Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SMS Conversation with my Mother

Under normal circumstances this blog is not to represent things outside of the realm of athletic feats of excellence, but this one cracks me up.

My mom texts me tonight to let me know she has an extra ticket for the Rutgers vs Fresno State football game on Monday. 1) I don't care about this game and 2) It's Labor Day and clearly I have to be back here for numerous reasons. I let her know this, and say that if I were going to go to any game this weekend, it would be the inaugural Maryland vs Delaware game. She claims she "didn't know they were playing." I said, impossible, we had this exact discussion a few months ago.

Then she goes on to tell me, "did kev tell you danny paden is a dad?" Kev is my brother, Kevin, and Danny Paden is his friend from grammar school. In other words, he is 3 years younger than me and not my friend. I text back and said my sister (who visited today) already told me.

She then says she is going to send me the picture of this little baby. I text back and say "I already saw it, I don't really care, all babies look alike."

A few minutes later she sends it anyway. Delete. Thanks for wasting $0.25 for the picture message, mom.

Monday, August 25, 2008

2008 Olympics Revisited

Before the XXIX Olympic Games commenced on 8/8/08, I sincerely expected, nay, hoped they would be a failure for China. I really didn't want to see them be successful, in many ways. Two weeks later, that attitude has been completely turned around. Not only do I feel this year's Games were totally awesome, but I think, for the most part, it painted China in a good light. A few things they could have done without:

1) Digitally enhancing fireworks during the Opening Ceremonies
2) Making a cute little girl lip-synch for some busted girl
3) The alleged age of their alleged gymnasts

In only a few cases did the weather play a factor, and without being there, I don't think it was "as bad" as had been portrayed in the months leading up to the Games. That's not to say that some days didn't look absolutely disgusting, because they did, I just think for so many of the events they are inside or at least the athletes' exposure to the elements is limited to under a few minutes per event.

So I've tried to compile a list of few of my favorite moments from the Olympics this year, which is tough because every day produces more than its fair share; from the Water Cube to the Birds' Nest, and all points in between, there was never a pause in action. I'll also list my 10 favorite hotties of the Olympics later, but here is the short list: My 10 favorite moments from this year's Olympic Games:

10) Rhythmic Gymnastics. Yeah, you probably didn't even know this was real. I started watching this back in Atlanta. It's one of the last events they hold, and really one of the stupidest, but damn if it doesn't look good in HD. My brother and I used to watch this on the last Saturday of the Games, and soon found ourselves to be expert judges (along with trampoline). This year was no exception, as the individual winner (Evgeniya Kanaeva) was totally hot and did some crazy stuff, and the team winner (Russian Federation) had a routine that looked like a circus act. There are so many visual things going on, it's nearly impossible to absorb everything unless you do it in slow-mo.

9) Galen Rupp in the 10,000m. In a race that I'm sure hardly anybody watched (it was on between 3 and 4 on the first Sunday), the field was running together through just over 5 miles. Galen Rupp, a young American who runs collegiately for Oregon, was sitting in the pack with the big boys until a destructive 61 second lap with 4 to go blew the doors off. He finished in 13th overall, however, first American, and ran under 28 minutes. This kid is the next American distance track runner.

8) Dara Torres in the 50m free. People are always going to question exactly how she did it, but regardless of how, Torres, at 41 years old, earned silver in the fastest swimming event, losing gold by the narrowest of margins (0.01s). Her time was an American record, and she exuded class throughout the entire process, even holding up the start so a competitor could fix her suit. 8 years ago, at 33, she became the oldest swimmer to win a medal. Now at 41, she seems to only be starting and you can see the drive back in her face. No doubt she'll toe the line in the 2012 Olympic Trials.

7) Women's 4x400m relay (track). Sure, this is an event that on paper I'm sure we should have expected to win, but there were a number of events we should have won on the track this year that we didn't. My girl Allyson Felix clearly has something wrong with her, but still ran well, and then the third leg really messed stuff up for us. Sanya Richards anchored, and quickly tried to close the gap to the Russian team, before keeping the Russian in check. It looked like she was letting the race slip away until the last 75m, when she finally nudged past for the gold. An exuberant Richards, clearly disappointed with her 400m individual bronze, pumped her fist as she crossed the line. It was a great race to watch, even if we probably should have won handily.

