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Race Result

Racer: Shawn Clark
Race: Quelle Challenge Roth
Date: Sunday, July 13, 2008
Location: Roth, --
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 11:43:32
Comment: Quelle Challenge Roth - My First Iron Distance Race

Race Report:

I am sitting on a train heading from Allersberg to Munich while Julie and our friend Hillary drive our rental car with all our luggage so we can spend the day being tourists. I figured as the Bavarian landscape rolls by I should take the time to write down my thoughts about the experience as well as my race report. I have been horrible this year about writing race reports, partially because my races have all been so terrible, and partially because I just don't have much to say. I still don't have much to say, but I've learned so much from the race reports of others, I owe it to the group to at least tell it as it happened.

Arrival to Germany and Days Leading up to the Race:

We arrived on Tuesday morning to give me some time to adjust to the time change. Reid and Mary Beth met Julie and I at Dulles. We didn't have any problems checking our bikes, and they didn't charge me for my bike since it was under 50 lbs. I am not sure how long this policy will be in place with the new regulations but for this trip it really saved Julie and me some money.

The airport was crowded (um isn't dulles ALWAYS crowded?) but we made it to the gate with 10 minutes to buy a snack before boarding, after arriving more that 2 hours before our flight (so it goes). I was glad we had arrived early because I can get pretty stressed out at times when traveling, too many people, too many lines, too many timelines, and just too many things outside of my control, which makes for a grumpy Shawn, which is never pleasant or fair for Julie. The bottom line is we made it onto our flight and it was pleasantly uneventful, I won't bore you with the movies I watched or the food choices. :-)

When we arrived we picked up our rental car, which after taxes had almost doubled in price from the price we had been quoted on line; oh well, it is what it is, we are in Germany. We knew, and still know, nearly no German, and we had never been to the country so if the lady at the counter had wanted to she could have probably taken even more money from us. At this point the Kisers and Clarks parted and headed off to meet our homestay families.

I'll skip some of the details as they are really not worth mentioning here, not to say they aren't entertaining, but you'll have to buy me a beer to hear about them.

I do want to mention that we arrived at our family's house and were greeted by their oldest son, Manuel (sp?), who has just completed his studies (Doctorate). He showed us around the house, tookus to our room, and introduced us to their cats (one of which we named) and dog, and later that day the rest of the family. He and his sister, Regina, would be our more than able translators for the remainder of our stay in their home, and for that we are grateful. It's amazing the language skills they both had, this includes translating berry names, tree names, plants, goats, you name it...simply ASTOUNDING skill.

Preparations for the Race:

I put my bike together only to find out that TSA decided to keep one screw to hold up my seat post and my stem cap. I headed to the local bike shop where they fixed my deficiencies, as well as a few other things I didn't know were wrong. The mechanic also managed to scare the crap out of me telling me how I was going to die if I didn't get a new front wheel. In a deep German voice with broken English he said:

"Ya, This, ya this is bad, if you try to brake during the challenge on one of da hills, this might break more and you go - Pfew - over the bars, it would be not good"

This was in reference to a small crack in my Zipp 404's and since Germans are THE experts in mechanics and the HOW TO stuff he almost had me conviced to buy a new one but in the end they didn't have one and to get one would both take too long and bankrupt me, leaving me broke and divorced so I decided to chance it. So, after getting my bike UN-TSA'd Reid and I managed to get in a bike ride on what we thought was part of the bike course, but would turn out was a SMALL part of the bike course and some other random roads. Looking back after the race I wonder how we didn't get lost. Either way we made it back and I was extremely impressed with the German roads, they were fast and smooth, and better than anything I've ridden on in Virginia. We also had squeezed in a run of about 7 miles with Dieter, the father of Reid's homestay family, his son Florian, Julie and Mary Beth the day before along the part of the run course. I never did get a swim in their stainless steel pools since we went to pick up our friend Hillary who came into Munich, so we picked her up and just ran out of time. This was a common theme on this trip, I almost felt like KK everytime I made plans to meet someone :-); I am almost NEVER late, oh well, so it goes.

