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BLACK FLY TRIATHLON (SERIES) - Bike Time Trial, Olympic Distance Triathlon, Sprint Triathlon July 9-11, 2010
The Black Fly Triathlon Festival is actually 3 races in 2.5 days. You can elect to do only one, or two, but if you do all 3, you are Lord of the Flies. The weekend starts with a 4-mile bike time trial on Friday night, then less than 12 hours later you are jumping in the water to do an Olympic Distance Triathlon. The final day is a Sprint Distance Triathlon.
This lunacy is part of the Endorfun Race Series, so it was on my radar since last year when Keith Jordan put it together. This year, Mike and I signed up, along with Neil Withington, who is doing Ironman Lake Placid in two weeks, and her husband Tucker (PT). Lest you think I'm the worst coach in the world, Neil was not allowed to do the whole thing, even though she was dying to. She did the Olympic distance race as a tune-up.
A word about Tucker - the Accidental Triathlete. Some day I am going to write a book called, "How to Keep Peace at Home When One of You is Training for Ironman", and Tucker is going to have a chapter. Tucker has taken the expression, 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' to a whole new level. As it turns out (at least from my point of view) Tucker's wife is his best friend. So when she signed up for Ironman, Tucker inadvertently signed on for the training. And he has been there, right by her side, for most of it.
The running has been difficult, though, and he's had to back off. He's really trying to give the whole barefoot running approach a try, and has purchased the Vibram running shoes ..... this will come into play later in the story. For those of you who don't know what the Vibram running shoe is, here is me, with my pair. (shoe might not be the right word)
Of course, any weekend that is going to include 3 races is going to include some serious carbo loading. So this is what Friday's breakfast looked like:
Friday night we were off to the races. We were staying at the Withington's in Franconia, so we drove 45 mins to Waterville Valley, picked up the race packet (a great t-shirt, water bottle, 3 race chip packets, and various food items in a cloth Saucony bag) and went for a ride to check out the course. We toured the course that was posted on the website and tried to figure out where we would turn around. We rode what we thought was the 4-mile course twice and then came back to ask a volunteer. She said that what was posted on the site was wrong and she gave us the correct course. We rode one more time checking out the correct course and glad we did. We got to practice the very safe u-turn at the 2-mile mark.
We made our way back to the start and got in line. Mike was number 63 and I was 64, so all weekend we were together. We racked our bikes next to each other for both tris, which was very economical (ONE body glide, ONE towel, etc) and that meant we would time trial 15 secs apart.
Cyclists went down a ramp for the TT start and that was fun, but the one thing I might do next time is have a short conversation with the person holding my bike for the start. Everyone expected that they'd get a short push when the timer said "go" and several people almost fell of the ramp when the holder let go and they were basically doing a track stand. By a very bizarre coincidence, Jesse Kropelnicki was number 61, so he would go off 45 sec ahead of Mike, giving him a nice rabbit to chase. I loved this time trial! I hadn't time trialed in years, and this was a blast. Four miles is just long enough to kill it without blowing up. Mike, Tucker and I won our age groups in the TT and we headed home pretty happy with the first stage.
I didn't mention that Friday night had been hot and muggy. Saturday morning we woke up to a downpour with the occasional flash of lightening. On our way to the race site, I had my first-ever moose sighting!
Mike, Neil, Tucker and I arrived at the race start at 5:30 am for the 7:30 race, so Mike and I set up our transition area and went for a nice warm-up ride in rain gear. We came back to transition and got into our skin suits for the swim. Now, I know one is always faster in a wetsuit, but I was afraid that we'd be too hot as they said the water temperature was 77.5º. A word about the swim .... while this is an absolutely beautiful area, I wish I had a picture of the swim start with the 4 turn buoys. Picture your backyard pool. Now picture every pool toy you have thrown in, and you get the idea. During the very easy warm up, it took about 5 mins for Mike to swim the course and me about 8.
The swim exit had a lot of rocks, large and small, and Mike came out of the water carrying one of the boulders. He said he was clearing the area for himself! (haha). We lined up for the time trial start (fun!) and before you know it we were off! Since I went in 1 second after Mike, I thought I'd try to swim on his feet for 10 seconds, but that was a mistake. Thirty seconds into the swim I felt a charley horse in my left hamstring. #$%^! Long story short, this eventually worsened so that my left glute and lower back were spasming. But there was NO WAY I was getting out! If it took me forever, I was doing this race. And the one tomorrow!
