Thursday, August 03, 2006

du worlds

ITU du worlds (short course)
10K run – 40K bike – 5K run
sat 29 july 2006
corner brook, newfoundland

it's 1am, and i'm wide awake because bob dropped off our luggage an hour ago and i cannot get back to sleep. bob was a very accommodating, friendly person tasked with cleaning up after Air Canada's fuck-ups – in this case misplaced luggage. i met many bobs during the trips to and from newfoundland. hooray bobs!!

we flew out of philly last tuesday, expecting to arrive in deer lake, NF late tues night, but flights were cancelled and overbooked, and the earliest arrival Air Canada could guarantee was saturday morning. maybe i would set foot in deer lake before my wave took off in corner brook, 2 hours south.

we ended up taking a boat instead – and after a 6-hour ferry ride from nova scotia to NF, we finally arrived in corner brook on thursday with enough time for me to cobble my bike together, take a spin on the bike course and then rush to the opening ceremonies. there i met up with my nemesis K (with whom i duel in local races) and S (who roundly schools us both, but in a very nice, bob-like way). during the Walk of Nations, we filed into the pepsi center country by country to a rolling din that reached a crescendo when the canadian team poured in last. S took pix while K and i checked out the swiss boys.

the next morning S and i rode a lap of the bike course (10K/lap) and ran a lap of the run (2.5K /lap). the course suited me well: both ride and run course were either up or down or windy, posing few opportunities for ADD racers like me to daydream ourselves into a different time and place. plus, hills and wind offer me an advantage over the Tiny People who otherwise blow by me on their teenytiny legses.

run course is good; bike course is good; what more could i ask for?

how about RAIN. drizzly rain, sheeting rain, bucketing rain – many permutations of rain come saturday morning. i have found that rain and general inclemency (like wind, obvy) make the Tiny People nervous. they get blown about. they ride their brakes on the descents and chirp their rear tires on the climbs. as multi-sport people, we typically eschew riding in the rain, electing to run instead, or ride our trainers, or make chocolate chunk espresso cookies; thus we sometimes forget how to ride in baleful weather.

the question the rain brought with it (besides how slippery is that manhole cover) was will my hamstring get cold and seize up faster. i hadn't run since the last hamstring pull and had no idea what to expect from it. all week i'd been slathering that puppy with biofreeze, with arnica, with freakin' emu oil in the hope that it'd hold together for the race. the back of my leg was so constantly tacky i stuck to chairs.

saturday morning i tried a new drug, greasing up with sports balm before K and i trotted out a warmup. she kept edging away from me and i knew she was raring to go. me? -i was kind of sleepy.

my and K's wave comprised women ages 35 to 54, and i took some comfort in the fact that i there was a chance i wouldn't be the last one to pull my bike off the rack as long as i could stay ahead of a 50-year-old or two.

4 laps of the out & back run course meant dropping down a significant hill twice a lap – death to crankly hamstrings! – so i took rudy's advice to heart and chopped my stride down to a near-shuffle every time down that hill. i began a rousing game of Red Light Green Light with a girl from great britain: she'd dart by me on the downhill, and i'd creak by her on the uphill. every time we passed the start/finish line spectators hollered (sometimes in english), pounded the barricade and, if there was a canadian competitor nearby, did the wave.

my mile pace was about 45sec slower than it should have been, and i was 5min down on K by the time i finally reached my bike, 11th out of 16 in my age group and 50th in my wave, with a time of 45:05. OTOH i was pumped about making it through the 10K AND my legs were fresh. i roared onto the bike course and instantly caused some consternation with several older gentlemen from an earlier wave as i made a move to pass on the inside right before the turnaround, the whole mess compounded by the fact that the course organisers had us riding on the left side of the road, passing on the right.

the rain started in earnest, and i rode the brakes on the first descent and chirped my rear tire on the first climb before i finally loosened up and had a blast. despite the rain, spectators still mustered on the course, sitting on their lawns with golf umbrellas and signs recommending "Ride it like you Stole It" and collecting on the windy straights to cheer and play triangles (must be a canadian thing. like badminton).

i made up some time on the bike leg and passed a lot of women, including my great britain friend, but i was certain most of these women would pass me again in the second run. my bike split was 4th fastest in my AG, 7th in my wave.

getting off the bike was entirely a different experience than getting on. when i finally got both feet on the ground, it felt as though all the muscles from my ankles to lower back had been replaced with steel shafts. nothing was bending or giving. i shuffle-skated with my bike back to the rack and pulled on my flats, thinking there was no way on god's green earth that i could eke out a 5K run. but volunteers were gesturing and herding me back on the run course and here i was going down the same old hill and here's that same guy exhorting me: work the hills! you love hills! you're a runner now! –and i felt i should stop to apologise, to explain, to somehow excuse the fact that i've brought 8min miles to worlds.

but i didn't because i was now back in the neighborhood where spectators had hung all the countries' flags, and they were playing fiddle music that transported me back to county clare, and they were cheering for me by name because they're armed with start lists that match race number to name. you cannot pull out of a race when strangers are cheering for you personally.

at the first turnaround, my back and glutes were beginning to loosen up. the hamstring was very obviously Present, however; and i knew that pushing it beyond the edge meant walking, and i could not walk because here, approaching the turnaround, was my Red Light Green Light companion. she.would.not.give.up. so i trundled on, exchanging wry grins with a japanese woman every time we passed on the out & back course.

a canadian woman in my AG passed me halfway through the 2nd run and i didn't counter. i expected more to follow in her wake, including great britain, but none did. i ran that 5K in 25:21 – smokin' eh?? – but i finished.

so, i was the ole mid-pack fodder, locking in at 8th in my AG. K was 2nd. S won her 30-34 AG and was 2nd F overall with a time that would have put her 3rd among the pro women, who raced the next day.

thanks for your well wishes. :) FMC, it is now time to take your advice and give the hammie a rest. also, there are choc chunk cookies calling my name.


fatmammycat said...

Wow, well done Finn. Considering you were carrying that injury in the first place you must be feeling very proud of yourself.
It's easy to give advice to other folk, but I remember hurting my shoulder before a point to point years ago and refusing to accept that it was goodnight for me, no matter what my doc said. So I gobbled a load of painkillers and I rode in it. I came 15th out of a field of 22. The following week I was in agony and it took ages for it to heal.
Next time you're going to wipe the floor with them all. Now go scoff goodies, you deserve them.

finn said...

ta v much ms cat.

if we never pushed our bodies to that tottery edge we'd be boring folk indeed. but i know when to say when -- or when to listen & obey when someone else says When.

meanwhile, i am scoffing with all due haste -- have put away the better part of a pound of skittles today. only the orange ones remain.

tonight, perhaps, i shall make my Axis of Evil brownies.

Theo said...

"For your recipe? A teaspoon of coconut extract."
(This is because J was watching a Grey's Anatomy rerun; Itchie was making chocolate cupcakes because this psychic guy consented to surgery and aw fuck who cares, I've got kittens.)

(PS -- Me an' Gordy'll be playing a little joke on your friend Trent, for NC2.)

finn said...

you get me closer to cod.