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Race Result

Racer: Kevin Shaw
Race: ChesapeakeMan
Date: Saturday, September 27, 2008
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 45 - 49
Time: 12:53:21
Overall Place: 50 / 110
Age Group Place: 7 / 14
Comment: The race that almost wasn't

Race Report:

The weather leading up to this race saw a bit “iffy” We had two tropical depressions moving through the area. When we left Thursday afternoon for the weekend, the winds were really picking up and we had some pretty good rain moving through as well. The weather forecasts were calling for more of the same for most of the next three days. By the time we made it to packet pickup, they race director had made a decision to change the swim form a point-to-point swim that was gong to be down river with a nice receding tide that would have made for a very fast swim, to a two loop swim in a bay at Great Marsh park, the bike transition area.

We met with KonaKev, and his son Cameron, at the carbo loading party at the Hyatt and enjoyed meeting other competitors and hanging out.

Friday the weather seemed to have improved a bit and the showers that were called upon never really materials for most of the day. Suzanne seemed to have misplaced her running shoes and since she and our son had a 10 miler scheduled for the day we spent most of the morning searching for a local running store. We finally found one about thirty minutes away and since the forecast was calling for cool temps, I picked up a pair of arm warmers the bike as well.

Suzanne and Reese headed out for their run, they ran the first loop of the run course while I stayed back to get my gear bags packed and relax a bit. Of course while moving bags around, I found Suzanne’s shoes!

Later that afternoon, I road my bike the 1.2 miles to the bike transition and dropped it and my bike gear bag off as required by the race rules. I was told then that I didn’t have to leave my bag, but since I was going to run back the B&B and didn’t want to carry it back and it was all ready to go I hung it on my assigned hook and took a quick Fartlek type run back to the B&B.

We had dinner with KonaKev and the rest of his family and then turned in early to watch the presidential debates and to bed.

I woke early at 4:30 excited for the day and a bit nervous as well. I had a banana and Clif bar for breakfast, shaved and changed into my RATS tri suit. Suzanne and Reese woke up and we headed out the door to the high school where T2 and most of the event was going to occur. Our mission was to set up a large tent and chairs for any spectators from out Club. We found a great spot right on the run course where runners would start, do their loops and finish.

We then drove over to t he swim/bike start so we could out our nutrition on our bikes and get ready for the swim. We arrive a little after 6:00 and the event was going to start at 7:00. I put my water bottles and solid foods on my bike and got body marked. Then I went looking for my Bike bag so I could switch my glasses and make sure my bike glasses were in the bag. Except, no run bag. It was not hanging on the hook where I left it. Not feeling too panicked, I figured since there was some rain last night they must have put it in a dry spot and just not brought it back out yet.

Well we looked and looked and couldn’t find it. Now I’m panicking. Without this bag I’d have no helmet and no bike shoes, which meant no bike and therefore no run, so no Ironman for me. I would be able to swim though so I began to put on my wet suit sat it was getting awful close to 7:00. Well the National Anthem was played and still no wetsuit. Finally a guy showed up with my bag, just as they were calling for swimmers to enter the water. I hurried up to put my bag on its hook and pulled the rest of my wetsuit up and got in the water. Wow that was close, but I’m ging to be able to do this thing! I don’t mind telling you I was getting teary eyed as the National Anthem played I contemplated a DNF for the day after all the work I put into training. But now it was time to put that behind me and get ready to swim!

The new course was a two loop 1.2 mile per loop course, keeping buoys to our right. Right at the start it began to pur rain. It would rain for most of the day. The first two legs were fine, a bit crowed and I did grab a couple of jelly fish, but didn’t get stung. The third leg ended up being into the current and into a pretty good chop, so this slowed me down a bit. However it didn’t slow down everyone as the fastest swimmer made it in some 56 minutes! World class and he is only 15 years old. The swim was hard but I wasn’t all that tired afterword, so perhaps I could have swam it a bit harder.

T1 was very crowded. I entered the tent expecting a chair to sit on but it was very crowded and I found some ground space as I pulled off my wetsuit and got my bike gear together. I grabbed a cup of water and took and endurolites. I grabbed my bike and headed out on the 112 mile bike course. Now I was getting excited to see how this would go. I had never ridden my bike more that 104 mile before so this would be distance PR!

