Dare Mighty Things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt

Monday, August 22, 2011

Great Adventures Challenge

Finishing the bike leg.
[Photo courtesy of Gianina Lindsey]
"Children, gather round! No retreat, no surrender; that is Spartan law. And by Spartan law we will stand and fight... and die. A new age has begun. An age of freedom, and all will know, that 300 Spartans gave their last breath to defend it!" -King Leonidas from the movie 300

Bridgton, MAINE -- No retreat, no surrender!  That is aR law.  Heading into the Great Adventures Challenge (Bridgton, ME) I had one single purpose...race as hard as I could and "blow up or show up".  My legs bounced back nicely from my little bicycle ride last weekend aided in part by the planned restoration week.  Doc Sprague had done this race the past few years and was the inspiration behind Timmy Lindsey and I (along with our team photographer Gianina) taking the 2 hour drive north to Shawnee Peak.  The paddle was a mass start of humanity with oars clashing in the craziest game of bumper boats you've ever played.  I was struck by how challenging it was to keep the boat straight with the water so churned up.  As quickly as I could I found some quiet water and spotted the first buoy.  I did my best to pick a straight line wasting as little time as possible with needless zig zagging.  But even by the time I reach the first buoy the leader was already nearly a 100 meters ahead of me and the rest of the field.  I stayed around the Top 10 for the entire paddle neither gaining nor losing any ground to those around me picking a "straight as an arrow" line.  Doc was about 10 meters ahead the entire way and transitioned to the bike almost a minute ahead.  He had paddled with his helmet, bike shoes, and gloves already on while I chose to make a quick "costume change" (thanks Timmy) at the paddle/bike TA.  Doc had a killer weekend at the 24HoGG finishing 4th overall in our King of the Glen competition last week, so I already had my work cut out for me if I had any hope of beating him.  As soon as I got on my bike I stood up on the pedals in the big ring and mashed as hard as I could trying to close the gap.  Immediately I picked up two places passing some faster kayakers but slower mountain bikers.  Within a mile I caught a glimpse of Doc and my energy levels soared.  Not long after seeing him I was on his back tire and made him an offer to work together.  He graciously accepted and I attached myself to his back wheel letting him do most of the work.  Shortly there after I felt him slow on a flat section of road that we should have been hammering.  I decided to jump in front and return the favor encouraging him as I got into position.  He said his legs were gassed from last weekend and for me to go ahead and race for a podium.  I insisted we would race together and help each other to a Top 10 finish.  For the next few miles of dirt road and snowmobile trail we stayed together with me pulling him along.  Just past the half way mark he had fallen back as a signal for me to go.  Standing up again on the pedals I cranked as hard as I could toward the rider a hundred meters ahead.  After a little work I finally caught him and worked my way past.  My legs felt strong and I rode most of the next 5 miles in the big ring with the lone exception of the last hike-a-bike steep ascent back up to the ski area.  I had come out of the water 11th overall (solo's & teams) and finished the bike in 6th.  I transitioned to my trail shoes, grabbed my bottle of HEED, and headed out for the final two miles of the race.  With full sun and temps in the 80's it was a challenge to remain hydrated although I had made it to this point in the race without even so much as a muscle quiver.  I ran the first 20 meters up Pleasant Mountain and then realized it was a futile exercise.  We would gain ~1300 feet in a mile to the summit house.  With 15.5 aggressive mountain bike miles on my legs and very, very little tri-specific training (ie. bricks) in the bag I immediately switched to survival mode.  The two guys ahead of me were walking and as I peeked back EVERYONE else behind me was walking as well.  The way I reasoned as long as I walked as fast as everyone else my place was secure.  Counting the top competitors ahead of me I estimated myself to be somewhere inside the Top 10.  Although I don't know if they were solo's or teams, I lost two places on the mountain.  The downhill sprint was punishing on the legs but it felt great to move so purposely toward the finish.  I crossed the finish line in 2:17:23 good enough for 5th/49 solo (8th/83 overall/).  Obviously I'm really, really pleased with the result.  Despite a couple of sections on the mountain that I wished I was anywhere else but there...I raced hard from cannon to finish and held up remarkably well.  For my first real triathlon in nearly 20 years I'd say it was a success. 

Google Earth map and elevation profile.  As you can
see, Pleasant Mountain isn't so much.
Post-script:  I must say "kudos" and "thank you" to race director Rob Knowles for putting on such a unique race.  Rob was very gracious and generous with all three aR athletes in attendance.  This really is a great event.  Super challenging and fun course and a killer free lunch with burgers, dogs, and ice cream.  Great volunteers and a heaping dose of Maine "charm" make this a race I'd definitely go back to do...I just hope he moves it back another week from the 24HoGG.  I'm going to "run" Pleasant Mountain next time!  [At least to the first aid station]

NEXT UP: Reach The Beach Relay (NH)

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