th – but I still beat the 23 year old, ha!  Mike came in 5 out of 8 men and would have come in 4th.  So we’ll add this one to the lessons learned races.

Um, a flip flop finish?!
In P.T. Barnum’s autobiography he expressed the hope that: ”When the hand that now pens these lines is stilled forever, and thousands look… across the water to Long Island shore and over the groves and walks and drives of the beautiful grounds at their feet, it may be a source of gratification and pride to my posterity to hear the expressions of gratitude that possibly will be expressed to the memory of their ancestor who secured to all future generations the benefits and blessings of Seaside Park.”

Yes, P.T., we’re grateful you’ve built such a beautiful park.  And, we’ll take a lesson from you as you clearly had the finish line in view when you started.

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