August 11

Been a while. Since I last posted, let’s see, I ran my first 5K on the track. Empire State Games Masters, and ended up with a 17:38, for second in my age-group. It seemed to take forever, lap after lap. But no speed left me with no kick, so I lost to someone (by 8 seconds) who passed me with only 500 to go. Ouch.

I’m tired. The one time I’m not is when I’m running. But especially in the morning, I’m tired.

The problem with not getting injured over an extended period is that you don’t have an injury to force you to take time off. I’m beginning to look forward to finishing Reach the Beach next month and taking it easy for a while. A couple of long runs for that, some regular tempos and other speedwork, and come Labor Day I begin to taper.

As I say, I’m not tired while running or immediately afterwards and I’m not feeling blown apart after a run, and my pace is consistently on the fast side.

To the right is a shot of today’s run at the Rockies. I got lost a couple of times. It’s beautiful, especially on a day like today, but those hills.

September: Reach the Beach

RTB 2007 was pretty much on everyone’s mind within minutes of finishing the race in 2006. There was a pact that it would not be discussed among ourselves for some months, which would give plausible deniability when our spouses or significant others (or both) asked about it. “We agreed we would not think about it for a while.” But we all did and we all knew most, if not all, of us would be back. It was that kind of deal.

In the meantime, I had a marathon to run, and did that. Then Spring and racing then.

Captain Tom sent out feelers for interest in 2007 and he got a 100% positive response. We all wanted in. My wife made it clear that I couldn’t do both RTB and New York. “Choose.” I chose RTB (but entered NY just in case). Unlike marathon-specific training, training for RTB is a hybrid. Sort of marathon-lite (which, as we’ll see, may be a mistake for certain legs). The mentality becomes: every workout is designed to shave off a second here and a second there in the race and every missed workout, quelle disaster! So I do the work although I’m a little light on mileage and catch a bug about 10 days out, during taper-time, and miss running for several days. But I’m able to get some final stuff in. Some repeats with Gregg, nice and relaxed, on the Tuesday before.

By now, two members have had to drop out. Lisa goes first, with an injury that is preventing her from training consistently, and she knows you can’t do this without training. Greg Stanton, one of the originals (Pete Best?) who dropped out before the 2006 race. I’d only heard of this guy, although rumor had it that he was giving the splits at the 2-mile mark of the Turkey Trot, but that was never confirmed.

Then PAB, who’d moved to Chicago, got into a work conflict. He was out. This I find out when I get a Club-wide e-mail that the team needs a 12th runner. Had they voted me off the island? (Not so far-fetched since they would later want to vote me out of the van.) No. PAB was gone. Everyone is re-calculating what their legs would be if we went with 11. I would have some crazy amount of mileage. But Erin Patterson, dubbed Erin the Rower by me but Erin the Short by everyone else (in deference to Erin (the Tall) Haugh (soon to have a different last name, which is good because I still don’t know how to pronounce the one she has)), steps into the breach. I knew EtS from our Tuesday night workouts when she and her husband Dave (a Brit) came. Before signing off on the deal, Dave came to a final prep breakfast at Café Mozart to size up the men with whom his wife would be sleeping. Seeing me and Tom and Dave and Patrick and Joe and Greg and Gregg, he told her, “no problem.” We all noted that he hadn’t met Guillermo. His confidence might have been a tad lower if he had.

Legs had been assigned. Tom is mocking me for saying “I don’t do downhills.” So he gives me leg 3. He takes leg 1, Dave’s 2, then Patrick, Joe Moore, EtT (van 1), Guillermo, Greg Stanton (get that man a nametag), EtS, Greg Stern, Jerri Lynn, and Gregg. Gregg, who had the single toughest leg last year, is the guy who’ll bring us home (or so he thought). JL contacted the local paper, and I got my picture for an article.