6) Usain Bolt in the 200m. What superlative hasn't been used yet to describe this phenom? If there were more sprinting events, he would be the Michael Phelps of the track world. In his early round heats of the 100m, he looked so smooth and effortless, jogging some of the fastest times the world has ever seen. Then he comes out like gangbusters in the 100, blowing the field away and making it look easy in a World Record time. The 200 seemed like it might be a little tougher, as he wasn't easily getting under 20 in the rounds. The final was different, however, and from the gun he got after it. He came off the turn running so fast, the other competitors must have thought they were going to run 21 seconds. He looked like he was working harder, ran through the line and was more humble than after the 100, and earned another World Record that I thought was unbeatable. To top it all off, despite a sloppy handoff to Asafa Powell, the Jamaican team recorded another World Record in the 4x100m relay. The US would never have been able to touch them.

5) Dwyane Wade to Kobe for the alley oop. I'm pretty sure it was D-Wade to Kobe, but after all the ridiculous, Globetrotter-esque highlights, it's hard to remember exactly. Either way, Dwyane had stolen the ball or something and threw what looked like an off balance pass to nowhere, just in the direction of the basket, when all of a sudden Kobe swooped in and grabbed it for the dunk. The first 6 games or whatever for the American team were cakewalks, which was kind of fun to watch, before their rematch with Spain and a much narrower victory. While I was apprehensive watching that one, I'm glad we kept our heads and won the gold. Even though we never should lose gold in the first place.

4) Jonathon Horton on the high bar. I think that's the kid's name. Actually, this could go to all of USA Men's gymnastics. Unlike their female counterparts, they worked super hard, were somewhat underdogs when they earned bronze in the team comp, and were ecstatic with the result. Then in the event finals, some of them knew that in order to win, or put themselves in a position to win, that they would have to put everything on the line. The one guy did so on the pommel horse, performing a routine laced with such difficulty that he fell off. He knew the risk but did it anyway. That's PDAW worthy. Then the Horton guy does the same thing on the high bar. Changes his routine 2 days before the competition so that it's more difficult and nails it. It earned him silver, some believe it was gold-level, but it wouldn't have mattered what medal he won he was so excited after the routine. That's what being an Olympian is all about.

3) Double golds in beach volleyball. This is probably my favorite game-type event to watch in the world. 1) It's fast 2) It's on the beach 3) There's hot chicks and 4) They're in bikinis. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh have been the super team in the world over the last year, not having lost a match since 8/19/07. They won gold 4 years ago and wanted to repeat as champs. They are dominant and humble, and more than anything they are prepared. It's spectacular to watch them compete. Their win in the rain was a good one. The men, Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, had a tougher road to their gold after losing unbelievably on the opening night of competition to Latvia. From there out it was necessary for them to be flawless; one more loss and they'd be out before the medal round play even began. So they cleaned up their act and despite a few close matches, came out on top, defeating a tough Brazilian team in 3 sets to win gold.

2) Nastia Liukin, basically anything she did. I just liked watching Nastia. I liked watching her on uneven parallel bars. I liked watching her on the beam. I liked watching her in her little outfits, with her tightly pulled back hair and huge forehead, and big smile. There are times she looks like a total bitch, and others when she looks like the sweetest thing ever. Her dad was another character in this drama, which became a little weird by the end. I felt bad when they earned silver in the team comp, but hey, it happens. Then she won the all-around. That's satisfying. In the event finals she got robbed on both accounts, but I feel like she got the one that counted. I also like Shawn Johnson's gusto, but Nastia gets my main approval. I just wish they had shown more of her at the little gala thing, I remember that being a lot more fun to watch.

