Sunday, March 22, 2009

Twenty Years Ago - Texas Revisited/Podcast 007

Audio Description: I go back twenty years to 1989 and revisit with my then training partner, Tim Carroll.

Guests: Tim Carroll

Songs Used: Animal by Def Leppard; Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones

Duration: 32 minutes, 58 seconds

Date Last Updated: Sat 21 Mar 2009 10:17:47 PM CDT

File Size: 32.8 MB

Sherman and Mr. Peabody enter the WABAC machine in 1960 to witness another time and place in history.

For this blog entry we jump in the time machine and portal back to 1989. I am living in the sister cities of Bryan & College Station, Texas. I am single, working retail pharmacy with all its screwy hours, and when I’m not working, I’m working out.

On this particular day I am finishing up a 10-mile run on the outskirts of Bryan. I’m on a lonely stretch of road. Ahead of me, perhaps a half-mile in the distance, I spy another runner.

At this stage in my life I’m 28-years old and in great shape. I pretty much mow down anyone I see running ahead of me, even on training runs. I am certifiably Hyper-Type-A. I start to pick-up the pace.

Something’s not quite right. After about a mile I have made very little progress on the runner ahead of me. He’s still out there. I can now see he is wearing only trunks. I pick up the pace again.

After another mile I’m about 100-yards behind him. I must be huffin’ and puffin’ as the runner slows up and looks over his shoulder. We introduce ourselves, and I explain I’ve been trying to catch him forever. He laughs. Handshakes are exchanged and a friendship is born.

That’s how I met Tim Carroll, a Texas native and carpenter by trade. And so tan that his nickname was Buckwheat. Best of all, he was an even better cyclist than runner, a two-fer-training partner. He was someone I could hook up with either for running, cycling, or the long brick on the weekend followed by a mega-pizza binge.

Twenty years ago when we could train like a monster, eat like Fat Albert, and still get by on little sleep, Tim and I would reel off three- to five-hour workouts. He’d always be pushing me on the bike, and I would push him on the run. There was never any competition between us. We hit the same races and supported each other. We even liked to create new challenges that we would not have done alone, but because we were training partners, we went forward together.

Such as the time in August 1989 when we decided to tackle back-to-back events. The first would be on a Saturday in Palestine where we would compete in a triathlon. We’d then load up after the race and drive to Dallas to compete in the big Coors Light Biathlon series the next day.

So, on a hot and muggy August Friday evening, we loaded the bikes into Tim’s little green pickup. The tunes being played at the time were mainly Def Leppard and the Rolling Stones. Not sure why I recall that fact, other than the Stones had just released a “best of” series. We had some beer, tossing the empties into the back with the bikes. Life was pretty damn good.

The Palestine triathlon was put on by the YMCA. Now this event had a unique twist to it. It was a half mile open water swim followed by a 3.6-mile run then a 15.6 mile bike. The transition from swim to run was, well, a little unorthodox, as we had basically staked claim on the shore via beach towels.

Brian tests the water prior to the Palestine Triathlon.

Transition on the shoreline from swim to run!

I don’t have any official results from this event. Maybe they had been thrown in the back of the truck with the empty beer cans and the bikes. But I did record my finish on the race number: ninth overall, second in the 25-29 age group.

Tim starts to load up the truck.

Brian rehydrates next to his Peugeot road bike.

It was then off to Dallas. We checked into the hotel later that afternoon. I quickly learned there was a masseuse available, as is typical for the big national events. My right calf was in a big knot, and I wanted it worked on. A massage and a few beers later, I was ready for the next day.

Bright, sunny skies greeted us. There were 695 males registered for the biathlon. Note – in those days, Coors Light was the big sponsor of these types of events, and they were called ‘biathlons’, not to be mixed up with the shooting-skiing sport. When people called them ‘duathlons’ we all looked at each other, wondering, “What planet are you from?”

This race was the typical national standard of a 5K run, 30K bike and 5K run. I toed the line with Kenny Souza at the start….and then watched him fade into the distance as the gun sounded. This was a whole other level of competition.

Souza blew away the field.

