Saturday, July 14, 2012

Just when you least expect it...

Thursday night I raced Lake T Sprint again (my 3rd this year), was in 3rd early on the run again, and came in 5th overall...  again.  But the repeats were not the highlights of the evening.  Two things happened by a bit of chance that made me smile more than anything. 

I broke the one-hour mark.
I met Kathy
(Don't worry, my wife is ok with it)

The race report will come soon, so I don't want to spoil the fun of that post.  What I will say is that I went into this race feeling a bit more fatigued than I had hoped and in the middle of ramping up my training mileage (aka, I didn't expect much).  So when the finish line came into view and I still had 45 seconds by my watch to make it there in under the 1:00 mark, I couldn't help but smile despite the pain.  I raced this course in 2010 multiple times and couldn't break 1:12.  Now I'm under 1:00 and know I've still got places to shave time.  Awesome!

But then after finishing, congratulating other racers, chatting with a few people, and retrieving my aero bottle that I dropped on course, I went out for a cool down run - a second loop of the 5k run.  I just made it onto the first road when I came up to a Kathy, a 71 year old triathlete.  As per usual, I tried to encourage her to keep going and ended up sticking with her to chat.  She told me I could run on ahead after the first hill, but I told her she'd actually be helping me keep my pace down if I stayed with her.  So we ran the entire 5k together, finishing in dead last, but she finished all the same.  After crossing the finish, they told me I'd won the "sweetheart award," but that wasn't the cool part.  Kathy herself is packed with stories! 

This lady - again, she's 71 - has raced triathlons since the 80's.  She's self-proclaimed stubborn.  She has what she calls a "touch of COPD" from 18 years of smoking but has never taken anything for it, preferring to beat it herself.  She ran in her new Newton shoes that to her were the lightest shoes ever made (and she's been through plenty!).  She raced a marathon relay earlier this year and she raced Kona twice - 1985 and 1986 if I remember correctly, later coached her son through finishing Kona himself.  Talk about the most unlikely places to find such an interesting story.

Most people will admit that the last few racers through the finish line have great stories, but how many stick around to find out what they are?; 80% of the racers were gone by the time Kathy got back.  Admit it, when's the last time you watched a race and were more interested in who finished half way through or at the end than the few battling it out in the lead?  Spectating for friends/relatives doesn't count. 

I'm happy to no longer be a strict middle-of-the-pack racer (at most events), but after running with Kathy, I have a whole new interest in the middle and back-of-the-pack racers.  I hope Kathy comes to the last two races so I can run with her again.  She's like our own CT, female version of Dave Scott.  Ok, she didn't win Kona, but she was there at the same time.  


1.  Do you stick around to cheer on the finishers that come in behind you?
I admit I've only done it a couple times, but I certainly will more often now.

2.  What kind of interesting people have you met at races?

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 

1 comment:

Chloe said...

Yes - if I can, I try to stick around. THOSE are the coolest people out the course. Nothing beats the end of an Ironman seeing grandma and grandpa cross the fishing line!

Great post and congrats on breaking the 'hour' mark!