Subtitle: Snags, Snafus, and Sniggles
Here I am leaving the Special Needs stop at mile 65, ready to start the second loop of the bike course.
I'm happy in this picture because I finally found the Special Needs station.
I knew it was at the high school at the end of the first loop of the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge. I remembered it from last year, a guy in a tent with a mike calling out numbers, talking to me (over the mike) as I sorted out my Special Needs bag, asking me what was in it, and what on earth was written all over my shorts??? I had written, in silver Sharpie, every good wish from my friends and husband (who contributed, "Against The Wind"), all over my shorts. I explained this to the guy and told him a few. He said into the mike, "So, anyone who wants to read Ellie's shorts, see her after the race!"
No such guy this year. No such tent. I was looking for it. I passed the RD with a mike and he said, "Lookin' good for Lap 2, Ellie!!" I yelled, "Where's Special Needs?" He said, into the mike, "Back there! You missed it!" "Can I go back???" He directed me, through the mike, to circle back through the parking lot, which you see over my right shoulder. So I did, and found Special Needs, which I had seen way back by that blue section of the high school behind me, just a few people with a bunch of gear bags, but I had seen gear bags ahead where I thought Special Needs would be, and I had headed for that. These folks said, "We called out your number.... we thought you didn't need anything when you went breezing by." I said, "People at every aid station have been calling my number and yelling for me! You guys need a sign or something. You got a "special-needs" athlete here anyway." So they gave me my bag and I got what I needed and before I left the station a guy had acquired a bullhorn and was yelling to approaching bikers, "Special Needs! Number 175, Special Needs Bags Here!" So at least they listened and changed their approach. One of the women said, "I wonder if that's why so many people didn't stop?"
So in this picture I'm all refilled and on my way, blissfully unaware that the wind has increased twofold since the first lap.
Back to the first lap. I looked forward to seeing more wildlife in the wildlife refuge than last year, when all I saw was roadkill. The first wildlife I saw now was two black buzzards (only a hair more aesthetically attractive than turkey buzzards) picking at the remains of something on the road. They did not want to give it up for another one of these bikers they had apparently gotten accustomed to, and waited till the last minute to fly off, practically in my face. Whatever they were finishing off, there didn't seem to be any pieces of metal surrounding it, so I guessed that it was not a biker.
Remember "Washboard Road" from last year? They haven't resurfaced it. Five miles of serious bumps. This year, however, I did not have a pre-existing saddle inflammation/injury, so it should not have any effect on any of my husband's "whatnot" expectations. My main fear was that my bike was going to fall apart, or that my gumdrops and jellybeans would fly out of my bento box. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. Gack, this section of road is not good when you're on a road bike.
After Washboard Road, there was the house where, last year, a Chesapeake Retriever up to no good had been zeroing in on me. Either he was not outside this year, or he doesn't live there anymore, or I had the wrong house. Anyway, I did not meet up with him this year on either lap.
Oooooh, a marsh full of snowy egrets, I tried to count them but couldn't. And they took flight. Now that's gorgeous. As was the blue sky with its cumulus and stratus clouds, the golden, blowing marsh grasses, the rivulets and tidepools, the mixed hardwood and evergreen forest, the smell of pine and salt water. I pulled the band off my ponytail for the joy of feeling the below-helmet length of my hair blowing in the wind. There were fishermen on bridges. Seagulls on buoys. Athletes on bikes.
I kept my gears in that sweet spot where pedaling in the 80's was effortless, and kept passing and passing and passing people. Passing them, like, fast. And, mean girl that I am, going "Heh, heh, heh..." inside when the person I passed was a guy with an age in his 20's, 30's or 40's written on his leg, because I knew that when I got in front of him he'd see that my leg said 55. But I didn't have a marathon I had to save something for, as nearly everyone else on the course did. So I was throwing caution to the wind, which, at God knows what velocity, was blowing it far away. Still, I couldn't stop that self-satisfied feeling every time I knew that the younger person (especially male) could see how old I was.
Starting at the pre-race meeting, people Nancy did not know asked her if she was Nancy and said they'd read her blog. She had no idea who they were.
At the swim start, a young couple approached me and asked, "Are you Ellie from Accident?" They were from Cumberland, MD, about 50 miles from Accident. (Yes, Accident, in case you haven't encountered that yet in my blog.) I said, "Yes, do I know you?" "No," they said, "but we know you.... you wrote a report on this race last year." OK, so they must have done a search on ChesapeakeMan and my blog report came up. What I want to know is how they picked me out of a crowd of 200+ black wetsuits at a triathlon swim start. I was wearing my cap already, so it wasn't my hair. My current profile picture is too small for any stranger to identify my face. My previous one, I had a glass of beer in front of my face. There was an older one for a while, in my wetsuit without my cap on... maybe that one tipped them off. But it was strange.
I asked Nancy about this when we were on our way home, and she said that she had told people just to look for the two old ladies hanging around together. I called her a nasty name. We're good friends; she can take it.
And there was this dumbhead who got his just desserts:
Nancy and I were taking our bikes to my truck when all of a sudden there was a biker in the last 30 yards of the course lying face-down, motionless, on the road, his bike lying several feet from him. Paramedics swarmed over. The nurse in me wanted to go pitch in but he had medics there and I minded my own business. When we got done with our bikes, the guy was gone. An older man, maybe 60's, street clothes, not a racer, was sitting on the curb hugging his leg. Report was, that was the guy the biker hit. We learned later that the man reported having seen the biker coming, "didn't think he was coming that fast," and thought he had time to step out and cross the road. In front of a biker hell-bent on the approaching transition/finish line in a race. Word was that the old guy ended up getting sent to the hospital. I'm not usually vindictive but I felt like, SERVED HIM RIGHT. Sheesh. "You can make it, that train's not coming fast." They said the biker had finally gotten back on his bike. No idea who he was, if he was running the marathon leg, or if he was, whether he was able to finish it. Gack, there are some stupid people in the world. Stepping out in front of a racing biker in his last few yards.
Uh-oh. My resolution to cut back on my loquaciousness has lagged. Shorter documentary next time. Maybe.