Professional athlete and 3-time Ironman champion

House of Pain

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It was a day in the house of pain.

While it started with a nice, leisurely morning, waking to no alarm, walking the dog, lounging about, by about 1PM, it was time to head over to the House of Pain, aka, Harpoon Brewery. Now most would think of the Brewery as a neat tourist spot, a place to catch a tour, have a few drinks in the pub, buy some beer. But for me, yesterday, it was the house of pain. The spot of the 2010 Harpoon Indoor Time Trial presented by Fast Splits.

It would be a long day, as I was slated to race first in the women’s pro heat, then again in the team competition some 3 hours later. Oh, and coach threw in a quick 35’ run in the middle just for measure. That would be the easiest part of the day.

They were running a bit behind with the heats, so our women’s pro heat, scheduled for 2:45 went off at more like 3:40. More time for warm up. That’s a good thing, if, for no other reason, that it would delay the inevitable!

Now I hate to take the mindset of being a "glass half empty" kind of girl. But here are the facts: • My natural speed ranks somewhere in the realm of negative • Where in past years, I’d done at least a little top end work in preparation for the Indoor Time Trial season, this year, I’d done a total of none. • The 8 mile course would take somewhere just over 20 minutes to complete, meaning that my heart rate would be some 30 beats above where it’s been in 3 months for at least 19.5 of those 20 minutes. • While there would be free beer (thank you, Harpoon!) because I had a second go of it some 3 hours after the fact, with a run in between, Davey G would be the beneficiary of my free beer. Not me.

In spite of all of this, I still somehow thought it was going to be a fun day. And in the end, if you subtract out the last 15’ of my individual TT, where I thought seriously about whether anyone would notice if I just stopped pedaling, dismounted my bike and cheered on the rest of the riders, it was fun! This, in spite of the fact that I was at LT+3 bpm within about 5’ of the start, and things were looking like what we in the business call UGLY!

I went out exactly at the effort my coach, Jesse had instructed. I couldn’t and still can’t decide if a) Jesse is a masochist, b) Jesse had been smoking a bit of the herb prior to coming up with said instruction or c) if he genuinely thought I could hold the wattage he’d indicated.

At the base of the 5% hill, a small napalm cloud went off over my Compu Trainer. I could hear Caitlin snow grunting and wheezing on the trainer next to me. "Good," I thought, "misery loves company." All the company in the world couldn’t help me up that hill. Once over, I figured the final downhill stretch wouldn’t be nearly so bad. Yep. It was nearly so bad. Pain, PAIN, PAIN!!!

In the end, I was 3rd and about 7 watts below what Jesse hoped I could average. Still, not so bad, I guess, for zero quality work these past 3 months. Karen Smyers took top honors, earning herself a beer between rounds (oh, she’d be in on the team event as well), and proving that age is just a number and that she’s still a force of nature in the sport. Watch out, ladies. You thought Smyers was out? She’s just getting warmed up! Second went to a kick-a$$ cyclist I’d never met.

After a short run, some calories and some more caffeine, we were ready to take to the team competition. Team Psycho vs. Blue Hills Cycling Club vs. the Boston Tri Team. Our Psycho contingent had practiced the team event once, prior to race day. Still, the multi rider software was different that what we were all used to, and we had two teammates, NuffDaddy and JRod who couldn’t make our 90’ training camp, so we had 2 new riders in the mix. This could get interesting.

We decided, as a team, to take the first minute out at about 300w, then find our assigned positions in the pace line. Karen and I would ride in position 6 and 7, with Alec, the HairyMan, Petro riding sweeper to help collect our sorry-selves, should we get dropped. After a few minutes, we sort of settled in. Sort of. Keep in mind, some of these guys are capable of taking pulls at nearly 500 watts. I .....am not. It was like a crazy roller coaster. At one point you are thinking "WEE!!! This is FUN!" and about .4 seconds later you are thinking "MOMMY!!! I don’t want to die!"

Getting dropped from the draft was like getting hit in the face with a 2x4. My wattage would range from somewhere in the mid 300s, to zero as I’d coast to try to fall back into a draft.

In all, we were like a well-oiled machine, with 3 coaches; Shag, to instruct riders to slow down, speed up, pick up someone who got dropped…and who isn’t going to listen to a 200+ pound former pro hockey player who served more than his fair share of time in the sin bin as a hockey player?......ATB, who had ridden with us for the training camp and knew how this was supposed to go down….in theory anyway, and my own Davey G who spent the entire heat crouched in the front of the screens to update Shag on how far ahead or behind we were from the other team.

I yelped for help on a few occasions, calling for a ride back on to the pack, and thanks to Alec, the HairyMan, Petro and Double D for responding to the call.

Team Psycho made it across the line first, ahead of the other 2 teams, and I felt a small sense of relief that the double time trial (plus run) day was over and done.

Thanks to Fast Splits, and to everyone at Harpoon. What a great day, though ironic that in the 8 hours I spent at the brewery, I didn’t drink a single beer! Thanks to Jesse for making me hurt (I think it’s good for me, anyway). Thanks to Kestrel for my awesome bike. Granted, it stayed in place for the entire day, but it is still a dream to ride!

Congratulations to Scott Hammond, my Austin homestay who flew in special for the event and walked away atop the podium for the "old farts" division. And of course, congratulations to Karen Smyers who made winning look easy, proved that age is just a number, and reinforced for me, the fact that she is the BOMB!

Back to base stuff today. 3.75 hr trainer ride, 2 hr run up next. ….maybe the ITT wasn’t so bad after all!

Persistence. Determination. Love. The Journey!

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