Bone Island Triathlon

I love triathlons. I love Key West. The idea of a triathlon in Key West was more than I could dream for. But here I am, recovering on Duval Street from the most fun I’ve ever had beating myself up: the Bone Island Triathlon.

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The race, aside from the perfect tropical location, boasted a completely flat course. Back in August, knowing how dreary winter can be in Colorado after the holidays, I signed up. I probably should have thought through bike training in December, but I’m really glad I didn’t.

The adventure to get here was almost as daunting as the race itself. I’d forgotten that my bike box handles were gone (thank goodness for duct tape). A delayed flight and an even more delayed rental car put me at the hotel past midnight. Having to overnight a bike tool I’d put on my carry-on kept me there until noon.

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Check-in for the race was the only painless part. I missed dinner due to the food not being ready in time and having to get to the last pre-brief meeting by 5pm. That meeting came to an abrupt end when the fire alarm was tripped (yes, seriously). Still having to check in my bike (not to mention putting it together), I left the meeting, unfortunately missing information about a turn on the bike course and, consequently, the turn.

But I made it to the start with time to spare and all the important stuff. One thing I truly enjoy about Southern competitions is the lack of, well, competition. In Colorado, I’m used to getting the once over from other athletes, then being dismissed. Most of the people I chatted with were first timers, excited and terrified. One gentleman was celebrating his thirteenth tri, hoping that doing it in 2013 wouldn’t be too much bad luck.

In tris, I just survive the swim part. This race was no exception, with the ocean swim. If the San Francisco bay counts, then this was my second such swim. I managed two miles before becoming seasick. Getting out at Higgins beach, I staggered through transition, hoping the earth would stop swaying before I had to get on the bike.

The bike ride was pure child-like joy. The ocean breeze, straight flat road, and scenery to die for, made the 112 miles pass like a dream. The only downside was the mental energy needed to not stop at the tiki bars and seafood restaurants that pepper the route.

The run is always my favorite part. Just me and my feet, half gliding, half limping along to the finish. This run began with three laps beside Roosevelt, each lap a little quieter as runners finished and headed to the end; a little darker as the sun found its rest over the waters.

After an eternity, I had my three bracelets, proving my laps, and I began the meander through the now very dark, quiet streets of Key West. Suddenly, I was Duval Street, a stark, welcome contrast with the bright lights, loud music, and hoards of happy drunk tourists to cheer and applaud and high five me along what is normally the hardest and loneliest section of the race.

A whole new version of the Duval Crawl, it was the perfect finish to a Key West adventure.

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Mohonk, NY

Riding along the long winding road, moss covered trees bowing and greeting the guests, my first glimpse of the breath-taking Mohonk resort (www.mohonk.com) in the Catskills near New Paltz, NY, elicited one thought.

Heeeeere’s Johnny!

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The eighth-of-a-mile long, seven story, eighteenth century castle, stunning in an almost overbearing manner, cannot but bring make memories of that 1970’s classic movie, The Shining. I cannot believe work has chosen this for our holiday party. The two hour drive from Albany, with a stop for coffee, was worth the time as we stepped back in time for an evening and night of luxury. I was a bit taken aback when greeted by the smell of smoke as I entered my room, but realized it was from the fireplace. Yes, a working fireplace in many of the rooms. What a nice touch.

The view from my room was just as amazing as the room itself. The fireplace warmth was matched by the decor of the room, complete with a balcony for soaking in the serenity of Mohonk Lake. I didn’t have much time, though, as drinks and dinner were less than an hour away. I don’t often have the chance to dress up, so I’d brought my LBD, which fit well with the dark , antique, richly decorated bar and dining area. The food was as amazing as the rest. Appetizers, dinner and dessert.

Choosing what to eat took almost as long as the drive. I decided on the scallops for an appetizer, filet of sole with an incredible polenta for my main dish, and warm apple cobbler a la mode for dessert. The wine list looked amazing, but with a triathlon in less than a month, I forewent the alcohol. I figured that at least would justify dessert.

As much fun as it is hanging out with happily inebriated coworkers, I left as soon as it was decently possible–I had an early morning date with some of the 85 miles of trails that surrounded the castle. Ignoring the rules forbidding running in the pre-dawn hours–and on the trails ever–I snuck out, with the intent of finishing my run at The Lookout, a tower at the high point of the Mohonk Preserve (www.mohonkpreserve.org), the largest wilderness preserve in New York state.

As the landscape began to reveal itself in the morning light, I regretted having run so long by headlamp. A gently sloping horizon blanketed in the now naked trees, the Gunk Cliffs (just begging to be climbed), valley after valley of browns and greens. I imagined a return trip, riding the carriage roads and trails in summer by mountain bike and in later winter by skis and snowshoes.

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I finished my run along the lake, a steep trail leading me to the tower. I paused for a few moments to soak in the sunrise and one final drink of early morning peace, before returning to the breakfast buffet with some decidedly quieter coworkers.