Yesterday I found my legs again. After a couple weeks of sensible training I tackled the Pumpkinman Sprint in South Berwick. What a great race venue and such a well run event. I went into this race a little more prepared than I did the Kennebunk race and was able to get down to the water early and get a good warm-up in. The transition area was stressfull as there was literally no room to stage your gear. Bikes were stacked pedal to pedal and I wasn't even sure I'd be able to get mine out when I was ready to ride. I watched the Elite wave go and then a minute later the M30-39 group. I set a goal to try to catch a few of the Elites but I knew I'd have to have a better swim than I've had lately to do it. Our wave (M40-49) was three minutes later. I positioned myself at the front and left of the group and told Dave Brackett to get on my feet so we could try to get out ahead of the group. I also took a slight left heading from the beach and planned to swim back into the crowd as it thinned out rather than fight it from the start. It worked perfectly and I found myself swimming comfortably at the front of the pack (couldn't believe it!). I also decided to really focus on not getting too excited and tried to keep my heart rate down for the first bit of the race. I did this by sighting and breathing more frequently and thinking about all the things I work on at the pool. I was pretty pumped to be swimming well and just tried to settle into a good pace. I made it out of the water in 8:54, a little ahead of Dave. I had a pretty good transition after the run up the big hill and was able to dig my bike out of the rack without wrecking everybody's set-up. I knew that the first mile of the bike was going to tell me a lot - whether my legs were there or not. I noticed a Midcoast shirt up ahead and recognized my friend Bob Kutzer. He'd had a great swim and super T1 and was looking like he meant business on the bike. I got my shoes strapped on while I judged his speed. After I got my heart rate down a bit and was ready to go I started to gain on him and was able to pass. I was happy to see him out there ripping it up. Bob has worked very hard over the course of the last year, losing a lot of weight and transforming himself into a pretty decent triathlete. He's a competitor and hates to lose. It's been fun to watch him improve.
I was feeling really good on the bike so I decided to hit it pretty hard given I only had a three mile run afterward. I passed a few people and then I came up on a guy from a popular Tri club in a neighboring state. He looked pretty fast (super fit and chiseled in stone like the Russian on the Rocky movie)so I took an extra second to size him up before I went by. He was in my age group and I wanted to make sure I could stay in front after the pass. I went by him on a slight uphill and as I always do I offered a quick "good work" as I went by. I do the same thing when somebody passes me. He said nothing, but I'm used to that, a lot of people don't say anything but some really appreciate the encouragement. I guess I should reserve it for people that look like they need it because after I went by him he immediately passed me back. I knew he didn't like me going by him. He couldn't stay ahead though and I realized I was going to pass him again but I slowed and got my heart rate down a bit and got ready to rock. I wanted to end this little game before it started. As we crested a hill I pulled out and rolled by him without offering up any unecessary encouragement this time around. I put a few minutes of hard effort into him and he faded. I glanced back once or twice but couldn't see him. Game over - I thought. The rest of the bike went well and I came into T2 having averaged 22.3 mph for the ride.
Most of the bikes were out so I was able to sling my bike on the rack pretty easily and head out for the run without incident. I wondered if I had put enough time on my new friend. I got rolling pretty well and was feeling great. I did not wear a GPS but the race results show me averaging 6:33's for the run. I'm not sure that was accurate but I was running as hard as I could. I was in between two of the Elite female racers rolling along when I heard footsteps. Different footsteps. Uh Oh... I didn't look back but I suspected it was HIM. I confirmed that as he went by because he got real close to me and growled in my ear...GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!! I was like..."huh?" You GOT to be kidding me! I said to him "Hey - how about nice job, or good effort or something like that?" He grunted..."same thing Dude!"...I started to tell him what a TOOL I thought he was when I decided I should just shut my mouth and run. The Elite female was just ahead of me and what I had to say wasn't really appropriate so I ate it. He was running a 5:50 pace and I knew it would likely kill me to try to run him down so I just stayed with my pace and watched what I figured was first place in the age group run away from me. I finished up a strong run (19:40)and finished 17th overall. I saw "Biff" in the finisher's area and decided I would not have anything to say to him. I wanted desperatley to slide over and just let him know what a tool he was but I knew it would escalate into an ugly scene with testosterone flying all over the place. I decide not to share it with Brackett either. We've got that brother thing going and anybody that messes with me has to deal with him. Bit of a short fuse there. :) SO, other than that I had a tremendous day. Preliminary results had me 4th in the age group. I was headed out and checked the results again and saw I was FIRST. Huh? Get this, the top three M40-44 guys also went 1,2,3 in the Age Group Overall category. SO, that meant I won the AG! Funny. I'll call it a fourth though because that is what it was. A great day, great weather and lots of great friends. The Speed Lab guys did well - Pat Kelley, Dino Desanctis, Dave Brackett, Kutzer and others from the Heartwood clan. Rick Kelley threw down a monster effort too. My newest athlete "Lisa" smashed her time from last year. Thanks to Mike MacDonald for the salt - again, AND for grabbing the gear I left behind in transition.