Ah summer, yes it's here and will be for the next few months. My training has been going well as I've actually acquired some type of periodization into my training. I love summer for it's 9 P.M sunsets, massive amounts of ice-cream eating, and fun in the sun with my girl and pups. But as each season comes and goes there is a time when you get this small feeling inside of you. You start thinking about the future. This near-future reflective perception can come in barrels of internal meditation or simply one huge thought after another. My thoughts have been looking forward to this fall which will be my first Cyclocross season. In my mind I keep downplaying cyclocross. I keep reiterating to myself, "This is your first season Adam, no sweat, no pressure." But, inside my body and mind there is a large competitive naturethat screams to be unleashed. I am more excited than ever to test myself in the dirt. I'm not sure mountain bike racing is in the near future because of my road racing endeavors but what's nice about Cyclocross is the time of year, and the simple fun behind getting a little dirty, post race beer drinking, oh and of course falling off your bike and not worrying about making a trip to the local emergency room.
Over the past two years as I've moved through the ranks of competitive road cycling I have become more confident in my bike handling skills, and ever more important have found Criteriums fun and exciting. But, I have no idea what it's like to jump off the bike, navigate barriers, and remount. In any case I have been quite excited about this coming fall.
This past weekend Maija and I took a trip to Providence Rhode Island as she was set to compete in the Rhode Island 70.3. I'm reluctant to to place advertisement names in my blog entries unless it's for a good cause. So, I have not used the title Rhode Island 70.3 Half Ironman. Half? Hmmm I wonder why Ironman chose to downsize from their first installment of the full ironman distance. For a while I've been teetering on reason and trying to understand how Ironman races have grown to become the #1 marketing company for endurance athletes. Sure someone has to be number one but at what cost? With their monopolized implementation into endurance sports, does this leave room for the small race directors, and race organizers trying to put on similar races? My mind changed this weekend when I was a spectator at the Rhode Island 70.3 Half Ironman.
Maija and I made late reservations at the Westin Providence Hotel in downtown Providence. After searching for a few hours on internet sites for the best rates, I still was not satisfied. I made a call to Westin reservations to find out if they were a pet friendly hotel; They were! The man on the phone was very nice and gave us a great rate for a three night stay. I learned sometimes the best rates and deals are not always found on the internet. There are times when a simple phone call can help you find what you are looking for. The internet still doesn't beat the power of a human voice. The person on the other end of the phone is more likely to help you out (with price or location) if you just tell them your situation and what you are looking for. I feel the internet gives people an easy way out from human interaction when it comes to travel and reservations. At the same time it's easier to order food online from your computer in a hotel room than it is to call up and find out what you like. So, I suppose my point is sometimes human interaction works better on what your looking for and sometimes the internet gives you a sign of relief.
We left NJ around 10:30 and the ride was smooth until we hit some traffic on I-95.
Although temperatures were in the mid 90's I rolled down, well I actually pressed the down window button so Coop could enjoy the outside smells. When was the last time you rolled down a window?
We arrived at the hotel mid-Friday afternoon and were greeted by likable valet and bellman staff. They were attentive to the small details which separated them from the majority of hotels. Maybe it was the Rhode Island hospitality but after traveling around the country quite a bit I was more than impressed by their professionalism.
Friday and Saturday we hung around at the hotel, ordered in food, watched movies, and played on the computer. It was the perfect way for Maija to relax before a big race.
Race morning we got up around 3 A.M or so. We headed about 30 miles away to the start of the swim where I dropped Maija off and watched her transition from the swim portion of the race to the bike. Then I hopped in the car with my two travel/spectator buds (Frito & Cooper) and headed back to Providence where the race finished.
The second transition area where athletes trade their bikes for running shoes was already flooded with fans, reporters, and photographers. Cooper and Frito made me feel like a mild celebrity as they were constantly greeted by strangers who wanted to pet them. Even though it was a long hot and tiring day in the sun with two dogs by my side it was definitely worth it when I finally got to see Maija race. I brought a large backpack filled with water bottles for the pups and myself. Within four hours we went through 6 bottles. It was hot!
With a black coat on Cooper, he drank more water than I did.
Maija was not having the best race. Lately she has been dealing with some iron issues which can hinder ones performance drastically. It almost feels as if someone is holding or pulling you back as you ride a bike or run down the road. I know exactly how she feels because I dealt with this problem at the end of last season when I was completely burnt out from overtraining. It took me about 2 months to fully recover and get back to where I once was.
Here is a photo I snapped at the finish. I'm proud of Maija for finishing the race. She didn't have to finish but for her own self she pushed past the draining fatigue and got the finish line just under 6 hours.
It was a long and hot day for all the competitors out there but as they came in I found myself near the finish line barriers ringing my cowbell and cheering for whoever came through. I haven't spectated at a lot of endurance races because I'm usually in them. This experience was uplifting as it made me feel good watching other people accomplish a goal. People of all ages, races, and religions, participated this event.
My only issue with the race was at the finish line. After you crossed a line where was a large pool where they would give you a water bottle. Maija wanted a second bottle but the woman told her she had to get it from the "Athlete's Lounge" about a half mile away.
A half mile is a long way to walk after just finishing a half ironman.
Notice the large pool of water bottles where you were only allowed 1 bottle!
After the race Maija and I headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap. Her tired from the race and myself burnt out from sitting in the sun all day. All in all it was a great weekend. We left RI late Monday morning and headed back to NJ.