Not since college have I gone on a road trip like the one I took to the Revolution3 triathlon in Old Orchard Beach, Maine on Aug. 26. To put it simply, it was an insane idea that involved two middle-aged men (me and a friend we shall call “Slayer”), almost 3,000 miles of driving, 70.3 miles of racing, two containers filled with ashes (my mom, his dad) very little sleep and two VERY understanding wives.
Whilst (proper English) I could write a LOT about this trip, I think it would be best told through pictures.
Our chariot! The rental Suburban. She used a LOT of gas, but what a luxurious ride. The Alt Nation and Lithium channels on XM/Sirius got lots of use.
After driving for almost 12 hours to get to Philly, we sat in 90 minutes of traffic when we were just 20 miles away from our destination. There was a Phillies’ game about to start, causing the traffic delays. Let’s Go Mets!
As we pulled into town, for some reason we decided to jam to live Phish. It sounded a little something like this… only a LOT louder.
They hardly recognized their baby boy. They recently moved out of the suburbs and made the bold move of moving into the City of Brotherly Love. They had a fantastic place near Society Hill. Great area.
I think we preferred the woods. At our first bathroom stop, just across the South Carolina border, a short, Hispanic woman hid behind the corner of the building and jumped out to scare me when I walked out of the bathroom. She thought I was her husband, apparently. I almost decked her.
We stopped in Delaware … and passed wet wipes under the stall. It was awkward. Slayer saw Jim Harbaugh walk out the rest area and get in some pimp mobile while I was getting a skinny caramel latte at Starbucks. I drink girl coffee drinks.
We passed lots of historic stuff in D.C.
Such as a street sign for a big airport…
And a phallic looking monument…
Slayer sneezed. It was gross.
In Philly, his mom’s new place is near many of the city’s historic landmarks
Like this guy on the pedestal…
And this Italian guy… he was a stallion, we were told.
There was a cool bell. It had big crack in it. Crack is whack!
Slayer also had a salad. It was greener than mine. It had apples, too.
This became a very common sight. Slayer’s bladder is apparently very small. To fend off the urge to pee, he grabs himself … a lot.
For some reason, taking photos of each other urinating became a theme during the trip.
The drive from Philly to Maine sucked. Mostly because I made the rookie mistake of taking 95 and going over the George Washington Bridge.
I should have gone up 287 and across the Tappan Zee Bridge.
There was a cyclist going across the GWB. I was jealous.
This one of my faves… Ruby by the Kaiser Chiefs
In between pee stops, beef jerky feasts and musical interludes, Slayer and I chatted about life, hopes, dreams, training efforts and improving his horrendous swim.
We also talked a bit about the other reason we were making the trip to Maine. My mom (who passed away last year) is from the Pine State. Slayer’s dad loved Maine, specifically Thunder Hole in Bar Harbor. He passed away a couple of years ago. The two of us had plans to say a final “good-bye” to our parents.
But how? I had a family burial ceremony for my mom’s ashes scheduled on Saturday morning. I also planned to spread a separate container of her ashes at a lake or in the ocean.
As we closed in on Maine, the big man and I discussed how he wanted to go about saying his final good-bye to his dad – Max. Max was a fighter. He died while sitting in the No. 1 spot on the list for a new lung. That was no small deal. Being over 60, he had to get himself into shape before they would ever consider an experimental transplant. He started at 280 pounds. They told him he had to get to 180. He busted his ass… He even went swimming while wearing oxygen. That’s serious work. He weighed 179 when he died. I met Slayer for the first time shortly after his dad passed.
After talking for a while, we decided that the ocean was the best place. We would be getting to Old Orchard Beach close to sunset. After we checked in, we planned to go for a swim to test out the water. He would say “good-bye” during the swim.
Once this was decided, Slayer showed his softer side and put on Champagne Supernova – an Oasis song that for some reason reminds him of his dad’s last days.
After being in the car for 20 hours over 2 days, this moment was pretty deep and emotional. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hit me, too. But Slayer was a blubbering mess. “Pass the beef jerky, dude!”
Phew… now that that’s over. Let’s do this!
In the middle of the swim, we paused about 500 yards out from the shore. The sun was going down. Slayer pulled a small canister filled with his dad’s ashes out from under his wetsuit, said a few things and then emptied the canister into the ocean. Then we finished the swim. Slayer contemplated life after the swim.
For the weekend, we stayed at my uncle’s house in Auburn, Maine, about 45 minutes north of Old Orchard Beach.
We went for a brief swim Saturday morning before heading to my mom’s cemetery service.
My sister and I were joined by family and friends as we said good bye to our mom at a small service.
With Slayer’s toenails feeling better, we drove to the race site. Soon after we arrived, we met a guy in a parking lot and chatted with him about his new S-Works Shiv. About 15 minutes later, he came running back into the parking lot yelling that his bike was JUST stolen while he was at registration. We got a description of the guy and took off after him. Here we are talking to the guy with our serious cop faces on.
After about 30 minutes, we gave up our search. The cops later found the guy and the bike. He had tried to sell it to a local market for $200. The bike was worth about $6,000-$7,000, I figure. To Rev3’s credit, they were prepared to loan the guy a bike for the race and allow him to keep it for a few weeks if they couldn’t track down his bike.
