Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Dam Tri

I finally finished the damn race report for the Dam Tri. Let's see now.....1..2..3..4..17 days after the race and I have finally finished my race report. Can we say procrastinate? I will admit that things have been busy with work. I did work on the report while waiting for lengthy computer things to finish. Yesterday I was waiting at a customer and decided to finish the race report. So without further delay.....The Dam Tri Race Report.............

How can you argue with a race called the Dam Tri? And the website had such a cute beaver as the mascot. Aimee wanted at least one tri to shake out the racing cobwebs and this race fit perfectly into the schedule. It wasn’t too close to the Musselman Tri in late July, yet close enough to home. Meadville, PA is a reasonable two hour drive from home and Alleghany College was offering accommodations on the cheap, $15 per person.

So we drove out Saturday afternoon to get into our apartment/room, scope out the course and have a good meal. First off the apartment we stayed in was awesome. These buildings were no more than 5 years old and were huge. Amazingly we shared a 5 bedroom, two story apartment with friends Adam and Beth from Cleveland. We had a full size fridge, two bathrooms with showers, separate bedrooms for each of us and pristine conditions.

Here is the apartment

Adam trying on his aero helmet for the first time. Just kidding....we were goofing around.

Aimee and Beth in the kitchen area joking around some more.

The big picture window in the sitting area

After settling in we drove up to the race site to check out the transition area and beach. After seeing where our bikes would be racked we drove the bike course. The bike course would keep us honest about our abilities without being too hard. A couple of the climbs were steep but short, nothing that we haven’t trained on.

Back at the college apartment we waited for Beth and Adam to return from a short bike ride. Aimee and I took a small nap cuddled together in a single college bed. It was so cozy.

When they returned and showered we headed to an Italian restaurant the race director recommended. We had lasagna and spaghetti with a nice salad and fresh bread. We saw a couple other athletes there but even without us being there the place would have been busy.

We grabbed some snacks on our way back to the college and settled in for the night. We prepped our race bags and gear. Put the race numbers on our bikes and chatted for the rest of the evening. Around 10PM it was time to call it a night. We all retired to our individual little rooms.

We woke up around 5AM Sunday morning to get ready for the race. The race didn’t start until 9AM but transition opened up at 6:30. Aimee wanted to get there early to get a good spot on the rack. There was a little bit of rain moving through the area as we parked and got our gear out. We placed our bikes on the racks and covered the seats and aero pads with our wetsuits to keep everything dry.

Slowly more people started showing up. We had almost two hours to kill so we were able to talk with other people from Cleveland and other athletes nearby. I took some pictures and got my mind into race mode. I was relaxed and calm.

One thing that would be different with this race would be my splits. I couldn’t find my race watch before we left for Pennsylvania, so I decided I wouldn’t worry about it and not wear one. I would run this race purely on feel. No worries about how long I have been out there. No worries about when I would get back to transition, no mile splits on the run….nothing. It was actually quite liberating. I never missed the watch.

I was in the third wave to start. First Elites, then 39 and under, then my wave...the 40+ old guys. We were up to our waist for the start so it wasn’t a true beach start. I hate beach starts so I was happy with where we were. We were nicely spread out and there wasn’t much contact for a mass start. I was cruising along when a guy was closing in on me from the left. We had the markers on our left so I wasn’t sure where he was going heading to the right. I slowed down so I could swim behind him and continue on course. I think my sighting was okay. I know I was drifting left and right so I was not straight. I never found anyone to draft with either, at least someone I felt comfortable drafting with. A couple of us from the wave started to catch the green caps from the prior wave which is always a little mental boost.

I was feeling good and exiting the water I thought I was in good position. I apparently also looked like a dork...or maybe that is my extreme intensity being focused on the race. Yeah that's it. I'm focused. After looking at the results I was the second in my AG and fourth in the wave to exit the water.

Swim time: 25:00

The run to transition was pretty far…uphill….on grass and asphalt. Yeah this picture is taken from the transition area. The beach is waaaaayyyyy down there.

There was no other way to do the transition so it wasn’t that bad. Everyone had to do the same run. Adam was in a rack just before my rack. He had a nice little bucket of water to rinse the feet. I took a quick step through it since he was long gone being in the prior wave. As I stepped out I knocked it over. DOH!!! I commented to a volunteer, “boy is she going to be pissed.” I was referring to Adams girlfriend Beth who would be using the bucket as well during her transition. Fortunately there was still some water in it.

