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Race Result

Racer: Steve Smith
Race: Diamond In The Rough
Date: Saturday, July 10, 2004
Location: Perryville, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 2:01:20
Overall Place: 2
Comment: Rats take 2nd Club! s:21:31/9 b:1:08:38/2 r:29:19/5

Race Report:


Well, the RATS showed up in force. We had a great crew of folks that made it out for the race. In the new scoring format everyone contributes to the final score if they finish. And finish we did, taking second place behind the Baltimore Triathlon Club, by a mere 6 points. BATC is the three-time defending champs and I think next year we'll have to do something about that (oh my, the smack talk is starting already).

I managed to take second place overall. That was good. In comparing my race this year to my race last year, I PR'd the swim by 0:30, which was good 'cause we couldn't wear wetsuits this year. Even better, I didn't get lost on the bike (nor did anyone else that I know of), and posted the 2nd fastest bike split. I'll take that given that I rode 130 miles on Monday (I think an additional two days of rest would have gone a long way). And, lastly, I PR'd the run by 2:00. One caveat however: last year Diamond was my first real "tune-up" race and my race fitness was pretty much non-existent. This year my training volume is much higher, but I've been racing quite a bit since May. I believe my race fitness is pretty high right now, so the real challenge will be to drop times (and finishing position) next year.

The run was particularly tough ... as I left transition I saw Kenny Glah & Brian Benda running one-two. Benda has pummeled me in every swim we've ever done together, and he did it again on Saturday, beating me out of the water by 3:30. GAWD! Three thirty! (and I had the 9th fastest swim of day! so I wasn't slacking). The main difference is that he's put together a much stronger run this year. As I ran after them, I slowly pulled him in. I watched Kenny drop Brian and then I tried to pull him in faster, but I just didn't have the speed. Hats off to Brian for a great race. There was $300 dollars on the line, and when it came down to grit, Brian had more (and a far greater run PR than I ... almost 6 minutes).

Pre Race

Aaron & I woke up at 4 a.m. and were in the car by 4:20 with hot coffee & good cheer. I'd toasted a few pop-tarts for breakfast and then had some Accelerade, a Cliff bar, and a gel in the car. As we drove out of the parking lot we exchanged "What the f#*!" glances with two guys smoking cigarettes with cans of beer at their feet. To each their own! I'm sure they had their own brand of fun Friday night & now Aaron & I were off to enjoy our brand of fun :)

Since I seem to plug EZ-Pass in every other race report, I should contact them about sponsorship; however, as I've said before, if you do any amount of racing north of Baltimore, get thee an EZ-Pass. So very useful. The green Tri-Geek Volkswagen & EZ-Pass delivered us to the race just after 6 a.m., with a pretty sunrise and a buzzing transition area. I was checked in pretty quickly since I had gotten the safety check the night before (thanks for the tip Brady). This race is just inside the radius of races that one can drive to on the morning of. While Piranha offers the convenient race-morning check-in (many races do not), the lines can be pretty hectic.

Some race thoughts: In short-course racing I don't wear suntan lotion. I believe it inhibits the body's cooling mechanism and I'm off the race course early enough such that I can apply a liberal dose (that I won't sweat away) after I finish. This seems to work for me, but I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. Specific to this race, there is a "secret" porto-loo on the run course, just before you exit the park. If you're running out it's on your right behind some wood fencing, so it's a handy stop on your pre-race run. Keep that on the DL :)

Having setup my transition spot & gotten rid of the morning's coffee, I set up the spiffy new RATS tent. This thing is HUGE, but very easy to hoist. With all the essentials in place, I wandered out for a quick warm-up run. Or maybe warm-up swim, 'cause in 10 minutes I was literally drenched in sweat. By now the murmur of "no wetsuits" was everywhere, but I checked with a race official to make sure. Everything in place, I spied some RATS shirts and hung out in transition with Brady, Guzek, Katie, Aaron and many other RATS. As go-time approached, I went down to the dock to check out the water. Warm, but not terribly so, and quite calm. Back out of the water and a short wait with Three Tri Chicks Who Walked in a Bar (Linds, Hope, Jen). I relaxed and enjoying the fine company, before Hope had to shue me into my wave start.

The Swim

This swim was quite choppy last year, so I was glad for the calm waters. It's a simple clockwise diamond that starts/finishes from the same point: two buoys, turn, two buoys, turn, two buoys, turn. It's worth getting into the water for a warm-up swim just to get up the ramp, the very Very VERY steep exit ramp, outside of the hurly-burly nature of a race. The course is designed as best it can be to avoid the sun, but there's a little bit of sun on the final leg. And, we now know, the water temps can get darn warm in July, so if you have a sleeveless, bring it along.

Maybe I should have paid a little more attention to my surroundings, but I was treading water taking in the view when I heard a whistle and lot's of splashing, much of it already ahead of me. Uh-oh, that's the start! So I pulled down my goggles and went!

I felt pretty darn good throughout the swim, but not so good that I wasn't working hard. I felt like I sighted very well, and I didn't see many white caps during the swim and looking at the results I realize why: The day's two fastest splits were in my wave, and I was third out of the water in my wave, but I wouldn't figure this out until mile 2 of the run. I was surprised by my transition times because I spent some time to put on the RATS colors and grab my spare tools. Usually I wouldn't bother with the spare gear, but given the club scoring system I knew completing the race was more important than a fast transition. Anyway, I dallied about for a dozen seconds and still had a fast time.

The Bike

This bike course has a little bit of everything. Flats, false flats, a short & steep climb, and a long & moderately steep climb. The road quality is mostly good, with some ratty points that are probably more of an issue with more bikes on the road :) There's a dangerous curvy descent toward the top of the course, around mile 14 or so, and there's a screaming fast, soft-curve descent that you can pedal thru after the big climb at mile 22. The run-in to T2 is smooth, flat, but a little curvy. I wouldn't recommend taking the last few turns at full speed. I consumed one bottle of Accelerade, one bottle of water and about 1/3 of the water I picked up on the course.

