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Race Result

Racer: Stephen Levickas
Race: SavageMan 70.0
Date: Sunday, September 20, 2009
Location: Deep Creek, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 40 - 44
Time: 5:43:15
Overall Place: 20 / 210
Age Group Place: 1 / 46
Comment: Hard, hilly, very challenging half iron!!!!

Race Report:

Swim: 26:26 (2/46 AG, 8/210 overall)
T1: 2:38 (1/46 AG, 22/210 overall)
Bike: 3:18:20 (4/46 AG, 27/210 overall) (16.9 mph)
T2: 1:23 (1/46 AG, 5/210 overall)
Run: 1:54:29 (4/46 AG, 34/210 overall) (8:44 ave)
Finish: 5:43:15 (1/46 AG, 20/210 overall)

Wow! Glad this one is in the books. I had not raced since doing the Aqua-velo at Eagleman in June because of my achilles injury from early April. Ended up running very little the rest of June and most of July. Things got a bit hairy around the end of June. I had been swimming and biking more since I could not run, and consequently, I had developed a rotator cuff issue from over-use, and a hip flexor issue from over-use on the bike. These 2 additional over-use injuries made it clear I was not going to compete at the Xterra off-road triathlon in mid July I had signed up for. I went to PT for all 3 issues (calf, hip, and rotator cuff) for 5 weeks. Stopped swimming entirely for about 3 weeks, then slowly started back in the pool with 1500 meters at a time 3x week. Built that up to 3x3000 meters just prior to this race. Never stopped biking, just slowed things down a bit while doing the strengthening exercises from PT.

By mid August I was swimming, biking and running like a new man. Increasing distance and intensity as the weeks went by. Then two weeks prior to Savageman I ran a 17 miler and felt a twinge in my calf again. Just did a little too much running that week. So I only ran four 4 mile runs in the two weeks preceding the race.

Now to the Race!

Original race goal: 5:30 (:30 swim with T1, 3:10 bike, 1:50 run with T2) – this I knew was not possible given my lack of running the last 2 weeks. Updated goal: 6:00.

Planned on camping the night before. Marc Applegate and I followed each other up to Deep Creek, got our packets, bikes inspected, racked bikes all by about 4:30. Sat around for the mandatory 5:00pm race meeting. Not much going on except for a plug for the fund raising. Afterwards, Don Knott had a bunch of MMTC folks over to a house he and his family rented. And to my surprise they had a wonderful ‘pre race’ dinner. Thank you Don! After the dinner, Marc and I drove to our camp site (which was actually Bill Wheelers who decided to live in luxury for the night under roof). Set up an air mattress in the back of my Expedition and tried to sleep. It got a little cold in the middle of the night, but not too bad. Slept ok, mostly nerves keeping me up wondering about how my leg would hold up.

Swim: 26:26 (2/46 AG, 8/210 overall)

This was an in-the-water start, basically an out and back with a little extra over shoot to add the extra 400 meters for the ½ iron distance vs. the Olympic option. Had to walk over a bunch of big rocks till you were able to swim. I floated around taking a few strokes to get warmed up so as not to get those burning arms the first 200 meters. I was in the front row as I usually am. The only problem this time was that there was a horrible glare on the water and you could not see anything. And since I was one of the leaders, I had no one to follow. I was able to latch onto one guy for a couple hundred meters, then all of the sudden he disappeared. Tried to find him again but no luck - had to do it on my own. The long stretch back seemed to last forever but was beautiful. No waves, clear sighting, hardly anyone around me. After the final turn back into the glare for about 200 meters, then up to the beach to finish. I planned on pushing pretty hard on the swim, so I was a bit delirious.

T1: 2:38 (1/46 AG, 22/210 overall)

Ran up a small hill to the transition area. Made my way to my bike while stripping down the wetsuit to my waist. Said hi to Allan D. in transition. Got to my bike and started on the wetsuit. Made the mistake of try to use my bike to balance me – my bike falls over and knocks over the guy’s bike next to me. Boy that was stupid – hope he doesn’t run up now. So I sat on the ground and ripped off the suit. This was the first time I used tri-glide spray to assist in getting the wetsuit on and off. It worked very well and I recommend it. I decided not to wear any extra clothes once in transition as it felt cool but not cold and I was hot. Re-racked my neighbors bike, donned my glasses, helmet and off I went. In all the confusion, the energy bar I was planning on carrying fell on the ground and I forgot that.

