Wednesday, July 28

FCF vs. the Zangmeisters

FCF Racing made its 2010 triathlon debut this past Sunday, participating for the first time in the Huntington Triathlon/Duathlon, held at Huntington Park in Bay Village, OH. You'll be pleased to learn that our rain-during-a-tri streak still extends back to 2008. In a related story, the weather has been postcard-quality since about an hour after the event ended.

As the name implies, this event featured both a duathlon (run-bike-run) for people who can't swim and a triathlon (swim-bike-run) for those who can. This arrangement caused all sorts of shenanigans, as I'll detail.

As for the title, well, Nick and I have a couple of erstwhile nemeses for our forays into multisport: the Zangmeisters. This is a father and son combination (or maybe an uncle, or a remarkable concidence, who knows) that defeated Nick and I at Lorain last year, as you may recall. The younger Zangmeister edged Nick by just 10 seconds last year in the Sprint category thanks to a strong run, and the elder Zangmeister crushed me by like 22 minutes in the International race. The Zangmeister men bring it. Plus, they have a terrific nemesis name, let's be honest. It's ideally suited for storytelling, if not super-fun to type.

So, even though we don't know them and thus it's not necessarily really a rivalry in the traditional sense, we were pleased to see that both of the Zangoes registered for this year's Huntington. It's nice to have actual people to compete against, even though it's friendly and half-joking, instead of just battling yourself and the course.

In this case, it was a weird course. First off, the beach was way, way the hell far away from the transition area. Like, as in across the street and down a huge staircase far away. Very unusual. Because I forgot to grab a swim cap my first time through the pickup line, I was not able to secure one of the black ones that my wave was sporting, because they ran out. Instead, I was given a lavender cap. Nice. Additionally, I was in group F, which was printed on a pink tab on my race number. A big pink F (female?) and a lavender cap. Badass.

So we swam, and I kinda sucked because I've gone swimming like twice this year, but that's no big deal. Then we had to run about what seemed like a half mile barefoot on fairly bumpy pavement, which I did not enjoy. At all. I know it's hard on the race directors to lay the course out ideally, and I'm not criticizing their efforts because there wasn't really space on the beach side of the street for a transition area, but crossing streets barefoot is not my idea of a good time.

I hopped on the Excitebike after a brief stop in the transition area and set out for a 12-mile ride. I enjoyed the bike course - smooth roads, well-directed, except for the occasional car that snuck onto the course. In case you've never been in a race like this and don't know how people drive when they're near a triathlon, let me tell you: like fucking idiots. That's all I have to say on that topic.

The other menace on the bike phase were these jokers with blue/green cycling jerseys representing some race club or another. I've written before how the hardcore cyclists who come out for these races are easily the most annoying participants, and these guys lived up to that billing. Someone tell these guys it's not the fucking Tour de France. Passing close, yelling stuff at people, expressing annoyance at every little move someone makes. Hey, I'm allowed to pass other cyclists too - if you want to pass me, go to my left. This isn't Russia. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia. I make it a point to ride very considerately, but my entire bike leg is not going to be devoted to making the Aquamarines as happy as possible.

Ah, and lets not forget Oblivious Woman, this dumb-looking lady who was running in the street (not participating in the race, just out for a run) opposing the bike traffic. Yes, she was right in our way. Yes, there was a sidewalk she could have used. Yes, we all had to swerve out of her way. I saw her after I'd finished, now moving with traffic, still in the middle of the street getting in cyclists' way. I simply can't understand how someone could be that unaware of herself and/or disrespectful of others that she would do this. Unbelievable.

Despite my many foes, I did indeed reach the end of the bike, evidenced in part by the fact that I am no longer riding - I'm typing. As you approach the transition, volunteers implore you to slow down, in part because you have to walk in the transition area, and also that particular day because of wet pavement. Another cyclist and I are pulling in, where basically the road leading into the transition area is split into two halves. The magnetic mat that you have to step on to record your time is on the right half, and is maybe wide enough for two people to step on at once. I slowed properly, went wide to the right, and allowed for the other person to stay to my left at a reasonable speed.

Then a member of the BlueGreen Man Group (of course) comes flying in, having disregarded all advice to slow down, and just barrels into the whole transition area, running past both of us on the left...and missing the mat entirely. It would have served him right for such an unsafe, selfish, and, frankly, unsportsmanlike maneuver to take a DQ, but I informed him that he had to go back. Sometimes I'm amazed at how nice I am.

Racked my cycle, donned the headband, and struck out on foot, feeling good. The strangest thing about the course was that, apparently, the duathlon required its cyclists to roll on the same narrow multi-purpose path that also was handling two-way foot traffic (and a high-five between the FCF racers). WTF? I felt bad for the cyclists, assuming they had been following the course properly, because that puts them in a tough spot. Oh well. The rest of the run was relatively free and open, except for one part where one group of runners has to cross past another group, which could get thorny. It's like one of those football stadia where the visiting and home sidelines are on the opposite sides as the tunnels to their respective locker rooms and the teams have to sort of run through each other at halftime.

And at this point in the tale, we once again return to our rivals, the inimitable Zangmeisters. You can see from the results that the Team Z once again ruled the galaxy as father and son, or at the least got the best of us in a local triathlon. What can I say, these guys are good. Worthy adversaries. Jason nailed 10th and John 20th in a tough field - John even knocked off Nick (25th in 1:04:31), an impressive feat for anyone, let alone an over-50 athlete. I hope I'm half that diesel when I reach that age. I, um, got 60th (1:11:45). It's safe to say that I'm not an elite triathlete, though there were a whopping 314 entrants.

But I did salvage a small victory over the Meistern. Heading towards the end of the run, I was feeling good even as the rain picked up - I'd moved up a few places in my age group and was moving well as I approached the finish. I was conscious of someone coming up on me, and didn't want to lose a spot, but knew there was a good chance I would. I was running harder at that point because I thought we would just make a left off of Lake Rd., make another left, and cross the finish line.


Instead, we had to make a right, cross the street, backtrack through a parking lot, re-cross the street under that ridiculous pedestrian walkway, go back up the hill, then basically make a quick 180 turn and head in to the goal. More distance than I had planned for. As I prepared to make the first right turn, there was a volunteer waving us in that direction. As I passed, I heard him yell, "great job, Mr. Zangmeister!" ZANGMEISTER?!

Oh, it's on now. I knew I had to beat him. Just had to, even though my poor race planning was leaving me a bit short on gas. As a competitor, he clearly wanted to beat me too, even though he has no idea who I am. Zangmeister passed me in the parking lot and maintained his edge as headed up the hill, but I managed to overtake him before the 180. He tried to take this questionable inside tack on me as I made the 180, which I found a tad aggressive, but nevertheless I sprinted to the finish line and crossed first. Boo-ya!

Of course, he's in a different division than me and his wave had gone off eight minutes after mine, so all it meant was that he beat me by "only" like 7:59 instead of 8:00 (indeed, the official race numbers say 7:59), but hey, it was fun at the time. The question is: did our competition help him edge out Nick? Probably not, as the difference was 45 seconds, but it's an interesting thought.

Either way, good race, congrats to the Z's, and here's to a good rest of the season!

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