Monday, August 20, 2007

Timberman

This weekend Janda and I went to NH for one of his biggest races of the summer, Timberman 70.3. [For those reading this who don't follow triathlon, 70.3 is the distance of a Half-Ironman triathlon: 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of cycling and 13.1 miles of running.] We went to this race last summer, so it was really nice to go back to a race site that we had already been to before. It makes it a lot easier to get around and find everything.

When we got there early Saturday afternoon, it was extremely windy and cloudy, which made it very cool. Lake Winnipesaukee had white caps! We were staying at a friend's family's place right on the lake, so we were able to get settled in pretty well. After we got everything done that needs to be done the day before (picking up the registration packet, listening to the pre-race meeting, putting together and racking the bike in transition for its overnight stay and getting the race bag ready for the next day), we went to dinner with Janda's brother Corey and his girlfriend Cameran. We went to a pizza place called Giuseppe's in Meredith for a little carbo-loading. The wait was 1.5 hours! To avoid the wait, we decided to brave the cold out on the patio. The patio was somewhat protected by the buildings surrounding it, but it was quite a chilly meal. After dinner we chilled out back at the camper and then hit the sack at about 10, since we would be getting up at 4:30 the next morning.



When we woke up the next morning, it was obvious that the weather was better than the previous day- a lot less clouds and wind. We got to the race site at about 5:15 and got a great parking spot and then Janda started to get ready to race. It was great to have Corey and Cameran there at Timberman because usually at this point I'm by myself until the race is over. After janda was all settled in transition, we met him on the beach with his wetsuit and swim gear. By this time the sun was starting to peak out over the trees and it was getting a smidge warmer. We took some early morning pictures of the lake, wished Janda "Good luck!" and waited for his wave to go. Here we met up with Andy and Pilar, friends from Clearwater last year, who we hung out with on and off all day.

This year Janda was in the Elite Amateur wave, which took off only 2 minutes after the pros, so we didn't have to wait long. After we saw him get going, the three of us headed over to the swim finish to get splits and pictures when he came out of the water. For the first time in the swim portion of a race, I could tell which black-suited, swim-capped, goggled guy Janda was- he stood up way before everyone in his pack, still waist-deep and ran past them onto the sand. Only a true runner would do that, so I knew it was him!



We headed over to the transition to yell a few words of encouragement to him (it was hard with all the cow-bells clanging) and to let him know that he was right where he wanted to be in the race- not too far back, in a great position to start passing guys (and girls- the pro women started 2 minutes ahead of him). Now was the hardest part of the race for the spectators- the two hour wait for the guys to start arriving back from their 56 mile bike. Since it was still really chilly, Corey, Cameran and I found a nice spot of warm pavement and sat down to wait in the sun. Andy and Pilar joined us again and we began trying to figure out what Janda and the top guys would ride. I had two watches running, one with the pros time and one with Janda's, so we were trying to figure out when they'd be coming in again. Andy was pretty good, he guessed the top rider's time, Bjorn Andersson, down to the minute. Andersson is an awesome cyclist (at Timberman last year he beat everyone on the bike by a whopping 13 minutes!) so after him it was just a matter of waiting. Next came Simon Lessing, a top international level triathlete. After these 2, 6 more pros came into T2. Then we saw Janda coming in, hot on the tail of the 9th pro.



That meant that Janda was leading all the amateurs, and even better that he had passed all the pros (who had a 2 minute head start) but those 9! We were so excited for him. Corey, Andy and I all crossed the road to get a good position to cheer him on when he ran by coming out of T2. By the time he hit the road running, he had passed the 9th pro, so only 8 guys were on the road in front of him. The run was a double loop course, meaning that Janda and everyone else runs one 6.55 mile course twice. When they come in to make their second loop, the competitors run by transition again, so this time we waited less than 40 minutes to see him again. When he came by on his way out for the second loop, he had moved into a tie for 7th. Again, we lined the road to cheer him on and to let him know how he was doing. (This is especially important when you are in a triathlon with wave starts and competing against athletes who had a headstart and who you might never actually see on the race course.)

Now we headed down to the finish line to get good spots. As usual, since I'm pretty small and short, I have an easy time squeezing in and I got a spot about 20 ft from the finish. Again, another 40 minute wait! Finally guys started coming down the finishing chute. Despite an enormous lead off the bike, Andersson succumbed to Lessing's superior run. After 6 guys crossed the line, I finally saw Janda battling a pro down the finishing chute. Even though Janda didn't win the sprint this time, he did win the war (that 2 minute headstart again.) In fact, Janda also was fast enough to beat the 6th guy across the line, making him the 6th place overall finisher and the only amateur to crack the top 10!



We ran around the finish area to congratulate Janda. by this time the weather had picked up again, so I gathered up his stuff, gave his some warm clothes and he did what he does best- shooting the shit. He was chatting with the other pros for a while after the race, congratulating everybody (the people that beat him and the people that he beat) and just having a great time. Janda and I were at the race site until nearly 4:30, relaxing in the sun, which finally came back out, having some food, talking to other athletes and friends and attending the awards ceremony. Because Janda had the top time in his age-group, he qualified for 70.3 Worlds in Clearwater in November again. So, it looks like another trip to Florida for us!



JRM - 1st Amateur!

After the awards, we picked up the camper, took the long drive home and stopped at a friend's for a little barbeque action before finally heading home. It was a long weekend, but it definitely was fun.