Two vans going up on Thursday. I hook up (as I had last year) with the early van. We leave Dave and JL’s place at about 11:30, Gregg (the fourth in the group) driving. Up I-95, and we stop at a truck stop. Never been to one, and it is fun. Dave takes over, but he’s pissed at me for saying “we’re not in a hurry.” As we approach Boston, Gregg, who’s in the third seat, gives a slight cheer at every sign – “Boston 42” – with the city’s name. JL, in the death seat, picks up on this and, getting in the spirit of things, starts going “Yoo Hoo” every time she sees a “Boston” sign. She’s doing it a lot. But the trip up with these three is quite enjoyable.

We get to Logan to pick up Guillermo, flying in from Paris. I jump out and confirm that Guillermo’s coming through the doors (well, not that “Guillermo” is, but that Air France passengers will be) and run out to confirm with the Van. I run back in, and Guillermo’s coming out. Perfect timing (which Dave happens to note when he says, “And Joe said I was going too fast”).

I take over the driving. It’s a little touch and go getting out of Logan with a tunnel, lane merges, and stuff. A bit of traffic – it’s about 4 – and with JL as the Navigator, with her on-board friend Nancy, we’re on the road again. Straight highway, with a few slowdowns for traffic, up to Greg Stern’s place. Now as a Van 1 alum I had never seen the place, but there it was, smack on a lake. We see Greg’s mom Judy again. A brief break, and we’re off to a restaurant in town, where Greg points out that leg 17 goes through, and we realize that we’ve driven down “Joe Moore’s hill.”

Italian place. Seven of us – JL, Dave, Guillermo, Greg, Greg’s mom, Gregg, and me. Bottle of wine (Chianti) and pasta all around (or mostly; Judy orders a pizza). At some point we’re wondering about the late van. They report being on the road. I suggest that JL let them know that we’re on a second bottle of wine (as we are), and she does, adding a “how you doin’?” to Capt. Tom. We figure he tells the group, “You won’t believe what they just said to us,” and after a long delay occupied with fashioning and fine-tuning the perfect put-down rejoinder with his band of high-voltage comrades, he retorts, “F*** you.” Ouch. By then, though, we’re on desert, a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, to celebrate Greg’s 29th birthday, passing it around for bites. Big guy at a white piano sings “Happy Birthday” too.

Ah, but time is passing and we need to get to bed. It’s 10 o’clock! JL and Dave pair off and Guillermo, Gregg, and I have cots downstairs. And to sleep we go. Only to be awakened by a bunch of people arriving at 12:30. The nerve. If we didn’t need them, I’d have let them sleep in the late van. But we do. I hear a coin hitting the floor directly over my head a few times. It’s to decide who gets the couch and who gets the cot. Tom gets the cot, and he settles in.

Morning. Guillermo tapping away at some PDA-device, and then he’s outside. I head out in my PJs, and he snaps a picture of me on the dock. Mist thick atop the water. A bit chilly, and the forecast is still for rain early Saturday. I go for a run down the path, for 10 minutes, not realizing that others were going out as well. So I miss them. Then a few others go out, ending with Tom and Greg Stern (”Sterno”) finding their way into the lake.

Shower. Last hot shower for a while so enjoy it. Then off to the Country Kitchen for breakfast. Ten of us. The 2 Erins refuse to get up! I tell them we’re leaving and I hear a plaintive “Bye.” Two tables at the restaurant, and we have a great time. People looking at us like we’re nuts. And we kinda are.

Back to the house, divvy up stuff for Van 1 and Van 2. We’re off. We head into town, and I recognize it as the end of leg 15, which Tom ran last year and I’m to do this year. I see that the road leading to the town finishes on a downhill. This info will prove handy later.

