My first Triathlon
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SavageMan Triathlon 70.0 - Triathlon
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70F / 21C
= 7h 44m 11s
Age Group Rank
After a mediocre first two races this season, I decided as I was driving home from Boulder 70.3 that I would do the Savageman 100 in an effort to wrap up the season on a high note - this was made easier when I needed to be in DC for work the week before the race. I had done the 70 two years ago, failing to get a brick but having a total blast otherwise. The itch to do it again had been in my system since, so I was looking forward to a weekend in Deep Creek Lake as I headed out from DC on Friday.
I had shipped my bike to a FedEx location along the way, and I picked it up without issue, glad the logistics had worked out and thinking only that I hoped it hadn't been damaged in shipment. I drove to Westernport and assembled it there, gave some thought about taking a trial run up the Wall, but decided to just save it for the weekend. My bike seemed to be riding and shifting fine in the parking lot where I built it up, so I returned it to the car, went to the race site for check in, and had dinner with a fellow BTer before getting all my gear in place for Saturday.
In transition for the 30 race on Saturday morning, when I spun the rear wheel it wasn't running smoothly, and when I shifted up to the biggest gear, the rear derailleur was contacting the spokes. I worked on it and got it back to the point where it was shifting perfectly, so I figured it was good to go.
After waiting around for my start in the 3rd wave on the cloudy, chilly morning, I had a solid non-eventful swim, and got quickly off on the bike. I was moving along well, right up until I tried shifting into the 28 on the back for the first big climb, when I was quickly greeted by a lot of clanking from the back end, the chain locking up, and me falling over hard onto my left hip - thankfully I didn't take anyone else out. After extricating myself from the bike, I saw the rear derailleur cable was shredded, and found the rear derailleur itself about 50 feet back down the road, its hanger snapped in half and the cage cracked. The SAG wagon was not far behind and were great about getting me out of there - when I asked them their opinions about getting a new derailleur and cable so I could race Sunday, they said that it wouldn't be a problem, but coming up with a hanger for a Look road bike in the mountains of western Maryland might be another story. They were right - after getting driven back to transition, I got on my cell phone and called every bike shop I thought I could drive to by 5pm Saturday, and came up completely empty.
If I drove 2.5 hours to Pittsburgh, I could have gotten a loaner bike from the Trek shop, but they don't allow using those for races, especially something like Savageman, and I didn't feel like taking a chance on crashing a nice bike under false pretenses. So instead, for $26.50 I found the best rental bike I could locate nearby - a 35lb comfort bike with a large frame, 21 gears, fat knobby tires, and a kickstand for good measure. Given the pain in my hip from the crash, and being generally depressed about things, I didn't have much hope of giving it a go on Sunday, but I figured if I woke up and wanted to try it, at least I'd be in possession of a rideable bike.
When I woke up Sunday, I found some encouraging messages from friends in my inbox, none of whom knew the story of Saturday, but nonetheless got me in a state of mind that I packed up and headed for the race site. As I hefted the bike out of the car, it didn't take long for people to ask me if I knew anything about the race and say that I might want to rethink things, which I did - I decided I was definitely going for it. I knew I would probably be close to cutoffs, but it was a beautiful day for a bike race and I wanted to be part of it.
In transition, rather than hang my bike on the rack, I just left it out of the way on the kickstand. I put my number on it, swapped out the platform pedals for my clip-ins, got the seat height where I wanted it, easily accomplished with the quick release on the seatpost, and headed out for the swim. I stood onshore until my 3rd wave got called, then entered the water and swam to the start line.
02m 01s / 100 meters
The morning was absolutely gorgeous - there was fog on the lake as the sun rose into a clear sky - it was chilly, but felt a bit warmer than Saturday. Everything was perfect, until getting in the water and looking east towards the first leg of the swim - nothing to see but bright, backlit fog, not a buoy in sight. More than a few of us asked "anyone know where we're going?" - the consensus seemed to be keep the lake shore on the left until you get to the giant inflatable turtle, which seemed simple enough. So the horn went off, as did we, in search of a turtle out there in the fog.
Somehow I swam a close line to the buoys all the way, found the turtle without incident, swung back west where everything was now front lit and much easier to spot, and made time towards the swan boat at the other end of the course. I felt pretty good the whole way and finished with a mid-pack swim for my age group. I ran up to transition, got into my dry bike jersey and other riding gear, and set out with my cruiser.
What would you do differently?:
Nothing at all.
Didn't really rush - thought through it one more time and decided I had nothing to lose, so I pushed up the kickstand and headed for the mount line.
4h 39m 15s
The best feature of the bike was a triple on the front, which I had in the smallest gear for the uphill mount. I made it up the first steep hill, Toothpick, and was feeling better than I expected I would about things. I was passing absolutely no one, in fact I was getting passed by absolutely everyone, but I was enjoying the ride and feeling positive about being out there. I had no issues on the long descent along Savage River - I just waved to the other riders as the flew by me. I even let myself think about how cool it would be to earn a brick on this bike.
