This was my last race scheduled in my make-up year. Quite a few times after the wreck I’ve been asked “Are you back at a 100%?” I’d answer, “yes.” But in the back of my mind I’d be thinking, “only if I can finish Savageman”.
For me, Savageman was a practice in contradiction. I was excited to race, but anxious about the difficulty. It lived up to its reputation for beauty and toughness. It was a fun, but it was harder than the full IM.
Matt and I got there and rode from the campground to the Westernport wall and back. About 38 miles. I got up the wall without much problem the on the first try. The second, not so much. Race day it would be a challenge with lots of others.
Lara, Tim and I shared a campsite at the campground this year. Luckily they are experienced campers and Lara even knows how to make coffee without a Keurig and Tim brought the Wheaties, so breakfast was covered! Matt was my last-minute wingman for the drive out and back. It was great to have someone to keep me alert for the long drive deal with the popup camper. We had a lot in common so the trip both ways went fast.
I volunteered at the 40 and took pictures at the finish line. It was good to keep my mind off, but more than that it was a lot of fun! I made note to keep my head up and not look at my watch while crossing the finish line. One of the great things about the Savageman is that instead of using a place like Brightroom they use volunteers to take pictures. The the race splits the proceeds for any photos purchased. Part going to the Melanoma Foundation, part to the photographer. I’ll donate my proceeds from the finish line photos back to the Foundation.
Great dinner at Kim’s with the Team Fight Folks that night. What a great group of people that all work so hard and are so passionate about their cause to fight cancer. They are also super-great athletes and a lot of fun.
Sunday: RACE Day!
Breakfast in the camper. Wheaties w/ banana, Coconut Milk. And coffee from the percolator.
Packed up the pop-up (It’s a little harder than it should be because the thing was built in ‘89 and showing it’s age). Headed down to the Mid MD tent. I really had a nice chance to chat with Lizzy, Sue, Deb and everyone. Everyone was so nice.
The race didn’t get into my head until I walked over to the water to wait for the swim start. The enormity of the thing got to me for a minute. Kind of a bummer being in the last wave, it gave me too much time to think. Then I decided that I was going to win my age group... for the first 100 yards of the swim.
Swim: AG#14 32:22
I lined up at the front then took off at full blast. I was ahead of everyone for at least 100 yards then, I slowed down and took it easy. I found some bubbles then got separated so I enjoyed seeing almost to the bottom of the lake. Very clear water, clear day. I didn’t even have to bilaterally breath. I could see other swimmers with my head in the water. Like a big pool. The water was the perfect temp. Not too cold but cool enough for the wetsuit. The first big turn is a huge inflatable turtle with a bike helmet on it’s head. I slapped the turtle’s fin as I swam by. Then on to the swan. The exit was closer to the Swan than I expected.
T1: AG#44 6:26
Took my time here. Peeled off my wetsuit. Pulled my MMTC Bike jersey over my tri top. First time I ever wore bike gloves in a Tri. I think it was a good call.
Bike: AG#44 4:06:02 13.6
The bike course was was amazing, AMAZING. I wish I had the time to come up and ride it over the summer, not so I knew where to slow and where to go fast, but just because it’s AMAZING. I like a few good hills. This course has a few goOD HILLS! The first one is Toothpick. I felt strong and made it right up that sucker. Then it a nice easy spin to the town of Westernport. Westernport, you know, the home of the WALL!
The thing about the wall is that it’s steep, but not only that, it’s a heck of a climb just getting to the thing! You have about 3 or 4 blocks of solid Ilchester-like incline just getting to it. The whole time I am trying to strategize about distance between other racers and who is going to fall in front of me, etc. For me, the race isn’t about getting a Brick. But when I got close to the wall and heard the crowd I got a little excited and sped up. I heard the MMTC gang yell “There’s Geoff”, saw Alan jumping around like a crazy person, what a rush! It almost made the climb easy. But, I was towards the bottom when I heard/saw a guy fall at the top. You know, that unmistakable sound when carbon fiber hits pavement. Then, the guy right behind him fell. They were blocking my planned path up the right side of the road. I panicked and went left to where the road very potholed. I decided the road was too messy so I went right. But I didn’t leave enough room to turn the bike and go up the hill again.
That was it. No brick (this year). I looked at the pictures afterwards. The guy right in front of me. He made it up. Just steady climb ignoring all the carnage. I should have just chilled and followed him. But that would have been drafting? I can’t imagine that getting a brick would have made it more fun. It was a riot.
After that, my plan was to stop and possibly drop some gear at the gear drop before climbing Big Savage Mountain. I spoke with some other bikers on the way up. It was steep enough that no one was racing up but manageable enough that we could still talk. This became one of the unique things about the race. At least in my MOP bike slot, you can ride side-by-side and not worry about any car traffic. I think I saw about four cars the entire ride and I think one of them was race support! The only negative thing that I could say about the course was that there were a lot of sharp turns on the descents. I’m still a bit cautious on those and went quite slow whenever there was a warning sign. I might need to replace my brakes now.
I lost track of how many aid stations there were, but there was always one there when I needed it. Along the way I’d pass a driveway in the middle of nowhere and there’d be a family or a some guys in camo on lawn chairs at the end of their driveway cheering us on! I ate like it was a banquet out there. I used all my stinger waffles and ate some of the hammer stuff they were handing out and drank the Heed.
One hill (Killer Miller, I think) The TeamZ was hanging out. I was about to get off and walk for the first time since the wall. There was a TeamZ lady cheering kinda hesitant but thinking a run next to me up the hill. I looked at her and said “I could use the help”. And she gave a big smile and started yelling and ringing her cow bell. She “ran” to the top with me on my bike. Why do cow bells help so much?
I think my training was just adequate to make it up these hills. It mostly consisted of hilly rides in Howard and Carroll County starting from my driveway. I know what type of work I’d need to have a really good go at it. I just didn’t have the time this year to make it out to the Catoctins or even up Illchester. I was still happy with my ride that day.
T2: AG #48 4:48
My choice to use Heed, for the first time came back to haunt me and I spent to quality time in the little blue porta-pots.
“Run”: AG# 47 2:48:03 12:49
I usually take a few minutes to get my legs under me. I got moving and ran comfortably. The gravel was a little tough on my Vibrams but I’m used to it. I liked the run though the campground and up the fire trail. Unfortunately my stomach was a mess and I had to walk a lot on the road. I stopped at the porta-pot at the top of the fire trail but there was already someone in it. Just waiting made my stomach feel better. Tim ran with me a little when I passed through the park. My stomach finally got under control and I was able to keep a run. But by then I’d been out so long I couldn’t keep up any speed. I was so far behind that it felt like I was in first place with no one else out there on the run.
I’d love to do this again. I know exactly what I’d do to improve my time:
1. Preview the course so I’d know when it’s safe to descend at speed. see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=obQD1Hju1-o
2. Keep going up The Wall no matter what. The volunteers move the fallen out of the way pretty quick.
3. Don’t do a 36 mile hilly ride on on Friday.
4. Race how I train (nutrition)
5. Ride some of Linda G.’s hilly routes the summer before.
6. Take some sidewalk chalk out to Illchester or Moxy Brown and draw in some cracks and potholes. Practice riding around/though them. Do this with a friend.
7. Maybe admit that there are some courses where Vibrams aren’t the right choice.
8. Don't spend all day Saturday on my feet.