Registration for the race meant dropping off our bikes, our run tranistion bags, and then going home. We had a couple meals EXTRA that day figuring the more food the better, and I washed them all down with DELICIOUS local beers, my favorite was a Helles bier made in a little town nearby. Since I was doing an Ironman I told myself to refrain from excess and only ended up having 3 or 4 the night before the race, each of which I washed down with water. (By the way you can buy beer on the train here .. I love this place). I don't recommend the eat-all-you-can-the-day-before-an-iron-distance-race method for anyone that is planning to race above a Z2 effort as it makes for some serious digestion issues; however, for me this was a fantastic, filling strategy.

Race morning:
Swim: 1:13:35

4:00 AM Julie and I woke up, gathered up the remainder of my gear, I had a bowl of oatmeal and some bananas, coffee and thankfully evacuated my unecessary waste. So far - So Good. Oh wait look out the window, "It's just a box of rain." I had hoped it would stop but no such luck, oh well it's BETTER than HOT. I arrived a little later than had planned due to the rain and turned in my other two bags, (swim - bike bag, after race bag). After dropping them off I had a Cliff builder bar, visited the toi toi, got body marked, and put on my wetsuit to stay warm. The pros were at 6:20 AM and I didn't start until 7:30 ish. I talked briefly with Reid and David, and then went to meet Julie and Hillary for a pre-race good luck and my standard "If I die, I love you." With all my 't's crossed and my 'i's dotted, I headed to the swim start a bit early. Uh OH....Nature on the phone. So I headed into the head, took off my wetsuit and my tri suit, and answered the call. Getting dressed again after was a chore, but not that big of a deal so I just let it roll off my back and got back into the race mindset.

My wave hopped into the water and swam out to the start to await the official "GO!" When it started the 400 some people took off, excited to be on our way, but nervous at the same time. The water looked like a feeding frenzy and at times I felt like I was about to be devoured, but I just kept saying, "Stay calm, it's a long race, it will spread out, you only have to finish." Eventually the swimmers did spread out and I was able to fall into a comfortable rhythm. This race was great because I actually found a swimmer in front of me going my pace, so I was able to draft off him, everytime I thought he was going too slow I would try to pass only to fall out of the draft zone. Falling behind, I said YES! to myself and followed him the rest of the swim. I came out of the water under my - NO MORE THAN - 1:20 goal.


The Bike: 5:53:37

I got my gear on and headed out of the change tent to my bike, Eduardo was sitting there in the rain ready to be ridden, nearly taking off without me in his excitement. I hopped on and let him roll, pulling back the reigns occasionally so I would have something left on the run. Ok, so it wasn't quite like that..but I have a vivid imagination.

The course was two loops with 4 or 5 climbs on each loop, none of them too hard, but all combined they made for a challenging ride. There were also an equal number of downhills which made me very happy. I seemed to be near the same people for most of the first loop and was amazed that I would fly by them on the downhills and they would struggle so hard on the uphills to overtake me. I just kept thinking of where I wanted to burn my matches, and the uphills were not the place.

The highlights of the ride are riding through Eckersmuellen (ph), AKA the Bier Mile, where they had lines of tables filled with drinking fans all screaming at you in multiple languages. Solarer Berg, the most popular hill for spectators had thousands of fans lining the streets, braving the freezing cold weather and along with the DJ screaming "hopp, hopp, hopp" as I inched my way by. I got some strange looks too, as I was only wearing my RATS Tri suit while most people had on AT LEAST arm-warmers if not jackets (and aero helmets :-)). I run very hot, so I wasn't cold at any point during the race so I just smiled at the strange looks.