But reality hit about three blocks up the Wall - I was giving it all I had and was barely making headway with such a heavy bike and tires with a rolling resistance approaching infinity. I didn't want to make a run at a brick if I knew I wasn't going to make it, only to screw up someone else's attempt, so I took the detour around. That was the low point of the day - I had more or less decided that if I wasn't going to get a brick, it didn't make sense to do the run and finish the race, given the state of my hip. I thought quite a bit about waving down a SAG wagon and calling it a day while grinding up the mountain, but I guess the scenery along the course, and the gorgeous weather, made me decide to stay out there.
So I continued along, and all was good until I tried shifting into the big ring when things flattened out for a bit, only to have the chain completely lock up, sending me tumbling into thorn bushes off the side of the road. Thankfully the SAG wagon was right behind me to get things fixed as I pulled the thorns out - they told me the chain was completely dried up and were able to grease it, which managed to stop the previously ever present grinding from the back of the bike for the rest of the day.
Having done the course before, and now having a good understanding of the limitations of myself and my bike, I knew I could ride the remainder of the course except the steep pitch at the top of Savage Mountain, Killer Miller, and Maynardier Ridge. So at the base of each of those, I got off and walked. The guys cheering at the base of Miller expressed great disappointment at my lack of even trying, and believe me I was anything but thrilled myself, but it was better that than chance falling over. And even pushing that stupid bike up Miller was plenty of work in itself - I needed to stop for a big drink at the top before continuing on my way.
Much to my chagrin, after making it through the steep sections, a decent headwind decided to make an appearance for the last 15 miles of rolling terrain. I just kept pedaling, and finally re-entered the park after about 4.5 hours of riding. Many, many runners were out on the course, reminding me of how long I had been out there and how far back in the pack I was. But I had made it, all 55.7 miles, all 6700 feet of climbing, and more times being told "dude, you're crazy" than I'll ever hear in my life again.
What would you do differently?:
That's an easy one, bring an extra derailleur hanger when I travel with my bike from now on.
So somewhere along the ride, the idea of quitting after the bike became much less attractive, mostly for the simple fact that I can't stand quitting. Another guy arrived at my rack shortly after I did and said "it's gonna be close" and I asked him what time it was - he answered 2:12. I knew the course closed at 5, so it didn't take me long to decide to put on my running shoes and race belt and get on my way.
2h 15m 55s
10m 23s min/mile
As I started running out of transition, there was pain in my knees from grinding on the bike in a weird position for 4.5 hours and a constant dull pain in my hip, but I knew I had it in me to run reasonably well. I had trained really hard for the previous 6 weeks, and lost 15 pounds in an effort to be at the weight I wanted for this race - the confidence from those efforts told me to just go for it, no walking, no doubting, no looking at heart rate, just run until it was over.
So I did, only walking briefly at each aid station to drink something, and the quarter mile up the fire trail on each loop. Not as fast as real runners would, but it was my second fastest half marathon of the six I've done in triathlons, on the toughest course. As I came down the fire trail the second time, I committed to run as fast as I had in me the rest of the way, averaging low 8's for the last mile and a half. Crossing line, I knew I had made the right choices for the situations I found myself in this weekend and felt as great as I ever have or will about finishing a race.
What would you do differently?:
With the bike drama, I had sort of lost focus on my nutrition, to the point that I had made it through the day on four pop tarts for breakfast and whatever I drank out on the course. So I was hungry, and was happy to get the last available pulled pork sandwich. It was a bit cold for ice cream, but I had some anyway, then headed to transition to pack up and get out of there. As I left transition, they made sure the number on my wrist band matched that on my bike before letting me leave, which gave me a laugh - I told them if someone else wanted to take it, they were welcome to.
Savageman doesn't disappoint - it's an epic event with amazing support from the organizers, volunteers, spectators, and fellow participants. Despite my hopes coming into the weekend, I left without a brick, again - maybe next year. But as I said to my sister Sunday night, lots of people get bricks. It's quite likely that I'm the only knucklehead to take on America's hardest triathlon, all 6700 feet of climbing, on a 35lb comfort bike with fat knobby tires, and still cross the finish line with 30 minutes to spare.
I love this race, I hope it make it back next year to try it again.
Last updated: 2013-03-01 12:00 AM
00:38:44 | 1931 meters | 02m 01s / 100meters
Tyr Cat 5 Full
Swim east to the turtle, turn around, head west to the swan boat, turn around, head east back to the start.
68F / 20C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
04:39:15 | 55.7 miles | 11.97 mile/hr
Savageman 70, really hilly, it's all been written before.
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
02:15:55 | 13.1 miles | 10m 23s min/mile
I wore my Garmin, but paid no attention.
Two loops, some flat, some up, some down, and .25mi way up and way down.
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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