First off cant say enough about the fella pictured with me in the third picture, friend of the show, Dave Zinck. The amount of good vibes this guy outputs on a daily basis could change the world. The amount of positivity he gave me during the run and swim, honestly got me through some tough spots. So Dave, thanks again bub!!
So the week leading up, was not great.
For a couple of weeks now I have had a strange neck pain, starting at the base of my hair line, down my neck and into my back, making it difficult to pivot my head right and left.
Traveling did not really help matters, so I was really not trying to aggravate it last week before the races, so work outs were kept to a minimum. Didnt exactly build confidence but didnt want to ace myself out of them either.
I did try and get it looked at by an osteopath/massage therapist and it helped for a day or two, but looks like long term treatment would be my only option. Hoping it simmers down on its own, but we shall see.
So the week went like this:
Monday: 45min swim
Tuesday: 45min bike
Wednesday: 50 min swim
Thursday: 60min swim
Friday: ( raceday) 5km run + 5km swim
So the night before was a bit of a gong show trying to get ready, and ended up me having to stay home and drive up in the morning. Plan was to drive up Thursday night and stay at Dave's but just wasnt to be.
So with very little sleep, I was up at 5am, shower, and hit the road for 530am to get up to what I believed was a 9am start time for the run.
Those of you that follow along on the regular know that Dave and I did the swim last year, and after 5km climbed out of the water, elated, breathless, and then quickly very cranky to find out there was no medal. Not even a sniff of one. According to the way Epic Dartmouth goes, you need to complete a run ( get one medal) then complete a second event ( to get the EPIC medal). We vowed then to complete a run and a swim this year!!!!
So yeah, get to Daves, quick chats and away we go to the starting line for the 5km run. Its 8:30am. Its hot. Already. Like 28 degrees. Hot. This should be good.
As 9am approaches we get a little nervous, ah, there is no indication of where the starting point is. So I ask one of the volunteers. Um hey, so where is the start line for the 5km? Oh its right there on the street. (pause) Did we miss it? No, no they havent set up yet, probably be soon. Wasnt the race supposed to start at 9am? No 9:30am I think.
So we are standing around in the sun for about an hour before the run even starts. We quickly find some shade and try to stop sweating. After about 20 minutes we see the archway go up and make our way to the road. As we get close I see a guy in a Canada hockey jersey and a helmet strapping on a guitar. Very cool. They are going to rock out an O Canada solo. As we get closer, Im like, hey I know that guy! Its none other then Mike Kennedy, Acadia Alum, and exec team alum from the thousandths while I was the bar services manager for the SU there.
I dont want to gush, but Mike is one of the best humans around. He is an active volunteer with many different groups around HRM, an avid runner and biker, entrepreneur, and leadership guru. It was great to see him again, share a high five and listen to him shred O Canada to start the race.
So off we go, the first 2km were fairly decent, good pace, not to rough on the joints, neck was keeping in line, posture okay. Then the hills of Creighton Street. Damn. It was brutal.
Stupidly I have not done any hill training in at least a month and these hills and heat killed me. I pretty much had to walk all of them, and it was a little defeating. Dave though was having a great time. Dancing, jumping, doing Dave things. It def kept a smile on my inside face, because I am pretty sure my outside face was showing 'Jesus make the pain stop'.
After we get through the hills things flatten out and we finish the race. 42minutes and 17 seconds. Awful. I was working towards 38min over the last while so this was really disappointing.
On the up side the medal was cool, and it was really the swim we were after so back up to Dave's place to rest, eat and get out of the sun.
We hung out there for an hour or so, ate some great homemade pasta soup, lovingly prepared by Kelly, and then made our way back down to Lake Banook for the swim.
We had a great debate on to wear wetsuits or not wear wetsuits. We opted for no wetsuit, even though it would be a tougher swim because the wetsuit provides some extra buoyancy, the water was over 19 degrees, so our time wouldnt count if we wore suits.
So after a quick security briefing we made our way into the water. Clearly I am the fattest guy there, but, I am feeling good about my swimming and I am trying to not think about my neck. I ditch my big boy running shirt and away we go into the water.
These starts are always a bit of a mash of people, parts and waves and splashing, so we opt to let most people go ahead of us.
As we start our swim I start to feel disoriented in the water, and get a little stressed out, but keep going.
Dave and I agreed before the start that if I wasnt feeling it at the 2km mark that we would opt out and not feel bad about it, so I knew that if things got bad I could always do that. Doing this type of activity is as much mental as physical.
As we finished the first side of the large rectangle, and second little side and started to head back towards the long swim back, I was thinking no way would I be able to do more then 2km today. Im just not in the right place, Im not feeling it at all. I got off course a couple times and then had to work hard to get back in the zone multiple times, Dave and I were not insync with our stroke count or pace, and my neck and shoulders were screaming. I was pretty defeated. I had looked forward to this for quite some time.
As I struggled to get through the long swim down to the 2km marker, I saw Dave waiting at the marker ahead of me.
I knew that if I stopped, he was going to ask me if I wanted to quit, and if he asked me if I wanted to quit, I was going to say yes.
So I decided that I would round the marker and not stop, therefore not giving him that chance to ask, and me the chance to bail. I put my head down, moved up to a four stroke cycle and rounded the buoy to start the second 2km loop.
Talking with Dave after, he fully intended to ask me if I wanted to stop, knowing that I was going to say yes, but didnt want me to give up. He was relieved when I didnt give him the option and happy that I kept going.
Dave could literally swim circles around me while we did this race, he is a natural athlete and has an ease in the water that is truly a gift. I cant tell you enough how his being there pushed me on, because I didnt want to let him down.
For some reason I finally found a good pace. We happened to fall in with a couple of other swimmers who were a smidge above my pace so helped me out so much to get into a groove. I also found the tie down lines under water so I didnt have to worry about landmarking which is such a brutal part about open water swimming.
With the second 2km lap done, in probably my fastest 2km loop time it was on to the final 1km lap. I am pumped. I keep with my new found swim friend for about 600m, then I go. I want to be down. My shoulders are yelling now, I can feel the sunburn on my back, my legs are cramping, its time to end this. I start to sing some Rage Against the Machine. Might have freaked the lifeguard out with the Fuck, face in, You, face in, I, face in, Wont, face in, Do What, face in Tell Me!, face in pacing, but hey, whatever works.
We finished at 2:07. It was 14 minutes slower then last year, but we got er done.
I was def done, but we got our frigin' second medal for the day!!
Not sure what is next for me in regards to events, maybe another 5km, maybe a sprint triathlon, want to make sure I am really ready though before I register for the next one. Maybe Melmerby at the end of the month, Ill try and figure it out in the next week or so, once I get the feelings back in my legs haha.
Sean "BigBoyRunning" Ryan