Monday, November 4, 2013


     For the past two years I've competed in the Individual Time Trial in Gruene.  The first year I placed 1st in my age group, and quite well overall.  Last year, I placed 2nd, being beaten by Dean.  Quite handily, I might add.  Last year, I think I peaked at the State Championships Road Race because I didn't have the same oomph needed in November.
This year I had added pressure to do well, in that Dean asked me to be his partner in the Two-Man Team Time Trial.  Several years ago, we were on the same five-man team that took gold at State.  But Dean and I go back to when I first began racing, 2004 in Temple.  There, in my first 5km time trial, Dean started 30 seconds behind me.  He caught me before I had gone halfway.  In the 10km time trial the next day, I held him off, again to halfway, but that at least was another two-plus miles.  He is a past national champion, and a perennial winner at State events. 
     But Dean is three years older than me.  When you pass 70, Mother Nature starts a more rapid deterioration process.  I've been getting closer and closer to Dean in the last few years, and this year came in first at College Station.  He didn't compete at the State Road Race Championships this year.  But my training in October this year was very good, and I felt confident going into Gruene.  I also had my secret weapon: acupuncture. 
     I discovered several years ago that acupuncture prior to racing allows me to dig deep and go longer than without it.  I suspect it has something to do with nervousness, but suffice to say that I am better with it.  This year at State, I did not have a treatment and am hypothesizing that I could have stayed with the pack if I had.  That is water over the dam and is long gone.
     The length of the ITT is 18.3 miles and the TTT is the same 18.3, then add additional miles up to 27.  Saturday afternoon, 3:50pm, with a brilliant blue sky and a stiff north wind, I started down River Road.  Generally flat with some undulations, I blazed down River Road with the wind at my back for ten miles.  Then came the first of many hills, this one 9% and .4 of a mile long.  More climbs awaited me, against the wind.  I felt pretty strong the whole way, and, as it turned out, finished ahead of Dean.
     Sunday our race started at 8:30am.  Daylight Savings time ended, giving us some sunshine.  The morning started at 42F degrees, and had risen to 50F by race time.  I had three layers on my chest, and wore tights.  I actually warmed up in the fitness room of the hotel before driving to the start line.  That worked the muscles loose, but did very little for my heart-rate.  A few more minutes before racing also didn't get much increase.  Dean allowed he would lead us out.
     Today the wind had shifted and was more or less in our face on River Road.  But we were clicking along quite well, more or less alternating in the lead position.  We overtook three teams that started ahead of us.  Then we hit THE hill.  Dean had some trouble with that.  For the next ten miles and most of the hills, Dean struggled.  It isn't that we weren't going fast, just not up to maximum.  Somewhere around the seventeen mile mark, we slowed just a tad to gather strength for the finish.  Then with five miles to go, Dean got his second wind.  Especially on the downhills.  I thought I was going fast leading him down, but on three or four occasions he whizzed past me, and I had to jump another ten rpms to keep up.  We kept it up all the way to the finish, with me alongside at the very end (timing stops when the second person hits the line). 
     As it turned out, we beat the second place team by about a minute and a half.  Without Dean pulling me the last five miles, that would have been us on the second step of the podium.

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