triathlon training

New England Triathlon -The Run

Well now I've completed the swim and bike and judgement day is about to unfold its fatefull conclusion. Will my leg conk out? Will I finish my first Ironman standing up? Can I do it before dark?

Again I change with a towel. I've had my singlet with number under my jersey and just need shorts and shoes. At Mike and Rob's I foolishly opt to forego the socks and pay dearly in the form of bloody shoes at the 2 mile mark and 6 blisters on each foot (new shoes). I down a large black coffee and check my watch, another 3 minute transition.

The course is a simple double out and back along part of the bike course. My strategy for the run was simple: four 6.5 mile segments taken one at a time. I would run each according to how I felt and would walk through all the aid stations taking coke and water and mixing them. Beth and Matt were at the middle aid station so I'd get to see them 4 times.

Somebody passed me right out of the start and I thought ok I don't need to worry about having nobody passing me on the run, they've already done it! Mike and Rob's I boasted a 1:29 1/2 marathon and never got passed. Then Paul passed me and I said "go get em!". I needed to remember 3 weeks earlier I couldn't walk for a week without pain.

"GUMBY!!!GUMBY!!!" I yelled and got the usual happy cheers back but this time I threw in a new twist by mimicking Gumby's arms with one held still forward and one held still in back of me like Gumby and the crowd went wild along with my spirits. A woman hollers

"I like your hair" and I quip back "I like your face!"

I make it up to Beth and Matt at the 3 mile aid with no problem because my pace is slow and easy. I'm cheering people in the returning leg and Kevin comes into view.GO KEVIN!!!

My arms are chaffing in the back and there's a couple with a bike on their car,stopped to root the runners on. "Hey up ahead, do you have any vaseline?" They scramble in the back as an indication I'm in luck and produce it just in time. "Thanks alot", and I hardly miss a beat.

At the turn around I haven't seen Paul and there he is at the aid station. "How are you feeling?"

"Lousy, I've got a cramp and feel terrible"

"Slow down and you'll make it, you're doing great" I tell him.

Thank God, I've made it this far but I've done it by getting into that trance taught the night before at the dinner. I've had luck closing my eyes in other races and tryed this new technique with success. I close my eyes during the out breath and open them for the inhale and keep my breathing deep and regular. I also started reciting Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods On a Snowy Evening" during the bike and was doing it again.

        Whose woods these are I think I know.
	His house is in the village though:
	He will not see me stopping here
	To watch his woods fill up with snow.

	My little horse must think it queer
	To stop without a farmhouse near
	Between the wood and frozen lake
	The darkest evening of the year.

	He gives his harness bells a shake
	To ask if there is some mistake.
	The only other sounds the sweep
	Of easy wind and downy flake

	The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
	But I have promises to keep,
	And miles to go before I sleep,
	And miles to go before I sleep.

Back at Beth and Matts and then the Gumbys and the Bud party on the other side and the woman still likes my hair and I still like her face and OH BOY it's the turn around. The race directors wife Rose Marie gives me a glow stick and I don't refuse like before at previous aid stations. It is getting dark after all and she is so nice and helps so much. It's not nice to upset the race directors! I pin it to the outside of my shorts and it doesn't bob up and down to bad like I thought it was going to.

The course has long inclines and declines and is not what I would consider a tough run,but I've never run a race in the dark and wonder if I'll need more clothes. Just the singlet turns out to be fine as the body heat makes outside temp 10 degrees warmer than it really is.

GUMBY!!! And now the darkness is taking over the street. I'm too tired now to root on the passing competitors and besides, it's hard to see them. Earlier I discovered that even though people want to high five they move their hand at the last minute to avoid collision. This I note is a smart move after a long day, who needs a pain in the arm? There's a warm moist air that lingers in the new evening coolness and I'm one with my environment, my eyes opening and closing with each breath as I recite my mantra for this race-GOD LET ME FINISH, over and over.

There's something about the smoke from a wood burning stove in the country. It hung low and waft thick on the road and wood like cream freshly poured in coffee. It tugged at my lungs like the first cigarette 25 years ago, burning as it went down. As it spread out ahead, visible in the last light of day, it seemed to warn of a cold frosty night ahead.

Oh boy, it's that couple again. There was a couple on bikes who were riding around cheering and helping people get up the hills and such. I give the woman my glow stick because now it's hard to see and they need it as much as I. They were a big help in the spots with no aid or spectators, I started to consider them dear friends. I tell them, " we don't know you, but we love you!" on the return.

And so I've made it to the final turn around and only need to complete the final 6.5 mi. There's excitement at the turnaround and I don't need anything from my needs bag there. Paul has caught me and is on his way in, and I catch up to a guy I played yo-yo with on the bike. " Hey you look so familiar I should just introduce myself" and I do.

I'm running in the dark with no night stick and the cars blind me as I go. I try to develop a method to see better and one way works as well as another. People come and go in the opposite direction,some more visible than others, some walking, some not. An aid station has a glow stick and I'm going again. It reflects off the white curb line and I use that as a guide for my one foot in front of another mode. Whose woods these are.... and OH GOD....and eyes open, eyes closed... The stars are bright and I can see the entire Milky Way laid out, and here comes another car. And another runner.

The final stop at my sisters aid station and they tell me they'll see me at the finish. Oh boy, three miles more, then two. Hey that's just a cool down and I'm done. Just a couple more laps and then...

GUMBY!!! I'm informed there are no more hills and yes that's right, thanks for reminding me. What a relief.

I stop near the entrance to the park to pee one last time. It's been a day of drinking and peeing where and when ever I can and now with it being so dark I just stop and go a little to the side. My yo-yo pal passes me and what's the diff? Let him go. People are leaving the park and everyone says, way to go! hooray! you're home!etc.

As I approach this finish line I think, will my life be differant now? If I can do this what else lies ahead?

Beth and Matt yell and clap as the bright lights guide me to the final yards, I DID IT! With arms stretched high above and fingers in the hang loose position and big smile, I cross the finish line 13:03:34.

Not bad for a guy who used to smoke 3 packs a day and couldn't stop coughing. Not bad for a pothead who used to have a hard time going 24 hours without a drug or drink and couldn't seem to find anything worth doing. Someone who couldn't save bus fare out of town.

WHY? Because it was there!

Thanks to all who made this possible. My High School coaches,The Golden Gate Tri Club, Walnut Creek Masters Swim Team, and RST!

Everyone dies, but not everyone lives

GOOD LUCK and Keep It Fun!!!
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