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Race Result

Racer: Aaron Schwartzbard
Race: Diamond In The Rough
Date: Saturday, July 10, 2004
Location: Perryville, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 2:17:09
Overall Place: 40 / 404
Age Group Place: 5 / 20
Comment: Well, at least I ran fast.

Race Report:

Rather than telling this story as a narrative, I'd just like to focus on some of the points that stick out in my mind. Here we go...

Friday night, I was up late, gathering everything I would need for the weekend. Steve and I would be doing Diamond in the Rough triathlon on Saturday, and Colonial Beach Triathlon (which had been changed to a duathlon due to water quality issues) on Sunday. Saturday morning I woke up just before 4:00am. Steve and I packed my trigeekmobile, and set out for Perryville, MD. As we were leaving the parking lot, we passed a couple guys who were standing around with frothy, canned beverages, smoking (what I assume were) cigarettes. This was somewhere on the dark side of 4:30am. Perhaps it reveals something about my lifestyle that my first thought was, "Gosh, I wonder why they would WAKE UP so early to drink and smoke."

The water in Perryville was warm, so it was a wetsuitless race. Maybe it's just been too long since I've done a tri, or maybe I just happened to be in a bad spot, but the first couple hundred meters seemed rougher than usual. I think the lack of wetsuits was partially responsible. With bodies lower in the water, it was easier to end up swimming over people. Still, to the guy who smacked my goggles down my face because he was unwilling to give up his line (and I had nowhere to go, since I was being boxed in by a guy on the other side of me), I have only this to say, "I exhibited remarkable sportsmanship by not wailing upon you during following strokes, and I don't think anyone could blame me if I had chosen to make use of my sharp, bony elbows. Try that trick again, and next time, IT'S ON!" (*SERENITY NOW*)

You know, it's a lot easier to pee when you're not wearing a wetsuit.

The bike... Let's not talk about that, okay?

Alright, maybe we'll talk about the bike a little. There once was a time when I was a terrible swimmer, a so-so cyclist and a good runner. That worked out well, since I could start in the back, and spend the race passing people. That was fun. Now, I'm an okay swimmer, a so-so cyclist and a very good runner. Notice anything? Yeah, that middle part never got any better. My running is strong enough to compensate for a bit of my weakness on the bike. But it would still be nice to have a bike ride where the goal was something other than minimizing the damage.

Suffice it to say that I was disappointed with my bike split. My hope is that it was a result of a long, hot, hilly ride I did the previous weekend.

I like out-and-back runs, since it allows me to see other people racing. Some of the first people I saw were Steve and Dave. Steve looked very focused, so I just gave him a cheer. Dave had a big smile, and we exchanged a high-five. As I got closer to the turn-around, I saw more friends. Then I turned around, and saw even more friends. So that's fun.

My disappointment from my weaker-than-expected bike was offset by finishing with the fastest run split of the race. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Nice: Relaxing after a race, hanging out with friends.

Nicer: Watching a bunch of those friends collect hardware at the awards ceremony.

Nicest: Then going to someone's house to hang out with folks a bit more, and to eat lots. (Thanks Coleen!)

Steve and I drove down to Colonial Beach to pick up our race packets for Sunday, then went to find our hotel in Fredricksburg. On the way to the hotel we discussed options for dinner. Steve recused himself from the restaurant-choosing process, so it was up to me. It was a lot of pressure, but I felt that I was up to the challenge. Fortunately, the decision turned out to be very easy --- no decision at all, in fact. Much to my surprise and delight, as if designed by divine providence, our hotel was DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET from a Waffle House. Sweet, sweet Waffle House. Even as I sit at my computer typing this a week after the fact, I can almost still feel the stickiness of the menu on my fingers and taste the double hash browns, smothered and covered. No, I mean, LITERALLY! My fingers are still sticky and I can still taste the hash browns. Man, that stuff stays with you.

On race morning, we took the scenic route to the race. Yeah, it wasn't 100% intentional, but we still arrived in time to get ready. Since the race had been changed to a duathlon, we didn't have to worry about wetsuits. You know, this whole triathlon thing is so much easier when you don't have to worry about wetsuits.

Arriving later than planned, however, did mean that there wasn't time to warm up. We lined up for the start. Since I had raced the day before, I decided to stand in the second row, rather than the first. If this run were longer, I would have a better idea of what to expect. But it has been several years since I've run a 5k (and then, only in tris and dus). I mean, 5k? You gotta run fast, and stuff. That just hurts too much.

