It was a very good year

Skylands Triathlon

Clinton, NJ



I did Skylands in Clinton, NJ yesterday (9/19/99). It was the Middle Atlantic Regional Sprint Championship. I placed second in the tri and won the Penn Jersey Sprint Triathlon Series (both in my AG 55-59). Never mind that there was hardly anybody else there in either - I don't get to the podium very often and I savor them for the rare moments that they are :-) (The Penn Jersey Sprint Triathlon Series consists of 4 international distance triathlons: Thundergust, Sunset Sprint, Wilkes-Barre, and Skylands.)

Summary for the year - Aged up; good showing in Eagleman; lost Ironman virginity; qualified for next year's Nationals; top half of AG the last three times out (Wilkes-Barre, IMUSA, and Skylands); and won the PJSTS in AG. Woo hoo!! This will sure keep me coming back for more.

Longer version:

I was a bit hesitant going into this race. I had trained only about 12 hours total over the five weeks since IMUSA. Then as I gathered my stuff on Saturday afernoon I could not find my wetsuit. Hmmm, I wonder where it is. Called my father to see if it was there - we moved this summer and much of our stuff had been stored in his basement. He could not find it either. Uh oh. Talked it over with family members who had been in lake Placid and the last time anyone can remember seeing it is when I hung it up to dry on the deck outside the condo we stayed in. Oh well, the anticipated temperature at Skylands is 72-74 F so it won't be too bad.

I must have been concerned about the race because I slept poorly the night before. This rarely happens.

Arrived at Skylands to discover that the water temperature was 65 F - Floyd's rains had cooled the lake down that much. My concern almost turned to panic - as I have gotten older, temperature has had a progressivley greater adverse effect on me. I should have realized that the lake would have become colder - and if I did I would have stayed at home. But I couldn't do anything about it at this point.

The hardest part of the entire race for me was the first 100 yards of the swim. I steeled myself for the what I thought would be the inevitable hyperventilation due to the cold. That never happened - probably because I was ready for it. After the race, others said they had swum fast because of the temperature - the effect on me was just the opposite - my arms were tight and heavy and I felt like I was lumbering through the water. I finished the half-mile swim in just over 21 minutes - about 6 minutes slower than last year. My T1 time (3:54) was also slower than last years even though I didn't have to get out of a wetsuit.

The hardest part of the race for most folks is the bike. The 5k run is flat but the 14 mi bike course is hilly with a series of steady ups followed by a hard left which brings you to a virtual stop and then a very steep upward incline. Last year I had to do some walking there. Everyone who has done the course dreads this uphill. I couldn't wait for it - I knew I would be warm by the time I got to the top. This year I made it all the way without walking and, sure enough, I was warm again.

Bike, T2, and run times (51:38, 1:07, and 27:30) were all uneventful and within seconds of last years times. I ended up with an elapsed time of 1:45:19 which was slower than last year, virtually all of it on the swim leg. Shows how wetsuit-dependent a weak swimmer like me is.

Skylands is a fun race. I've done it the last three years. The post-race meal features pierogies (what else) either done in butter or spaghetti sauce. Everything was especially nice this year because I was able to bring home some awards stuff including a long-sleeved mock turtle neck which is great because I wear this type of shirt all winter long (see above references to adverse effect of cold).

I'm going to take it very easy the next 4 to 6 weeks and then slowly begin to build for next year. With all the discussion about bad songs we've had lately, I'm ending the year with a pretty nice Sinatra tune - "It was a very good year"

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