Last month I did the Silverman Half in Henderson, Nevada. About a month before, Frank Lowry, the race director, called me up and said "Why don't you do the half? Chris McCormack is doing it." I kept thinking, "OK. I haven't been riding my bike very much this past summer, but maybe I can pull it together." I'd also been having a heel issue, so I haven't been able to run properly. I guess I had a lot of excuses going into it.
The last week before the race, I hadn't been on my bike at all. I decided to train that whole week leading up to the race. Before the gun went off, I was standing right next to Chris and Greg Remaly. It was quite choppy that day. We could see that the wind was kicking up some white water and just beyond the break wall it got really choppy.
I felt pretty good on the swim. The three of us were swimming side by side, then I pulled away. But as soon as we got out to the rough water, they disappeared. I looked back and they were on my feet! I thought, "This isn't fair. You guys should be pulling me." They both are more than twenty years younger than me. I was thinking "By the way, Chris, you just won the Ironman a few weeks ago so you're obviously in pretty good shape."
I ended up pulling them through the whole swim course, and as we got to the shallow waters and were heading to the transition, I was fumbling with my wetsuit (I've always been somewhat of a klutz in the transition area. I marvel at how fast those ITU guys can be.) Chris ran across the swimming plate ahead of me. I figured he should have let me have it for my effort pulling him through the swim leg!
Out of the transition is a long ramp that leads into the feeder road. It's about a 1.2-mile ride up a four percent grade--not so bad. I had a new pair of shoes that I had attached already to my pedals. I figured I'd just slide my feet into my shoes while I was riding. It was an absolute disaster. I couldn't get my feet in and I see Greg taking off on the horizon. My feet would only go halfway and then get stuck. On an uphill course you need momentum. Finally, I had to get off the bike and put my shoes on and by that time I couldn't even see Chris and Greg.
Once on the bike, my legs felt absolutely empty. I just labored on the bike the whole way. By the end people were going by me on this horrific pass where the wind was in your face, it was a tough grade--just a difficult section. At one point, as I was moving past some of the people who were in the full-distance race, I began to catch up to this one guy. As I caught up to him he turned to me and said, "Hey Dave, how ya doin'?" Truthfully, I felt terrible and didn't want to talk.
I thought I had lost him on a climb, but all of a sudden he comes zipping by me at the top and turns and says, "Hey Dave, you're looking good." I replied, "I'm NOT looking good." And then he pulls a little camera out of his pocket and takes a picture of me while we're riding! I can laugh about it now, but it was pretty humiliating. I ended up bringing this guy up to the stage during the awards ceremony the next day.
Back to the race...
It wasn't until I was about four miles into the run that I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I found my rhythm and the last eight miles I ran pretty well.
If I do that race again, I've got to be prepared. It's a wonderful race. They do a magnificent job for the athletesfrom the goodie bag to the check-in to the banquetit's really a first-class race. I learned one thing, however: It's a race where you have to do your homework if you want to be competitive. You can't just go do it.
Later on this month, I'm looking to get an MRI on my heel. This foot issue has been bothering me for some time. We'll see what they say--if it's a ligament, the achilles or what. I'm hoping for the best and then maybe I can start planning 2008.
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