Savageman HIM - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
United States
"Tri-to-Win" Melanoma Foundation
Total Time = 6h 23m 10s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

I love day before check in because race day is so smooth (no lines, etc).
Event warmup:

  • 35m 45s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 41s / 100 yards

This was right on pace with my IM swim times, and considering I've only been to the pool twice since IMLP in July I can't complain. However, I think I paid for this fitness loss, but pace that didn't reflect it, later in the race.

I did swim right into a hazard marker (they had them spaced between the buoys in case of fog) and smashed my previously broken thumb really hard... it's REALLY tender the day after. It made shifting on the bike pretty difficult (not a good thing on this course).
Transition 1
  • 04m 4s

had trouble getting a few things into my pockets with wet top, my aerobars were tangled with someone elses handlebars (not that way when I left transition for the swim), but otherwise this was a fine transition.
  • 3h 19m 4s
  • 56 miles
  • 16.88 mile/hr

This is the fastert I have ever ridden the course... done it 2x this year and about 8-10 in years past. It hurt pretty bad, but it's savageman and it's supposed to hurt. I also took the descents MUCH faster than I have in training, based on comfort gained from the training rides on the course... and because there was NO wind and my front wheel (deep dish) felt very stable. I passed A LOT of people on the descents/flats, and quite a few on the climbs (function of being in a later wave, and a crappy swimmer).

I did miss two bottle handoffs, which meant I rode part of the course with no HEED (normally I race with just sports drink). I did eat a cliff bar and chase with water so figured I'd be fine (about the same calories). My HR was a little higher than I wanted, and my usual pace of drinking was slowed down a bit... stomach just wasn't emptying as fast (harder effort = less ability to digest).
What would you do differently?:

hold back some.
Transition 2
  • 02m 7s

good transition...
  • 2h 22m 12s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 10m 51s  min/mile

Those of you who know me know that this pace (10:51) means something went very wrong. Just to put it in perspective I ran a 3:27 marathon (7:55 pace) at Ironman Lake Placid two months ago.

When I got off the bike I was STOKED because I felt good (well, it hurt... but it's savageman so it's supposed to) and I thought I was on my way to a very impressive result. At mile 2ish of the run, however, I literally went from running 7:45 pace to barely able to take another step... it happened in about 30 seconds. The world started spinning and I felt really sick and everything in my body started to hurt.

I spent the next 10+ miles either in pain or feeling nothing. I lost my will to push it, but I was walking and my HR would not come down out of the 170s. Every time I would drink something, I'd puke within about 30 seconds.

As the race wore on and I shuffled along, everything got messy. I felt like I was falling over... like the rode was slanted BIG TIME to the side even though I knew it was flat. Often times I would try to grab things to steady myself, but when I closed my hand whatever I was grabbing for (tree branch, guard rail, several times race volunteers or spectators, etc) wasn't where my eyes/brain told me it was and I would get a fist full of air. People also said I was leaning over really far to the right side, though I was not aware of that during the race.

I don't remember much of the second half of the run. My family/friends said they saw me at mile 6.5 and I had a vacant look in my eyes. I don't remember seeing them at all after the first time on the course (which was apparently the second time they saw me), but they said I ran right by them 4 other times while they were cheering for me. I also don't remember the finish at all.

I remember at mile 11 deciding I had to gut this thing out and stop walking. Pretty much the next thing I remember is being in the med tent with EMTs telling me firmly "JOSH I NEED YOU TO STAY AWAKE" and shaking me pretty hard. I didn't know if I had finished or if I had been picked up on the course somewhere... I was covered in dirt and grass even though I would swear to you I never fell down during the run. Here are some snippets from other people about how that happened:

