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Race Result

Racer: Ted Purnell
Race: Diamond In The Rough
Date: Saturday, July 9, 2005
Location: Perryville, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 2:35:59
Overall Place: 261 / 668
Age Group Place: 1 / 5
Comment: USACFRF National Championship Race

Race Report:

Pre Race:

After some back and forth on whether I would be racing or heading to Virginia Beach for another commitment it was decided on Thursday evening that I would race. This came after a “tougher then I should have run in a race week” run on Thursday afternoon, hopefully this won’t have negative effects on my legs in 36 hours when the gun goes off. This race is a fat triathletes dream as I can actually envision winning or at the very least being on the podium in my age and weight category, under 39 and fat, I mean Clydesdale Open 3, otherwise known as men who try and kid ourselves that this is a sport for us even though we weigh more then 226 pounds. Beware of big lumbering triathletes bearing down on you, no one really wants to see a 262 pound wanna be triathlete in spandex and lycra, but hear I come. Worst case scenario this may be the first race where I will have verification of being the heaviest person racing, the closest I have come before was the comment from the weigh in guy at Ironman Florida, “Whoa, that’s the biggest one yet.”

In my dazed and confused state of thinking I could compete, I actually did some scouting of the field, based on last years results from the really fat man division, two of the top three finishers were back for 2005, plus any undetermined dark horses who may have weighed up, yes, weighed not aged up, to what I’ll simply call XL3 from here on out. The top finisher may be tough to beat, but at least I still weigh more then him, he posted a 2:42 last year to win the division and based on his swim split I’ll be playing catch up all day. The third place finisher will also be back, but he’s a lightweight, a mere 250 and I beat him by 6 minutes at Columbia, but again his swim split will get him out of the water way in front. So Podium diving here I come, I don’t recommend being in the front at the awards, because when I podium dive and try to crowd surf I fear I may crush some of my lightweight triathlete friends.

Race Morning:

3:10 AM, this is officially the earliest I have ever woken for a race, not that long ago I would have still been out, perhaps looking for a 24 hour greasy spoon to fill my gullet. So in this spirit and the that I am perhaps the heaviest entrant at DITR, I prepared a traditional Clydesdale breakfast of 2 eggs over hard, ham and cheese wrapped inside a tortilla, hey, I still had over 4 hours until the cannon and we Clydes have a tendency to eat.

The drive was uneventful, stopped for gas in Havre de Grace and was diverted to a 24 hour greasy spoon across the way for the restroom, as I walked in wearing spandex, I felt the eyes of the curious smoking fisherman wondering what this fat guy was thinking running around at 5:30 in the morning in black tights. As tempted as I was to sit down and eat another breakfast I figured I would pay for it in a couple of hours so on I went. As a warning for those who head up for this race, stay on 95 until the exit they suggest on the website, the toll on the bridge if you get off at Havre De Grace is $5, ridiculous.

The benefit of arriving in the park before 6 was no lines to get packet, bike inspection, body marking and get a prime rack position. Steve beat me and the rest of the field into the park, he would continue to beat most of the field all day. The drawback is at 6:30 I was standing their trying to figure out what to do with the next hour and a half. A couple of times to the portapot line, which I would like to commend for actually had a hand washing station, a pre race meeting, and a slow walk down the stairs into the water and we were about ready.

Before the swim start I was wondering how they were going to get the rest of the waves down and in the water to go off at 3 minute intervals, but that will have to be filled in by someone in a later wave, sometimes it’s good to be in the first wave.

Swim: PR: 28:43 (1500M), Goal: 31:00 (1600M), Actual: 28:47

The swim course is a diamond shape course keeping the buoys to your right, which I was concerned about as a left side breather, which somehow seems to work out as most of the races I have done have been buoy to your left races. At the last minute it was determined that this would in fact be a wetsuit legal swim, I still considered going without but decided not to put myself at a disadvantage. The relatively new full suit I have felt better then it ever has, it seemed to fit better then it has in previous races, maybe wearing my singlet underneath was the difference. I went out harder then I have ever in the first 200 meters of this swim hoping to catch some feet, sighting wasn’t an issue on the first leg, I had none of the goggle issues I had at Eagleman and I had a few sets of feet to cling to. As I hit the first turn I was feeling great but wondering if I could hold the pace for the duration.

After each turn it took awhile before I found another set of feet, but all in all this was my best swim ever and the only time I have ever been able to find feet in a non mass swim start swim. So much so that I swam an extra 100 meters in less time then my Columbia swim this year, the split actually includes the crawl up the ramp and walk up the stairs. The swim exit is a doozy, as I confidently scaled the wall, I slipped near the top and had visions of taking out many swimmers behind me, but alas I climbed to the top and headed for T1. It turns out I was the 4th man out of the water in the XL3 weight class, I’ve got some work to do.

T1: Goal: 3:00, Actual: 2:06

Heading up the stairs I had some issues getting my wetsuit unzipped, but it turned out to be the singlet I had under the wetsuit. This was the first time I swam with the singlet on, so I must have been confused or delirious trying to figure out how I swam so well. Having the shirt on for the swim definitely speeds up the transition, although I still took the time to put socks on, I was on the bike ahead of schedule.

Bike: PR: 1:19:55 (41k, 19.1 MPH), Goal: 1:25 (27 Mile), Actual: 1:21:42 (27M, 19.8MPH)

I knew that the other fat guys I was racing would be well ahead of me out of the water and that if I were to catch them it would have to be on the bike, so I set out with my sights set on numbers 24 and 61, luckily I had spotted one of them in transition and couldn’t miss his neon orange race shirt, that would be my first target and one I should be able to spot from a good distance.