1) Men's 4x100m freestyle relay (swimming). This goes down as the best race I've ever seen in my life. Take it out of context: just say it was a random meet. It would still have been cool. Now add some more life: the Olympic games, US vs France, for gold. Now give it the piece d'resistance: losing means Michael Phelps will not win 8 gold medals. Sure, what Michael Phelps did was amazing; it has never been done before, and may never be repeated. Would it mean he's a failure? No. More amazing than the physical feats, just the fact he expected 8 wins, visualized 8 wins, and achieved 8 wins, when the pressure was on. That's sick. Anyway, this race was one of the stepping stones to get there, and with their situation looking dire, old-ass Jason Lezak makes up a body length on the World Record holder at the distance, Alain Bernard, and out-touches him at the wall. The reaction from his teammates was pure, and you know the first thought in Phelps' head was not "oh thank God he just kept my medal hunt alive" but rather "yes, that was sick, I'm proud of my teammate." There may never again be a race with so much riding on the line, so I'm glad I got to see it.

So these are my top 10, I'm sure I've forgotten a few, and as I remember I may include them. One great moment was watching the female swimmer from South Africa compete in the 10km open water swim event as an amputee. That was pretty awesome.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Luray International Triathlon 2008

I signed up for this race last month on the coercion of Alyssa. She called me out, and, as everyone knows, I don't respond well to that.

She and I headed down to Luray on Friday night, and arrived in the town known for its caverns around 9:15. We were pretty hungry and there were not many options that late at night. We settled for Uncle Buck's Tavern, where I had a crappy hamburger and a crappy sweet potato. The highlight of the evening was watching (with no sound, mind you) Michael Phelps win his 7th gold medal...by 0.01 seconds. That's right, it was the closest of margins in the 100m butterfly, winning over Mark Cavic, who just seemed to not touch hard enough (twss).

We left the restaurant, went to the hotel and watched the remaining Olympic events. I woke up surprisingly alert at 5:30am and we got ready to go to the race. There was a tremendous amount of fog in the area, and the temperature was pretty cool. The venue was set amidst the Shenandoah Mountains, which provided a really cool landscape.

Everything in the race was two loops. Two loops in the lake, two loops on the bike, a two loop run. I was in the first wave, which went off at 8am. The water temp was comfortable, but at 74 I still wore my wetsuit. I felt awesome at first, but then I think I went a little awry after we turned into the blinding sun. On lap 2 we started passing the very slow swimmers. One of them clawed my timing chip off, which proceeded to sink to the bottom of the lake. Oh well. I'll probably have a charge on my credit card this month. Nevertheless, I felt like I didn't swim that great. I got out and there was a fairly long run to transition.

I feel like I got through transition pretty well, and headed out onto the bike. There was a hill about a quarter mile in that made the HR skyrocket, and I felt out of synch for the first few miles. I was so out of it that I thought about just shutting it down. Fortunately I started feeling it, and began to roll. They had 5 mile markers, and I passed the first one in 12:30, and then 10 miles in 24:30. This is pretty fast, I thought. The end of the loop featured a long false-flat that was a real challenge. As I turned into lap 2, I now had more people to pass again. Hit mile 15 in 38:00. Didn't see a 20 mile mark, and I thought the course was 24 miles, so I figured I'd be done in around an hour.

I pass the loop entrance and assume the park is right there, but didn't realize we had a few more miles to go. And another hill. I had really ridden well, but was disappointed when I saw it had taken me 1:08:12 (3rd fastest, even though I don't have splits) for just over 25 miles. Another fairly quick transition and I was out onto the run, not feeling great stomach-wise but legs were alright.

I cruised through the first mile and was surprised to see a 5:56 on my watch. That clearly was not correct, because I wasn't running that fast and there was a hill that would have slowed that down. Mile 2 was 6:40, which I felt was slow. Mile 3 was just about 7, so again I felt like it was slow. Mile 4 was just around 6:00, and then Mile 5 was like 7 again. So when I came through the line and saw 39:12, my inclination was that it was short - but upon further review I think the miles were just long, making up the .2 along the way. I wasn't pleased with the time, as it was the 17th best run, but I didn't really care at that point.