We’re behind Van 2 and it pulls into a parking lot. “We need to get gas.” Fine, we head back an into a gas station. Then we’re really off. We’re searching for markers to write on the vans, and WalMart is suggested. We learn that one’s just off of I-93, and that’s where we’re heading. Get there. People pick up stuff, and we get the markers. Tom gets a pig mask – cheaper than plastic surgery – and a lower leg for handing out the back of Van 1. Van 2, jealous sends someone in, and all they get is a hand. We “decorate” the Van. Now I’m the heavy in this. JL had the idea – not a bad one – to have each person’s quote – a back-story even I won’t get into – on the sides, but no, Joe says that would be “stupid.” So I was supposed to come up with ideas for the vans. Everyone realizes the folly of that and we start writing. I put our names on one side, including Erin2 and Greg(g)3, as well as a big “Sound Shore” and “from New York.” Someone puts a “Go Sox” and a smaller “Go Pats.” I refer to the rubber leg as one of our legs, and someone points an arrow towards it and writes “Leg 37.” That’s clever. A few more things go on the van, all in good taste (except maybe the Michigan reference) and with Sterno making reference to the recent death of his dad. This is all going on in a WalMart parking lot. In New Hampshire.

Back on the road. Up to Cannon Mountain for the start. We get there with plenty of time (I told you Dave), and go through orientation, with a number of folks going through the picked-over store and getting shirts and hats and stuff. Last year I was Leg 1 and was so nervous I could hardly breathe. “Game face.” People kept their distance. This year Tom took over that responsibility, and I was nice and relaxed. I had no idea how I was going to do my first leg, but I was relaxed. Group picture. Get ready for 2:30 (actually 2:35). Then, off they go, with Tom heading out. We’re finally on the road. Nine teams start with us and the final 5 teams, the real horses, will be giving us a half-hour head start. We know it won’t be enough, but we’re running our race.

Van 2 is gone. We zip down to TA 1. There’s no place to stop for Tom on Leg 1. Only a few vans in the TA. While waiting, someone from Larchmont asks whether we’re from Mamaroneck, and we say we are. He is on “The Urinators,” which also started at 2:30. There’s a back-story there too, but no need to get into it. We invite him to our workouts. We’ll see if he comes.

A few teams come in. EtT is yelled at for going up the trail to look for Tom; only runners there! Hey, she is a runner. Then Tom appears, and Dave is ready to go. He heads out strong. This leg has places to stop, and we wait for him a couple of times. He looks good, relaxed, but fast. Then, I realize, I’m up next. Game face. We get to TA2 and I change into my Sound Shore singlet. Going with racing flats this year after sticking with trainers in 2006. Dave’ll come out of a trail, and I chat with some of my fellow Leg 3ers. Good luck, how’d you get stuck with this leg. Then word comes: Dave’s heading in. He has to navigate past a gate just before his finish, and he does that awkwardly, but he’s finished and I’m beginning. My plan is to go out as relaxed as possible because I realize that if you go out too fast you can blow up in the later stages, like a biker in the Alps. I have my Garmin, and am a little quicker than the 7-flat I was targeting. About 6:45-50. But I feel relaxed. There’s a runner a ways ahead and nothing else. I slowly reel him in, passing him on a relatively flat (”relatively”) stretch and say that this is the calm before the storm. He is from a club in Buffalo, and they are our favorite other team in the race, as we all chat with them at the breaks (and will later give one of their members a light). His team is encouraging to me as well, and I appreciate that.

I’m keeping a pretty good rhythm. Team stops and gives me water early on, although I decline the offer later in the stage. I hit the 6 mile mark, and things begin to go wrong. After my marathon, however, I realize that I can stop to regroup and get back into the race. And so on a particularly brutal incline, I stop a couple of times, not for long. By this point, I’ve seen the Google van go by. The 3pmers are on the hill. I actually look back (although I got up the hill faster than Google’s No. 3). I stop again, and Hello Kitty, our second favorite other team, asks if I’m OK and I say I am because I am. Cars and trucks are flying down the hill. There’s writing on the road (favorite: “The Beach” with an arrow point, well, up). Supposedly there’s a nice view, but my entire focus is on the white line along the side of the road. My Garmin passes 7, 7.5. The leg is advertised as 7.7 (although Google Map has it closer to 8). I’m looking for a sign for the overlook where the exchange will take place. The road turns to the left just at 7.7, and I can see the exchange point way ahead. There’s one runner ahead of me.

