SavageMan Triathlon 70.0 - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Swanton, Maryland
United States
Tri-to-Win Events
64F / 18C
Total Time = 8h 05m 52s
Overall Rank = 241/275
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 28/30
Pre-race routine:

We packed up the car and headed out to Deep Creek on Friday afternoon. After enduring the nasty DC area traffic Friday afternoon, we were welcomed by the quiet mountains of Garrett County, MD.

Was SO glad we came up Friday night, it gave me a whole day to decompress and get my game on. The extended family came in from North Carolina, and Saturday I enjoyed a brief swim, bike and run to stretch out the muscles before dropping off the bike in transition (the water by the swim finish was absolutely perfect, crystal clear, no rocks, with some perch swimming among the low-lying grasses making me almost wish I could do some spear-fishing!). Was lucky to see the first finishers of the 30 race.

Althlete's briefing was fun, was good to finally meet the (infamous) Kyle Yost hear his snarky responses to "why don't you fill the holes in Westernport Wall". I knew the downhills were very technical, but after his briefing I decided: don't be stupid, go easy on the descents and finish the race instead of crashing.

Returned to the lodge for some pre-race lasagna, salad, ice cream. (Clif bar and water snack during the night). Woke up at 6 AM, apple & banana, steel cut oats w/ peanut butter and honey, got to the race site about 7AM; Clif bar 1 hr. before start, clif shot gel 1/2 hr. before start. Got all my stuff (ALL the bike clothes) laid out, then chatted with the nearby athletes, everyone having that look of anticipation.
Event warmup:

A guy next to me in transition strolled in about 15 minutes before the transition closed, and started joking about, how do I do this, how does this wetsuit work, what should I wear on the bike.... It was pretty comical, and then just before we left for the water, he asked me if I wanted to pray with him: his prayer was so profound and heart-felt, I then knew I could do this race for His glory.

I then jumped in the water and did a few strokes near the start: there were lots of large rocks in the water, so I couldn't find a path out to deeper water for a "real" warmup. No worries, I'd be plenty warmed up in a few minutes....
  • 42m 17s
  • 1931 meters
  • 02m 11s / 100 meters

Swim course info here:

A magical morning as the fog was lifting over the water and the sun was shining just over the water's edge ... right into my face. I knew I wasn't going to be the first one out of the water by any means, and it was going to be a long day, so I decided to start off easy off the back.

Wow, turns out the sun in my face meant I couldn't sight off of ANY of the buoys, just these black shadows that "looked" like buoys, and all the bobbing heads in front of me. Things got better after rounding the Thomas (the big green turnaround turtle), found a few people to draft off of as the pack thinned out. After rounding the big white swan, got shallow really quick, then I realized I had to head back out away from shore to avoid the rock outcropping. Overall it was a comfortable pace.
What would you do differently?:

Transition 1
  • 09m 2s

Took my time to dry off thoroughly before putting on ALL the clothing for the freeze-fest on the first part of the bike ride.
What would you do differently?:

  • 4h 35m 3s
  • 55.7 miles
  • 12.15 mile/hr

Summary of Bike Course here:

Full course profile at photo below)

One word: Savage. Actually, another word: Epic. This is the most incredible bike course I have ever ridden in my life. Your emotions run the whole spectrum: it's the most brutal, the most beautiful, and the most rewarding, with the most amazing support from the spectators and volunteers. The first sign of things to come is Toothpick Rd., just after transition. Then you get some nice rolling hills in the sun before the LONG AND COLD DESCENT down Spring Lick Rd. At the bottom the ride along Savage River is really beautiful.

Once you cross the bridge on the approach to Westernport, you can feel the anticipation as you pass the paper mill. Once you make the turn into Westernport, you are immediately greeted with ... HILLS. BIG Hills, averaging 12%-15% grade over 4 blocks BEFORE you hit the Wall.

For a taste of the number of bikers falling at Westernport Wall, go to

I took it REALLY easy by switching to my easiest gear (34/34) and doing the paper-boy switchback all the way up: it was really easy, and others started passing me, but I just wanted to save my legs for the Wall. I was already getting fired up, the fans were already lined along the streets 3-4 blocks before the wall, and I saw a wonderful message in chalk from my family.

Words cannot describe the insanity at the Westernport Wall: the blasting of "ROCKY" music, all the cowbells, the cheering, the screaming, and your brain is telling you, THIS IS IT! It was like an out-of-body experience where everything starts moving in slow motion, it is that emotionally intense.

The strategy almost worked: I felt strong coming up to the Wall, and I actually made it almost to the top, except at the last moment I had to veer left around a fallen rider -- I saw a huge crack in the road and knew I had to power through it. I got over the crack with the front tire, but the back tire of my tri bike did a wicked jump on the crack that unclipped my right shoe from my pedal causing me to fall sideways.
Here's the YouTube video of my attempt: I'm in the bright yellow w/ leg warmers and red gloves in the first 35 seconds of the video.

