By: Kimon Papahadjopoulos
Silver Strand Half Marathon 2016
My recollections as I wait for my flight...took the Ferry back with Ryan and Carly. Always end a race with a Ferry ride, and best start it by skating from the Hotel to the line.
Very exiting and challenging race today. Weather was a perfect 65 degrees with little wind. Pretty sunrise with a few clouds. Seemed like a big field at the start, and I started on the front line to the far left with Jens, Chris, Ryan and Rob.
It started off fast enough but not crazy, until the first right a minute or so in. Strong acceleration on the short downhill as I had been warned, and the extra breaths I took in anticipation seemed like a good investment. Then attacks by Team Simmons and Wes Gandy, with Ryan, Chris and Jens Bridging at times, or Gandy or Team Simmons (Fedak, Chrissler, Bell, Kirby) covering each other.
I was around 20 skaters back. Lots of attacks, but it was taking some time to get my motor going, and so I was more than happy to follow and be conservative. Though there were some questionable skaters in front of me, there were also some strong skaters like Kirby, so it didn't seem too risky.
It became clear quickly that the opposing fire power was enough that attacks by me would be dangerous and likely futile, so conserving energy and picking your spots seemed to me be a good bet.
Chicken Anderson ticked a skate and fell alone right behind me. Steady boys... Rob, who was getting over being sick and with half a lung was hanging tough up there. Peggy was still around I think as we left the island on the highway, but the pressure was on. Matches were being burned, and those in their red zone started to fall quietly back.
Two pacelines formed from time to time. And the field winnowed considerably after multiple attacks by Simmons, probably leaving 15 or less. Only stronger skaters remained. Rob I think dropped around mile 6.
I felt ok- I was not being hurt much by the pace and able to accelerate when needed without much gap. Seemed like systems were go.
An LA master in a USA Skin (did he earn it?), launched an audacious attack. We called him Captain America for lack of a better name. He got about 50 feet off the front.
Chris gave the word not to counter. The attack seemed so foolish to me, and he had been skating very well earlier, if not a bit amped up. He burned out there for what seemed like 4-5 minutes.
The pack bridged, and there was an immediate attack by Simmons, probably Bell. Captain America was off the back never to be seen again. Yes, foolish.
Maybe it was that attack, or a subsequent one, but Bell got off the front. Gandy was the only one with the firepower to do anything, but he could not close the gap. Jens and Chris took some turns, but Bell was slowly extending his lead, but still in sight.
Soon thereafter Ryan pulled the plug. Too much work covering attacks early.
About 10 miles in now. We were approaching the town, and by this time I started to feel the pressure too. I was getting uncomfortable on those rough roads, and I felt my fatigue building. I tried to relax and fall properly and skate into my ankles and hips. I was right behind Jens. I noticed him just powering through, pushing early, seeming to loose efficiency. Something to talk about later.
When we finally hit the town, Bell was in sight but maybe 100m off the front. Gandy led us in. Chris and Jens was there with Chrisler. Michelle Busby was still on the back and some others. The pavement was smooth and the pace was strong. It must have been so, because around this time both Norm Kirby and Alex Fedak were off the back.
The turns were a bit intimidating at speed to me with all the concrete gutters. A car or two got in the way. I was in a bit of trouble and only crossing coming out of corners was not helping, and there were a lot of pavement surprises. We made it onto the long finishing straight and the pace picked up. Last year we would have been done, but we had about 3k to go.
They had it coned off to one lane because of the runners. How was that going to work when we doubled back? It made passing difficult and sketchy, and time was running out.
Many severe bumps at intersections. The fellow in front of me seemed sketchy in the turns, t stopping at times. A made sure to pass him, though with the tight road at was not easy. It was close, but a good move. Chris and Jens in front with Chrisler and Gandy. Pretty clear we would not catch Bell at that point-- really hard to make up ground with all the road issues.
We approached the right u turn. I almost never use a T stop on general principal. But in did right then. It was tight. They also had some blue rumble mats for some reason that grabbed your skates, but if you stayed up they slowed you-- and that was good.
2k to go. The remaining pack was pulling away from me and a had to pull deep to cover. I was on the limit and forcing hard to bridge. I see Rob coming the other way with a group. They are right there.
I finally nailed them back at 1000m to go at the final left. They slowed a bit. A chance to pass? Maybe, but I was gassed, and Chris and Jens were next in line, so to what end other than to mess up my team mates? Did the easy thing- stayed put
Then, we saw incoming traffic- 1 lane two directions of skating traffic. Hope they are paying attention. Jens saw his chance and Jumped Chrisler and Gandy, just before we hit the oncoming skaters. Amazing move! I'm trying not to get gapped again, but there it is.
Gandy gets Jens just before the corner, but Jens gets him back before the line. Don't make Jens angry I guess. Gandy is super fast, so that is just so impressive. I think Chris may have come past Chrisler, but there is no clear finish. I'm some few seconds back (2 or so), a match or two short.
Didn't fall. Good race...next time maybe a few more intervals and more Vo2max...