So we start running, and immediately, Steve is off the front with two other guys. I take the lead of the second pack. I feel sluggish at the beginning, but the closest guy to me is behind my shoulder. It sounds like I have a fairly big pack with me, and I'm setting the pace so that folks are just hanging on. After a mile and a quarter, I'm starting to feel good, and ahead I can see the third guy from Steve's front pack has fallen off. I turn it up a notch, and the pack behind me starts to fall apart. When I pass the number three guy, I can practically hear the elastic snap from the group behind me. By the turn-around, I've made up most of the distance to the front runners that I had lost in the first mile. After the turn-around, I turn it up another notch, and catch Steve and the other guy. "What took you so long?" says Steve. "You guys looked like you were having so much fun, I thought I'd join you!" says I. But by that point, I'm going a little faster than them, and I figure that this is a rare chance for me to lead a multi-sport race, so ahead I went. And for my effort, I got to see one of the two prettiest sights in all of multi-sport: T1, with every single bike still there. (The other prettiest sight, as you might have guessed, is T2, without a single bike there.)

My transition was far from blazing. (Part of the problem was leaving my shoes in a state that would allow me to use them again later.) Steve was several bikes down on the same rack. I was ready to roll two seconds before Steve, but rather than squeezing by him to head to the exit, I decided to let him go ahead. He finished and looked over at me. I gave him the universal sign for Go Ahead. He gave me the universal sign for No You Fool, We Exit T1 THAT Way, Not This Way... You're In My Way! So I gave him the universal sign for Aaah, Perhaps I Should Have Listened To The Pre-Race Briefing. But of course, it all happened much faster than that.

While leaving T1, I was thinking (as I often do while leaving T1) that I really ought to practice the In-Motion bike mount. You know, you put one foot on the pedal, and swing the other leg over the saddle without stopping. I could do it when I was 12 years old, so it can't be THAT hard. I'd want to practice it a couple times on my own before trying it in a race. But most of the races I do are long enough that the extra couple seconds won't make much of a difference. So there I am, coming to a complete stop to get on my bike when I see something that I've never seen before, and something that was, quite frankly, both amazing and frightening: Steve's bike mount. You might have to catch him coming out of T1 to witness this for yourself (it seems too risky to do only for demonstrative purposes), and since that isn't really an option for most of us, I'll try to describe it. With one hand on the aerobars, and one hand on the saddle, he was running as fast as you could expect someone to run in bike shoes on pavement. Then, at full speed, he JUMPED into the air so that the only things he was contacting were his saddle and his aerobars. SOMEHOW (and don't ask me how), he landed squarely on the saddle, having converted his running stride to a pedaling motion somewhere in mid-air. As I said, amazing and frightening.

So here's the weird thing: my ability to run doesn't start to degrade until I get somewhere between ABSOLUTELY- and TOTALLY-KNACKERED. However, my ability to bike starts deteriorating almost from the word GO. Suffice it to say that I was disappointed with my bike split.

As I got close to the end of the bike, I started doing the math, and I realized that I was seriously risking arriving at T2 after Steve had finished the race.

But I was able to get on to the run course before that came to pass.

Pop Quiz: You're two-for-two on fastest run splits, you're zero-for-two on satisfying bike splits and you have one run remaining in the weekend. What do you do? Me too. GO time.

See, now here's what I'm talking about: My second run on Sunday was 1:20 faster than the next fastest second run --- that's a minute, twenty over 5k. It was only :35 slower than my first run. My bike split, on a fast, fairly flat course, was my worst bike split ever for that distance in a race. Yeah, so one of these days, I need to figure out the bike thing.

After finishing, and chatting with folks for a while, and cleaning up my transition area, and chatting with more folks, and finding the pizza, and eating a bit, and relaxing a bit, I went to get something to drink. I don't drink much caffeine, and I almost never drink soda, but I thought a Dr. Pepper would really hit the spot. For a moment, I debated with myself. I worried that a Dr. Pepper so late in the afternoon might keep me up at night. I remembered I had my watch in my pocket, so I decided to check if it was too late to drink caffeine. It was 9:30am. Have I mentioned that I'm used to finishing races later in the day?

Two guys doing two races in two days can find, when they get home Sunday afternoon, that there is far more junk in the car than when they departed Saturday morning. Opening up the back of my car, I could only think, "I know entropy increases, I just didn't realize it increases THAT FAST!" But for all the gear I had to unpack and all the things I had to clean, there was one ray of brightness: I didn't have to deal with a manky, smelly, pond scum filled wetsuit. So it coulda been worse.

1M/27M/5M - 26:00 / 1:18 / 1:21:02 / 0:50 / 28:01