I enjoy getting people riled up. It's what I do. So before the big day, I threw out an e-mail to all the participants of our little schin-dig giving my prediction of thier performance. Yes, very dickish. It wasn't totally my idea - one of the guys in the adjacent cubicle (we call them offices, but really, they are glorified cubicles...) put odds on everyone racing, and I thought he was off a bit.
Anyway - the e-mail worked like a charm, and a couple of the guys, now, were much more emotionally involved than they were in the days and weeks prior. We done had ourselves a race!
So the deal was, we all start off on our bikes, roll 24.65 miles, transition back at our cars, and head out to run 6 miles. Not everyone was going to run. Our CEO, John, is a great biker, but has back and knee issues and decided last minute that he'd give the bike part a go. The rabbit had arrived. Greg "Bacon" isn't a runner either, and was all in for a fast ride. The rest of us would slug it out. Sort-of.
Lee brought a buddy from his church with him, Sean, whom we had ridden with before. He's a stud, and he came ready to throw it down. We put John and Sean up front, the strongest bikers of the group, along with Christian - the young guy - who's also got wheels, and the rest of us took up stance behind them and waited for 7:30am to start'er up. When we all looked ready, I said "go", rather ingloriously, and off we went.
We must have all eaten our Wheaties this morning, because at 4 miles we were averaging 21.5mph, which I knew was much faster than I had the heartbeats for! I started to back it down, John, Sean and Christian drove away, and the rest of us settled into a decent game of "losing your concentration". That's where you're cruising along at a certain speed, everyone's got the right 3 bike lengths to stay draft legal, and then the guy up front slows down. No reason really, but now the second guy is forced to pass or slow, but you didn't lose your concentration, so you pass - waking the previous now second leader up, and the leap-frogging continues. We were all guilty of this.
Greg and Tom hung in there with us, granted, with a little bit of drafting, but it was nice to see them with us for the whole ride. Both of them are getting better and better, and to their well deserved credit, they both tried to find clean air and even got out front for parts of the day. It took about 13 miles to drop the average to 21mph, and at the end, we all came in between 20.6 and 20.7mph.
At one point, Markle was feeling his oats, and made an unanswered acceleration. I tried to keep him in my sights, but just pulled away, and I lost him in the turning circle that is Flatwoods. Until the last mile. Smelling the barn, and seeing Markle free-wheeling it in was all Lee needed to rally up some finishing horsepower. Plus I egged him on, "go get him, Lee!" I chided. And he did - with a quarter mile to go, everyone (Lee, Greg, Tom) flew past me chasing Markle, while I continued at my pace, spinning in to transition. Oh yea, guys, we still have this little run to go...
Alas, poor Lee - his final effort left him pulling up with a blown hammie. But he did beat Markle in. Sean and Chris were both out on the run already; we crossed paths with about 200yds to go into "transition". I roared into the parking lot, threw down my tailgate, chucked my bike into the bed, and sat on the tailgate. Now THAT's what transitions should all be like! Bike shoes off, running shoes on, switch the Garmin over to "run" while walking back over the trail, and for a brief, tiny flash of a second, I was kicking it on the run, ahead of Lee, Markle and Tom! I crushed that transition, and then sped off at my blistering 11:00min/mile pace.
I held Markle off for about half a mile as he screamed by me trying to chase down the leaders. Markle's one of those natural athletic types (read young and skinny). I had given him some guff before the race since he hasn't been training much, so he had to prove me wrong. He did.
I kept looking for Lee. Where's Lee? I heard footsteps closing on me fast, and said over my shoulder, "there's Big Lee" - but it wasn't him. When I hit the 3 mile turnaround and still no Lee, I knew something was wrong and Lee didn't start the run. But there was Tom. Tom had gained on me the whole way, and was, as I predicted, right on my ass. I was sure he'd pass me, but I wasn't going to give it up without a fight. After all, I'd just watched Kona, and was ready for some shoulder to shoulder - mono a mono run down action. It never happened.
Tom had him a little cramping issue shortly thereafter, and stopped at the one water spot at mile 4. I had no idea, and was still running scared, so I didn't stop, nor did I look back. Never look back, right? Even when you are running 11's, you still don't look back. Since Tom and I were the last two back in, everyone was waiting for us and cheering us in. It was pretty cool, and a great benchmark test of fitness for everyone who participated.
My average run came in at 10:59 - right where I was hoping it would be. I've got 7 weeks until the Key West Olympic Tri, so I'll have a good chance to see how much better I can get my running before then. I think we'll try and do another of these brick races in 4 weeks, just to gauge the progress. It was a ton of fun, and I think everyone that participated had a blast and learned a bit about themselves. Tom and Chris still have never done an Olympic, and now have the confidence, minus the swim of course, to enter one someday soon. Markle's got the Tri-bug again. And for me, I can see an average of 21mph again in my sights, and know with some weight loss (I'm still about 273lbs) and a bit of run focus in these next 5 training weeks, I can get my run down to the mid 10's at least.