The bike course had a 10 mile out and back and then two loops through the Blackwater Wildlife refuge, where there are 50 nesting pairs of bald eagles and other wild life. My nutrition plan was to take a swig of Raspberry Clif shot ( I had mixed 12 of these with water and put it in a water bottle) on the hour and have a snack sized Snickers bar on the half hour I stuck to this plan very well and didn’t miss any of my called for nutrition needs. Bike aid stations were about 10 miles apart, so there was ample opportunities to get water, Gatorade and bananas. Unlike when I did Eagleman, on basically the same course, I didn’t fumble any water bottle hand offs! My bike pacing plan was to ease into a nice speed and try not to exceed 18 mph. The first ten miles went fast, the rain had stopped and I figured we had a slight breeze at our back and I was cruising at about 20 mph. We then turned around and had the wind in our face. I played leap frog with a woman in pink and would end up seeing her all day long. Once we got on to the loop part of the course the rain came back, boy did it come back. The wind felt a little shifty but I was still averaging about 18 mph. Near the end of the bike loop we headed back north and the wind seemed again to be at our back. Unfortunately we also hit a very low, at sea level part of the road that was completely covered by water. There were very large areas of water that we had to cycle through for about .5-.75 miles I joked with another rider that they replace all the hills with lakes to make the course harder.

At the 64 mile mark we rode through the high school and had an opportunity to get our special needs bag and any items n it. I elected to stop and grab some Clif blocks for a nutritional change of pace and now alternated one gel, three Clif blocks and 1 Snickers bar for the next 2 hours.

I continued to play leap from with the woman in pink on the last loop which was fun, As one of us would pass, we’d encourage the other and I was always that when I was passed, I would drop back out of the draft zone. The rain really came down hard on this loop and at times it was hard to see the road. The second time through the “lake zone” the water had gotten even deeper. On the down pedal stroke, my shoes were entirely under water! This made biking very hard as I had to shift into my smallest gear to keep forward momentum. We were glad it wasn’t a three lop course as we figured we would have had to swim the next time! Finally we were out of this area and only had about 15 or so miles to go on the bike. With the wind at my bike, I was able to pick up y speed to 22 mph for the last five or so miles. I said goodbye to the women in pink and put the hammer down for the end of the bike.

I cruised into T2 and a volunteer racked my bike while another handed me my run gear bag. I changed into my running shoes and dumped any bike stuff I had, visited the port-o-potty and headed out on the run course. I hoped to run a 5:00:00 marathon. As I started the run, there was Suzanne and Reese which really energized me. My run plan was to go no faster than 10 m/mi for the first three miles and then see if I could ease into a 9:30 m/mi pace I would walk through each station (they were one mile apart). As I was heading out on the first mile I saw KonaKev who looked great, and was in second place overall at that point. I thing saw David Glover who looked just as strong and as always had a great big smile. The great thing about this course is that we would be able to see each other many times! Well, I ran the first mile in about 8:30 and the next two in 9:15. I did walk through the aid stations. AT mile three, I said to myself, yes today you are going to be an IronMan and I’m going to get that tattoo! By the time I made it to the turnaround at 4.5 miles I knew this was not going to be a good run. The aid stations were well manned and had plenty of variety of items, everything from cookies to potato chips, water, Gatorade, Pepsi and even hot soup!

At the end of the 9 mile loop we were back at the run start with an opportunity to get our special needs bag. It was here that I would see Suzanne and Reese who took it upon themselves along with Joanne and Kurtis Kunkle, to set up another aid station to go along with the special needs area. Reese ran with me around the loop and he helped me pick the pace as we started running a 9:15 m/mi, this only lasted about .25 miles as I went back out on the run course.

So now I’m heading back out for my second of three loops. As I get back to the first aid station a woman jumps up and yells “There’s my bike buddy!” Yup, it was the woman in pink, turns out she was doing the swim/bike event and not the full triathlon and then volunteering at a run aid station. She gave me a big hug and said she’d be there most of the evening to cheer me on. I asked her name, and she said, Ester. Unfortunately after that the run really got hard and I started to take frequent walk breaks. By the time I was at mile 16 or so I was starting to feel nauseous and had planned to tell Reese that the third lap was going to be much longer than this but I wanted both him and Suzanne to run through the finish line with me. I headed back out for the final loop, the sun was going down fast, and I knew that by the time I got to the final four miles, I would be running in the dark.

I walked a lot on this final stretch and for a while walked and talked with a guy from Rochester New York. By the 24 mile mark I was able to pick the pace back up and run more than walk and at mile 25 I was running and no longer walking. I was going to finish this thing strong!

As I made my way toward the high school stadium, Suzanne and Reese joined me and we ran the last .5 mile miles together. I didn’t realize it at the time but Suzanne was wearing her Crocks at the time so that must have been hard to run! We entered the track and crossed over the mat that told the announcer who I was, so he could announce my name as an “Ultra-triathlon” finisher! Since this was not a WTC sanctioned race the RD cannot say the word “IronMan” so instead, I got “Kevin Shaw, from Alexandria, VA, you are a ChessyMan!” Good enough for me! My friend KonaKev, who came in third overall, actually ran from the tent area to the finish to see me cross and congratulate me, very nice, I doubt I could have done the same after completing the race. But I would have hung in the stadium to see him finish! His wife, Joanne, and sons, Kurtis and Cameron were also there, and Kurtis to some great pictures!

Lessons' learned: I need more bike volume and probably one or two more long runs.