Two races and spring break

I’m not doing very well with this blog recently. Is it Facebook? I like the immediacy of the social network, but miss the narratives of the blogs.

The past two weeks were busy what with races each weekend and the girls out of school on spring break.

The racing started April 11 at the Fredericksburg Off-Road Duathlon, put on by FredEvents, featuring a 3-mile run, 12-mile bike and 2.5-mile run. It stormed overnight and the day dawned cool and moist, but the rain held off until the race started. Just as we lined up, a wave of wind swept across the Rappahanock River, the temperature dropped 10 degrees and big fat drops of rain started to fall.

A hundred or so of us ran down the path and into the woods. I felt good on the run despite the muddy up-and-down trails, arriving at the transition to the mountain bike 3 or so minutes behind the leaders. I quickly passed a few runners who weren’t skilled bikers, but found myself likewise being passed. The tires I was running found little purchase on the slick singletrack. Still the course was kind of cool, twisting around and even through a long, dark tunnel under I-95. Whoever built these trails was a little too log happy – there were far too many log crossings to build decent momentum – and they’re not much fun wet.

The race sorted itself out on the bike. Several minutes into my run I saw Rob Dinterman heading back to the finish, the winner by some distance. Again I felt good running (better even than biking) the muddy trails. I saw no one in front or behind me on the run and finished strong in 1:57.19 – 18 minutes behind Rob and 14.5 minutes behind Mark Russell, who finished a strong 6th. My time put me in 15th overall and 5th in the 40-49 age group.

After driving to Fredericksburg and back Saturday, I drove to DC on Sunday with the family. We walked around the Capitol, then went to the American Indian Museum where we saw a cool film in the round, great displays and a fabulous art exhibit of works by Fritz Scholder. We drove out to my brother Mark’s in Fairfax. He and his wife Michele kindly put us up and fed us dinner both Sunday and Monday nights.

On Monday, Mark and Sebastian, my nephew and godson, joined us as we rode the Metro into the National Zoo. For some reason (spring perhaps), the animals were very active, especially the male panda Tian Tian, who is in rut. He paced his large enclosure and even pounded a paw against a window where Millie and I stood. We also saw orangutans on the high-wire and the gorillas being fed, during which the dominant male bullied the others for carrots. After an exhausting morning at the zoo, we headed to the National Mall for more walking, visiting the base of the Washington Monument, the World War II memorial, the Vietnam Wall and the Lincoln Memorial.

We spent the next day at the Museum of Natural History. It was packed, which made it hard for me to enjoy, but the girls had a great time. We drove home that night, stopping at Ikea to eat dinner and load in some Swedish meatballs.

Back home we enjoyed a couple of lowkey days. On Friday, we went to First Landing State Park. The girls hiked while I ran. We enjoyed a picnic and then drove to the Boardwalk where we rode bikes then played on the beach. We ended the day with some awesome frozen yogurt from new Tripower sponsor Skinny Dip at Hilltop. At one point one the girls called it the “best day ever.”

After a morning ride and run and Ellie’s afternoon soccer game, we drove to Williamsburg and the in-laws weekend timeshare. A big dinner and the hot tub primed me for Sunday’s race at Poor Farm.

I really didn’t know what to expect as I lined up in the 11-man expert vet field at noon. I’ve never had much luck (or is it form?) at Poor Farm. It also was very warm and we faced four of the 7-mile laps for a long race. After several days in a row of hard training, I could just as easily wind up last in this field. I started conservatively as Crazy, Kevin and others contested the hole shot. I soon passed a few riders and was chasing Kevin, who said he wasn’t feeling well and pulled the plug after the first lap.

I, on the other hand,  felt amazing with a good spin in my pedal strokes. The twisty, technical, up-and-down course seemed easier than I remembered. I chased Jerry throughout the second lap, passing him toward the end, then almost crashing us both on a log crossing. He came around me to start the third lap, but I soon left him behind for good. I asked him for his skills; he asked me for my legs. No trade.

I saw few others until the 4th lap when I started pulling back the slow sport racers on their third laps and some fading pro/expert racers also on their 4th laps. I finished in 2:34.15 in a surprising – to me – 5th place. I was 12 minutes – 3 minutes a lap! – behind Crazy and Rob Suydam who finished 1, 2 in a sprint up the final climb. Still I was very pleased. Overall I had the 11th fasted time among those who raced four laps. It was perhaps one of my best mountain bike races ever. Even though the course was fairly long, I really liked the way Mark of RunRideRace laid it out. There was a great mix of big-ring flats, short steep climbs and rolling twisty singletrack. Maybe Poor Farm isn’t so bad after all or maybe I’m just getting better.

Next up: the Off-Road National Duathlon Championship race in Richmond on Saturday.

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One response to “Two races and spring break

  1. I’m sure that Facebook has a lot to do with it. How many places can you go and read and chat b4 you’ve spent your entire Sat or Sun on the computer? I prefer this blog, it’s much more personal, but am being pressured by invites from so many people to do the Facebook waltz.

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