Blackwater Eagleman Triathlon
Sunday, June 13, 2004
3rd in Male 45-49
My wave (Men 45-54) was number 9 of 11, starting only before the Clydesdales and the Relays. That meant I had a long time to stand around after the race started. It also meant a boatload of people on the course in front of me. Todd, a good friend was in wave 7, starting 16 minutes ahead of me. My goal for the race was to beat him across the finish line.
Not too bad, for me. It was pretty shallow to start and it seemed like a lot of guys were walking to the first marker buoy. I view the event as a swim and not a walk in water, so I pretty much start swimming right away. Guys are walking as fast as I'm swimming, so you can tell I'm a pretty pathetic swimmer. Eventually everybody has to start swimming. It's really not too bad, just a minimal amount of banging. This is my first year in the new age group and I guess the guys have mellowed just slightly. Uneventful to the first turn, though it wasn't as close to the supposed turnaround boat as I expected it to be. A very short second leg and then the turn back to shore. It really got spread out here. I passed a few pink caps from the wave prior to mine, and was passed by a couple of green caps from the wave after. I thought the water was pretty calm for Blackwater, but I don't think I swam a very straight line on the return leg. See the orange buoys marking the boat ramp. Keep swimming until I see others walking then I drop the landing gear and start walking up the boat ramp. Apparently there's a little ledge on the left side of the ramp and not on the right side. I'm on the left side. My right foot finds this little ledge. Fortunately, I'm able to break my fall with my hands and not my face. The big toe on my right foot is throbbing. Let's go get the bike shoes on before it swells up too bad. Cross the timing mat and hit the split button on my watch. Thirty-seven and change. I was hoping to go 35, but I'll take it. According to race statistics, I had the 40th fastest swim (of 114) in the age group.
Normal transition. Bike racking positions were assigned. I had about the perfect spot. On the aisle end of the rack. I didn't pay attention as to how many bikes were still in transition. Just took off the wetsuit and put on socks, shoes, helmet, and sunglasses and left.
Lots and lots and lots and lots of bikes out on the course. I seemed to spend equal amounts of riding time on the right side of the lane as on the left side of the lane, that's how many people I was passing. People seemed to be riding legally from my point of view, though some weren't passing quickly enough to suit me. They'd pull in front of me to make a pass, struggle to finally pass, and then get back to the right. I had to plead a couple of times for them to please make the pass and move over. Being the anal engineer type, I broke the ride into 5.6 mile segments. If I took 15 minutes per segment, I'd ride 2:30 which would be acceptable. It was a bit windy going out. Like the swim, not as bad as Blackwater can be, just kind of annoying. I'm a little behind pace, but I'm not overly concerned. Just concentrating on taking in calories every 5.6 miles, keeping my head down, and passing people. I'm not really aware of how many people in my age group I'm passing, in fact towards the end of the ride I start to wonder because it doesn't seem like I've passed many. I didn't think my swim was that good. We get a bit of tail wind on the way back. Effort seems to be about the same, but I'm going faster. Always a good thing. I've gotten slightly ahead of 2:30 pace. I have to catch myself a few times as my mind starts to wander. I want to keep the concentration level high. Legs are feeling good, only slightly abused. The last few miles of the ride and now I can see runners. It can be slightly discouraging to see guys on the way back to the finish line before I've even started the run, but I manage to avoid that negative mind-set. I finish the bike, cross the timing mat. A 2:26 and change. I know I said 2:30 would be acceptable, but I was hoping to go 2:25. On a perfect day, 2:20. My ride was the 9th fastest in the age group. That moved me up from 40th to 12th age group-wise. (I got that from the race statistics. I didn't really know where I was. I kind of figured top-15.)
I rack my bike and, this time, I notice that there aren't many. I was only passed by one guy the entire ride. It was some guy in my age group. I was kind of surprised that a couple of other lousy swimmer - super biker type guys didn't pass me. Off with the helmet and bike shoes. On with running shoes, cap, and race number belt. Pick up the flask of hammer gel and out the door.