The Buffalo folks had told me I could catch him. He’s on the over-50 team. But I stop one last time. Then it’s heading for home. I reach for the “baton” and straighten it out for Patrick (who complained about how I handed it to him last year). That’s the finish in the video.) He takes it and is quickly gone. I get across the road, and people congratulate me on my job. I thank the Hello Kitty driver. But no time to waste. Patrick is heading down the hill. So quickly into the van and we’re off again. We stop once for Patrick and see other people flying by as well. This is a steep downhill, just the thing I knew I couldn’t handle. But Patrick’s young, as is Joe Moore.

Next transition area. I take out some (tap) water and rinse off my singlet. I’ve brought a hanger for the purpose, but there’ll be no sun to dry it off. But it will prove useful.

Patrick to Joe to EtT. We meet Van 2 at VTA 1. They tell us where we can get some Italian food. It is getting dark already. EtT to Guillermo (and Van 2) and we’re off duty for a bit. We head to the Italian place and get 6 orders of spaghetti with meatballs. A bunch of other teams are there as well (it’s on the course) and we sit outside. Now JL had the idea of organizing her stuff into three bags for each of her legs. Great idea, and we decide that we had better get our second leg stuff organized and together because it might not be so easy to get it together on the road. So that’s what we all do on the street and the sidewalk.

When we’re ready, we’re off to VTA2. This is the same as last year. The course itself is pretty much the same from here on in as 2006 with a few minor (or in one case not-so-minor) changes. We get there. Again, I’m not the first runner out of Van 1, so I relax and we put our sleeping bags, mine borrowed from Patrick, in a baseball field and get some sleep. Then we’re up again and waiting for Gregg. He comes in and Tom goes out, doing a leg I did last year. I tell him it’s flat with a slight hill, but as we’re driving to the next TA I realize it’s all slightly uphill. I hadn’t noticed.

As we wait for Tom, Dave is set up and we’re chatting with the man in the blue shoes. The Frenchman in the blue shoes. He’s on the over-50 team and cruised through Leg 2. It was his team’s runner who I almost caught. He’s fast, and he gets going about 4 minutes ahead of Dave. Tom to Dave. Dave isn’t feeling 100% after Leg 2 but he goes out well. We stop for him where we stopped for Patrick last year, and Dave is slower than he should be. He’s hurting. We stop again for him, giving him water. Then it’s time for us to head to the next TA, where I’ll take over. This was Tom’s leg last year.

Dave comes in, looking fine to me, and I’m off again. Getting out of the TA is a little confusing, but suddenly I’m out on the road. I stay on this until nearly the end, and this is the road that I noticed earlier ends in a downhill. I pass someone pretty quickly, but he stays close for a while. The team has stopped and offers me water. No thanks. Then I feel a drop. Of rain. Then more and then more and then it’s raining. The van comes back and asks if I want a hat, but I decline. After it leaves, I watch its taillights to see whether it’s going up or down and whether I have a hill ahead. It goes down. It starts to rain harder, and I’m worried that my contacts might become an issue. But they’ll stay put. My focus is on the white line on the side. I’m running right past a lake, on which “On Golden Pond” was filmed, but I don’t notice it in the dark. No stars in the rain. Slight ups, slight downs. My Garmin has me going a little slower than I want, about 6:10 pace. But I’m tired from Leg 3. It’s a bit after midnight. I stop. It’s a bad habit, but I’ll get over it. Looking at the signs. A curve coming up probably means no hill. I see a flashing light ahead. There’s virtually no traffic except for RTB vans, and not many of those. Unlike last year when we started at noon, things are really spread out. I slowly catch the light, and pass at 6 miles, telling him where we are (by my Garmin). Alone again, and I see another flashing light, this time with a van next to it. I realize that it’s a woman runner and her van is shadowing her. We would later do that with EtT, and other teams did it with their women runners. I catch her just as street lights appear. Getting close to town, and she says she feels her shoes have 10 lbs. of water in them.

