Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Pumkinman Challenge

Danny and I headed up to South Berwick, Maine on September 7th for a weekend of racing! The Pumpkinman challenge consists of a sprint race on Saturday followed by a half ironman on Sunday.   I had competed in the half two years ago on a whim and fell in love with it. After a year off from Pumpkinman due to an ill-fated white water rafting trip, I am back! I decided to usher my return to Pumpkinman (and my first half since Eagleman) with the challenge. What better way to test my fitness than against the speedy sprint racers. Let me be upfront: I am a highly aerobic creature so the sprint race would surely be a suffer fest for this one.

The Sprint!  30 seconds prior to the gun going off I pull a rookie move and unknowingly drop my goggles in the water which promptly sink like a brick. Panic! I plunge my head and as luck would have it, I manage to scoop my goggles up just as Catherine Sterling reminds me that the course is a 2 loop swim. It is?!?!  Just for you, she says with a smile :) And the gun goes off! What a jokester that Catherine is. And also what a fish!  She was off the front in a jiffy.  I managed to have the world's worst sprint swim of my life which included water in the goggles (should have let them sink), water in the lungs and a cramp in the side. I had to laugh...or I would cry. This may be a long weekend I was thinking. I know you are all scared for my professional career but I managed to exit the swim and start the sprint UPHILL to transition. However, my swim performance felt that it needed to be out done by my transition skills. As I was donning the Rudy Helmet I realized my bike shoes were on the opposite side of the bike rack. So I pulled a 'tuck and scoot' under the rack and then KABAM! Head makes contact with said bike rack. Good thing I had my Rudy Helmet on.  I did manage to mount my bike with just a mild concussion.  I rallied on the bike and kept a smile on my face. Maybe smiling because I had forgotten where I was due to the recent concussion, but smiling nonetheless! The run brought even more smiles because I was running relatively pain free and just happy to be out there. I crossed the line in 3rd and was very pleased with the start to the weekend.

The Half!  30 seconds prior to the gun going off I pull a rookie move and ask Amy if the course is a two loop course. Yes, she says with a smile. It is?!?! But this time it really is two loops. Note to self: Read the darn course map.  Bam! There goes the gun. Catch, Pull, Catch, Pull.  Find some fast feet, pass the fast feet.  No leaky goggles and no cramps. I exit the water as the second human! Danny is yelling at me from the side lines: 'Good Job Am! You are second overall!'  I sprint up the hill which always almost induces vomiting.  Thanks Kat! :)  Helmet is on, shoes are on and I'm off for a 56 mile ride through beautiful rolling hills of South Berwick. I managed to stick to the Power Meter numbers and road strong the entire way on my speedy FELT. My bike used to be my weak link and now I can finally see that it may one day be my strength.  And the man to thank for that is the one and only KURT PERHAM.  The only mishap happened at mile 45 when I hit a HUGE pot hole and my nutrition went catapulting.  Lucky for me I had managed to gorge myself on peanut butter GU which may or may not have been why a honey bee had been 'hunting' me the entire ride with an eventual sting to the left shoulder. OUCH!  The adrenaline is flying now and I get ready for the real CHALLENGE of the weekend. The run. I encouraged myself to not over think it and just run. I reminded myself to be happy that I was out there racing and don't worry too much about pace. I am nervous but also excited and in the last 2 miles I find myself itching to get into my new Zoot Ultra Tempos and test the leg speed.  The first mile went by quickly, my Garmin beeped to fill me in that I had just passed through in 6:31. I smiled. It was going to be a good day. I felt very relaxed and in control. I saw Danny at the 2nd mile and he informed me that I had 12 minute lead. Time to just enjoy the run and take in the energy from the other racers.  And the energy was amazing! I had been looking forward to this moment for the past 3 months and come to think of it I believe that my mid season break will set me up for a strong end of the season.

I couldn't have been happier to cross the line in first with a much faster time than my 2010 performance.  Andy Schachat ushered me in with his usual kind words and energy! I cross the ling with a huge smile and then gave a big hug to Danny. We both made like two honey bees and bee-lined for the Pumpkinman Feast of turkey and whoopee pies.

Big thanks to my wonderful team of sponsors (ZOOT, GU, GARMIN, SPY, PR BAR) Kurt Perham, Myles Chase from MC CYCLES and everyone that cheered me on that day :)