I did survive SOS. However i hoped to do much more. This race has to be on your bucket list, it is one of
the most beautiful races that will ever torture you for 5 plus hours. It
took me over 6 this year, ironically on my 6th SOS but this is a race of experience & if you do it once you will
want to do it every year & try to improve your performance. The race starts
with a 30 mile bike, the 1st 25 mile are fairly flat with some up & downs
& a hairy S turn at mile 10, every year someone nearly crashes. At mile 25
you turn onto rt 45/55 & climb over 1000 ft for the last 5 miles to
Minnewaska park where your crew waits for you takes your bike & sets your
transition. The whole race is point to point and requires a crew to set your transition and sherpa your bike to the finish.
I had an experienced crew who supported myself, Nelson & Don Griffin. Don and I arrived at transition at the same time so it was a little hectic but nothing that really threw me off my game, at least at this point.
From this point you have to carry all the stuff you will need to get to
the Survivor line. This can vary greatly from athlete to athlete.
My plan this year of using a pull buoy and stuffing my shoes in it while wearing a Huub swim run suit worked well overall, but more on my choice of equipment later. I always wear run compression socks and as usual had no issues with me feet.
So after you get off the bike you run 4.6 miles on a lose gravel trail up Cardiac hill (aptly named) to
lake Awosting for a 1.1 mile swim across the lake. This was the fairly unique year with very warm lake temps
Awosting, the coldest lake was about about 73 degrees, which starts with a 3ft. plunge off a rock
into 4ft. water. For the last few year I have cramped on this run usually at about the 3 mile mark or so, this year i blew out my right calf at the 1 mile mark. It came so fast and hurt so bad it dropped me to 1 knee. I tried to stay positive and told myself you have cramped on this run before and had good races no big deal. So I kept going slowed my pace to about a 9 min mile but at mile 4 it cramped again, not quite as bad on the first time but it caused me to stop and try to work it out. After about a minute i was able to run again but again i had to slow my pace even more. When i approached the swim entrance i walked to get my swim run suit up and zipped, un-rolled my Xterra buoy and fished out my cap & goggles. Now i'm at the transition mat to get into the lake. If you want a fast run time cross the mat and get your self situated to swim, if you want a fast swim time do it on the other side of the mat.
The swim started fine although you quickly realized there was a wicked head wind and 1 foot chop. So I did my best to swim smoothly but the wind and the chop made the pull buoy provided more noticeable resistance. Then at about the 1/3rd mile mark the right calf cramped to the point wear i had to break my stoke hang on my buoy to work out my cramp. This took about a minute during which time i was moving backwards due to the headwind and chop. This happened 1 more time with about 200 yards to go but this time it wasn't quite as bad so a just swam slowly through it. At this point I was very concerned about making my goal time. So needless to say my Awosting swim time of 35 minutes was about 6 minutes slower than my best time for that section.
It is always cold when you get out of Awosting, however this year it was a very cold year. We started the race with temps of 54 or so on the bike and when we got to Minnewaska the temp dropped into the upper 40's. When i got out of Awosting the temp was approx. 47 degrees. I drank some tea at the swim exit aide station took some electrolytes and started to run.
The run to lake Minnewaska goes up and down with no real hilly sections, the 2nd half has some real good stretches of down hill. However i was unable to run faster than a 10 minute mile. Now at this point was telling myself just survive don't worry about your time & get to skytop with out a serious injury. I finally got through the 5.5 mile trail run to lake Minnewaska for a long 1/2 mile swim across that lake.
My 2nd swim was a little better as there was no wind or chop and I only experienced minor toe / foot
cramps. But it only took 17 plus minutes to get across the lake, not close to my best time for that section. The exit of Lake Minnewaska requires you climbing up rock stairs out of the water and naturally i cramped yet again negotiating the rock steps.
The next run is an 8 mile lose gravel fire road run to Lake Mohonk. It is
mostly flat until mile 7 where you hit Godzilla hill, then when that
finally flattens out until you hit son of Godzilla. There is plenty
support with aide stations every 2 miles. The last 1/4 mile is gorgeous
single track that opens up to the majestic Mohonk Mountain House & lake
Mohonk. This run was not a run for me this year as I walked about 2 plus miles of the 8 with the other 6 no faster than an 11 minute pace
When you approach Mohonk you can hear Alex Sherwood welcoming all the survivors to the survivor line and you know you are so close, but there is still the short 1/2 mile Mohonk swim and the 7/10th of a mile climb up to Skytop and the survivor line.
One of the toughest part of the Mohonk swim is climbing over the split
rail fence to get into the lake. I was quite worried about cramping during
this swim but the lake was the warmest of the 3 lakes & I had a decent swim
virtually no cramps till the climb out of the lake. Yes, you guessed it you climb more rocks to get out of Mohonk. This year i decided to swim with my shoes on, some athlete do this including this year winner who had the 2nd place finisher hot on his heals. This decision helped win him the race, because while his competion who got aout of Mohonk just behind him, watched him running up toward Skytop while he was fishing out his shoes and attempting to put them on, which isn't easy with 18 mile of running, 30 miles of biking and 2 miles of swimming under your belt.
Now all that is left is the 7/10th of a mile climb up to Skytop Tower to the
Survivor line. Every year we get Registration is Halloween night at midnight. So
stay up, eat all your kids candy & register for SOS 2014. Thank you
again Harris for being a great crew.