I crossed the line in 2:14:58, which was 7th in my wave. I was floored by the difficulty of this race; as a reference, Columbia I raced in 2:08:40. The winner of the race was a beast. Slow swim (22 something) but monster bike (1:04) and a good run (35). Impressive. I came to find out that I had finished 11th, but they had my time as 2:05:10, since I lost my chip - and this clearly was 12 seconds off. I'll say it was 9th place. Of course since I had raced in the Open wave, I finished 3rd there and they gave me a vase that reads 3rd Overall. I was not psyched to accept this.

Alyssa did great, recording a PR, a 9th place finish and 1st in her age-group. Larry the Slug was there too, always nice to see him. There was a random two person band that was playing some surprisingly decent music, and more importantly there was a lot of Gatorade. I would come back to do this race and probably stay for the weekend. The weather was cooperative, cool temp, no humidity, largely shaded course. It represented race #18 for me.

We headed home, I watched more Olympics that night, including Michael Phelps' amazing 8th gold medal. I then woke up early on Sunday and rode out in Frederick with Dean. First time riding with the Kiwi and it was a good one. The weather was amazing, best we've ever had in Frederick. Normally it's either freezing cold or a million degrees. We hit Hamburg, and Harp, and we were riding pretty quick. Rode well in between hills and by the time we hit South Mtn I was feeling good. We absolutely rolled from there, with a slight tailwind, and were able to bring our average speed to 17.5mph for the ride. Previous fastest was 16mph for the 54 miles. It was a great two days.

Monday I ran down to Fed Hill, did the 7 mile loop and then ran home. Much better than last week, average pace was 6:35 and I felt pretty good. Tired on Tuesday, but that was a monster 3 days I put together. At some point this week I'll get around to posting thoughts/comments about the Olympics.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Church Creek Time Trial

Races #16 and 17 were kind of mid-year fillers.

I did not intend originally on doing the 5000m at the track meet on Thursday, but Kris was going to do it and far be it from me to not show up and support. And then I always figure if I show up I may as well race. I had swam in the morning, and then just finished a 32 mile ride at an honest level of effort, so I was kind of tired. I didn't warm up, just put on my flats and went.

There were a bunch of kids in the front at the start, and they were crawling. I'm talking probably close to 25sec through the first 100m. I move to the front and hear the remarks, "there goes the rabbit!" Clearly that was not my intention, but I was hoping to get Kris into a better position to run fast. By the 400m I had a huge gap. I shut it down, moved to lane 3, which apparently confused the lads. They finally caught me and I slowed down, just clicking off 89's. Came through the 1600m in 5:46, 3200m in 11:44 (5:57) and then decided I'd like to run under 18, but in order to do that had some work to do. My last 1600m splits were 85-84-81-81 (5:31) and that got me just under. I was pretty pleased with being able to put in that kind of effort. I didn't cool down, not sure what place I finished, but I do know that it was not the venue to run fast.

Saturday I headed out to Cambridge, MD, home also to Eagleman, for a 40k individual time trial. This was the first time I was racing my bike in a time trial fashion without having to run after or swim before, so I was looking to crank. I figured averaging between 26.5 and 27mph was within reason, as I had gone through 25.5 miles in an hour on the course back in June. My start time was 11:52:30, so I left the house around 8:20. It took 2 hours to get there, getting stuck in a little traffic, and then I warmed up down from the high school to the start.

It was neat to get a hold for the start, and since it seemed as if we had a little push from the wind in the start direction, I was able to start in a pretty big gear. The person that was supposed to start :30 in front of me didn't show, so I started 1:00 behind someone. I got after it from the go and within a few miles had started picking off some of the slower riders in front of me. After about 14 minutes we turned right into the wind. This became a challenge. I was more concerned with keeping my cadence high than trying to push a big gear, I just didn't seem to have the legs to do it.

Not that it's a technical course, but I was glad that I was familiar with the course from Eagleman. I remembered the bumpy road that destroys your "nether region" as Dean put it. I was trying to push a larger gear through this section so I wasn't bouncing in my seat. I had hit 20k (halfway) at 29:30, which was considerably slower than I was expecting. I was expecting a tailwind for the last 8 miles, so I was hoping to negative split the ride.