Actually, they may have just been staring at me like that for some other reason which seemed to happen often while in Germany. We even had one woman standing in the middle of a busy road in Munich, clearly on drugs, yell after our car "Oh Ya, Scheisse!" Sorry lady, no room at the inn. :-)

During the bike I had a Clff builder bar on each loop, tough to chew, but it forced me to slow down to eat it, which meant with the exception of the climbs I stayed in RPE Zone 2 (Z1 - 5). I also had a flask filled with Accel Gel which I consumed completely, and an aero bottle with 4 scoops of Accelerade. That is not a recommended ratio so with each aero sip early in the ride I would take a sip of water from my other bottle, filling up the Accelarde bottle with water to replace my sip. That meant that by the end of the second loop I was drinking the correct ratio. I also took bananas at each stop they were offered. It was a cool day so there was more than enough fluid in my body, but I wanted to make sure that I didn't get hungry so I ate and ate and ate. I also managed to spray down my rear wheel more times than I can remember during the ride, while noticing most of the other racers were stopping to pee on the side of the road. As I was riding, unbeknownst to me, my seat was slipping down, which may explain the more than expected fatigue on the second loop. I'm not sure but either way the second loop was tougher than anticipated and I was getting worried about the run. I calmed myself down with David's advice from the day before, "Don't think too far ahead." So, I came back to the now and just rode, finishing the bike under my NO MORE THAN 6 hour time.


I was a little hesitant here as it was a coed tent, a 16 year girl was at my feet trying to take off my shoes, and I needed to be naked so I could put on my running gear. I struggled with my shyness and waited until she had moved to the person next to me and then shed not only my inhibitions but my clothing as well. Quickly putting my shame into the dry clothes, I darted from the change tent. I ate another Cliff builder (these are 270 calories by the way) and started Laufen.

The run (Laufen) 4:20:29 - Goal 4 hours

I started out and felt great. Hmmm, I thought, this could be a good thing, but still it felt odd. I havn't had a good run the entire year, and since I had felt tired on the bike I didn't expect it here. Oh well! First 10k was 54 minutes ish...wow...faster than I wanted but still felt great. I saw Reid who looked strong at this point and we exchanged greetings and continued. I was taking cola and water at each stop and a big pull of another gel flask at each 10k. I stayed Z2 the whole run (RPE as above), and just relaxed, my cheeks bouncing with my feet...(face cheeks)...I was thinking of all the training I had done for this race, I was thinking of all the training I had missed for this race, I was thinking about my wife and how much she had supported me through this race and how I couldn't have done it without her, I thought of all the well wishers, I thought of Dave and the sarcastic remarks through it all and smiled, I thought about Scott, Mike, Kevin, and all the other training partners that had helped me train for this, I thought of Reid who had pushed me and kept me honest throughout and how he was out here suffering in the rain with me just like he had for the long rides, and the hot races - I thought about everything and anything to take my mind off the run. Second 10k 57 minutes - uh oh slowing down but I still feel great. I started thinking about the experience of being in Europe for the first time, I thought about my friend Kelly who passed away a couple months back after losing her battle with lung cancer, I had dedicated this race and training to her, I thought about how strong she had been all the way to the end and I pushed on. Third 10k 63 minutes, woh am I starting to hurt, IT BAND! WTF! That hasn't bothered me all year, DAMNIT... You can do this, Pain cave, Pain cave, Pain Cave...think of real fights, think of real pain, think of happy things, something has to work...OW! IT band realyy flaring up, at least it has the other IT band to keep it company as the other one started to bother me as well. Keep running, ok you can walk the water stops, WASSER, WATER, COLA, AGUA, L'EAU!!!, I repeated the phrase the young girl was yelling. Keep running, ok you can walk every time you count 50 people you are beating; but I didn't, I just kept running, I ran everything but water stops until the last 4k when my limp was getting too bad and I started walking/running. I had just enough to make it to the finish line where Julie and Hillary were waiting for me in the stands along with thousands of fans. What a feeling..I did it Kelly...I did it..I did it...I'm an Ironman, I'm an Ironman...holy Sh!t. Now...Wo is die Bier Garten?!

Thanks everyone