And then went to dinner in the Old Port section of Portland. Slayer ate lobstah!
RACE MORNING finally arrived. After Slayer spent 30 minutes cleaning out his inner demons, we drove down to the race site. My dad, stepmom and other family members all came down.
Our pre-race conversations led us to believe I would come out of the water first and hit the bike with a 5-6 minute lead. Then, Slayer would likely catch me on the bike at some point. Then, hopefully we could run together and have a rarely seen sprint finish. (There’s a reason it’s rarely seen. Things don’t often go as planned.)
Moments before the start, our Alabama friend Kristin Deaton tracked us down on the beach for a pic.
Just as expected, I came out of the water with a 5:39 lead.
SWIM TIME: 35:36
RANK: 16/61 in 40-44 AG.
Major props to Maria Thrash and Matthew Rose at Dynamo Multisport for helping me improve my swim.
It was a LONG run to transition. Slayer, sprinting like a madman, picked up 44 seconds on me.
I hit the bike course aware that he would be coming after me FULL GAS, blatantly ignoring the advice of his coach. How long could I hold him off was the only question. This was a legit course. Long flat sections, some rollers, a few downhills and a couple short, steep climbs. It had a little bit of everything, but wasn’t over-the-top difficult. The worst part of the ride came at Mile 40. This 5-6 mile stretch of road was a disaster. Lots of chewed up sections and potholes. Other than that, it was pretty smooth.
A short, steep climb at Mile 43 smacked you in the face. I think this is where I lost some momentum and Slayer began to close the gap. At Mile 46 I threw my chain on the outside. I tried to get it back on while riding. Just as I was about to dismount, I slow-pedaled and managed to get it back on… I hit the gas again, but the damage had been done.
Right at the moment I passed the Mile 50 marker, Slayer quietly rolled up on my left. I did a double take… “SON OF A #&%X!”
As he rolled past me… wait… what’s this? Oh, it’s a train of guys sucking his wheel. What a crock! There were 3-4 of them… blatant cheaters. I won’t name names but there’s a guy from Quebec who started the bike 6th in the 20-24 AG and then moved up to 2nd… I wonder why you faded with a 2:07 run? Perhaps you weren’t used to riding so hard on the bike? It’s hard to keep up with Slayer even when you are drafting, eh? Jussayin…
After arriving into T2 at the exact same time, we hit the run course… Slayer took off first with a 9-second lead. I fumbled in T2 because some guy threw his wetsuit all over our section. I had to move it in order to rack my bike. I also went one row too far and had to backtrack. Stupid mistake.
BIKE TIME: 2:31:30 (22.18 mph)
RANK: 8/61 in 40-44 AG
As we exited T2, I quickly discovered two things…
1. My two-month layoff from running due to injuries had finally caught up to me.
2. Running a half marathon a week earlier at 7:13 pace wasn’t very smart. (But I did take 1st in the 40-44 AG in that race… so I’ve got that going for me.)
I didn’t have the legs to catch up to Slayer. I could see him up ahead, but my legs wouldn’t go. It didn’t help that he took off full speed knowing that I would likely be easing into it. (Not to self: don’t talk race strategy to your “opponents” before the race.)
He briefly hesitated and waved for me to catch up and run with him… then his race instincts kicked in and he took off. Smart man. I wouldn’t have waited for him…
The run course began with a brief uphill section out of town (we ran part of it the day before to get familiar with it). At the 1 mile mark, my bladder was going to explode and quickly jumped into a port-a-potty. I knew if I didn’t do this, it would hold me back. Unlike the French guy Slayer said he saw later on the run, I wasn’t willing to “whip it out” and pee in front of me while running. So far, as a guy with French-Canadian heritage, I’m embarrassed by the actions of the Francophones.
The majority of the run course takes place on the scenic Eastern Trail. It was beautiful.
When we reached the turnaround, I took a quick split and Slayer was at least 3 minutes ahead of me. With him picking up his pace as I struggled, I knew it was game over. The good news is, the Grim Reaper plowed through the field on his way back to Old Orchard Beach. Can you imagine being passed by a 44-year-old 6-foot-4 guy throwing down sub 7s late in the race?! Then as he passes you, you look down to see THIS!
Before the race, we joked with my nieces that they would run through the finish chute with the first guy to arrive.
Sure enough, Slayer stole my nieces. You can see one of them on the left looking back as if to say… “Where’s uncle Mike!?”
Here I come girls… 9:21 later.
RUN TIME: 1:46:12 (8:06/mile)
RANK: 7/61 in 40-44 AG
BTW, getting a free finish line photo from Rev3 is a GREAT touch.
After the race, I went to get a quick ART massage. Then we went to the pier to grab some more lobster rolls!
Slayer drank beer… two at a time.
Then it was time for the awards. Because the top 2 guys in 40-44 were the top 2 overall male finishers (yes, 40-44 is a STACKED Age Group) Slayer got bumped from 3rd to 1st in 40-44. (I finished 7th and got bumped up to 5th).
He likes to make his mark during the awards ceremonies by smashing water bottles (It’s a long story). He stole one of my nieces to join him on the stage. There was a smattering of applause.
On our last night back at the lake house, we went on a sunset cruise. It was lovely.