Rumor has it that 2010 has arrived in that zone of reality commonly known as “The World.” In my world, however, it is still 2009. That is partly so I can continue to savor the state of comfortable denial whereby I don’t have to admit that it is this year I will be doing an Ironman. In my world, that happens next year. But I also wanted to pause for a moment and revisit some of my most memorable athletic moments from last year. Or rather, this year.
Hearts of Iron. No real contest for the most memorable moment here. Witnessing Flygirl complete Ironman USA at Lake Placid. It was a helluva journey but none of it compared to the event itself. Its hard to top the privilege of being there to share the moment when someone completes a life goal. Being able to cheer on so many of my Team Z cronies was an added bonus. But I’ve already written a lot about this and so has Flygirl.
Family Ties. Having my uncle and cousin from NZ to stay. Sharing the Ironman madness. A magic day of biking with my uncle along the C&O between Riley’s Lock and Widewater.
Skidding in the Rain. Charlotte Long Course Duathlon, in February, raced entirely in driving rain from start to finish. A near-death experience fish-tailing a tri bike on muddy wet roads to avoid some arsehole in a car. Two trail runs in thick red North Carolina mud that turned into slip and slides. Never did manage to get the reddish tinge out of my running shoes.
Spring Fling. A pleasant spring day in Richmond for the Duathlon Nationals. Except for the part where it was 90 degrees and as humid as an NFL linebacker’s jockstrap. Saw someone with heatstroke for the first (and, I hope, the last) time in my life. Got the best race swag ever. Felt like a rockstar. Until the race started. Then I pretty much felt like crap.
The Borg. The Kinetic Half-Ironman. Hadn’t planned on doing anything for this and was only planning to be there to support Mary. But Coach Ed roped me in to a relay and I found myself doing the bike leg of the half. I’ve never had the opportunity to race flat out over 56 miles and I was really pleased to be able to bring it in under three hours. This, however, is the event I consider my real introduction to Team Z: the noise, the generous support, the noise, the endless amounts of food, the noise. . . Seeing how the team cheered and supported not just its own but especially those racers coming in at the tail-end was truly inspiring. I was assimilated.
Les Miserables. Mountains of Misery in May. In many ways, this ride ranks up there with Mary’s Ironman in terms of the most memorable event of 2009 (in a year that was packed with miserable events). I certainly haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. In many ways it redefined me as a cyclist since it was so much more ridiculously extreme than anything I’d attempted before. It also left me with one of the strangest sensations: I completed it, so I felt a huge sense of accomplishment; yet I felt completely destroyed mentally, so I felt as if it had beaten me. More than likely, 2010 will see a rematch.
Moosed. Racing the bike and run portions of the Mooseman Half-Iron with a massive headcold. In retrospect, just stupid. But it was great to be part of an event at which I’ve been an observer for so many years before. It was also one of the few times Mary and I have ever done the same race. And I wouldn’t have missed Robbin grinding the poor race mascot for anything.
The Roar of the Cannon. Patrick Henry Half Marathon at the end of August. Exactly the kind of weather you’d expect at the end of August, but I managed a PR. Although I almost crapped myself when the race started with a blast from a replica cannon I was pleased with the way I was able to execute my race plan and build from a conservative start to a rip-roaring finish. I’ll miss not being able to do this race again in 2010 but it may be too close to IMMOO.
Hooah. Marine Corps Marathon in October. A fun, well-organized, inspirational race. My first time being part of a really big athletic event. I didn’t hit my goal, but I did a lot better than at Richmond last year and also ran harder for longer than I had truly believed I could do. Looking forward to the next one.
Challenging Phelps. Against all good sense I start swimming. Yup yup yup. And I’m still (mostly) afloat.
Frozenman. Trying to do a time trial in a snow storm. Pretty definitive evidence of how far I’ve come this year. Or how low I’ve fallen!