Top of hill into town, pick it up. Through a large puddle at the bottom. I know the finish because I was at the turn to direct Tom in last year. This is the fastest stretch of the race for me as I charge in, and hand-off to Patrick.

I’m drenched. But Patrick has a leg Dave did last year, and it has a long unpaved stretch. Again, Dave had lots of company, but there are few teams on the road now. We head out to give Patrick water, and the rain is coming down pretty hard. I stay in the van as Tom goes out to give Patrick water. Only it’s not Patrick. Tom comes back and says he scared the hell out of the other guy, who is Japanese and Tom is worried that he doesn’t speak English and that Tom completely freaked him out. (He was a young guy and understood English perfectly, we would learn.) Then another light and vest, and this time it is Patrick. Give him water, and we’re off. He’s hurting, and we stop a bit later to make sure he’s OK. We pass a private house where we parked last year and where there’s a scarecrow that apparently scared a few of our members last year. But we carefully pass him.

Raining hard, and Joe M.’s up next. I don’t envy him. I got wet, sure, but I wasn’t waiting in the rain beforehand. This is the leg with which Joe had trouble last year, not least because the course elevation map failed to disclose a sizeable hill. But Joe knows the leg, and is determined to beat it this year. And he does, as he reports. We stop a couple of times for him. The second time, the rain has let up, and we pull to the side of the road. Another van then pulls a bit ahead of us. Two people get out and head in our direction. We’re in trouble. Who did we piss off? But it’s Greg Stanton – I couldn’t read his nametag – and Guillermo. They are up already after a siesta at casa Stern and are heading to the next VTA. I move up the road to see Joe when he comes by, and he comes by and I see him. He looks really good.

No water thanks. We continue to the next TA, which requires a right hand turn and an uphill. They’ve move the TA a bit. Last year it was in a parking lot, but it’s been improved by putting it out on the road. Joe’s in, EtT’s out. We’ll be shadowing her. And then we start to see runners going the wrong way. We figure that they missed that turn. They have to double back. So instead of a final half-mile, they’ve added a few miles, and it looks like one person missed the turn and the others followed.

We meet Van 2 again at the next VTA. We collect EtT. Now we need some sleep. The plan is to head to the next VTA, in a state park, and figure out how we’ll sleep there. The thinking is that it is best to be pre-positioned. So we’re off. Then we get the call. EtS lost her engagement ring at the VTA. We head back and search to no avail. It’s dark and there’s rain. But we see people in the school, and decide that this is a better place to sleep. So we collect our bags and find a hallway and settle in. When we awaken an hour or so later, having slept much better than in a parking lot in 2006, all but 2 of the dozens of other runners have gone. There are five vans in the lot. We are now behind the race.

Dave drives to the state park. He drives extremely well. But he’s decided, and we all agree with him, not to go on because of some issues from Leg 2. That means that I’m moving to Leg 26, and Tom is going to finish, which ultimately seems appropriate.

It is beginning to get light. We pass the last runner. She is walking, with a teammate. They’ll probably require the team to leapfrog ahead. We then pass a runner who looks like he’s going at a decent clip. There must be a story as to why he’s so far behind. They we start catching more and more teams. I’m counting and we’re over 20 when we get to JL. She’s the happiest person in the room, after having missed a second leg in 2006. Quiet Zone. GO JL! Get to the park. Bedlam. Vans everywhere, long lines at Dave’s port-o-sans. Raining only lightly now, and we’re in the van. Van 2 can’t get into the lot and is sent up the road. By then, however, most of the other vans are gone. I miss the Gregg to Tom hand-off. Tom’s carrying water now, so we won’t be stopping for him. It’s a long leg, and is longer (9.5) than represented (9.1). And I’m up next.