I got my helmet and sunglasses on then started getting my socks and shoes on. Grab the bike and be gone from the transition. The mount line was around the corner from the exit and afforded me a great jump onto the saddle before heading out of the park. Despite what appears to be a slow T1 time I was the second fastest in my AG by 5 seconds. I told you it was a long run. And I passed the guy who was first out of the swim in my AG. So I was first in my AG out on the bike.

T1 time: 2:49

In order to hit the main loop of the bike course we had to climb a half mile out of the park. It wasn’t bad as long as I didn’t try to zip out of the park. There was no reason to burn up too much energy this early in the race.

The first loop of the bike was without much incident. At one turn I was gaining on two riders. I looked ahead and saw that Bubba Joe (driving a support vehicle) had stopped to talk with Billy Ray (course volunteer) and were not paying attention to us. The first guy was trying to figure out where to go. So I’m yelling from 50 yards back to make the right hand turn.

The bike traffic was pretty light since I was in the 3rd wave. I passed a fair number of people and was passed maybe once. The miles markers on the road were every three miles and my bike computer was spot on with the markings. The volunteers were great at the intersections often comprising of emergency crews.

As I approached the entrance to the park in order to start loop number two I thought how quickly the first loop seemed to go by. Some of the sprint athletes were entering the bike course now. It would be a little more congested but not too bad. The Olympic racers had to do an additional section during the second loop. It was a nice quiet road the reminded me of the Triple T, including the only hill that would require me to stand…steep little sucker.

Back to the main loop we rejoined the sprint racers. It was great seeing so many people doing the race. There was another steep section that had some people walking their bikes. I offered words of encouragement to them as I went by and saw a couple of smiles in return.

On one of the climbs I was passed by a guy from an older age group. He was riding strong but I kept to my own game plan and simply kept in sight. I wasn’t going to race him or try to keep up with him.

The second loop was pretty non-eventful. During that last major climb two things happened. First I was passing some of the sprint athletes on their mountain or road bikes. Again I was excited to see so many people doing the race. I came up on one girl who was grinding away in her big chain ring on her road bike. This is the exchange we had:

Me: Get in your small chain ring!!!

Her: Which lever?

Me: Left hand!

Her: Which one?

Me: I looked back and said, “Small!”


Her: THANK-YOU!!!!!

She started spinning up the remainder of the hill. Poor girl. I’m glad I was able to help but she really needed to know how to shift her gears.

Second observation during the final three miles of the bike…..I was gaining on the guy who passed me earlier. During the last mile we traded position a couple of times and I followed him into the park heading back to transition. It’s all downhill heading back to transition and there were cars parked all along the road. I didn’t attack the hill to fast since I didn’t want to risk a crash into a car or spectator. I pulled my feet out of my shoes and prepared to dismount. I still had a lot of speed as I jumped off the pedals and ran across the timing mat, almost too much speed as my feet had a hard time keeping up with my forward momentum.

Bike time: 1:12:05

Second fastest AG bike by 58 seconds

In transition I racked my bike, pulled off my helmet and slipped on my running shoes. I grabbed my hat and race belt and was gone.

T2 time: 00:45

Fastest AG T2 by 20 seconds

I made it out of transition ahead of the guy I was quietly battling. I wanted to take the first mile easy and settle into a good pace without blowing up. We had to climb out away from the lake and I wasn’t going to fry my legs this early in a 10k. The “old” guy behind me passed me and I was happy to let him go. He was within sight as we crested the hill and I kept him within 20 yards for the next 3 miles.

Mile 3 was on the reservoir dam, hence the name The Dam Tri, which was an out and back. I could see where I was in relation to those ahead of me. Not too many people were heading in the opposite direction. I saw some elite athletes and some other age groupers. Adam was about .5 mile in front of me and was looking strong.

At each aid station I was taking water. During mile 3 I sucked down a PowerGel and grabbed two waters at the next aid station to help with the absorption. I only needed another 20 minutes out of my body.