- lots of "I was worried about you when I went past you in the run" from people I generally am a bit faster than.
- several people who saw me stumble off course with literally no sense of where I was going... and they would stop me, ask me if I was okay (I'd say "yeah I'm almost finished"), and they'd sort of put me back on course and tell me which way to go.
- bent over at the waist with my body to the right and my arms out for balance... "running" was more like a skip where my left foot would go out in front of me (sideways since I was turned to the right some) and my right foot would barely make it past it (cross over it).
- at the finish there is a split in the course where you either enter the chute or go out for another loop... when I had 100 yards to go I apparently chose option 3... stumble down towards the lake and knock down a bunch of cones and scare spectators by grabbing for them (fortunately I missed a lot).
- walking up the finish chute holding the fence so I didn't fall over... emcee making a big deal of it and people screaming their heads off. Somebody caught me as I crossed the line and pretty much went limp. I got dragged/carried to medical where I was pretty much unresponsive but my wife (calm and cool as always) told them my medical history. My pulse was in the 170s (my max is about 178ish) for several minutes even though I was "falling asleep" while they shook me and told me to stay awake. They started an IV (no reaction from me when the stuck me). Based on the puke all over my shoes they also gave me some IV anti-nausea meds.
- probably about 10 minutes later I started to feel MUCH better... it was sort of the opposite of a bonk... where within 30 seconds I went from feeling like utter crap to feeling pretty good. I don't remember this but apparently I asked for some ice cream (they gave me sports drink and a banana instead - awesome... like I haven't puked up enough of this stuff already). I then aked if a tupperware container full of medical supplies was a container full of brownies and if I could have one. They apparently got a chuckle out of me wanting to eat batteries :)
- I wanted to leave after about 30 minutes and 1 IV, but they doc evaled me and ordered a second bag. I did eat the banana and powerbar perform, and kept it down. They commented that my face went from "ash grey" to "at least you have a red nose" after that, and then a few minutes later I had color in my face again.
- after a second IV and re-eval, they let me go. I felt fine... I don't think my legs/muscles took as much of a punishment as I normally would have given them if I had a full fuel tank. So once the tank was filled back up some, I felt good. I went to the ice-cream tent, and waited in a long line. When I was the next person in line, the two girls announced with apologies that they were out of ice cream :(
What would you do differently?:

I would probably drop out if I had it to do over again... but I had fallen on the wall the first time I did this race and not earned a brick. This time I made it up the wall no problem, but you don't get your brick if you don't finish the race.
Post race
Event comments:

I take 100% responsibility for what went wrong out there. It wasn't a sodium deficit. It wasn't hammer nutrition products. It wasn't that the coke was fizzy and not flat. I simlply raced this too aggressively for my current fitness. Unfortunately, I'm on the down-swing from being very fit this summer for my ironman... which meant I was able to deceive myself into thinking everything was fine... until it wasn't.

Nothing below is an excuse... I should have made adjustments to all of these realities... but I'm recording them so I can learn from my mis-execution of this race:

I think savageman is hard to pace. The bike is just so hard, and you spend so much time mashing in your easiest gear at a cadence of 40-60 and a HR near your max... and you know it's supposed to hurt... but the line between really blowing up your legs and just regular old savageman pain is very grey. I noticed my HR was pretty high at several parts of the ride where it shouldn't have been. You have to ignore it on the steepest climbs, but not on the long/gradual ones.

It was also warmer than anticipated, and I didn't adjust accordingly. On top of that I fumbled two bottles of HEED at the aid stations and just rode on instead of stopping to get one.

Combine all that and I think you have my recipe for a meltdown:
1) loss of fitness but racing at what my fitness WAS 2 months ago.
2) greater fluid needs due to heat.
3) consumed less fluid/nutrition due to botched handoffs and pressing on instead of stopping.
4) digested less fluid/nutrition due to harder effort than I should have been pushing on the bike.
5) showed up to run feeling okay but really almost completely on E.
6) rusty on swim, so even though I swam the same pace it probably cost me more than it should have... which shows up much later in the day.

In retrospect, even if I made all the same mistakes up until T2, what I should have done the moment I hit the wall at mile 2 was STOP at an aid station, sit down in the shade, and drink/eat/rest for a half an hour. That sounds like a terrible idea in a RACE, but I would have had close to the same finish time without nearly as much of a physical toll.

Lots of you (because you are nice/encouraging people) will want to compliment me on my guts/grit/perserverance to keep going even when it got really ugly. I'm not really too proud of myself for that... fact is I made a big mistake (actually, a ton of small mistakes) and ended up putting myself and maybe even some others at risk. While I am taking away a feather in my cap when it comes to knowing what the human body will do even when it feels like it just can't do it anymore, I'm not sure that's a smart thing to know (would be smarter to stop when you're hurting this badly, but we're conditioned not to stop).

The thing I will be proud of from this race, and only time will tell, is if I learn from what happened and become a better athlete (in training and racing) from it.

And secretly, I'll take pride in one more thing... this race report makes no excuses and owns up to my responsibility for what happened. It drives me a little bonkers when I read RRs sometimes and people rationalize how their meltdowns were environmental, circumstancial, etc... and reassure themselves that it had nothing to do with their training or their race execution. That is almost never the case, IMHO. Many people will try to own up to the fact that "nutrition issues" cost them the race, but rarely to the fact that nutrition issues are almost always the consequence of preventable mistakes and poor execution earlier in the day.

Hopefully this RR helps otherse take away a few lessons about pacing and execution, and the need to make adjustments for weather, fitness loss, pacing changes, etc.

Last updated: 2010-05-10 12:00 AM
00:35:45 | 2112 yards | 01m 41s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 04:04
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
03:19:04 | 56 miles | 16.88 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Course: um, it's savageman. Happy to report that I made it up the wall no problem (and earned my brick, assuming I finished the race).
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 02:07
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
02:22:12 | 13.1 miles | 10m 51s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]