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Posted Sep 22 2008 11:05am

Fabulous time spent in lovely West Virginia for the Spirit of Morgantown Half Ironman and Olympic races. Note lonely runner above (Blush)

About the Fountain of Youth I spoke of on the last post. Looked at the hfpracing site before leaving for the 3.5 hour ride there and I noticed..They had this old bird, registered in....dahh dahh... the 35-39 year age group. A mistake perhaps???Hummm...or was it a little teaser to me that things were going to be very interesting in the hills of West Virginia. Could I pull this off?? , I mean if I was really 35 ..not 55, then I had to erase everything in my life from 1953- to 1973. Good.. No Dick Nixon, no Watergate, no Vietnam.Bad... no Beatles coming to Browns NFL championship in 64'. Good, no getting my head dunked in a toilet in 7th grade in 1966. Bad...,no JFK, Bobby , or Martin Luther King Jr. The possibilities were endless.

Patrick and I drove to the city and checked into the race expo to get our stuff. (Memo to HFP...expo???? really...) It was there that I reluctantly ended the whole "I'm 35 years old charade". However, even though they corrected my age , they still gave me a number that put me in with the 35-39 age group. So I racked my bike with the "kids" in the garage. and hung out a little with TriEric and his wife Aimee. We only met in person Saturday. Great guy and man, can the dude swim-ride-and run. Patrick and I met Karen Ruth, and Eddie Police for a bite in the Boathouse Bistro, which is right above the swim section of the course. Gorgeous setting. Karen's friend Jennifer joined us and regaled us with tales of the Triple T weekend competition from late May in Portsmouth. Karen and Eddie are multiple Ironman finishers. Karen is recovering from a bike crash-shouler injury.

Race morning , the garage was buzzing at 6am with the first wave of the Half Iron swimset for 7:30.

Met up again with Aimee and Eric for a pic...(J.T--Aimee--Eric--Patrick). Met a few other Cleveland Tri Club members and readied for the swim portion. They shut off the Dam on the river and suspend the current for a few hours. Very Cool. My wave, 50 plus and teams was the last of the Half's to go at 7:54am.

I stationed myself up front and started strong. I noticed other white swim caps with me for awhile..but I was moving very well. Next thing I know, I am catching caps in the group ahead of me. Then they started the first wave of the Olympic at 8am, and as we had to got out a little further for the 1.2 miles, the Olympic guys almost magically appeared with us as we were coming back towards the Boathouse. It wasn't that congested. Things thinned out. I had a strong stroke the whole swim. Stayed on line.. Finished in 38 minutes. Gave me a good bit of adrenaline. Next, a roughly 300 yard jog up the incline to the River path and to the garage.

Got out on the bike and, having done the race in 07, felt pretty comfortable with it. We had heavy humidity and early in the bike, we got a good downpour, but nothing that troubled fact it was refreshing. First 10 miles are not demanding, but towards the middle of each of the two laps we did there is some climbing, but nothing that busts you. My nutrition plan was to ingest a Hammer Gel every 50 minutes. I had two big bottles of gatorade on the bike and I took water from each aid station. After the turnaround on lap one, there is a long, gradual, somewhat demanding climb, followed by a dip and then a little more intense but short climb. After that, you are home free. You can really get going,..but just watch out for the road imperfections. They can rise up and bite you if not careful. I heard several racers took spills. Finished the two laps and averaged just under 17 miles an hour. (Note to improvement or race times will not change much). We had mostly cloud cover and some rains, but the weather was not adverse at all. Things were fine.

Got on the run path, which takes you south along the river to a point of about 2 miles...some of which is on a dirt-cinder path and shaded. I loved that part of the run, but its too short. You turn back, run past the swim area, the garage and the real cool amphitheatre by the river which is where the race ends, but you keep heading north along the river to 6th street. Thats where the famous Devils Hill is. Its 3 seperate inclines..the steepest about 18 degrees. You walk it. You curse it. You just get past it. There is an aid station at the top, but your not done. you turn right theres another incline, but not as bad. Through the city, there are some rolling ups and downs but nothing is as bad as the Devils Hill, complete with a kid dressed as the Devil.
Nutrition was fine. Never taken as many Gels as I did Sunday and even took 2 salt pills. Felt good, but the legs were starting to get trashed. Early on, I was going about 10:30 per mile and started to realize the goal of 6:15 was in jeopardy. Then, I began to think that last years time of 6:50 would be possible. While I had several walking segments, I started playing games in my head. Count to 100 and run strong. Run easy for a count of 25...Repeat. I met up with a young woman, who was really suffering. She was in tears and she was in big time pain. She did not want to give up. I encouraged her awhile and then I moved along ahead.
Patrick had finished his Olympic Race in a fantastic 2:43 good enough for 46th place out of about 180 or so. Wow. Unreal.

He had the cam and took some shots as I ran past the start finish area on each lap.
By the time, I got to Devils Hill on lap 2, I was leaking oil. Did I have enough to get in under time in 2007??. Note to HFP. Keep the nice senior citizen ladies at the last aid station on the run. They are wonderful. A treat to see. I asked them each lap. "Which one of you wants to be my girlfriend"?? Haha. Plus, their water is "ice water" Yeahh baby!!!!

I tried to run hard to the end of the race and beat the time, but I missed by a minute and change. 6 hours, 51 minutes..54 seconds. I was toast. However, I got age group hardware. Second place. Whee hee. (bloggers note: only 3 men in 55-59, but hey, I'll take it).
Enjoyed rehashing the race with many of the CTC members. I still have not met all of them. Rob Reddy was awesome. Eric Gibb ripped off a great race. His bride, Aimee, rocked!! I met Tim,(Walsh??) who, if I recall, had a 5:09. Jack Carney raced well, as did Charlie Mosbrook. Jack gets the award for Ironman. Right after the race, he drove to Florida. What the Hey!!! My swim buddy Eddie Police did a 6:07 and spent time in the medical tent.
Closing thoughts. Not sure if the nutritional plan had a huge effect or not. Will still experiment. Better biking will mean a huge difference, but I have to really get with it. More detailed plans and which races I will attack will follow on future posts.

And finally, yes Rainmaker, its possible that the Fountain of Youth is in West Virginia. Maybe its the ice water from the ladies, or the views from the tops of hills, or maybe its from the encouragement you get from your fellow racers , or the Chicken Penne Pasta I had on Saturday night. In this sport, the possibilities are endless.
Life's a Blast!!
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