“and I am a psycho like too/kinda like you.” -Edit
When I laid out my season I knew American Zofingen would be on my calendar. I had won the short and middle distances the last two years so I was assuming I didn’t need to sign up. Come to think of it, it’s kinda crazy, but I haven’t signed up for a race in like 5 years. So when I emailed the race director he was like “dude, I have a hard cap because of the park that the race is in. You are on the wait list.” This race is different on a lot of levels and one of them is that even defending champs can get closed out. It reminded me of the guy that went onto win Leadville a bunch of times and who was a pro mountain biker. He was denied entry the first year he tried to do it. There is something radically egalitarian about that and it makes me love this race even more.
Nevertheless I went on to plan my season and peak for other races namely Tri Star Nevis. So when I found out about 14 days before the start of Am Zof that I could enter, I did, but jumping into Am Zof is like doing ironman on a whim; brave but kinda stupid and whenever you have that combo there is sure to be suffering.
The race day was warm for New Paltz in May with “feels like” 90+. Cooler than Nevis but likely to add to the collective suffering. everything about Am Zof is different and the formate and course is as well. The run is a 5 mile loop with 900 feet of climbing on mix of trails. It’s cruel and hard and pretty; kinda like a woman you can’t get enough of. The race starts with one loop of the run and I took off kinda hard but within myself. I wanted to see who was down to push the pace. Two guys a mile in came around me and were hammering. Whoa. Did they think this was a 5k? One guy who didnt do anything so foolish was Am Zof Vet Mitch West. We left T1 more or less together and one guy in a green kit dropped the hammer. The race has a nasty climb straight away and a long curvy downhill and I was bombing down and was in first by the bottom but the man in green was down to hammer and left me like I was standing still. Me and 3rd place were together for a while going back and forth over mountains and about 40 miles in I came totally undone. The bike has 3000 feet per lap and 3 laps in 84 miles. It’s cruel. I had about 4 hours of racing in me and when we hit the 4 hour mark I died. My life long base allowed me to keep going but I wasn’t really racing Am Zof at this point; I was just doing Am Zof. To race all day you need to train to race all day and while I am a good triathlete I wasn’t a prepared one and this course will smash you to bits if you show up unprepared. Again; another thing to love and respect about this race. You can’t fake it.
By the end of the bike Mitch West Came by me like I was standing still. He had come prepared and ready to battle. Besides being the fittest athlete here; he was also the smartest. Ironman starts at mile 85 of the bike. Am Zof starts on lap 3 of the bike; before that its all prelude. He didn’t take the first run out hard and later he called it “fools gold”. I don’t exactly get the metaphor but he was kinda drunk when we said it as the post race party is raging. He also paced the first laps of the bike. Now 5 hours in and shit was getting real; and he was keeping it mad real.
I hit t2 and made myself two promises: I would catch someone to get onto the podium and I would finished. Out of T2 I caught the guy in green who blasted off the front out of T2. Ok, on the podium; now 3 loops, 15 miles, 2700 feet of climbing to go. I headed out on the run and felt pretty bad. My deep base allowed me to run the run but again I wasn’t racing. This course is in many ways harder than ironman and it had reduced me to a survivor who just wanted to find his way out of the woods alive. In the end I did and felt a sense of pride and regret. I knew I could have battled of I had come correct; though to be fair to Mitch; he was on fire and today was his day and i am not sure anyone was taking the crown but him this year. I just wish i could have made it close. But I take heart; I had a good race for what I had in me on the day; I banked a pay day, got a podium and learned a ton about this race, a race I love. I event gave back prize money to make sure I am signed up for 2013! And here is the bonus, it’s on May 19th, 2013 which is my Birthday. 364 days to train this time not 10; can’t wait.
The HUGE news is CREW bad ass Christine Lynch won the over all woman’s title going 90 minutes faster than last year! A combo of a new Evil Racing Cult Bike; a trip to the mountains of www.stronglikebulltrainin.com and my coaching I am sure :p
(photo: Christine getting her first place mug and some creepy old drunk guy touching her. He claims to be the race director and a survivor of alien abduction.)