Finally, after what seemed like an impossible amount of time, we turned to head out of the Blackwater Refuge and onto a smooth, wind-aided road. I noticed the 10k to go line on the road and a quick look at the watch and I was concerned I wouldn't break an hour. I put as much as I could into the last 6 miles, especially with a mile to go. I stopped the clock in 58:57, which was an average speed of 25.2mph. Not exactly what I was expecting, this race was a lot harder than I anticipated. Of course, less than a minute after the race I seemingly had completely recovered. I rode back to the high school, very slowly, with a couple of guys I know, and at this point the day had turned pretty warm. The sun was strong.

I managed to pull a 2nd place out of 33 in the Cat 5 race, almost 2 minutes back from 1st but 1 minute ahead of 3rd. I did manage to finish faster than a couple of Cat 4 and Cat 3 folks, but there were some really impressive performances, especially by some old guys. And I mean legitimately old, like in the mid 50s. The guy that won Cat 5 was over 50. Couldn't believe it. So I clearly have some work to do.

I should have brought a water bottle, I really underestimated how thirsty I got. Other than that I didn't think I did anything wrong, but I was disappointed that I was only marginally faster than two weeks ago in the triathlon. On my way out I stopped at Wendy's in Easton, which was tasty, but then it took me forever to get home thanks to traffic on the Bay Bridge - 3 hours to get back. Ridiculous!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Winning IS Everything

We're all familiar with phrases like "winning isn't everything" and "it's not whether you win or lose, but how you played the game." Well you know what, those are bullshit.

Would Kevin Garnett be any worse of a basketball player if he didn't win an NBA Championship? Certainly not, but we would asterisk his name in comments like "Kevin Garnett, perhaps the best player to never have won a championship" had he stayed in Minnesota.

What the unenlightened fail to understand that, at the highest level of sport, it is only about winning. Try telling the silver medallist at the Olympics that they'll "get 'em next time." There may never be a next time for them.

I understand that accomplishments, awards and money are things we can't take with us when we die, but they're certainly going to have an impact on how we live. Bill Buckner had to move to the middle of the country and become a recluse because of his blooper in the 1986 World Series (not that I was complaining about that one).

Winning is important to all of us. It is proof we're the best. I have trained with some of the most competitive people and I can say firsthand that winning something, no matter how big or small, is all they are concerned with. Brian Godsey is one of these people. Whether it was proving he had run the slowest on a particular course (yes, the slowest) or exploding over a game of MarioKart, he wants to beat you. OJ is another one of these people. He will kill himself to beat you at something. A lot of times he doesn't care if he doesn't win, just as long as you don't win. These two people have also won their fair share of races in their time, and once you know that feeling, it's hard to accept anything else.

Some people call it drive, some call it desire, yet others call it that killer instinct. I think it's just human nature, and the lack of these things is what has made the world into the place it is today. It's very hard to get to the top; it's even harder to stay there. I've only won two races (actually the same race, twice) - the Terp Trot 5k. This is my race. If there is a way that I can compete at it every year, it will always be my goal to win.

Most people are satisfied with just finishing something, and I'll never take that away from them. For them, that is their personal win. While there can only be one winner at any given event, others can also win.

Age-graded wins don't count, at least definitely not yet. In college I remember after some races Tri-guy Tommy, my training partner, would come back and tell me he "won." Then I would look up results and say "no, you got 4th." "Well I won my age group." Doesn't count. It's designed to make you feel better about yourself.

I got to thinking about winning this week as I consider the task ahead for America in their quest to "win" the Olympics. How does one measure success at the Olympics? Purely by medal count? Types of medals won? Percentage of gold medals to overall medals? Is their some kind of scale based on available resources and size of the country? For instance, we have more people in the Olympics than some countries have in their population, surely they can't be expected to win as many as we do.