This was a 4.5 miler, same as last year, until about a week before the race, when a construction project forced a detour. Now it’s listed as 8.0, although it is over 8.3. I’m waiting for Tom. Someone has a baby. What’s that all about? On line at the port-o-san a guy runs up and asks if people mind if he cuts in. He’s running an Ultra and not stopping (well, briefly) and no problem and we give a cheer as he heads out. The rule is that if you’re getting ready to go, you go to the head of the line (although some people grumble).

It’s raining again. It’s wet. So is my singlet. So I can wear it again. I decided to go with compression shorts to keep my thighs warm and avoid bundling. But I switch to my trainers for this one. I see the French guy in blue shoes leaving and shout “Bon chance” and he looks back and says “merci.” Tom comes in, and I’m off. I catch a woman immediately. Then back on the main road. I call to runners finishing on the other side that they’re almost home. Then I start picking off people, telling them (with one exception) what the distance is. A bit of an uphill and a nice downhill. Fair amount of traffic. Most drivers are polite, and I wave my thanks to them, but others are not. An 18-wheeler heading my way, so I scoot to the grass. Moving along at a decent, 6:15 pace. Then after 4.5 miles I get to where this leg was supposed to start. And then there’s a really steep hill. Up. I’m passing people, but shortly after I start on the hill I stop for a few seconds. Start again and stop again. This is a problem. I get to the top of the hill and feel better, but I have to stop a couple of more times. I know the road turns to the left, but I’m not sure what happens next and how far it is from the finish. I get to that turn, and it’s raining steadily. I have my Sponge Bob hat from the marathon, and I turn it from brim-back to brim-front as the rain picks up. I pass some guys at 7 and I’m thinking I’m in the last mile of this thing. I start picking it up. The pace is dropping. Then one last, cruel hill. Just cruel. I’m walking, as is everyone else I see. I get to the top, but it doesn’t go down, it continues on a slight incline. Then the wind is suddenly up. I feel like it’s the “Wizard of Oz” – “It’s a twister” – and I’m OK running again. I pass a woman and tell her that this is it. I see the finish. Dave is waiting with the bracelet, but I decline and hand off to Patrick with my hand. Tom rushes me into the school at the TA, where I get coffee. I chat with the woman I passed at the end, commiserating. I jog a few laps of the school gym. I leave the school and am shivering badly. The van is at the back of the parking lot, and I’m near tears. But I get there, and I try to dry off and change shirts. And we’re off.

Patrick on the road. This was Dave’s leg last year. Patrick looks pretty strong. He’s been complaining about his quads, but he’s fine. I’m dead tired. I have aches and pains all over. We pull to the side of the road and I change my shorts. EtT has decided to call Patrick “Paddy.” “He hates it,” she says. Then Joe to EtT, both of whom are repeating legs they did last year. It’s decided that we will switch Tom, who has to run Leg 36 for Guillermo and head to the beach. So after Guillermo’s on the road, we head to the next VTA and make the exchange. I realize later that Guillermo is now the only member of RTB 2007 who hasn’t had the pleasure of being in a van with Capt. Tom.

We head into Exeter for a bit to eat. Things get a bit tense in the traffic as Dave is driving and many people, myself including, are giving him directions. He’s pissed. Left. Right. Straight.

A number of teams are in the café and I order an Italian sandwich. Very good. As we’re sitting, Sterno goes storming by. He’s out for bear. Back on the road to the beach. The sun is now out! We head to the beach and the water looks cold. Guillermo, invigorated by being freed of the Van 2 Gulag, goes racing into the water. Another team cheers this foolishness. Patrick, not to be outdone by the Spaniard, runs in after. I go in up to my knees and it is cold. Very cold.

We hang at the beach briefly and then head to the finish. Teams are coming in. Then word comes that Tom is near. He shows up, doing some kind of white-guy dance, and he’s directed to the finish. Details. The rest of us follow in the other lane, and we’re done. Fini. Official time, 25 hours, 19 minutes, 7 seconds. 21st Place.

