Disclaimer: This race is a fund raiser for the DSU swim and cross country teams, is not USAT sanctioned, there are no judges or officials, no chip timing, a small field, lots of beginners, students and a few geezers. My kind of race. 500 yard pool swim, 2 per lane with lap counters, 18 mile bike through flat delta fields, and a 5k flat out and back run. Just showing up sometimes gets you a trophy.
There are always some surprise benefits of getting older. In my four times to do this race I've finished in my age group 2006 3rd, 2007 2nd, 2008 5th, and suddenly as a 55 year old, I win the Top Grand Masters Male. The results aren't published yet, but I suspect I soundly thrashed a 65 and 72 year old to claim my title.
The 500 yard swim leg is held in the nationally acclaimed DSU Aquatics Center. Two swimmers share a lane. There are 18 lanes and as many waves as necessary are started as swimmers exit the pool. DSU swim team members count the laps and hold cards underwater to signal your final lap. Kate, Paul and I, being devoted Masters swimmers with a real coach, were able to use our flip turn skills and other training to fly through this leg easily. Two swimmers who may finish with the same time in an open water venue will finish as much as 30 seconds apart in a pool swim if one uses flip turns and the other just turns and pushes off.
I rode a good bike leg, again not using my speedometer, only the cadence counter. The course, of course, was flat as it gets, and I settled in a gear where I could maintain 85 pedal strokes per minute. I was overtaken by a rider who I judged would not be able to maintain his slow power strokes, so I stayed within 100 yards of him for 14-15 miles. He would slow in the turns much more than I, so I decided when we got within 2 miles of the finish I would pass him and try to sprint the rest of the way in. My strategy worked and he complimented me on my riding right after the race.
I began the run leg with a positive attitude. The weather was somewhat cooler than normal and there was no sun and a gentle breeze. I've been running 15-20 miles a week lately, and just did a 9 mile run the weekend before, so I was glad my legs felt up to the flat 5k. I only walked at the water stops while I drank and finished with energy to spare.
This race was especially satisfying for several reasons, one being that our swim coach, a DSU swim team alum, was there to cheer us on. She was in her old stomping grounds with friends and enjoyed seeing her team members win trophies. We should have asked the race director to recognize her and give her some of the credit for our success. She is the best coach around, or if not the best, the cutest.
Credit Wifeunit for the great photos. These are only three of the 58 she took on race day. She and Kate and I rode to Cleveland, Ms on Friday afternoon and stayed at a cheap, crummy motel for the night. I was so happy to have the two of them together as company, and to hear them share the stories I've heard from each of them. We had a great evening with a few drinks in the room before dinner and enjoyed our evening meal at the Warehouse restaurant in Cleveland. The food and service was very good, and unusual characters were in the huge warehouse-size dining area to drive our conversation.
After the race and awards, we showered and met at the Sharpe Street shopping area. We had no firm plan for lunch, so we bought gourmet pimento cheese, spinach and artichoke dip, egg salad and tasty rolls from one of the shops. These we took to a gazebo in the park and had a fine picnic. Wifeunit did the driving home through rain showers while Kate and I dozed off for short naps. Life is good!