As I followed the “old” guy into the wooded trail portion of the run he slowed just a bit. I took this as my opportunity to pass him and begin my final push to the finish line. My two mantras were now front and center in my brain, “Do anything in 20 minutes” and PTMATBWF. Oh yeah….I was really racing now.

The wooded trail was my favorite part of the run course. Despite the slight uphill nature of the trail I felt great. I was really moving at a good pace. I kept putting more time on the guy behind me and was passing some of the sprint racers. When I reached the end of the trail I was near the entrance to the park. From here on it would be primarily downhill, at least that’s what I thought. I didn’t know the entire run course. We didn’t drive it or anything.

So I’m flying down the road and make a left hand turn. A short uphill and then a right turn to the out and back. The out and back started off downhill. Oops, the return would be uphill. Oh well. I’ve already committed myself to an all out effort and this hill wasn’t going to keep me down. At the end of the downhill were three ladies who had the biggest smiles on their faces as I approached their aid station. They were so happy to be there helping people make it through the race. I gave them a big smile and thanked them for being there.

Heading back up the hill I saw where some of my competition was; far enough back that I didn’t need to worry about them. I was going for time now and the clock was ticking away. Remember now, I am not wearing my watch. I do not know how fast I have been running. I do not know how long I have been racing.

At the top of the hill I start running to the left. A woman at the intersection yells at me to turn right instead. I smile at her, laugh and thank her for the correction. I get back to pace and head towards the finish line. The sprint and Olympic run courses rejoin and everyone heads down the road towards the finish line.

It’s downhill now. I’m pushing my legs to give me a quick turnover and speed down the hill. At the end of the road we cross over a small grassy area and through a small path to the parking lot where the race began. I pushed toward the finish line and saw the time of 2:35.

My wave started 10 minutes back and I was happy with my 2:25 finish time.

I saw Adam after having my chip removed and went to congratulate him on a good race. I first had to catch my breath and get some water in me.

Run time: 44:29

Fastest AG run by 3 seconds

We waited for some more people to cross the finish line. I congratulated the “old” guy who finished behind me, Harvey is 56…way to go dude. Adam and I saw some of our elite friends and got the low down on that race.

As we hung out waiting for Aimee and Beth to finish we got some food, drank, talked. I broke down my transition area and packed away most of my stuff. I saw Beth finish, then I ran backwards on the course a little for a cool down. I met Aimee on the final down hill and ran behind her until we hit the parking lot. I cheered her to a great finish and joined her on the other side of the finish line.

Finish time: 2:25:06

Won by 5+ minutes

Looking back at the results, after I left transition I led my age group for the entire race. That is a great feeling as I reflect on my effort.

Aimee with her 3rd place AG award

Beth showing off her 2nd place award
Adam took 2nd in his AG also.

Cleveland Elite triathlete and all around nice guy Jim Lamastra was the overall winner. No he didn't carry his son during the race. He probably could have done that and still won.
Here I am with my 1st place award for my age group. Oh the Game was very much ON that day.


Mel-2nd Chances said...

WOW! Congrats on a great race to you, Beth and Aimee!! Well done! It's so inspiring to read these triathlon race reports being about a month away from my first try-a-tri. Learning more with each race report! Congrats again!

Anonymous said...

Another successful event for you! Congrats on the AG award - well earned!

I think the coolest thing about this report, and that I've read in your other reports as well, is what a 'good sport' you are. You are always helpful, supportive and encouraging to those you 'pass', and you always acknowledge the volunteers.

This is what makes you a well-rounded, superb athlete - and a great example for the 'Mels' and the kids you work with too.

I am proud to know you! (again *wink*).

Dan said...

Awesome job - congrats on the AG win. Too bad your trophy didn't have the beaver on it like the overall winner's did... now THAT would be cool.

Ms. V. said...

Great race report! And, you were rocking that helmet, btw.

Jerry said...

you really write a great race report...thanks for sharing and great job to your whole crew!!!

Kristoph Kocan said...

Great write up, glad you enjoyed the race. As a first time RD I was nervous about all that could go wrong, but 99% of the people had great things to say about the event. Yours is one of the best reports I've read. Oh, and I recognize you guys from the Italian Rest now, we had the table right next to yours and I ran into Adam a few weeks ago at the Milton Man race and chatted with him about the event. Hope to see you again next year, and we are going to try to make the race even better by fine tuning some things.