My deficit to 3rd place at the start of the bike was, 3:14 and a whopping 7:43 to the lead. I hit the bike with aggression, every time I glanced at my heart rate monitor it seemed to read 170, which is a higher rate then I have ever raced and could indicate a blow up in my future, but I decided to tempt fate and see what I could come up with. This is a great bike course, and thanks to some pre race advice from Steve, one I somewhat knew what to expect on. I don’t know when I moved into third place, but it was actually much later then I thought, as I figured I was in 3rd early on the bike.

There were a couple of peloton size packs that passed me, which was a bit irritating, here I am this fat guy slogging up and down the rollers and the skinny guys are cruising by me in packs. The one oddity I did spot was an old school Univega, with vintage 1980’s aero bars and down tube shifters, the depressing thing was he passed me and my 10 speed Ultegra Guru TriTi.

It turned out that I moved into third place on the bike in the first 50 meters of the climb at mile 18, it was the orange jersey rider I mentioned earlier, I had spotted him in the distance a few minutes earlier, and caught him just before the climb and made the pass as the climb began. This is the climb Steve had warned me about, “Don’t check out when it dips, because it kicks back up until you make the turn.” This was great advice that helped me deal with the climb and not check out.

On the way back into town I moved into the lead, I know I passed one of the two riders at the turn back onto the main drag not sure when I passed the other as I didn’t notice any other XL3 looking riders. This was at about mile 25 on the bike and I knew, or was pretty sure I was in the lead at this point, so I would have a small margin heading into T2 and the run.

T2: Goal: 2:00, Actual 0:49
One of my best T2’s, no snags, helmet off, shoes on, grab hat, water bottle and race belt and head for the run. I thought I made a mistake by not eating on the bike, which I feared could hurt my run performance, only time will tell.

Run: PR: 53:43 (10k), Goal: 41:00 (5 Mile), Actual: 42:37

I knew the lead I was pretty confident I had was slim, and also thanks to the flat out and back run course, I could spot any other XL3 runners on the back as I was headed out, and get a gauge on my competition, the two I knew of both were kind enough to wear bright orange jersey’s gap when I was heading back. The course is flat, a couple of dips but it is in essence a flat out and back along the river with little shade. I have gotten in the habit of running with a water bottle so that I can drink the whole time not just at water stops.

The other thing it allows me to do is to run through water stops, I can’t seem to get fluids down out of a cup while running, I can dump it into a water bottle on the run and then drink as I need. The standard practice for me is to take the lid off as I approach, get a cup or two of water as I run by, dump the water into the bottle, drop the cups, replace lid and not miss a stride.

Heading out I didn’t feel great, sluggish actually, and the bits of grass running made it seem worse. I know it is better for you to run on soft surfaces, it just makes me feel slow. My heart rate seemed to be pinned at 170, and the miles didn’t seem to come quick enough, I saw Steve heading in at about mile 4 to my mile 1, with what seemed to be a commanding lead on the field, he would finish 2nd, to someone in a wave behind him.

As I approached the turn I was confident that I was leading the XL3 division so now it would be time to get a gauge on how the other big men were doing as I headed back. I was unhappy to see the first orange clad big man about 30 seconds after I hit the turn, that put my lead at a precarious 1 minute. I began to do my best impression of a competitive triathlete, at least now I know what the fast guys feel like as they try to win and keep an eye on their competition. I thought to myself if he closes on me, I may not have enough in the tank to stay with him, but I’ll keep pressing on and see if I can hold the lead.

I saw the other orange clad XL3 competitor as I hit the 3 mile mark, which put my lead on the likely 3rd place runner at around 8-9 minutes. The podium was looking good, but I wanted that top spot. The rest of the run was uneventful, save the guy behind me who kept saying, “Yeah, DC Tri.” “Go DC Tri.” I remember thinking to myself how long is this going to go on, and realizing that they had 120 people racing I was doomed. But I didn’t have the energy to put a gap on him.

Post Race:

Luckily big man number 2 never closed on me and I crossed the line in 2:35:59 with the proud title of USA Clydesdale and Filly Racing Federation Open 226+ National International Distance Champion. As it turns out, the difference between first and second was made in transition, 2nd place had a much better swim split, I had a much better bike, and he had a slightly better run, but I was 1:15 faster in the combined transition times, and 59 seconds ahead at the line. I guess it's good I wore the singlet under my wetsuit, it would have been interesting to see how I would have been able to respond in a race to the line, maybe next year.

I wish I could take more pleasure in my National Championship, but it proves the point of, if you narrow the qualifications enough, you can create enough categories to put hardware in everyone’s hands at a race. Like the category of, guys born in March, riding a Guru, and wearing a red jersey, hey, I won that category also, does that make me a double champion? Where’s my second trophy?

So how does a Clydesdale celebrate a rare National Title, why by eating as much as he can fit in his gullet, drinking to much beer, we’ll at least one beer before falling asleep watching the Tivo of the days stage of the Tour, in which Lance may be in trouble if he gets attacked by so many so frequently.

Congratulations to all the RATS who raced, unfortunately the DC Tri Club had the title locked up before the cannon went off, maybe we can get a better turn out next year and take them on. Or ban them from our training events like Tour De Skyline.