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Race Result

Racer: David Glover
Race: Triple-T
Date: Friday, May 25, 2007
Location: Portsmouth, OH
Race Type: Triathlon - Other
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Overall Place: 3
Comment: Fire hardens iron

Race Report:

De Soto American Triple-T
Web: www.americantriple-t.com


As I progress in years through this thing called triathlon (my thirteenth season of racing), I continue to seek out more exotic and elusive challenges like the Disney World Goofy Challenge – half-marathon on Saturday; marathon on Sunday – in January. Truth be told, I am bored with “just racing.” Racing a half iron race on an incredibly hilly course and hot, humid day after racing a mini-sprint and two internationals is no longer “just racing.” This is Triple-T. Mental toughness and desire are equal partners at the table with fitness – I desire that challenge. I am stronger after the weekend because I was able to multiple obstacles to race very well. I need that confidence and confirmation of commitment more than anything at this stage in the game in order to achieve what I plan to achieve the end of June.

Although my pre-race aspiration was to win, I am content with my final results. I walked away with a third place overall finish as a solo competitor in spite of what could have been a catastrophic crash on the bike, a yellow jacket sting (I’m allergic to yellow jackets), and several bike mechanicals. I ran consistently fast finishing second only to Kirk Nelson (www.trikirk.com), an elite athlete with a college running background, yet I narrowed the gap between our run times in the half marathon to only finish 1.5 minutes slower than him, which I also evenly split in a ~45:30. No one passed me on the run all weekend. My bike splits were near the top of the field but I still have room to grow faster – I’m already faster than I was at Kinetic Half Iron a month ago. My swims were where they needed to be – not spectacular but not discouraging either. I had no issues with nutrition, hydration or cramping. My confidence grows even more from the simple fact that I did not taper for this race.

A significant part of the Triple-T experience is hanging out with friends between races. I drove down with Bill and Bucky Beyer who were on a father-son team. Other Reston area athletes were Team FeXY (Danny Brienza and Scott Baldwin) and Team Will and Grace (Kevin Kunkel and Will Waskes). Between races, Triple-T is a social event as athletes share their misfortunes and their victories.

One of the most amazing turnarounds that I have ever observed during a race was with Bucky during Half Iron run on Sunday. After suffering a bloody nose, vomiting and other bodily fluid expulsions, Bucky had talked himself into quitting the race and walking off the course. With words of encouragement from his dad and the added pressure of disqualifying the team, Bucky turned despair into victory as he started singing the “Star Spangled Banner” (he later claimed that it was the only song that he knew the words to) and began running seven minute miles to the surprise of his dad who then had to run behind him. The mind is a powerful tool.

Roth remains my near-term focus with Triple-T being but a stepping-stone on the pat. Everything that I’ve done this year was done for the sole purpose of preparing me to race sub-8:30 at Roth. I am in the flow. I am getting faster and stronger. I will be ready.

Now the details….


In the weeks then days leading up to the race, I was not nervous about the event. My fitness was good and I knew what to expect as I had done the race two times previously – the first time as part of a team with Steve Smith and Mark Larmbrides then the second time as a solo athlete last year. I did not bother to research my competition because in my mind it really did not matter – my goal was simply to do the best I could do and race every race as hard as I could. Let the chips fall where they may.

Friday, 5 PM: Prologue – 250m swim / 5mi bike /1 mi run

The prologue is a mini-sprint triathlon that is self-contained within Shawnee State Park – the first athlete finishes in just over twenty minutes. In spite of the relatively warm water and short swim, I opted to wear a wetsuit – my race jersey acted like a drag suit in the water last year. With a time trial start, athletes enter the water one at a time in five-second intervals. Crowding is never issue. The goal is to pass but not be passed.

I rode aggressively from the start taking the first turnaround almost too fast as my rear tire slid out just a little. The mile long climb was a heart and lung buster as I aggressively pounded on the pedals trying to pass everyone in front of me. At the top of the hill, I shifted into my biggest gears to take the flat section through the campground. As I approached the second turnaround, I knew that I was going too fast but I was committed like the pig (not the chicken). My rear wheel slid then locked and I flipped over my bike still attached to my pedals.

The first thought that past through my mind was that my race was over. I would not finish and my weekend would be done. I lay there for what seemed like an eternity trying to figure out what had happened and assess the situation as it was. My right elbow was bleeding and swelling. I had hit hard so was in (I believe) a state of shock with the wind knocked out of me.
“What to do?” I asked myself.

The competitive triathlete kicked in as I detached myself from my bike and stood up. I surveyed my body with sight and feel. My right elbow was bleeding and my right hip hurt like hell as it was what I had landed on. I could also feel road burn along the back of both of my shoulders – I would later found out that the integrity of my De Soto top and shorts saved me from much worse road rash. I flexed my arm and nothing seemed to be broken so I picked up my bike and surveyed it. At an immediate glance, I could see that my rear tubular tire had rolled off the wheel but was still full of air. I deflated the tire, rolled it back on, inflated it again then loosened the skewer to reseat the wheel. As I slowly crawled back onto my bike, the volunteer at the start of the turnaround asked if I was OK. I said, “Yes, I think so” as I proceeded through the campground then cautiously down the hill. My nerve was shot and I did not want to roll the tire again.

