May 29, 2024
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May 29, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I struggle to control the bike as my torso was propelled forward into my handlebars. At the speed I was traveling, I was sure to become one with the wet road. I mentally prepared to topple over and go sliding across the highway, like a child’s discarded toy.

(This has happened to you before?)

Yes it has…with my feet still clipped to the bike. At +16 mph, it is the equivalent of running a cheese grater over your left thigh.

In the blink of an eye, I regained control of the bike and pedaled on through the freezing rain. The rain continued to fall for the remaining two and a half hours of the ride. The road was soaked. At one point I looked down and saw my reflection in the sheen on rain water on the Atlantic City Expressway.

11:00 a.m. – I rolled into transition, drenched and shivering. My clothing felt five pounds heavier because of all the rainwater that had absorbed. I was looking forward to the 13.1 mile run for three reasons:

I knew I would warm up.

I knew that I run better in colder weather.

I knew there was kosher pizza at the finish line.

Still, the voice in the back of my head began to worry if I could finish the race. I had been battling a tight abductor in PT.

(Someone who abducts a person?)

Your abductor is a muscle that runs along the length of your thigh. This was the day I hoped it would behave. If it didn’t my thigh would tighten and I would walk. I spent too many hours training to walk on this day.

Bike shoes off, sneakers on.

I ran from my bike at Bader field, down the block onto the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

Two down, 11.1 to go.

Onto the rain soaked planks of the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Down the boardwalk to Ventnor City.

(We playing Monopoly?)

Turned around and headed back to AC.

(We are playing Monopoly!)

Four down, 9.1 to go.

I ran past the finish line.

(And the kosher pizza!)

Eight down, 5.1 to go.

As I continued north, the Boardwalk curved.

(So it appeared that you were never getting any closer?)

With only four miles to go, the turn kept being “almost in sight.”

(It was like Groundhog Day.)

It was maddening.

So instead of continuing to look for the turnaround that would slingshot me to the finish, I focused on mileage readouts on my watch.

The sky was gray, the ocean was pitching and I was so drenched that I had no idea if my face was covered with rainwater or sweat.

Mile 11, I danced around the orange turn around cone.

(Why didn’t you turn sooner?)

I don’t cheat.

(No one would know.)

I would know and I would never be able to look my sons in the face again.

(Noted.)

Two miles left and I could hear the finish line crowd and smell the kosher pizza.

(Didn’t that make things worse?)

No, in my mind, I was on my third pie.

Mile 12 and my quads began to cramp up. Please don’t let me collapse on the ground, floundering around like a fish out of water.

(Just 1,760 meters to go.)

Plus the 1/10 of a mile.

(But by that point, you are on the red carpet of the finish line.)

I relaxed my breathing, but in my mind, held my breath in hope.

(800 meters to go.)

I could see the finish line arch. Now the ache in my knees was screaming at me to stop.

(400 meters.)

I’m on the red carpet.

I hear my name called out.

I ran across the finish line, grabbed my box of kosher pizza and began to chow down.

It was THE BEST PIZZA IN THE HISTORY OF PIZZA!

(You were wet, cold and starving, weren’t you?)

Pretty much.

(So…then you drove home?)

No, this odyssey did not end with crossing the finish line.

The finish line was at the AC boardwalk, but my bike

(and your car)

And my car were one mile a way at the start.

(So you jogged there.)

Are you suffering from a concussion?

I took the shuttle.

I exited the shuttle, walked over to my racked bike…and couldn’t find my car keys.

How was I going to tell my wife that we were now stuck in AC for yom tov?

(After you promised her.)

After I promised her, we would make it back in time for the start of Sukkot?

(Maybe you dropped them?)

I was sure I dropped them. I looked all over the ground. I searched a 10 foot wide area of rain soaked grass. I crawled around like a blind man.

(Not there.)

They were not there.

I was cold, soaked through and now I had to call my wife to tell her I had let her down.

Then it happened!

(You found your keys?)

My mother’s voice crawled into my head.

(Where had she been hiding?)

“Check the lost in found!”

When I saw those keys, laying there on the table, in the lost in found tent, I wanted to cry.

(But your mother’s voice crawled into your head.)

No.

(No?)

No, my father’s voice crawled into my head:

“Stop futzing around and get a-move-on.”

By David Roher

David Roher is a USAT certified marathon and triathlon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and a veteran special education teacher. He can be reached at [email protected]

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