||Diamond In The Rough
||Saturday, July 10, 2004
||Triathlon - International Distance
||Male 35 - 39
||11 / 404
|Age Group Place:
||2 / 48
||"A Great RAT Race" -or- "Nearly Tominated"
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
Sunny and Calm, 75F
COST / BENEFIT ANALYSIS
Costs: $73.50 entry fee
Benefits (swag): A non-white t-shirt that was of better quality than my Ironman CDA finisherís shirt, post-race catered box lunch
Benefits (awards): A big blue plaque for AG 2nd place
Swim: One mile Chesapeake Bay 79.5F clockwise swim, appropriately on a diamond-shaped circuit. Deep-water start. Entry and exit from a small, steep temporary ramp onto a pier accessible only from a wooden staircase.
Bike: Approx. 27-mile lollipop with two major climbs and some technical elements.
Run: Five miles out-and-back, mostly paved, but with some gravel and grass. One hill. Well shaded in places.
DITR was this yearís regional club championship event. To make a run for the top spot, the RATS needed to offset the larger number of Baltimore Area triathletes with high-value overall and age-group placing points. We needed Steve and David, overall winners in their last starts, to challenge for the overall top threeÖothers to challenge for age-group pointsÖand everyone to avoid DNFs.
My job was to win my age group, so my strategy was not to race against the clock or against the course but against the wave. The plan wasÖ
Swim: Get to the lead, and use the minimum amount of energy to stay there.
Bike: Have a steady ride early and perhaps build the effort in the late miles as the field gets tired. Extra bonus if I could maintain the early lead so that (a) Iíd fall off everyoneís radar, or (b) would force others to burn out trying to chase me on the bike.
Run: Hopefully have conserved energy getting to the run and just see what happens.
My last race in this part of the world was last yearís Lums Pond Sprint. The top four from my age group at Lums Pond (Scoogie Snyder, James Webster, myself and Mark Facciani) were entered in the DITRÖand I presumed that would be the primary competition. That turned out to be partially true.
A 3AM wake-up allowed me to get to Perryville early. Enough time to go through most of the pre-race stuff when the lines were not at their longest. A final short bike ride through the VA hospital complex was really what it took to wake up the legs from the car drive and recovery from IMCDA.
I was blessed with two big advantagesÖ(A) getting THE best transition rack at the back end of the pen at the bike in-n-out, and (B) starting in wave four.
It wasnít too hot, but it felt muggy to me. I was sweating from just a light jog to the bathroom before the race. Steve looked drenched in sweat after his warm-up. I took that as a sign to start chugging down water well before the start. I did make the mistake of rigging only one water bottle cage to my bike, so I knew that I would be dependent on the advertised bottle exchange during the ride. The bike bottle was 20 oz of Gatowater.
Final key decision was to go completely topless for the swim. No jersey and no HR transmitter. I left both in T1.
I correctly figured that there was an advantage to being one of the first people in your wave to enter the water. I went straight to the inside (right) part of the start area and did a couple of 10-second sprints to loosen up. I line up pretty much by my lonesome on the right with a good view downrange and am ready when Neil Semmel gives a 15 second warning after pushing the last member of the wave off the pier.
I try to stay controlled early, especially since I donít want to risk cramping up my calves from heavy kicking. (In a wetsuit swim, Iím all arms and donít kick at all.) Without much problem, Iím slotted behind Chuck Graf and we are 1-2 approaching the first turn and a blob of light blue swim caps.
I make the turn and immediately get sight of the next buoy. It looks clear of light-blue on the inside (right) and Chuck and I choose to dart that way. Iím not necessarily following or drafting off of Chuck, but we are both thinking the same thing as far as navigation. On the third leg of the diamond, we again stay inside although itís starting to crowd up with more swimmers from earlier waves. Close into the final turn, Chuck got a little caught up in traffic and I took the inside angle at the buoy to come alongside and announce my presence.
Iím content to hang alongside Chuck until we get to the final buoy before the pier, which he swims right up against, pinching me off. I spend a brief moment trying to push the buoy aside and untangling an arm from the anchor rope, allowing Chuck to move ahead. No worries, heís not going to far and a gaggle is starting to form at the exit ramp.
Chuck gets to the top of the ladder first, but I pass him on the run to T1. I get my head and arms through the right holes in my jersey, but the wet body makes it tough to get fully rolled down. I choose to fix that on the bike and leave without putting on the HR transmitter or taking a second flask of gel. (One flask is mounted on the bike.)