Then I thought about Michael Phelps. He is in a position to do something no human being has ever done - win 9 gold medals in one Olympics. This is absurd. The fact he can is reason enough for him to do it. Most people say he could win more than that if the swimming events were spread over more days. He is so much better than everyone else at so many events it's impossible to fathom. But with all that potential comes so much pressure. I don't know how he deals with it. See while most of America is a bunch of lazy assholes, they do judge success by one thing: did you win gold? If you say yes, it's "oh okay, that's good." If you say no, I won silver, it's "oh...well, good job. Maybe next time." The unenlightened can't comprehend or appreciate because they don't understand what it takes to get there.

Even I would say "wow, silver is great, bronze is great, 4th place is great!" but if I am good enough to get to the Olympics, I'm only satisfied with gold.

Ultimately I suppose it comes down to knowing your audience. One of the most degrading things you can say to an elite athlete is "well at least you finished." Our college coach used that as his motivational speech once: "just finish." Thanks, coach. After Eagleman people were saying how much respect they had for me just because I had finished. Great, I finished, in a terrible time and nearly killed myself. When we were in Boston a few years ago for Andy's marathon, a Bostoner (Bostonite?) on the train said one of the most intelligent things I've ever heard a non-athlete say to an athlete. "How was this time compared to your goal?" That's a proper question that should never get you in trouble.

I realize that winning is never easy, and that's the point, you've got to earn it. I'd like to get a W in a multisport event this season, but if it doesn't happen I'll keep working for it. Desire, drive and killer instinct. Humans got to where we are for a reason, it's up to some of us to keep that legacy going.

And I'd wish Michael Phelps luck, but he doesn't need luck. Go Baltimore!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New Jersey Triathlon 2008

I realize that I waited a week and a half to do this, but better late than never I suppose. I was too frustrated afterwards to say anything about it. This race, now in its third edition, arrived in Mercer County Park in 2006 and quickly became a favorite race. Very flat, very fast, a PR course (not to mention the always short bike course). 2006 was my first year back to triathlons after the long hiatus, and after Columbia it was just my 2nd race that year. I swam like garbage on their unreasonably long swim course, and then rode decent, and had the run I would have expected for myself at that time. The effort produced a 24th place in a time of 2:08:xx.

2007 I knew I was much better prepared, and I was, rocking to a much better swim on their proper-length swim course. I went 25min, which was still slow compared to the olden days, but it was the same time I swam at Columbia that year and without a wetsuit, so I was pleased. I did well on the bike again, being one of the few riding a standard road bike, and then was pretty pleased with my run. My time of 2:05:58 yielded 15th place.

I came into this year sporting a near 9 minute improvement from Columbia year-over-year, so I had expectations of pulling at least 8 minutes from 2007 NJ. I wagered my 22:23 at Columbia would at worst have me out of the water in 23 and change, and then I've been raping bike courses lately so I figured I could have one of the fastest splits on the day. With a 38:09 run last year and a similar time at Columbia this year (on the harder course) I figured sub37 would be reasonable. All in all I was looking for a top 5 finish.

I spent a large part of Saturday watching the Tour, then finally made my way up to NJ, which, thanks to Delaware traffic, took longer than it should have. I called my buddy Vic up to meet for a run in Middletown, so we did that, got some pizza and before I knew it, it was 10pm. I went to sleep probably right before midnight, and woke up around 5.

I woke up to thunder. Loud, disturbing thunder, and thought oh man not again. It was warm, so if it rained I would have sucked it up, but I didn't want it to rain. Fortunately it was all good an hour away in Mercer County. I arrived and due to the Sprint waves going off first, we had to be out of transition pretty early. I prepared my stuff, and went for a warmup around some awesome trails they have out there. I took a dump, it was messy and I was not happy about that.

