Earlier, I posted on Facebook the stark results of my race: 3rd place, but losing to two really fast guys. Of course, while factual, that is a misleading spin. Here is the "rest of the story."
On Saturday we recorded 4 inches of rain at our house, and assume they had a similar amount at Fort Hood, the site of our race. There were still lingering showers on Sunday morning. Fortunately for me, our race began at 1:15pm and by then we only had cloud cover and an occasional spritz. I arrived at the start line, about ten minutes early, to check in. Fred was there. Fred had no problem beating me last year and looked in fine condition. Richard was also there. Richard has no problem beating me when we race, and fortunately he doesn't do time trials. Jaime was there. I can beat Jaime now, although when I first started, couldn't come close to him. The four of us comprised the whole of the 70+ age group. Fred is a past national champion, Richard current state champion.
Jaime is a great communicator. He talked the race director into letting us old guys get a one minute start on the 60+ group. He wanted five minutes, but at least we got one. There is no real substitute for youth. We can only stay with the young guys for so long before getting dropped. The head start gave us an opportunity to settle into a comfortable rhythm which was about 2mph slower than the group. That way we weren't "on the rivet" from the get-go. As it was, we were eight plus miles down the road and climbing the BIG hill before they caught us.
Richard began to pull away from me, and I began to pull away from Jaime on this hill. I also pulled away from Fred, but I suspect he just dropped back to give Jaime some help. I had the bad luck to still be on the hill when the peloton passed, and thus wasn't able to hang on to the back of it. Richard could and did. Well, dang! I had hoped to jump on and let them drag me to at least the turn, which would put the wind at our back.
Fred did what he could with Jaime, but soon enough left him behind and easily caught up with me. He did most of the pulling, with me giving him some relief but really just barely hanging on. At the turn, he pulled away. For the next ten miles I kept him in sight, but couldn't begin to get close. Somewhere around the twenty mile mark, the young ladies who started 15 minutes behind us, came by. At the twenty-five mile mark, a trailing group of ladies passed me. What I didn't know at the time was not far behind these ladies were a pair of 60+ guys who were pulling Jaime back up to me. But they ran out of gas themselves, so Jaime was back on his own.
I made the final turn and had three miles and two climbs ahead of me. Actually, the first one was more of an incline, but with 30 miles of racing in my legs, it felt steeper. As I crested the second one, I noticed in my mirror (yes, I didn't remove my mirrors for the race) a dark shape just starting the climb, about 300 yards back. Rather than cruise the last two miles, I kept a good pace at about 85% effort. One last check in the mirror at 500 meters to go; I saw nothing.
As it turned out, if I had looked a little closer, I would have seen Jaime. He said he was about 200 meters behind when I crossed the finish line.
So, in my age group I came in second to last. Or, third place. They give out nice trophies along with the medal. My time for this year was one minute, 40 seconds slower than last year. I think that is because this year the wind wasn't quite as strong, plus last year I had someone leading me into it. Last year, I had three spurts over 40mph, this year only one. I just need to get faster, but that is easier said than done.