Without extra effort, I leave T1 leading my wave. [Chuck is +0:34 and James is +0:44. Scoogie is +3:14 and Mark, the star of Spinervals 13.0, is really hurt by the lack of a wetsuit and is +7:27 back. Unbeknownst to me, Iíve got a teammate in the race, Tom ďTominatorĒ Crandall, lurking +1:26 back.]
Iím feeling good but keeping it controlled early. My best hopes have been realizedÖIíve escaped from the wave and am either going to be forgotten or will control the speed and effort of my pursuers. Once Iím out of the park, Iím reaching for the Gatowater.
Iím enjoying the course while gradually moving up through the field of athletes. As the traffic density decreases, I resist the temptation to speed up to leap from group to group and simply allow those in front of me to slowly fall back. Joy is had at mile 17 when, after shaking out the final drops of Gatowater from my bottle, I arrive upon an oasis in the desert. I hit the bulls eye square with my empty and am rewarded in return with 24 ounces of High Quality H-2-O.
Through the end, Iíll catch a couple of racers and theyíll work to surge back in front of me for a while, but they eventually fall back either off the big hill or at T2. I finish the bike ride maintaining the lead of the wave, blissfully ignorant of the fact that Iím about to be ďTominatedĒ.
I enjoy the convenience again of being on the first transition rack. Grab gel flask #2 and go.
RUN (32:23, splitting 16:53/15:30)
Iím barely off on the run, heading across the grass when a runner passes me. At first, I think it must be one of those younger guys. Then I see the ď39Ē marked on the calf and wonder ďWho is this guy and where did he come from?Ē So much for getting under the radar screen. [Tom was +0:07 leaving T2 but makes up the deficit immediately to move into the lead of the wave. James has also shadowed me and is still barely a minute back at +1:07. Scoogie made a big surge on the bike to close to +1:50. Chuck is +2:52 and Superbiker Mark has a huge ride but is still well behind at +3:54.]
While Iím concerned about Mr. 39-Orange, Iím also trying to sort out my own issues. This is the first race after the not so pleasant run at IMCDA, and I donít know what to expect. Initially, my run legs arenít fully there. After the first downhill, though, Iím feeling closer to being in stride. Actually, I start to overstride a bit. The legs are fresh and stretched but my rev limiter canít get the cadence up fast enough. I donít mind that, though. I pass through the first mile marker ignoring my watch. The speed feels pretty good, like probably sub-sevens.
Mr. 39-Orange continues to widen the gap, but slowly. Iím encouraged on the second mile by seeing Steve, then David, then Brady and later Big Horse running well and in the spots that we need to contend for the club title. Those four have done their job, but Iíve still got mine to finish. (Still not knowing that 39-Orange is a teammate.) My deficit is about 10 seconds after two miles. Iím keeping it close but the gap is still getting wider.
That is, until things start really happening on mile 3. 39-Orange hits the next water stop just before the turnaround and slows down to take a big gulp of water. I run through the station in stride and, surprise, the gap is immediately shrunk. I close up close enough so that Iím on the edge of Tomís blind spot at the U-Turn. As we start heading back, I begin to see familiar faces almost immediately. Scoogie is charging fast [+0:19 at the turnaround], then I see James [+ 1:13] and later Mark [+3:31]. I realize Mark is too far back and James probably is, too. Yet, Iím dreading the likely possibility of a two-mile run shootout to decide the winner of the age group.
Starting the fourth mile, Iíve closed right up to 39-Orangeís shoulder and use some angles to pass him turning off the parking lot onto the main road. My time in front is short-lived as Scoogie catches me just before reaching the grassy hill. Iím pretty certain that Scoogie is not a ďclubĒ player, so I donít fret since I still believe that Iím in the spot that earns the maximum age group points for the RATS.
I again ignore my watch through the mile-4 marker. Soon after, I look back to see a good gap of space between myself and my pursuers, making the conclusion of the race peaceful and pleasant.
With Scoogie, Chuck and James out of the club equation, the points from our age group went to myself and the Tominator [+0:39] from RATS, CAT Bryan McEnaney [+1:04], Garret Olin from GUYS Multisport [+2:11] and Mark from Baltimore [+3:57].
Good course (if you are careful), nice place and good race management although with a limited number of volunteers, it really pays to show up early on race day at a Piranha Sports race.
It was a great, competitive race for the overall, many divisions (age and clydes) and the club championship. Weíve got a really great RAT pack! We had to do a bunch of lofty things to have a chance to win the club title and everybody who raced achieved their required objectives.
We didnít earn as many points as we had hoped to earn, but I do think that we were the best club there.