Friday, September 24, 2010

Beaten by my own gear

If I'm slow enough to get beat by my own equipment, it's no wonder I'm a week behind with my race report.

The Savageman, with 5,900 feet of climbing on its 56-mile bike course and a not-exactly-flat-either run course (you climb a two-track that goes to a fire tower, OK?), is not really a race you do for time. It's not really a race you'd do twice in once weekend, either, or so you'd think. But I signed up for the "True Savage" double and raced their Olympic-distance race on Saturday and the big one on Sunday. "Savage" and "genius" are not synonyms.

Saturday I was 33rd overall out of 367 finishers and 5th of 34 in my age group (45-49). I finished in 2:32:09, just 31 minutes after my goggles (more on that in a bit).

Sunday I was 136th overall (364 finishers) and 14th of 42 in my age group. I finished in 6:23:37. I did not get my brick, but my jersey did (more about that coming up with the goggles story).

I don't know exactly how many people attempted the double - seems I heard 24 - nor how many completed it. I know they called us all up during the awards ceremony and gave us very cool plaques, and there seemed to be maybe 10 of us, but that could hinge on (let's just say) around 14 different reasons.

And yes, my equipment did better than I did. Back at the Chicago Triathlon, I met and raced against a new friend, Lars. I saw him again at Savageman; he had left his swim goggles in his car or something and needed a new pair quick before the race. Did I have a spare pair? Yes, I did. Happy to help. Lars never told me he was, you know, elite. He won the whole race that day. My goggles now have a PR I'll never be able to touch.

And my jersey beat me, too. Except it's not really my jersey now. One of the key features of the Savageman is the Westernport Wall, a 31% pitch (that's right; three feet forward, one foot upward) on some pretty sketchy pavement. If you can make it up that segment without falling or putting a foot down, and go on to complete the race, they'll engrave your name in a brick and pave the road with it. I got my brick in 2008, but not this year. More to explain the nature of the Wall than to make excuses, luck plays a little part. You need a clear path. Once you get lucky, it's all skill and power, but I didn't quite have enough of the former to test the latter. I got caught behind pileup that went like dominoes from curb to curb, and that was that. So it goes. Thank goodness (again) for Ron. I met Ron last year when we trained together for Ironman Louisville and we became fast friends. He was an especially good friend during this year's change-of-address stressfest, and I had given him my favorite cycling jersey. He wore that jersey for the cycling leg of the race, and he had the luck and the skill and the power and now the bragging rights for the year, and I couldn't be happier.

Except now my triathlon season is over, so maybe I could be happier. But not much happier. I've got the Capital City River Run half-marathon coming up Sunday and the Detroit Marathon coming up Oct. 17, with high hopes for the latter and expectations of a lot of fun in the former (I'll be selling and signing books at the finish). And a 2011 season to look for where I might have my act under control enough for something like real training. Because I can't count on Lars and Ron for everything.


Jim Smith II said...

Congrats on the Savageman Double - I've seen "The Wall" on video, if you've got one brick, you're better than most of us...