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Race Result

Racer: Mike Guzek
Race: Over The Mountain
Date: Saturday, June 21, 2003
Location: Kings Mountain, NC
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 2:32:45
Overall Place: 18
Age Group Place: 1

Race Report:

The Over The Mountain triathlon is held in Kings Mountain, North Carolina and is put on by the folks at set-upinc.com. I decided to do this race mainly because it's about 15 minutes from where I grew up and since my parents still live there, I thought the proximity to them might make this race a little more palatable for them as spectators.

It's a Saturday race and I drove down there on Thursday night and got home ("home" meaning "mom and pops" home) around 2:00a.m. I had a bowl of oatmeal and a beer and went to bed. The race is an Olympic distance over achiever -the bike is 30 miles instead of 25 miles. Despite the small field (300 registered participants) I noticed a fair number of elite males in the list as well as a few names I recognized (i.e. Jaime Yon who finished 5th at Lake Placid). This race was no backwoods affair….there would be some real racing going on. On Friday I registered and drove the course. The course was as I thought it would be-hilly. It reminded me of Columbia. The course traveled through 4 counties and dipped down into South Carolina as it meandered it's way up and around Kings Mountain State and National Parks. It rained periodically on Friday, but the report for race day was clear and hot. I had been waiting all year to finally have these kinds of conditions to race in.

The alarm went off at 5 on race morning and I went with some oatmeal, a banana, yogurt and Gatorade to get things started. This race had two transition areas with a bit of a twist (different start and end points on the swim), so here is how my morning went: I drove to the swim finish (which is different than the swim start) to set up my bike gear. Then, I drove 15 minutes to the race finish (and run start) to set up my run gear. Then, I caught a shuttle to head to the swim start (different than the finish). When I was ready to leave each of those places, I stood there and stared at my gear…praying I had remembered everything. I just knew that I would be halfway through the swim and remember that my bike shoes were at my run transition or that my helmet was at the swim start. It was nerve racking. But in the end, I got it all right.
I was the 4th of 5 waves. The pros/elites went first and I started with the Clydesdales, 40+ men and relays. The weather was awesome! I had a great start on the swim and was the first to get to the first buoy. My seal mask was incredibly foggy and I started going WAY to the right. Finally I just had to stop and cleared out the lens. My family later asked me about my tactical reasoning in deciding to rush out in front and then do a Z pattern to the first swim turn. Unfortunately, you can't even make up a good reason for swimming a Z pattern.

After about 5 minutes, I started swimming into the previous waves and that helped to keep my straight. The water was perfect and I got out in just under 24 minutes. One of the more cruel parts of this race is the quarter mile hill you have to run up to get to the bike transition. It's steep. I sprinted out of the water…..but was quickly reduced to a fake run….it looked like I was running….but I was really walking as I made my way up the hill [insert labored breathing].
Onto the bike! Ouch. That's all that needs to really be said. I think this course was a little harder than Columbia (I might just be saying this since I just did this race, but believe me when I say that it's challenging.). This course was pretty much either up or down and it was actually more up than down (you gain 150 feet of elevation between the start and end….remember- point to point race). I traded positions for nearly the whole ride with two other guys that left the transition with me. They were much lighter so on the up hills they would say: "ok, I'll just go ahead and pull away now. Thanks for playing Clydesdale guy." Then on the down hills I would catch up and move around them saying "I don't think so Dr. Skinny." Back and forth we went. With about 10 miles to go they slowly pulled away and I just tried it keep up a good pace. It was getting hot by this point (the highs on the day were in the low 90s…at this point in the race it was probably getting into the low 80s) and my legs were starting to ache from a couple long and fairly steep climbs. One other fellow cruised past me, but for the most part I very slowly moved past people in the earlier waves. I had a good time passing fellow age groupers which was all the more satisfying since they started 2 waves ahead of me! (remember-I am in the clydesdale wave). I cruised into the transition with my family going nuts in the crowd. The bike split was 1:20:28. Was that good? Dunno, I have never done this race so it was hard to tell if I was doing good. I certainly felt like I was doing well, but I think everyone feels good when they can finally get off their bike.
I was in and out T2 in a flash and set out to face my arch nemesis - the run. I worked over the winter to get my run better, and it worked. But when tri season kicked into gear, my run focus got swept away with biking and swimming workouts. So, while not totally where I'd hoped to be, I was still much improved over last year…..and I had eyes on possibly cracking 42 minutes for a 10K. I posted a 44 at Columbia so I thought I might be able to do it. The course is flatter than the bike, but it still has some grade changes to it. It's a double out and back and the first half of the out and back is a fairly long up and down moderate hill-not too bad. The second half of the out and back it a pretty substantial hill. Mile 1 goes by in about 6:45. Super! You can look at the run elevation chart to predict what happens next. I hit that nice hill on the back half and then hit the next mile marker in 14 minutes….7 minute/mile pace, RATS! It was all down hill from there (figuratively, unfortunately) and my splits started to slip. It was hot out there and I dowsed myself with water at every aid station. A number of people passed me, including some I had passed on the bike and there was not too much I could do. That's one thing I love about this sport though. You might own someone on the bike....but they might come right back and crush you on the run. It's like some transformation occurs from one event to the other. One event's doormat might be another event's crown jewel. We have all witnessed stuff like "the rebirth of the guy in red tank top that I passed at mile 10" or "Guy in Blue Shorts Part Deux - The Run. It's My Turn Pummel." So a few people doormatted me on the run. What can you? I finished up with a 45:20. A far cry from my dream of a 42, but probably better than I would have done last year.

I managed to eek out a first place Clydesdale trophy in what proved to be a pretty competitive Clydesdale division (3 clydes in the top 25-way to go fat guys!). I finished 18th out of about 300 folks, but I was still 20 minutes off the winning time of 2:12 which goes to show you how fast the fast guys really were. I was just happy to be done with one of the most difficult triathlons I've done. This race is a good bit aways, but if you are looking for a challenging hilly bike and a great race venue then go ahead and put this on your calendar for next year.