Out of 695 males, I finished 91st. This was a rare moment when I did not finish in the top 10% overall and didn’t care one damn bit. In fact, I only came in 32nd overall in the 25-29 age group. As you can see, I had a weak bike leg and a weak second 5K. But I had a blast. And I met a famous Olympian.

With Frank Shorter. Kenny Souza circled off Frank’s left shoulder.

Tim, five years older, finished in 163rd overall and 38th for the 30-34 age group. Like me, he had a weak bike leg and a weak second 5K. The back-to-back events had taken a bit of a toll, but we had met our challenge.

Brian and Tim results.

Back in training and wondering what else we could do that would help burn off some excess testosterone, along came a new challenge. Something called the Charlie Martin Double Dare. It was like this: Drive to Milano, Texas. Run a 10K race. Rest for 30 minutes. Run a 5K race. You could do either solo, but the race organizers were offering up the double dare as well.

Heck, Tim and I thought about it for about 30 seconds and sent in our entries to compete in each.

For this event, I have no records as the promised official results from the race director never materialized. But I do have the hardware.

The Charlie Martin Double Dare trophies.

I finished first in the 25-29 age group for the 10K. I rested and tried to keep loose. I recall that the 5K felt like I was running on rubber chickens, but I finished 4th for the 25-29 age group, finishing only behind three guys who had not done the 10K.

The rest of 1989 went on like this for Tim and me. We were my company’s ‘ringers’ in a corporate 5K in Houston. Tim beat me in a biathlon (yes, duathlon) in Tyler as he was becoming an animal on the bike. In a 5K in Livingston, I won and Tim got runner up in our age groups.

We finished high in a triathlon at Rice University. I recall that race because I tried to save transition time by racing in ‘water socks’ from the pool to the finish line at the end of the run. Last time I did that.

Towards the end of October we decided to try something new again: we’d do a relay. Tim would bike, and I would run. This would be for the Texas State Championships and would attract an elite field of competitors from across Texas. One issue: We needed a swimmer!

I found one right away. Throughout the year I had been swimming at the Bryan outdoor pool. The Parks & Rec department had developed a great program in which the pool was closed except to adult lap swimmers over lunch and in the afternoon. I had struck up many a conversation with one of the lifeguards on how to better my stroke, and so I asked him to join our triathlon relay. Pete Calabrese was in.

Pete stands in front of the person in the all yellow wetsuit.

On November 5, 1989, we went to Lake Conroe. It felt a little like fall out. The water temperature was 65 degrees and Pete had no wetsuit. It was very cold for the swimmers. These are Texas-acclimated residents, and 65 degrees was brisk indeed. Pete swam the 1K distance in just under 14 minutes. He wasn’t done as he had to run over 100 yards to the not-so-nearby transition area to tag off to Tim. And Tim had a monster ride.

Pete races to T1 from the lake.

Tim completes his awesome ride.

Tim rode the 30K course in 45:30 which equated to over a 24-mph average. He was primed for this race. He had been leaving me behind (or struggling badly) on training rides leading up to the event. He had found his niche. He came roaring into T2 mumbling something about a great tailwind and to get my ass moving.

Brian tears out of T2 for the 5K run.

There was no way I was going to let down the super efforts of Pete and Tim, so I went all out. I ran the 5K in a personal best or 16:30, averaging 5:19 per mile. We won the relay division, just a trio of local yokels who put their best effort together at the same time on the same day.

State Champs!

It stands as one of my proudest achievements to this day.


Vagabond said...

Wow, you were fast!! I hope you don't still wear those sunglasses!!

Brian said...

Whaddya mean 'were fast'!?!?! Sunglasses are like ties. The fat glasses will be back in style some day and the skinny ones will be uncool again!

Vagabond said...

haha! What I meant was, I wish I were as fast as you!!

Chad in the AZ Desert said...

Great post! That really does go back to the infancy of triathlon. Very impressive.

Chad in the AZ Desert said...

Oh, if you have a chance I would love to know how you got the Facebook link on your blog.

Brian said...

Go to your Profile page in Facebook, scroll ALL the way to the bottom. On the left side there are two links, “Profile Layout” and “Create a Profile Badge”. Click “Create a Profile Badge”. You will see a link to install to Blogger as well. Pretty easy...even for an old goat like me.