Bike: 3:18:20 (3/46 AG, 27/210 overall) (16.9 mph)

The bike started rough. Once out of transition, I jumped on my bike and pushed off to go up the small hill only to realize I was in a too high a gear. I always attach my shoes to my cleats first. Couldn’t situate the left foot and had to cycle through the left foot with the shoe upside down. The shoe fell off the cleat – oops! I had to stop, recleat it and start over. Got to the top of the hill, slipped my feet in and then I was fine. The bike was pretty uneventful except for the hills. The first 18 miles is basically downhill. I was lucky and got behind some guy who knew how to go downhill fast amongst the twisty turns. We were 30+ mph for about 8 miles of the decent. You end up at the base of ‘the wall’ in Westernport – this is about ¼ - 1/3 mile hill that gets steeper and steeper as you get closer to the top. As you go up the excitement is unbelievable. Cow bells, screaming, devil costumes, people lining the streets yelling. I elected to go around the 31% grade final 100 feet or so. When I reconnected with the group, I was spent. I must have put too much effort into the downhill sections. How am I going to be able to climb these mountains? Well it wasn’t easy. I purposefully did not bring a HR monitor as I do not use one for half iron distance or shorter. Good thing because the numbers had to be off the chart. There were some downhill sections once at the top of the 7.1 mile climb, 1950 vft (5.2% ave grade), but they seemed so short, not enough time to recover before hitting another. I thought the hardest part was the climb at Killer Miller – a 1.3 mile stretch at 10% grade. It just wouldn’t end. The last 10 miles were generally rolling and down, with a few smaller and shorter hills, and some wind. Wind was not a factor all day except for these last few miles. Nutrition on the bike did not go as planned. I started with 3 water bottles full of Endurox, one gel flask holding 5 gel packs, salt, potassium pills, and left my bar behind. I was able to pick up 3 Hammer Gels along the way, ate 2, to supplement the bar. Picked up two extra water bottles along the way, but lost the first one after hitting a bump crossing a bridge at 35 mph – hadn’t taken a sip yet. Was out of fluids the last 15 minutes of the ride.

T2: 1:23 (1/46 AG, 5/210 overall)

Rolled into T2, racked bike, donned shoes and fuel belt, and off I went. No issues here. I noticed there were very few bikes or people in the transition area, and none around me so I figured I was in first place at that point. Ended up having the fastest transitions by about a minute in my AG.

Run: 1:54:29 (4/46 AG, 34/210 overall) (8:44 ave)

The first few miles I spent getting my HR under control. I knew I was red lining and had been so for a long time on the bike, and had no idea of how my legs would feel, especially on the hills. Yes, more hills. There were 3 significant climbs on each loop of the 2 loop run. The first through the camp ground on the road around mile 1.5, the second was a gradual climb around mile 2.5 that lasted about a mile, and finally after some short rollers, a ¼ mile access road climb that was very steep around mile 4.5. I saw Bill Wheeler on his bike just before he entered the finishing stretch. On my second loop I caught up with Alan D. and we ran together for a lot of the loop. Alan really helped keep up the pace. I turned it on at the top of the access road and finished that last 1.5 miles very strong. No leg pain or stiffness the entire time. Went through another water bottle full of Endurox, more gel, and salt & potassium tablets.

Finish: 5:43:15 (1/46 AG, 20/210 overall)

I was happily surprised I had no issues with my calf, and more surprised I was closer to my original goal than expected. This is a hard race that will test your climbing abilities in both the bike and run. It was great to be there with so many MMTC members (Mike, Alan, Bill, Don, Lori, Kelsie, Herman, Rusty, Marc, Bob, Wade – sorry if I missed anyone). MMTC took home a lot of awards – MMTC rocks! Thanks to Mike and Alan for setting up the club tent. And Don again for the pre race feast!

The coolest thing was the awards - everyone got a matted picture of a 'Savageman' running on a gravel road. And the first place finishers got their picture signed by Dave Scott, 6 time Ironman World Champion. Mine said 'Awesome race - Savageman 2009", Dave Scott.