Monday, May 31, 2010
The SkitoSea adventure is complete, and it was a hell of a thing. It was a real adventure, complete with trials and tribulations ranging from logistical nightmares, cross-state travel, teamwork, and haunted houses in the woods.
We headed up Saturday to pick up our race packets and get set up, which all went smoothly. We left our kayak with the Boy Scouts (despite Steve's lack of trust in the Boy Scouts that expelled him from their ranks as a child) and headed up to our campsite some 40 miles away from the finish of the race (it was closer to the start, and we thought it would be more convenient in the morning). Our campsite was our friend and teammate Kenji's roommate Marcel's project property in the woods up in Maple Falls, which was "still a work in progress" according to Kenji. After almost getting lost a few times, we eventually find the property - off of Cemetery Road. Of course, the "house" is a skeleton of a one-great home, and is riddled with all sorts of niceties (see: unexplainable sharp metal stakes, what can only be described as an open grave - complete with a shovel next to it, assorted saws and nails, and a front door that leads only to a concrete wall). I've included a photo of the "house" that includes what I can only assume is a ghost. After laughing for a bit about how awesome all of this was, we started pitching tents and setting up camp. Once our "home" was set up, things felt much better, and since we had to get up in a few hours for the race, we turned in (against every shred of self-preservation we collectively held) around 11 PM. Kate may have stayed awake a little later, however, since we may or may not have legitimately terrified her with talk of zombies.
Yesterday's race was awesome. It was a long day - we woke up at 4:45 AM for the race due to logistic constraints, but I didn't have anything to do until 8, and didn't actually start racing until after 10. The weather was perfect for my leg, and the roads weren't even that wet. Rain on and off for the rest of the day, and even some snow at the top for the skiers and runners. After the whole race was over and the festivities were concluded, we refueled, drove back to the campsite, packed up, then drove back to Seattle. Didn't make it home until after 1:30 AM, and still had to take a shower before bed. 21 hours of fun.
The race went great, though, and I beat my goal time. I finished the 38 mile course in 87:47, maintaining an average speed of just 26.2 mph. My avg HR was 178, my max for the day was 193 (there was one respectable climb in the whole course, in addition to maybe 5 or 6 shorter hills and rollers). Because our first 2 legs weren't that solid, we were in 375th place overall (of 464) when the run started, but Steve Benesi was in good form and made up 97 places with a 50:12 time over some 8.2 miles, averaging just over a 6 minute mile. Starting that late (my leg was after Steve's) in the day, a lot of the fast riders were away when I got the start, so I attacked right out of the gate. I laid into the riders on the course almost continuously, setting the pace the whole time. One rider passed me on a TT bike from one of the pro teams (his skier had a disaster up top and they started way back), and I stayed with him for about a mile. After I pulled him up a hill, he took the front on the successive descent and just took off. His 175+ lb frame and more aerodynamic bike were too much for me to stay with down the hill. There were a few other people that tried to ride with me early on, but I dropped them fairly quickly and kept ramping it up. I attacked more often than anyone I was riding with, and only stayed on a wheel for a few seconds or so to grab some water, etc. About 20 miles in I was starting to catch up with some good riders, and 2 guys started working with me to stay on the offensive. It was one of the best riding experiences of my life - working with two strangers to paceline our way to a better time for the sake of our teams. These two guys were experienced racers, and helped a lot. I still set the pace maybe 70% of the time (and they let me hear about it), but there relief came at some weaker moments for me and was greatly appreciated (albeit not as frequent as I would've liked). After the race, I got some "Thanks for doing all of the dirty work out there"s and some "Great ride"s from the guys that hung with me, which was very, very flattering and satisfying. All said and done, I passed 119 people, and got passed by 1. I'm pretty proud of myself for that statistic. Unfortunately, more quality teams were fielded this year, and although last year my time would've been good for top 10%, this year it only netted me top 13% (I finished 63 in a field of 464). But given that there were some pros and former Olympians in the field, I'm very content.
The team finished, and that alone can only be considered a victory in a race that spans multiple climate zones, 90+ miles, and 7 legs of sport tackled by teams of 8 athletes.
I rode hard, had a blast, and did well. Taking a rest day today, then back on the training schedule. Big 100 mile day on June 12, which will be fun.
I've included a few pictures from Mount Rushmore and some of my other travels from a few weeks ago that never made it up earlier in this post.
One quick rant - it now costs $10 to get into Mount Rushmore National Park where the "good" photo ops are, and that makes me sick. The photo in this entry was taken from the roadside a good half-mile away, and is my photographic rebellion against this appalling truism of the current state of the US. I woke up that morning and watched the President deliver a commencement speech at West Point, which I thought was a very fitting way to start my day at Mount Rushmore. I was feeling pretty patriotic at that moment. But an hour later my hopes and nationalism were dashed to the rocks, and I left the park feeling absolutely awful. I feel like it's every American's God-given right to see Mount Rushmore - the closest thing our country has to a pilgrimage site, as far as I'm concerned. But let's leave deities out of it for a minute and break it down. I pay taxes, and that should be enough no matter who or what you pray to. I don't ever complain about how taxes go to policies I disagree with, that they fund welfare programs for people that don't pay taxes (and may not even be citizens), or any of that. But I do take offense when that isn't enough to get me into Mount Rushmore National Park. America, you've let me down.