I ran the mile quickly with a sharp, stabbing pain in my hip. I surmise that I lost five minutes due to my crash, finishing the prologue in 116th overall.

Bill steered me to the ambulance for cleaning and antibiotic ointment. My side ached and I limped back to the food tent. I wondered if I would be able to run the following morning.

Saturday, 7:30 AM: International #1 – 1500m swim / 24.8mi bike / 6.55mi run

I thought to myself as I rode that my jersey might scoop up a bee. Five minutes later and “Bam!” I felt the sharp sting into my chest. I pulled over quickly nearly bringing down Danny as he followed me down the hill. I’m allergic to wasps, hornets and yellow jackets. I pulled up my jersey and dropped the yellow jacket that had been caught up against my heart rate monitor strap. I watched and waited for the telltale signs of a systemic reaction – hives, redness and itching in distal portions of the body. I reached for the Benadryl and my epi-pen. Only one capsule left. I jumped on my bike to finish the descent as I struggled to get the Benadryl open. At the bottom of the hill, I stopped near the police officer at the hairpin turn, consumed my capsule and asked for more Benadryl from the officer “just in case.” After a few minutes of searching his vehicle, he replied back, “Sorry, no Benadryl, just energy bars and gels.”

I sighed. I had to choose. I could stab myself with the epi-pen and have the police officer call in an ambulance thereby ending my race weekend or I could keep going and hope that the reaction remained localized to my chest area. I had been getting anti-venom shots up until a year ago so knew that I had “some protection,” but if I was wrong, my throat could swell and I could die. I chose to take the risk and keep going with my epi-pen unused but still available if needed.

As started up again, I began hearing a flapping noise on my bike, which I thought was my race number flapping in the wind. The noise later turned out to be my rear brake rubbing against my tire. More time lost.

As I headed back to the transition area along the main highway to the park, I heard then watched as an ambulance came screaming by to go back for a fallen cyclist at the point (I later found out) where I had stopped by the police officer to ask for Benadryl.

My right hip where I had fallen remained sore but the test would come on the run. As I began running, it ached but was manageable so I kept running. As I kept running, it felt better or maybe the effort was hurting my lungs and legs so much that the hip pain was lost in the background. I finished the first International race in 9th overall.

Saturday, 3 PM: International #2 – 24.8mi bike / 1500m swim / 6.55mi run

The format of this race is bike first then swim then run. This is the first “team event” as each two-person team can draft off of each other during the bike and the slower finisher determines the team time. As a solo competitor, I could not draft. As an out and back course with two significant climbs in each direction, the course presented an opportunity to see the competition. I gave up only one spot on the bike and maintained a steady and consistent pace.

One significant issue with swimming after biking is leg cramping – most competitors in this race seem to experience it and I had experienced it both prior times. This year, however, I experienced a little tightening but no real cramping as I had salted my drinks with Nuun electrolyte tablets during the bike. I did manage a few more rips in my brand new wetsuit as I struggled to pull it on quickly.

Once again, my side ached on the run, but I felt strong and ran a strong race. I ran the second fastest run of the day finishing this race in fourth overall without a drafting partner.

Sunday, 7 AM: Half Iron: 1.2mi swim / 55.5mi bike / 13.1mi run

The final race is the test of truth. I woke up tired and sore, crawling out bed and waking up my cabin mates at 6:15 AM for a 7:30 AM race. Wait, no it’s really a 7 AM race. We rushed out the cabin to arrive only a few minutes before race start. After three races, we all had the routine down so with a delayed start, we were all at the start line when we needed to be.

My arms felt tired and sore on the swim but my attitude was positive. I swam as well as I could. At the start of the second loop, the Little Smokies Half started simultaneously as I re-entered to the water so a hundred white caps belonging to fresh bodies that had not raced all weekend suddenly surrounded me. What could I do? I just kept swimming.

The bike was arguably one of the toughest half iron courses in the country (behind SavageMan of course!) with two loops of significant climbs. Towards the end of the second loop, my chain abruptly locked up and I could no longer pedal. I coasted to the side of the road to see that my chain had become jammed between the small cog and the rear drop out. I yanked it free, settled it back on the front chain ring and resumed my ride.

“Creak, creak, creak,” screamed my bike at every pedal stroke. “Now what?” I asked myself. I pulled over to look for a suspected crack – my titanium bike had made a similar noise when the frame had cracked – but found nothing. I kept riding but with the apprehension that my bike might catastrophically fall apart at any point in time. I made it back to the transition area.

My run was once again fast as I logged the second fast run of the day and narrowed the time gap between myself and the fastest runner to 1.5 minutes. I even split both laps and felt great. I finished this race third overall and would have easily finished second without the chain problem. The coolest thing, in my mind, was that I had beaten all of the teams in spite of the fact that they could draft off of each other on the bike. :)