Talk about a range of emotions within 10-15 seconds: determination, out-of-body experience from being overwhelmed by the screaming/cheering/cowbells/Rocky Music, the thrill of knowing you're about to make it, making a quick adjustment around a rider, surprise and shock when your pedal unclips, disoriented when you're on the ground with a volunteer saying "I have your bike, get to the side and get your bike at the top".

I'm not disappointed, it was just bad luck getting unclipped. As the race director Kyle Yost says, the spirit of the Wall is that it's not just about being "able" to make it up the Westernport Wall, it's also about having the right line, and a little bit of luck.

After stripping off the cold-weather gear 100 yds. after the Wall, THE REAL HILLS BEGIN. Total. Sufferfest. It felt like I'd be out there all day, but the signs by volunteers were hilarious and the scenery beautiful. The best view was at the top of Otto Lane, looking over my left shoulder, and seeing the wide expanse of mountain ranges.

I took my time up Killer Miller, and did OK: the TWO cheering squad parties were amazing, and a real boost. After Killer Miller, I started to feel pretty good about myself, only to be slapped silly by Maynardier Ridge (DAMN you, Kyle!). Once I hit the open corn fields, I had a big grin because I knew the end was in sight.
What would you do differently?:

Note to self: SELF, do NOT eat garlic bread before a race: the, er, "pains" the next day on the bike are not pretty.
Transition 2
  • 03m 52s

Wow, had enough energy in the legs for a flying dismount, a good sign. Was even more thrilled to see my family for the first time in the race cheering me on at the dismount line. Took it easy in T2, changed out of the cycling jersey, socks and shoes, gels, hat, number, said Hi to the wife, off I go.
What would you do differently?:

  • 2h 35m 39s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 53s  min/mile

Run Course Details here:

Was pleasantly surprised how good I felt on the run once I warmed up after the first mile. I'm sure if felt so good because because almost the entire run course was one big party, with everyone blasting their stereos and cheering (no, SCREAMING) us on: I was having so much fun I couldn't stop grinning. Felt some minor fatigue starting at mile 6, most likely due to dealing with the Fire Tower Trail (it's a TRAIL, not a road): getting down was even tougher than getting up, I was really concerned about twisting an ankle.

Took a Clif Shot gel every 45 min., along with a few sips of water at almost every stop, then a banana at the top of Fire Tower Trail for a final energy boost.

Hearing the announcer about 500m before the finish, the emotions started building up: the training over the last 2 years had paid off. I am a SAVAGEMAN!
What would you do differently?:

Nothing as to the overall course, the pacing for the whole race was flawless. (Of course, I got so excited at the finish I started kicking up the pace at the finish, only to be rewarded with a cramp in my left hamstring as I crossed the finish! So, I guess don't sprint at the finish)
Post race
Warm down:

Walk around and work out the finish-line cramp in my hamstring, wolf down a peanut-butter-chocolate ice cream cone. MMMmmmmmm.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Seriously??? Savageman???

Event comments:

There are some things that change you: this race is one of those things. Training for this race was hard: it was hard on me, it was hard on my family. The training over the last two years was the toughest I have ever experienced. If I doubted whether all the training for some race was worth it, those doubts were swept away upon realizing that my suffering was nothing compared to those who suffer from cancer and other immunodeficiency-related diseases: people I know and for whom I care. To say I was encouraged by my families and donors the last two weeks before the race was an understatement: they lifted me up from my mentally exhausted state at the end of my training to remind me that yes, this was something worthwhile.

I would not have been able to cross the finish line of "the toughest triathlon in the world" without the support and prayers of my family, friends, and of course my generous donors who helped me raise money for Joanna M Nicolay Melanoma Foundation, in the hopes that my suffering may help others. I learned to counter every moment of suffering or doubt with a renewed determination to get the job done. I thank God that I was able to glorify His name by finishing this race in the name of all my generous donors, my friends and my dear family. I hope anyone reading this will remember that if you have the will, dedication, and resources, you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

More Pics here!i=2109...

Profile Album

Last updated: 2012-01-03 12:00 AM
00:42:17 | 1931 meters | 02m 11s / 100meters
Age Group: 28/30
Overall: 243/275
Performance: Good
Suit: Sleeveless
Course: CCW Rectangular: starting up to Thomas the Turnaround Turtle, down to The Swan, right to shore, along shore past rock outcropping, then left to swim finish
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 74F / 23C Current:
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 09:02
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
04:35:03 | 55.7 miles | 12.15 mile/hr
Age Group: 27/30
Overall: 253/275
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Road: Rough  Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:52
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal
02:35:39 | 13.1 miles | 11m 53s  min/mile
Age Group: 28/30
Overall: 222/275
Performance: Good
2 laps.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5