Shot of the group by Judy, all wearing medals. Head briefly to the beach. Long line for food, and few masseuses, so we skip both and head south towards the Holiday Inn in Peabody. I room again with Tom, as I did last year. Sterno can’t make it; he’s headed back up to the house with his mom and cousin. JL has made a reservation at a restaurant that shares the hotel’s parking lot, and we’re there at 7. Pretty crowded, apparently a local hang-out. We go into a separate room with a couple of other big groups. Wine and more wine. Tom speaks about each of us. Afterwards, a little more drinking for some at the bar. Then lights out until we’re up the next morning. I jog a couple of laps around the hotel, and at 7:30 we’re cleaning out the vans. Heading home, with Gregg staying to hang out with friends for the day. Stop to squeegee the vans clean.

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September 23: Westchester Triathlon: The Run

There are those who may think I don’t like triathletes. No. I don’t understand them, which may be a defect for the Club’s VP of Athletics. But I surely respect them, and my respect was enhanced today at the Westchester Triathlon in Rye (and for Bob Greenawalt on the bike, several other towns, including Greenwich). I was on the relay team with Dave Burgess (swim) and Bob. We had 2 other relays, Steve Odeina, Matt Lewis, and Gregg Rubin and Zuzana, JL, and Lisa. Sue Melfi did the whole tri. Carla, for unknown reasons, did not race but was a volunteer, directing runners near the end.

I decide to get there early. The swims are to begin at 7, and the relays would be in the last wave some 23 minutes later. The race would start about 10 minutes late for water reasons. Wake up, and can see the Morning Star, which I assume is Venus. Two week-ends in a row up before dawn (although this time there aren’t clouds). Drive up to Rye in the dark, and park in the Playland Parking lot. First person I see is Bob and then Dave and JL and Zuzana. Need to get marked with my number and my age; the stuff won’t come off for a while.

Then Gregg comes and Matt. The sun comes up, right over the Sound. Which we can see from the Sound Shore! First, small wave is off. The pros. Then wave after wave, with a 3 or 5 minute gap.

Zuzana out of the water before our men. Then Dave and Steve. Bob’s off on the bike. I’ve ridden much of this course in my old riding days, and there is one brutal hill in Greenwich. Bob figures he’ll be about 1:15. He leaves just at 8. Dave thinks his leg was a little short, as do a number of other swimmers.

It’s strange. The relayers are off to one side, and now the swimmers and the runners are hanging. I see Jay Dugan of AWTC, and he, Gregg, and I go for a warm-up along the course. Check out the finish. It’s on the grass, at the end of a downhill. As Dave would say, “Sweet.” We see the relay team to beat. Bob had said he couldn’t take the rider and I said I couldn’t take the runner. They’re triathletes (TerrierTri, a really expensive ($150/mo. minimum) club) taking it easy after a tri last week-end in the Hamptons. Yeah, buddy, I know a little something about racing last week in the Hamptons. But, as usual, I hold my tongue.

Day is warming up a bit, but it is not really hot. Sunblock on nose, racing flats on feet. The plan is that Dave will take the timing chip on a bracelet from Bob’s ankle and put it on mine. People saying, “Joe has his game face on.” Even Jay.

Bob comes in, and Dave takes the timing chip and puts it on my ankle. I’m off. Out of the way. I start passing people along the Rye boardwalk — I wish I were Big — and for the duration. Finally out on the streets. A woman I pass says, “Good pace,” and I say, “Relay” and she understands. The road is a bit hard early on, and would become a bit softer later. Turn to the left for the course’s only hill — you call that a Hill? — and I hear someone call my name. I’m famous around here. But it’s Greg Stanton (Gregg later tells me). Up the hill and down, and just trying to cruise. Out a little too fast, perhaps, so try to relax. Feeling RTB. Turn-around and heading for home. Fair amount of shade, and get a cup of water. Cars on the road, but they can go around me. One turn onto a dead end (or, in Rye, une cul de sac), then hit the 5 mile mark and along the park. We’ll go all around the park to finish.

