Many of you know that for the past few years I've been going out to Deep Creek Lake in Maryland and riding the bike courses for the Savageman triathlon. Deep Creek is the DC area's Tahoe analog -- a lake in the mountains about three hours from the metro area. The riding is fantastic. And since the elevation is around 4000 feet, the summer and fall weather's much nicer than that of the DC area, which is generally a nasty brew of hot and humid.
This year I decided to actually do the triathlon proper.
Triathlon magazine calls it the hardest race in triathlon. Why? Because the bike course is, well, insane. Apologies to James, but who in their right mind would send triathletes, who often can barely stay upright on a flat, straight road, up something like the Westernport Wall, a 30% grade paved in cobbles? Then over another ~6,500 feet of vertical gain, much of which is up grades in the double digits? And oh, by the way, the half-marathon run has its own 2,000 feet of vertical gain, some of which is on fire trails up to a forest fire lookout. Oh yeah, sign me up.
The full race distance is as follows: 1.2 mile swim, 55.7 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. My plan was to hold back on the first two events so I could survive the run. I do a masters swim program while the kids do their swim team, so knew the swim would be ok. And I've been motorpacing off Craig and Dana for the past couple months, so the bike was going to be fine. The run . . . well more on that later.
Lucas loaned me his TT bike a few weeks back, so I had plenty of time to acclimate to the aero position (thanks, Lucas!). I borrowed a hardshell travel case from Ian (thanks, Ian), rented a wetsuit from Sports Basement, and headed East. My sister has a house on the lake right by the course, and I stayed there with her and her husband.
Luckily, I got great weather for the event (the folks who did the Olympic distance weren't so lucky, and did the event in driving rain and wind; savage indeed). The swim went fine; I did a little backstroke or breaststroke when I got tired. Masters is great, but you rarely do anything more than a 500 at one time, so I wasn't really ready for 2,000 continuous meters. A few seconds rest did wonders though.
The bike leg was a good time. The big deal here is that if you get up the Westernport Wall without falling over (see vid above), and go on to finish the whole thing, you get a brick with your name on it emplaced among the cobbles on the Wall itself. Pretty cool! So my only real goal for this race was to get up the Wall no dabs so I would get a brick. Turned out not to be a problem. I was fortunate to hit the wall alone, so I could pick my line and didn't have to worry about someone falling in front of me. Up and over, and that was that.
Only two people passed me during the entirety of the bike leg. Which I thought was pretty good, I have to confess, though, that one of the two was a total Fred. Tri suit? Check? Arm warmers despite the tri suit having no sleeves? Check. Camelback? Check. Beard? Check. Day-glo knee-height compression socks? Check. And he kicked my ass. I'll admit that rankled some.
The run was awful. Almost unspeakably miserable. Not just because it hurt (which it did), or because it took forever (ditto), but because the entire time I was on the run leg people were passing me. I mean everyone passed me. Thin people. Fat people. Tall people. Short people. Old people. Young people. Thin, short, old people. Tall, young, fat people. Every combination you can think of came by me. The only respite from the constant ego-hammering was on the steepest part of the fire trail, where most people had to walk. I caught some people there. I was walking too, of course, but I can walk uphill like gangbusters. Then they passed me again when the running resumed. I had sort of resigned myself to this going in; I know I'm an atrocious runner; but it still sucked hard.
That said, I did finish, I wasn't last, I didn't break or tear anything, and I got my brick, so all in all a good day. Overall results are here. Age group results are here. For those who don't want to bother with the links, the bottom line (age group) is:
Place Bib Code Age Sex Name City/State Rank SWIM Rank T1 Rank BIKE Rank T2 Rank RUN Penalty Time DQ 14. 225 45 M Todd Edmister Orinda, CA 21 39:23 7 4:12 2 3:18:31 23 3:10 20 2:24:04 4:00 6:33:18
There were 40 finishers in my age group. 2nd place on the bike split is kinda cool. I'm not sure what the penalty was for; no one said anything to me on the course. My sister thinks it's 'cus I got on my bike in the transition area where you're supposed to be walking. I guess I know if there's a next time.
Post-race food was awesome. I went for the BBQ pork with slaw on a bun. Yum! Strangely, they were out of the vegetarian option by the time I found the food tent. Who knew they'd even have a veggie option this close to West Virginia? Much less that there'd be excess demand for it? Go figure.
- Todd Edmister