Race Coverage

Flying Dismounts & 30-Watt Cowardice...

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By Michael Weissenborn

FALL CLASSIC RACE REPORT - Race morning is always a bit of an existential crisis.

When that alarm hits at 6:00 AM on a Sunday, I begin questioning every decision which has led to this point. I was in bed by 8:00 PM last night. I binged Star Trek reruns until I fell asleep. I'm now conscious, my cat (not conscious) is draped across my face, and I'm about to voluntarily subject myself to 90 minutes of torment. Why am I doing this? Then I remember:  ...

I love this shit.

Let's go.

Pre-Race
I rolled in to Lake Elmo around 8:00. Race start was set for 9:00. Due to COVID restrictions, waves would going off every 15 minutes based on bib number. I was slated to start around 10:00 but we were supposed to stay in transition at all times. That meant lots of jogging and strides on 20 meters of sidewalk in an attempt to stay warm.

Time passed quicker than I thought. We were corralled at the start before I knew it. A short countdown later and we were off.

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Run One
The plan was to hold 5:40-5:50 miles based on how I felt. I started off quickly before settling into 5:53's. A tad slow but comfortable.

I'm not a big nature guy. I used to go camping every summer in middle school. By the end of day two I'd be clamoring for my Nintendo 64. That said – this course is beautiful. The run whisks you around winding paths flanked by trees, autumn colors everywhere, the crunch of leaves underfoot providing a soothing rhythm. I was half-expecting a unicorn to gallop out of some enchanted glade en route to a hangout with its magical forest friends.

Backing off the pace was a good idea because I rolled in to T1 feeling controlled. Kicked off my shoes, grabbed my helmet (which I smashed on the transition rack without noticing – thanks to my dad for capturing that gem on film), and performed a not-so-sexy flying mount. 4/10. Maybe.

Bike
The bike spits you out on a 1.5 mile stretch of narrow road before hitting the main 10 mile loop, which I'd be doing twice. I'd ridden the course the weekend prior so I was aware of two things:

1. The giant hill which was going to blast me in the face at the start of each loop
2. The proceeding downhill which would let me work my aero tuck while praying that I didn't smack a loose rock at 35 mph.

The one thing I wasn't expecting – busy roads. I got trapped behind cars at least twice. Whenever I made a pass, I had to be extra cautious not to veer too far left. It's tough to bike fast if your rear wheel gets melted by the front bumper of a Honda Civic.

The bike felt decent overall. I faded a little towards the end but may have been subconsciously rationing my effort.

After the second loop, it was time to head back to transition. I Rolled up to the dismount line and performed a decently sexy flying dismount (8/10) before hoofing it into T2. Slipped on my racing flats, grabbed my race belt, and bolted for the run out. All of a sudden I hear a volunteer scream, “Helmet!” I'm thinking, “Oh my, somebody is trying to exit T1 without their helmet. That's very dangerous. I hope they stop and reconsider their decision. Safety first!”

Then I remembered I was in the last wave. Racing the long course. Nobody was leaving T1 at this point. Maybe it was me?

It was me. I had forgotten to chuck my helmet. The volunteer saved me from looking like a complete jackass (an aero jackass, but a jackass nonetheless) for the next 2.5 miles. Thanks!

Run Two
I worked on my run a ton this summer. During peak weeks I was hitting double my typical volume while mixing in tempo work and VO2 max sessions.

I'd raced Square Lake Sprint two weeks prior and was stoked for the chance to throw down a good 5k. Unfortunately, As soon as I hit T2 it felt like somebody had jammed ice picks in my hamstrings. They didn't start loosening up until the midway point, and even then they felt like hell. I knew that performance didn't reflect my current run fitness and it was a big factor in signing up for Fall Classic.

So I was delighted to stride out of T2 feeling strong. Sure, I could tell that I'd been redlining for 75 minutes, but my legs were ready to roll this time.

I checked my watch one minute in. 5:53. Again one minute later. 5:53. Again... 5:53. I kept waiting for a drop off. It never came. I maintained the same pace as the first run. That told me one of two things:

1. My run fitness really was as high as I thought.
2. I was a 30-watt coward on the bike because the second run shouldn't have felt so great.

I'm in a good mood so we'll go with #1.

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I emerged from the enchanted forest with a quarter mile to go. Still no sign of unicorns. I had enough left for a kick so I hit the chute strong. I pointed skyward in reverence to Roy Griak, the legendary Gopher track and cross-country coach. This race was for him. I then back-flopped on the grass to catch my breath, taking the time for a mini-reflection on a mini-season. A volunteer sprinted over to make sure I wasn't dead. I appreciated her thoughtfulness. My mom passed me a Gatorade. Also thoughtful. Lemon-lime isn't my favorite but anything tastes good after a solid effort like that.

Post-Race
My final time was 1:30:50. I wanted to break 1:30, but I was still pleased with the effort. My runs were great. Could have pushed a little harder on that bike, but that's usually the case with me. Something to to correct over the coming months.

So that was that. Season done. Took a nice long cooldown, packed up my things, hopped in my somehow-still-functional '02 Subaru Outback and drove home.

I'm already looking forward to next year. I know what I need to work on. For the next two weeks, however, I'll be doing exactly zero healthy things. We're gonna get creative. Might go on an all Cinnamon Toast Crunch diet, subbing Mountain Dew for milk. Who knows.

Until next June...

 

ED. Mike didn't mention that he placed 2nd at Fall Classic, just 23-seconds behind the winner. 

 

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