Right onto the final road and then up into the park. Running on cinder, and see Carla and Meg at the corner. Not too happy. I’m tired. And a slight up hill on grass. Quick right and a second right, and there’s the finish, at the bottom of the grassy hill. Sweet. Finish hard.

My instructions from Bob and Dave: Get three medals. I ask for three medals, and the kid at the end gives them to me. A water bottle with water, and then a search for my mates, who I had heard coming down the hill. Dave and JL. Cool. Dave, here’s your medal. Some pizza and an orange slice and bagel and apple. Beautiful day, nice run.

The run turns out to be a bit short, about 5.95 miles. I figured that when I saw my time. No way am I that fast. (Although that “fast guy” didn’t beat me by much; he looked faster than he was, and I think that’s something of a reflection on triathletes as runners, although one woman who did the whole thing beat me in the run.) Don’t worry, I’ve written to them about it. Our team was ninth, although I don’t know where in the age-group (we are in the over-40 group). The other men’s team was 18. Don’t know where the ladies were.

Saw Cliff Nelson manning the Rye Tri- Club booth. JL had seen him twice on the course, and after his duties there he was at the booth. He wasn’t happy. He got sick this week and so decided (and this was a good idea) to miss his hometown race. That sucks, but he took it well. Next year Cliff.

Met Sue Melfi, with whom I’ve had a debate about triathlons.

It was a fun experience. You get to the race and all the people have their toys. Kind of cool. But we’re the pros from Dover. The wait was fine, as I was hanging with compadres. Kind of like RTB.

Seeing all these people working so hard to compete was interesting. It’s much closer to a marathon than to your local 5K or 10K. They put in a lot of work in the disciplines to do this, and finishing, as with those who put in the work for a marathon, is a fine achievement in itself. The notion of a half or full Ironman is mind-boggling. And they’re doing it many times a year. So a tip of the hat to these guys.

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Saturday, September 29: With The Club

Headed over to Larchmont this morning for the weekly Club Saturday run. Because it’s a bit of a drive to get to Mamaroneck, the Saturday and the Tuesday runs are the only Club runs I do. We had a big turn-out this morning, including several newcomers. One was a guy we met during Reach-the-Beach.

The pace was a pedestrian 8 flat, and with a couple of exceptions everyone stayed together, so we had the largest pack of finishers I’ve seen. Just a typical relaxed group run on some beautiful streets and a great view of the Sound. Afterwards, I was going-on about the short 10K leg at the Triathlon, and some members who have done triathlons told me that I should chill out because their courses are always off and the athletes go with the flow.

Perhaps I’m too anal, but as a runner, I live for accurate distances. Sure, in local races I am skeptical about accuracy, but for a race that purports to be a big deal, the organizers need to do a better job. In this case, you pay a lot of money to race and I think the RD knew the run was short, because the mile markers seemed accurate through mile 5. I don’t mind running a 5.95-miler if they tell me I’m running, or have run, a 5.95-miler. But apparently if the athletes don’t care, and don’t complain, why should it be done differently? Were this a big-deal running race, people would be all over the RD. A couple of years ago the NYRR had a course that was a bit long; it put the correct distance on the results page, apologized, and gave a formula for converting the 3.2 mile race into the advertised 5K. I suggested a similar conversion be included on the Tri results page, but I have my doubts that they’ll admit the error, particularly since they’ve admitted that the swim was short, with an explanation.

Sunday, September 30: Go Slow

Now I don’t want to lose fitness but I want a break. Today was a nice easy 1 hour run along the BRP, and it was slow a non-recovery run as I’ve done, except for yesterday. 7:43 pace or so. I’ll have to figure out how to use the Garmin Virtual Trainer in which you pre-program pace. The focus now is New York 2008. Thirteen months to get there.

Here’s a Peter Garbriel thing that I think is strange. And a new world record in the marathon by Geb: 2:04:26. Wow.

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