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.
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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