Sunday, June 8, 2014

Two Birds With One Stone

Last week I made my annual "killing two birds with one stone" trek back east to race the REV3 Quassy Half and visit family & friends in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The trip actually started inauspiciously at the SLC airport when we boarded the plane and taxied to the end of the runway only to turn around and head back to the gate to deplane because of bad weather in Denver (where we were headed for a stopover). Eventually we got off the ground, but what was already going to be a late night arrival in Hartford turned into a VERY late night (actually early the next morning) landing. Luckily my great homestay Kim DuBord was willing to sacrifice some of her sleep and pick me up at the airport!

Post-race with the other half of my homestay, Sheri, who kept me fed and cheered like I was a rockstar.

Saturday was a BUSY day that included building the bike, driving 45 minutes the race site, packet pick-up, leading a Blueseventy swim clinic, sneaking in a practice swim and ride, then volunteering at the Powerbar booth for three hours. On the drive back to the house I had the opportunity to repay Kim for the late-night airport run as her car had a flat tire 5 miles from the race site and she needed a ride back home. Then it was dinner, organize the gear, and time to hit the sack!

Giving back in the Powerbar booth.

Race morning greeted us with absolutely gorgeous weather, the best I have seen in the four years that I've raced at this venue. The vibe was a little different than in previous years because for the first time in the history of the race there was no professional field. I have to admit I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere---it was nice to tackle one of my all-time favorite courses without any sort of pressure or the usual pre-race jitters that abound when you've got a field of thoroughbred pro triathletes assembled. I started like all the other "regular folks" in my assigned age/gender category, which meant a start time 30 minutes after the first wave. My approach to the day was to "go fishing"---reel in as many people as possible---while teasing the best out of myself and having fun doing it. Mission accomplished! The race dynamic was definitely different but thoroughly enjoyable, and I was able to try a few new things that I might not have been willing to attempt in the heat of a pro race. I ended up slightly shy of my best time on that course but I felt great all day and took away some valuable nuggets from the experience. I landed on top of the podium which is always fun, though a bit less satisfying than if it had been against the world-class field of elites this race has drawn in the past!

Shaking hands on the podium.

A nice video recap of the event was put together by local reporter Joe Palladino of the Republican-American in Middlebury, CT. You can watch it here.

A HUGE thanks to my awesome homestay family Kim & Sheri (and their girls Molly, Kona, and Greta) for going above and beyond in making my weekend run smoothly! I'm pretty sure I would have gone hungry without their help. Congrats to Kim on her finish in the half, and thanks to her dad "Sparky" for capturing some nice photos of the event. Thank you to Charlie Patten for giving me the opportunity to compete, and to the entire REV3 staff for putting on great events and just being awesome people. I will miss seeing you all and doing your races! Thanks to my Aunt Candy for making the trip up to Quassy despite a bad back and for whooping it up like nobody's business. Finally, thanks to the companies whose support helps get me to every start line: Red Rock Brewery, Powerbar, Coeur Sports, Blueseventy, Rudy Project, Maxxis, Powertap, The Bike Shoppe, Fezzari, and ISM.

The second part of this trip was all about family and soaking in my heritage. The following photographs give a little taste of what we did:

A visit with my Pop-pop, who was awarded four Gold Stars for Bravery during WWII.

We enjoyed the sights and sounds of the eastern Pennsylvania countryside.

I spent time with my Grandma Jane and toured the Oley Valley with my new friend Ginny.

We visited an old Revolutionary War graveyard which is only a couple of miles from the house where my mother grew up.

Other highlights included "re-meeting" my Uncle John and having ice-cream with fresh strawberries from my grandmother's garden. All in all, it was a well-rounded trip!