This year was the inaugural running of the Mighty Moraine Man Triathlon at Moraine State Park. Joella Baker and Get Fit Families did a fantastic job of putting on a great race! I want to personally thank Joella for providing the Pittsburgh region with its first Half-Ironman! It was wonderful being able to sleep in my own bed and still be able to race that distance the next day.
Leading up to Saturday's race, everyone had their eye on the weather forecast. After a beautiful day on Friday, a rain storm that stretched from Canada to the Carolinas came roaring through Western Pennsylvania mid-morning.
My number one goal for this race was to have a good and fast swim. In short, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I made sure to warm-up in the water about 20 minutes before the start of the race. I wanted to make sure I was comfortable and ready to swim fast. With the breeze picking-up and Lake Arthur looking pretty choppy, the warm-up calmed my nerves and allow me to settle into the race quickly. Feeling good in the water and trying to push faster than my normal tempo, I was hopeful to see a relatively fast time, when I got out of the water. As I stripped my wetsuit running to T1, I glanced at my watch, 26 minutes and change. I was quite surprised to see a number like that!!! It ends up, the swim course may have been a little short, perhaps due to buoys being blown off course a little, but hey, I'm not complaining.
When I reached T1, I saw that my biggest competition, Eric Angst, had already been by to get his bike. This was no surprise to me. I just wondered how far ahead he was. I was ready to do whatever it took to close the gap. I quickly exited transition and climbed the small hill up to North Shore Drive. As I sped around the bend, things didn't seem right. Was the road that bumpy? OH NO!!! My first flat tire in a race!!! I can't explain how disappointed I was. I figured Eric was at least a few minutes ahead of me and is a strong cyclist himself. I didn't think there would be anyway to catch him now. I tried to stay calm and changed the tire as best I could. Of course, I had a kink in the tube, and it ended up getting caught between the tire and the wheel rim. I had no choice, but to wait for help. By the time I was back on my bike, I had lost around ten minutes.
I was now riding for myself. I knew catching Eric would be next to impossible, unless he had a mechanical problem of his own. I felt good. It was a nice enough day. I thought: I mine as well enjoy the ride. THEN IT RAINED!
The next 46 miles were pretty miserable. At times, it rained so hard it hurt. It was a drenching rain. The kind where you run from the car into the house to stay dry, but when you get inside, you realize that running didn't help at all because you are soaked anyway. I still rode hard, but had to be extremely cautious on the course. At first, the rain wasn't so bad because it was still warm outside. However, I remember the distinct moment when it went from warm to cold. My toes were numb, and I actually wanted to ride harder just to stay warm. I pulled into T2 not knowing what kind of bike time I had and just wanting to start running to get warm.
Most of the run course was along the Moraine Bike/Run trail around Lake Arthur. Again, if it wasn't for the terrible weather, I'm sure the course would have been beautiful. About one mile into the run, Eric, who was in first place, past me on his way back from the first turnaround. I quickly calculated the chances of being able to make-up the difference between he and I and concluded it was unlikely. However, he told me I was in third place so I anxiously awaited to see who I had to catch in second place and how far ahead he was. As second place and I passed each other, we exchanged encouraging words, but in the back of my head, I knew I could catch him. The rain continued to fall as I put one foot in front of the other ticking off the miles. I wasn't setting any records on this day that's for sure. I think I only had one mile that was under seven minute pace. Today, I was OK with that. The final six miles of the run were quite difficult (they're never easy even when you're not pushing it). I took over second place around mile six and simply kept a consistent pace for the remainder of the run. I pulled into the finish line with an overall time of 5:01 and change. Overall, considering the weather and the flat tire, I was proud of myself for not throwing in the towel. Despite the adversity, I finished the race and earned some very valuable race experience.
Thanks to all the volunteers who endured the weather! The post-race food was awesome: burgers, dogs, spaghetti, pierogies, cake, and more. I ate two hamburgers, a hot dog, a plate of spaghetti, pierogies, orange drink and chocolate milk, and a huge piece of yellow cake with chocolate icing in about 10 minutes. It hit the spot after a long and wet race.
|The pierogies were delicious!!!|