So it did just about take me forever, but eventually I was back at the rocky start (Mike must have put the boulder back) and out on the bike course. Now, I said it was pouring, and it was, but it was still a REALLY fast bike course. It's slightly downhill for 10 miles so you can FLY! Which I did. I had some time to make up. About 3 miles in, Tucker went by me on the bike. Not good. He had gone into the water about 2 m ins behind me. I pushed a little harder on the bike and all good. My lower back and hamstring were sore, but no more spasms. There is a little loop that takes you off the out and back course briefly, and I saw Mike just as I was heading to the loop. He looked great! The last 10 miles are slightly uphill all the way, so you have to stay patient, and stretch it out once in a while, but I love this course. The volunteers are incredible and there's hardly a car to be seen. Somewhere before the bike finish Neil passed me. How funny is it that the only 2 people who passed me were Neil and Tucker! Neil is an animal on the bike and she is in perfect shape for Lake Placid. I am so proud of her!
Quick T2 and out on the bike course which winds through a golf course and into a wooded section. Since it was still pouring, the trees kept the rain from drenching us. The weather was the perfect temperature though and with the cooling rain, it was a great day for racing. The course was slightly uphill going out which you didn't notice (or I didn't) and coming back was FAST! I saw Mike coming towards me at mile 1 for me/mile 4 for him. I started thinking about where I'd see Tucker, and I remembered he was going to wear the Vibrams! I was thinking that he was probably still in transition trying to get each wet toe in it's corresponding sleeve. Not so. I saw Tucker at the turn around and a little while later I saw Neil. We all finished in quick order and didn't make Mike stand around too long in the rain waiting for us. Mike and Neil each won their age groups for that day's race. I gave up way too much time on the swim and moved myself off the radar. Tucker had given up some time, too, but hey - it's a stage race. Let's see what tomorrow brings!
We headed back to Franconia, ate, napped, ate, did laundry, ate, washed and set up bikes, ate, did some stretching and ate! This is us at the fabulous pizza joint in Bethel.(It looks like I can't afford nice jeans because I spend all my money on rac ing, which is actually true ....) We went to bed early and the next thing we knew, it was time to head back to Waterville Valley. Neil slept in, and Mike, Tucker and I did the whole thing on automatic pilot.
Although the rain had stopped, it was about 20º cooler than it had been the day before, so Mike and I warmed up in our rain jackets. We all decided to wear wetsuits this day, and Tucker was going to wear running shoes instead of the Vibrams. The cool thing about stage racing is that you get immediate feedback about your strategy and you can try something different the next day. The stretching and wetsuit paid off, and I had no cramping/spams during the swim. I also took it very easy rather than pretending that Cait got her swimming ability from me.
That reminds me - Andy Schachet, who was the race announcer, gave a shout out to Cait every time I went over a timing mat. "And this is Beth Lamie, mother of one of the best triathletes in the country - Cait Snow". It was so nice, and as it turns out, Cait was running her way into 2nd place at the Providence 70.3 while we were sprinting.
We were never cold during the race, and as we were finishing the bike leg, it was turning into a beautiful day! It was dry and sunny and that afternoon it would be hot. Because it was such a nice day, you got to see what a great course this was and how much fun everyone was having. Even the spectators were having a blast!
Again I saw Mike and Tucker on the bike course and run course, and because it was a shorter race, Mike was about half mile from the finish when I saw him running. Again, he won his age group, and Tucker and I redeemed ourselves. Tucker finished 2nd in the sprint and we were both 2nd in our divisions for Lord of the Flies. Mike was 1, 1, and 1 so he also won his age group in Lord of the Flies. Keith Jordan gives maple syrup as trophies for his New England races, so if anyone has recipes that call for maple syrup, please forward them to me!
What else can I tell you about this weekend? See photos below: what one's car looks like after 3 races in 60 hours, our drying rack (Neil and Tucker's porch), the heavenly outdoor shower.
And this is where we had our yummy post race lunch! Most New Englanders will recognize this is Polly's Pancakes.
This race was the perfect antidote to the M-Dot blues. Spending $1000 for an Ironman weekend (race fees, transportation, food and lodging) has become accepted, and apparently getting crappy customer service as part of the deal has become accepted too. Keith Jordan gets it. He is the Jet Blue of race directing. I can promise you that if you sign up for an Endorfun race, it will be money well spent. The 2011 Black Fly Tri probably opens in a few weeks, and you can be we will sign up. Until then, see you all at Timberman. -Beth Lamie