Renate, my wife, tells me that Todd was 15:30 ahead of me. That was a little bit of a mental hit. I was hoping to be about 13 minutes behind. I figured I could pick up a minute per mile on him, but more than that would be tough. I knew going into the race that our swim-bike combos were pretty close, he's a little better swimmer, I'm a little better biker, but I hoped to gain a little bit more of that 16 minute head start he had. Well, nothing to do but run. And that's what I do best. And I'm feeling great. I'm passing people like they're standing still. That's got to be a little discouraging for them, but I can't worry about anybody's feelings. I really can't believe how well I'm feeling and running. I'm holding back just a little, but not much, since there's still a long way to go. It's a great day for running, cloudy and not all that hot. I pass a few guys in my age group. I've just been taking water at the aid stations. About four miles in I take a shot of hammer gel. On the way out to the turnaround, I keep an eye out for Todd. I want to get a split. I reach the turnaround without having seen him. I'm slightly concerned. I ran 41 and change on the way out. My goal was 42 on the way to a 1:25 run. I tried to count how many in my age group were ahead of me, based on bib numbers. That was going to be kind of hit and miss, since I wasn't entirely sure where the group started and where it ended. I counted five guys with bib numbers that I thought were in the range. That put me about sixth. My goal for the race was top five. Might as well go pass a few and see where that put me at the end. And Todd was still out there somewhere. I continue my pace. I'm not really doing much in the way of time calculations at each mile. I'm mostly just counting down. Five to go...four to go... I've passed a couple more of my competitors. I'm pretty sure I'm top five. I see Renate with about 2.5 miles to go. Todd is 1:26 ahead of me. I can't really do the math to figure out if I can catch him. Instead, I pick up the pace just slightly. Two miles to go. I pass another 45-49 guy. I don't want him coming with me so I pick up the pace a little bit more. And, lo and behold, there's Todd. I thought about running in with him, but I'm feeling too good. We exchange pleasantries, agree to meet up for a Guinness. This part of the course has short straights broken up by 90 degree corners. I'm still running very well. With about a half mile to go I see a 46 on the back of some guys leg. I briefly consider stalking him and passing at the end. Screw that. I'm running too well. I pass him and kick it up a notch. I'm pretty much red-lining at this point. This guy is not going to catch me if I can help it. I turn the final corner and take a quick glance back. I don't see anybody, but I'm taking no chances. I don't ease up. Man, this hurts. Finally, I cross the line. The nice volunteer tells me to stop. She bends down to take my timing chip off my ankle. She better hurry. I make it to the end of the chute and start heaving. Nothing comes out. Which, considering all the people right there, is a good thing. Walk a little further. Get my medal. A few more heaves. This time with some action. Just a little bit, but enough to get people out of my general vicinity. I'm careful not to get anything on my medal. Walk a little further. Some mild heaves. I find a spot where I can just stand and settle down. Renate comes over. She had waited to see Todd finish. I beat him by about three minutes. I had a 1:23 run, which ended up 2nd fastest in the age group.
I had no idea how I placed age group wise, but I knew I didn't leave anything out on the course. I had myself timed at 4:32 and change. My previous best for the half Ironman distance was 4:33, so it was nice to PR. Shortly after finishing I started to get chilled and knew I had to get changed. Renate got me a Coke and that went down very well. And once I got the wet clothes off I started feeling pretty good.
I pack up my belongings and leave transition. I still have no idea how I've placed. I take everything and put it in the car. I have another Coke. Renate offers me a hot dog, but I don't think I want to see that a second time, so I pass. Solid food isn't going to work for a little while. And I'm not even ready for a Guinness. I'm not sure that's a good thing. We wander over to the results boards. It takes a while to find my age group. I start at the top. I don't have to go down very far. I'm second. I'm ecstatic. But, now also slightly askew. There's only one Kona slot for my age group. I know the name of the guy who finished first (by about three minutes, so I really couldn't have caught him), but I don't know him personally. Nothing to do but wait. I have a third Coke. Renate goes back to the car to get my wallet, just in case. I'm sitting alone. Vincent and Jody said they were coming back, but I don't see them. I decide that, since Renate has packed a couple in her little backpack bag and left it with me, it's time for a Guinness. Those cans make a great sound when they're opened. Pour it into a perfectly sized cup. As they say, Guinness is good. I'm ready to find some other members of the Downingtown At Dawn Triathlon Club and start re-hashing the day. And continue drinking Guinness. Renate comes back and says that Todd and Jay are at a picnic table over there. So that's where we head. Jay had two plates full of all kinds of food. I'm content with Guinness as my recovery meal. Todd's friend Robb is completing his first ever triathlon. Todd hands him a Guinness as he runs down the last little bit. Robb crosses the line raising his Guinness.
Renate has gone back to the car and re-stocked her backpack thing. It's time to head over to the awards ceremony. Vincent and Jody are there along with Bianca and her family. Bianca was fourth female pro and Jody finished fifth in the female 45-49 group. A good day for the DADTC. I get my piece of hardware, a nice eagle's head. And, eventually, they get to the part where Kona slots are awarded. There are some roll downs in the earlier age groups, but not a whole lot. I didn't get a chance to ask the guy who finished before me if he was taking our slot, he had some connection to Eagleman since he was on the other side of the table dealing with paper work and stuff. Vincent offered to go up and ask him. Part of me wanted to know, but I figured I'd just wait. Finally, the Men's 45-49 slot. And they call out some name that wasn't the name of the guy who finished ahead of me. Renate and I immediately say no kind of loudly, there must be some mistake. What's going on. But, this guy isn't there and doesn't take the slot. I'm not sure what to expect. But, my name is called out. We're all yelling and carrying on. I have no real idea what happened with the names. Some guy was called before me. The guy who finished ahead of me on the results list wasn't called. Then my name. I sure hope this wasn't going to be like Brazil where my name was called and then they said "Never mind." I stood at the end of the line and kept my fingers crossed. Renate went over to the results board and found out that the guy who was called first was the overall masters winner. So, technically, I was third in my age group. But, I got the slot and now I'm going back to Kona.
Anyway, thanks everybody for reading. See you at the races.
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