Made my way down to the water where the bathtub like 80 degrees greeted me happily. I started in the first wave of Olympic folks, and we were off. I felt like I was swimming pretty well and kept one guy to my left for the first half. I still felt like I was going okay, but as we turned into the sun, my goggles fogged up and I was just blindly swimming along, trying to keep this guy in my sight. Now, I can't say for sure what happened, but I could tell I was swimming for a while and since I couldn't see, I was having trouble spotting the buoys. I don't wear a watch, so I didn't know my time out of the water but results indicated that I swam 27:36! No way on earth did I honestly swim that slow. In perspective, Eric Benjamin has never swam faster than I have, I put a few minutes into him at Columbia, and he beat me by 2 minutes on this day. So I was aggravated, not sure what happened and my only conjecture was that I went off course, because I can't fathom swimming 2:30 slower than last year when I am swimming as well as I ever have.

So that pissed me off. I head through the long transition, cursing the parking lot for ripping up my feet and heading out on my bike. This was race #2 with having my shoes clipped in and I handled myself a little better, but still lost 15sec to a guy that I came out of transition with. Once I was settled, I felt amazing - I truly feel at home on this bike/any bike these days. I started crushing the course, but right before we turned into the college campus I got stung by a wasp. In the groin. It was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced. I started freaking out, reaching into my shorts to get the stinger out. It hurt for a few minutes but I put it behind me and continued to smash. Back out on the open roads it was like I couldn't find a bigger gear to push, and I felt like I was effortlessly flying along. By the time I got back to the 2nd tour of the campus, I had caught a few dudes, and at this point there were too many people to pass so the four of us basically rode into the park again together. I separated a little from them just prior to T2, and tore in and out of there and onto the run. 56:07 for just over 23 miles, 24.8mph average and 6th fastest split of the day. I was pretty pleased.

I thought I felt pretty good, and wanted to see how many people were in front of me. There were quite a few. I was moving up well, but when I hit the first mile I saw 6:09. Man, that's way too slow. 2nd mile was even slower. Rather than freak out about time, I was concerned more with passing people. I continued to do that, and just let the run take its course. I started to not feel great around 5k, and could tell I was fading. The heat, which was by no means bad, was getting to me a little. I finally came on a half mile to go and was getting passed by someone (the first of the day to do that). He goes past, and then goes "shit" and slows down. Clearly he had blown his wad.

I catch back up to him, let him know that I wasn't in the age group division but rather the open, and we ran to pick up a guy sporting a DC Tri Club outfit. I just hate DC so much that I had to beat him. The three of us were full on now with 300m to go, and with 200m to go I had enough to sprint. I'm coming down the straight and hear the announcer calling it, and can see behind me the two coming back. I had nothing left. Lunge for the line, it looked like the DC guy got me but in official results it was me, 2:05:10; him, 2:05:11 and other dude 2:05:13. That's pretty sick. My run was a disappointing 38:37, but was still 10th best so I know a lot of people struggled on this day. I was disappointed with the overall result as well at 16th. Had I swam just a little bit quicker it would have made a world of difference. That's really what it came down to.

Eric had a really good overall race, winning the Clydesdale division, but my arch-nemesis Josh Wall got 7th, mostly on the heels of a good swim. I killed him on the bike but again we were just seconds apart on the run. I don't believe he actually lives in Beach Haven, because for 9 months of the year nobody does. That is what bothers me most.

It was also amazing to see the youth factor - so many young dudes in the top 20. Goes to show you that this distance really comes down to that, young guys that swim in college or were good swimmers can get in, get some time and then anyone can ride 23 flat miles reasonably fast and hold on for a 10k. I used to think this distance was my bread and butter, and even though I've struggled with the half distance this year, I think that's where I've got to start focusing more energy. Sucks. They're more expensive and a hell of a lot more painful.

My brother and sister came to watch, which was cool because my brother has never seen me race before. Afterwards we headed up the road a little to Lawrenceville and Varsity Pizza, home to the world's best buffalo chicken pizza, and killed some before I headed back to Maryland.

The race was weird this year, something about it just didn't feel right. I know it's a ways off, but I'm thinking that I've done about all I can do at this race and that maybe I won't do it next year. I say that now, but really my parents (when they're in town) love coming to it, it's pretty close to here and close to home, and it's a good race to do. I suppose if I don't have anything else to do next year I'll do it. I hear that Columbia 2009 is up to $140 and will probably close soon so I have to register for THAT now too.