I passed a lot of folks from the first wave while swimming so I had a pretty clean shot at the roads. Nothing much of note happened on the bike. I was looking for Benda & maybe Glah. About half-way into the bike I pulled up on Guzek. He was trucking pretty good, and I had to hang back for a few moments to gather my breath and pass Le Grande Cheval with some authority. I thought I did a pretty good job of getting by him until I looked back about 1:30 later and he was still there ... I think I finally got out of his sight on a descent of all places.

Anyway, I went down the hairy descent which didn't seem so hairy this year and got out onto the flats. I didn't feel all that great on the hills, but I felt good on the flats. The few guys I passed were all from the first wave. Not knowing how my swim went, I was a little worried that I didn't see any 30-34 calves out there.

I alternated out-of-the-saddle climbing with some seated spinning up the final climb. I brought my 11-21 cog for this race and didn't regret it once. There are enough flats to make the top-end of the cluster more important than a 23 for the last climb. And that 11 sure came in handy once I turned off the last hill, made the final turn, and started down the hill.

Going thru Perryville, some truck turned left into the DQ without looking. I started yelling "hey Hey HEY HEY!!" and then realized yelling was stupid. I pulled a fairly elegant maneuver onto the sidewalk and zipped in front of them, leaving the images of me splattered in their windshield behind.

Back into the park and no problems with the final turns (I nearly wiped out here last year). As I tore into transition I saw Benda's Aegis and a few more bikes. Crap. How long had they been out there?

I grabbed my race belt, visor, and chased after 'em.

The Run

The run course is pretty flat and partially shaded ... it's a little curvy at points, but not too bad. The turn-around is just before/underneath the enormous US-40 bridge, so you have an excellent visual cue for the half-way point. I consumed one cup of water at each aid station, pouring some over my head as well. I didn't feel the need for anything else nutrition wise.

Soon after I hit the run course, I spotted the Tri-Speed jersey of Benda, and some tall lanky guy in white. I took this to be Kenny Glah, and I was a bit surprised. Kenny had a super race at Ironman New Zealand in March and I figured regardless of his training since then he'd be hard to beat (Kenny started three minutes ahead of us in wave one). I see a few other guys out on the course, but I'm fixed on the Tri-Speed stripes. Subconsciously, I was worried; but I had convinced myself I could catch them if I pushed. I knew Benda's running has been less than great when we've raced, but I couldn't count on him faltering; he had a good lead, and he's getting faster out of the water. Damn swimmers.

Speaking of which, as I ran along, passing a few of the 25-29 men who are still ahead of me (I would be the third person across the line, after Kenny & Benda) when I pass this lanky dude running along ... with a 30 on his calf. Whoa, I didn't know there were TWO fish in my wave. So I was introduced to Chip Berry, owner of the day's second fastest swim split. After passing him I was a little more inspired to keep running hard, not knowing who else was ahead of me.

And that's pretty much my run. Benda just ahead, in sight the whole time, and me very slowly reeling him in. I wish I had a half-way split, 'cause I'd be interested to know how they compared. I felt like I picked up the pace in the last two miles. (Fwiw, the half-way splits were not half way, so take the posted splits with a relative grain of salt). After the turn-around I see Glover charging hard. Yipes, perhaps that helped to speed me up in the second half. Then Brady, Guzek, Frosty, Tom, Jen, Linds, Hopey and all the others. The constant stream of racing RATS helped me keep the hammer down as best I could. Benda came closer & closer, but I was starting to see the writing on the wall ... he certainly slowed down after the turn-around, just barely missing the even split (14:59 & 15:02) on a course where the second half was shorter than the first and nearly everyone at the top "negative split." Whether this was intentional or not I don't know, and it don't matter, 'cause I was still behind him :) In the end, I shaved all but 0:28 off of Benda's amazing 3:30 lead from the swim.

I was pretty happy with my race. I swam, biked, and ran as hard as I could. There weren't any moments of fading energy or motivation, and I love racing with people. I really enjoy going up against people in my wave and Benda & Glover helped me keep the hammer down during the entire race. Generally I don't really care about placing in races, but there was $300 on the line for the overall winner (with certain series qualifications). It took about a day to forget that I "lost" $10/second in that race :) Oh well, I've got two more shots at the series money (though Matt Cooke is registered for Lum's so it's effectively one more shot). What I really learned from this race is that if I want to race with people I still have a bit of swimming work to do :)

Post Race

Ah, the best part of the day. Lordy, that sun was strong. But the five area tri clubs (the Tri Mafia: CATS, RATS, BATC, Mid-Maryland, and ... DC Tri? I don't know if DC Tri tented) retired to our tents, hoisted along the finish line. I mulled around after enjoying the nice cold "shower" from the available hose. The food at Piranha races is okay ... I'm sure it tastes fine, but I'm just not in the mood for a sammy after a race. Thankfully, Colleen & Paul again hosted a fantastic cookout after the race, so I knew I could get some eats in a bit.

Most of the RATS had retreated to the shade of the tent when Aaron came a running over to say the awards had started! All these tired triathletes jump up and make for the stage ... They started with the Men's overall, and RATS took two of the three spots! as Dave Glover finished third overall as well. RATS placed well all over the field, and we all waited about for the VERY LAST award: Club Champs. As I mentioned, it was a very close race and BATC won by six points, five of which Corey informed me, were for the participation points of the 10 additional BATC finishers. About the only downside of the day that I know of is we didn't get a team photo of the RATS on stage :( ... Oh well, next year!