I awoke last night to the sound of thunder. How far off? I sat and wondered.
Wait, that’s a Bob Seger song.
I awoke this morning at 5:35 a.m. My wife, the TV addict, switched on the local news while I made my typical morning visit to the loo. As I returned, I heard the slick-haired meteorologist blurt out, “It’s 22* here in Atlanta.” I thought to myself, “Maybe we switched to the metric system while I slept and he means Celsius.” He continued, “It will be mostly cloudy today, and the high may reach the mid 40’s.”
Again, I uttered a silent prayer he meant Celsius, even though 40* Celsius is scorching hot. Unfortunately, I realized that was not the case. I again thought, “Maybe he’ll be wrong. These talking heads never get the weather right.” Unfortunately, I would later realize that would not be the case.
I got on the scale and saw that I’d dropped to 233. Not bad. 3 pounds off my goal of 230 on race day.
I took a quick shower to wake myself up, put on my shorts, baselayer, t-shirt and socks and made my way to the kitchen for some tea and oatmeal (with sun kissed golden raisins!) I chowed this down while fooling around with the wife’s new toy, the Blackberry Pearl.
After making a mental checklist of everything I thought I needed and reciting it out loud at least three times, I packed the car and waited for my wife to return from walking the dog. After two sessions of “Didyaremember…..,” and running inside to retrieve the forgotten items, we were finally off.
We arrived at the staging area and I filled out my one-day license and medical release forms.
My start time?
So, off to the Starbucks for some espresso for me, and some frou frou chai soy latte macchiato frappachino for the wife.
That wasted all of 30 minutes.
Back to the staging area. By now, I’ve found other members of my club, and we’ve parked near each other. A few of them go off around 9:00, so I make my way down to the start line to see them off. My wife, despite having been warned to dress warmly, doesn’t want to leave the car. It’s only 31*.
9:30 rolls around. I start to prepare.
Neck gaiter. Check.
Pump. Pump? Where’s the pump? It seems the pump did not make it. Thankfully, one of the team guys has one.
My wife pins my number on, and I climb on someone’s trainer for 20 minutes or so of warm-up.
As I exit the car, the sun is nowhere to be found, and the extremely accurate dash thermometer reads 37* So much for the weatherman being wrong.
At 10:10, I ride down to the start and ride back and forth on the trial until I hear them call someone about 8 numbers in front of me. I take my place in line and wait my turn.
I clip in while the assistant holds me steady and wait for the countdown. Now, I raced giant slalom and slalom in HS. So, the starting gate is not entirely new to me. But that was almost 20 years ago. I was not prepared for the rush of nerves as he started down from 10.
At one, the assistant lets go and I realize I’m overgeared. I had to really mash to get started. Thankfully, it was a 4 foot platform, so the slope helped me along. I hear my wife scream as I pull away.
I’m off. I THEN realize that I hadn’t reset my computer. I quickly reset it and set my computer to show cadence and average speed, knowing that I need to average about 18.5 to break 30 minutes. If I can get to 18.5 at the turn, I also know that the return is more downhill than uphill.
The first quarter mile or so is slightly uphill, then maybe three quarter of a mile of a slight downhill. I realize I’m averaging 21 mph through the first mile and try to dial it back. I don’t want to kill myself. I focus on maintaining a cadence of 85-95.
Then the climb. It’s not a “real” climb, ut more like a gentle 2-3% grade. Noticeable, but not difficult. I say that, but as I near the 3.5 mile mark, I notice I’ve dropped to an average of 17.9 mph. Thankfully, the last mile or so to the turn around is downhill.
I make the turn at 15:22 according to my computer. I think, “I can still crack 30 minutes.”
I make a hard effort up the first mile on the return, and then start hammering on the downhill. The average speed climbs. 18.3, 18.6, 18.8, then finally 19.2 and 19.5.
The last 1.5-2 miles is a very slight uphill, then the finish. Around mile 7.5, I realize my legs are dead. I struggle up the last rise, trying to conserve some energy for the last few hundred yards. I notice the average speed drop to 19.
I hit the last cue before the home stretch. I muster one last burst of energy and pedal towards the line.
I blast through the finish and look at my computer.
29:05. (my official time was about 15 seconds more, accounting for the fact that I didn’t reset the damned thing until maybe 300 yards down course)
I broke 30 minutes, though. Which was my goal. Would have loved 28 minutes and change, but not at 37*. My legs felt like blocks of ice.
I’m exhausted, ecstatic and somewaht frostbitten.
Off to take a nap, and then have a pizza for dinner.
PS. My wife, who promised to take lots of pictures, go so excited, she forgot to even remove the camera from the case.
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