Tuesday, 10 September
Survival of the Shawangunks
In this Entry, I briefly discuss the training week leading up to S.O.S. and then share a few race highlights and insights.
In the previous Entry, I reviewed my training through Thursday, 27 August. On that day, I did a 1-hour 45-minute session on my road bike with (5X) 10:00 standing hill climb repeats in preparation - not for S.O.S. - but for Savageman 7days later. (That session left my legs a bit sore for a few days.) The following day, I ran 40 minutes, with some short hill repeats, then 10 minutes of jump rope, and a 45 minute swim using the format described in my previous Entry for Sunday, 25 August. (Scroll down this page.)
Betsy and I travelled to Ithaca that afternoon, and I taught a Weekend Workshop at the Total Immersion Swim Studio on Saturday and Sunday. Training on both of those days was light.
I stayed in New Paltz for the week, to teach another 2-day Workshop Thursday and Friday, and a single session on Saturday - the day before S.O.S.
Monday (Labor Day) started off cool and rainy, lasting most of the day. For the first time in months, I did not do any training at all in the morning. (Wow, did that feel strange!) Late in the afternoon, the thunder and rain subsided, and the skies began to clear. Terry and I headed for Lake Minnewaska for the last (legal) day of lake swimming there. I wore my wetsuit to fine-tune my cadence and technique for the upcoming S.O.S. race.
On Tuesday, I did my final quality training session to prepare for Savageman - taking advantage of being in New Paltz. This session consisted of a 4-1/2 hour ride on the road bike with 8 sustained hill repeats 14-20 minutes each, on Mountain Rest Road - part of the American Zofingen Duathlon bike course. I mixed standing and seated climbing for these repeats - focusing on a balance of muscle group use and efficiency. I did not follow that ride with a transition run - to minimize residual fatigue that might affect my S.O.S. performance.
In summary, all of my other training sessions were short anabolic “tune-ups”for recovery and preparation for S.O.S. This was also one of the first true recovery weeks with significantly reduced volume (besides Tuesday’s bike ride) in a long time. I anticipate that this easy week (and the following week between S.O.S and Savageman) will also help to prepare me for my final end-of-season triathlon race schedule as well as the fund-raising ultra series I am planning for November.
And What About the S.O.S. Race?
I enjoyed the sluggish and lazy state my body went through during this recovery week. I slept fairly well and devoted the free time from training to other projects. On Saturday, I attended the pre-race gathering and caught up with lots of comrades. S.O.S. is one of those races where I know much of the local community, since I lived in New Paltz for a year.
This was my fourth S.O.S., but it was the first time I did not handicap myself by doing American Zofingen (self-supported) the day before. Expectations (at least self-expectations) were high.
There is no other race like this in the world. It is truly a celebration of the beautiful environment that it traverses. For me, the energy of the race lingers in my own energy field for days afterwards - over-riding any feeling of fatigue.
More significantly than this being my first attempt at racing S.O.S., this year also saw the return of Don Davis as a competitor in the race. Don is the Founder and Race Director of S.O.S.
Two years ago in June, at age 67, Don crashed on his bike during Hawaii 70.3, along the Queen K Highway - puncturing a lung, shattering his pelvis and sustaining other injuries serous injuries. (No one knows how the crash occurred. Don was found unconscious.) He was in the hospital, and then a re-hab center for weeks.
I saw Don slowly hobble to the community pool in New Paltz, accompanied by his wife Darleen, just a day after his release from re-hab. He swam a few minutes, then rested on the bench. Right there, he shared with me his resolve to return to triathlon and his beloved S.O.S. Last year, he just was not healed enough - still dealing with a major discrepancy in leg length. Running was still a real challenge.
Don is a man of patience, passion and purpose. This year, at 69, he came back! I watched Don emerge from the final (third) swim, for the last 7-tenths of a mile run up-up-up to the “Survivor Line”. He was beaming! It brought me to tears. Don completed the 30 miles of biking, 2.1 total miles of swimming and 18.7 total miles of trail running in 8:49:33. This was certainly the highlight of my day.
Personal Race Details
On race day, I rode the 4 miles to the race start from “home” (Terry and Alice’s house). This provided a gradual warm-up on the bike. The first leg of S.O.S. is a 30-mile bike, and the warm-up made it easier to get up to speed in the race without feeling rushed. The weather started out a bit cool and overcast, but cleared off throughout the morning.
My 30-mile bike time this year was 25 minutes faster than last year. (Not surprising, since last year I rode the 84-mile bike course of American Zofingen the day before - with close to 9,000 feet of climbing.) The net time for all 4 runs this year was about 68 minutes faster than last year. (Not surprising, since last year I ran the 20 miles of American Zofingen the day before - with close to 3,000 feet of climbing.) The net time for all 3 of my swims this year was just 2 minutes faster than last year. (No swimming in American Zofingen Duathlon.)
Most notable for my number-crunching mind: This year, my final swim (just under a half mile) and final run (7-tenths of a mile uphill) were both slower than last year. I was pushing it this year! I managed a second in age group this year - well behind Larry Krieger, who finished over 30 minutes in front of me. My finish times: Last year: 7:41:03. This year: 6:05:13. Hmmm... the number cruncher in me wants to strive for sub 6 hours next year.
I have to offer a big shout-out to three other inspirational athletes: Jeff Ruiz finished first for the 60-64 age group in a time of 6:10:09. (Whew! He was closing fast on me!) Dan Winfield finished first in the 65-69 age group (at age 69) in a time of 6:46:44. And finally, Mary Denitto, first (and only) 65-69 age group female in 6:32:18. (As the 55+ males lined up at the starting line, the 45+ females were in front of us. We all agreed on a prediction: Mary would finish in front of all the males 65+. Our prediction bore out!.)
Beyond my improvements in ”The Results”, I have to admit that the drive and focus it required this year to “go fast” detracted a bit from my ability to savor the experience as much as I have in the past years, when I had “handicapped” myself and traversed the course at a slower pace.
So, which is better? Slower and more savory? Or faster and more intense? The glory-seeking performance athlete versus the sensory-seeking graceful artist. Both are genuine expressions of our spiritual essence.
...Guess I will just have to keep exploring the spectrum - racing S.O.S. year after year!
Next up? Seven days after S.O.S.: Savageman.
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