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Race Result

Racer: David MacGrath
Race: Half Full Olympic
Date: Sunday, October 7, 2012
Location: Columbia, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 40 - 44
Time: 4:11:02
Overall Place: 133 / 223
Age Group Place: 23 / 28
Comment: My First International Distance...

Race Report:

So, this is my first attempt at a race report, kind of like this was my first attempt at an Olympic distance tri. First things first though, let me introduce myself. My name is Dave. My wife, Noel, our two kids (son, Davey – 9; daughter, Aidan – 6) and I moved up here to Maryland, from Alabama, a couple of months ago. We joined MMTC prior to moving here, but have not been able to go to any club training events or attend any meetings, due to work conflicts, kids events, etc. I have only been doing tri’s for about six months. I have only done a few sprints, so this Olympic was a long race for me. Noel is a much better triathlete than me, but she did not run this race.

Before I get into a break down of my performance, if you can call it that, here are some of my “firsts” that occurred on/during this race. This was the farthest/longest continuous and open water swim I’ve ever done. It was the first time I swam in my wetsuit and the first time I ever drank half a pond. As far as the bike is concerned, that was the farthest I’ve ever ridden and the first time I’ve ridden in the rain.

OK, so what are some of my takeaways? Hills. I need to train on hills… bike, run and swim hills (does anyone know any good hills I can swim?). Bike. I need more saddle time, more distance and more than just the trainer. Shifting and pedaling, I must become more efficient. Running. The only discipline of the three with which I have experience (other than as a child), again hills and I must run more bricks. But on a positive note, at least I ran a negative split. Training. Don’t move, start a new job and put the kids in a new school in the middle of a training plan. Don’t try to make your own training plan, find a good plan and stick to it.

Overall, my only goals were to not drown and to finish the race. At least I now have a baseline and I can only go up from here. All things aside, my sloth-like swim (can they swim?), my meandering ride, and the awesome weather, I had a great time. I met Bryan at the MMTC tent prior to the race and then he caught me on the ride. We had a great conversation and joked about Lance, as he broke the sound barrier about the time he passed us.

Pre Race:

I arrived at transition a little later than I wanted to, about 6:15 and set up all my gear. I wrapped my “bike jersey” (long sleeve, Under Armour Heat Gear shirt), shoes, gloves and socks in the rain jacket I planned to wear. I put dry running clothes (shorts and another long sleeve Under Armour shirt) in the swag bag, my shoes and socks in a plastic grocery bag and placed all of it on a towel. I put some gel packets, another towel and a water bottle on the towel and went in search of a tire tube and a pump. The guys (and Joanne, thanks!) at the bike maintenance tent were nice enough to give me a tube and a volunteer pumped my tires up for me. I then headed back to my car to get my wetsuit and walked over to the MMTC tent. I didn’t know anyone there, so I kind weaseled my way in and started to change into my wetsuit. Nothing like stripping down to just your tri shorts with a bunch of strangers (soon to be friends, tho’)! I quickly realized I forgot my body glide. I looked around and saw Bryan using some. I introduced myself and like a true desperate triathlete asked to borrow his body glide. Much to my surprise Bryan handed it over and quickly struck up a conversation with me. Shortly thereafter, my wife and kids showed up with all of my forgotten items, which was awesome because I’m sure Bryan wouldn’t want me to use his body glide in some of the areas I needed to use it. Noel, the kids and I then made our way down to the swim start to watch the pros and collegiate athletes start. As I stood there in bare, wet feet and my wetsuit, freezing my “you know what” off, all I could think about was how cold the water was going to be and whether or not I was going to survive the swim. After what seemed like an eternity I heard them call my age group and realized I was already late. I worked my way up to my age group and anxiously awaited “Go Time”. Soon thereafter I was tapped on the shoulder and told to GO!!!

Swim: 40:34 min

My mantra… Survive the Swim, Survive the Swim!! If I do that, I know I will finish. As I ran and dove into the water, I quickly realized how warm the water was and I immediately felt at ease. I made my way into an easy “freestyle” stroke leaving all my technique training back on the shoreline. As my mind wandered, because I definitely wasn’t thinking about technique, I thought about the last thing my wife said to me before I entered the water, “Don’t be afraid to pee in your wetsuit.” Of course, my response was “I’ll wait until I get in the water”. I then got that “your such an idiot” look. You all know what I mean! Fortunately for everyone around me, the fish, the geese, the sharks (I swear I saw one), I engaged in that infamous, time honored, pre-tri tradition of spending a little quality time with the port-a-potties prior to starting the race. Anyway, I felt pretty good for the first 500 meters, but that was when the lack of technique and my lack of familiarity of swimming in a wetsuit caught up with me. My shoulders were on fire and I was no longer breathing bilaterally. Plus, there was starting to be a rainbow of swim caps around me. Not a good sign, I thought. I started to tighten up and caught quite a few mouthfuls of water; but that was alright, because I was tired and kind of thirsty anyway. The second 500 meters was pretty tough and I had to go to the backstroke every so often. The backstroke slowed me down considerably, but allowed me to rest enough so that by the last 450 meters I was able to freestyle the whole way. Unfortunately I got a little confused on the swim exit and probably swam an extra 100 meters or so. I thought we had to swim between the two big red buoys and then head in, but I guess that wasn’t the case. I also tried to hug the buoy line on the last leg, which also was a mistake. So after what seemed like the longest swim of my life (oh wait, it was!), I was grateful to exit the water and head up to T1. I saw my wife and kids on the way up. It was great to see some smiling, familiar faces, but I think I heard my son say something about getting passed by great grandma… I was pretty smoked, so I’m not sure.

T1: 7:31 min

All I wanted to do was get some nutrition, put on my shoes and go. Unfortunately that took much longer than anticipated. Both my Garmin and the wristband they gave us got stuck on my wetsuit (next time wear those under the wetsuit… it’s the little things!) and added probably an extra minute to transition, not to mention getting the wetsuit over my feet and all that. My favorite part of T1 is putting dry socks on wet feet. I will never get sick of that. If I could do it everyday, I would! I also struggled with putting my shirt on, my jacket on, my helmet on, my sunglasses on… pretty much everything! I wasn’t shivering; I was just slow. I finally made my way through transition and over to the bike mount line.

Bike: 2:15:41 hours

I jumped on the bike and started to pedal. From the get go, I didn’t want hammer it for two reasons, the weather and I didn’t want to crush my legs. About a half mile into the ride, through my fogged up, rain soaked sunglasses I saw a guy I came out of transition with. Then, for no apparent reason, he crashed about 25 yards in front of me. I slowed to see if he was OK... more pride hurt than anything, so I kept moving. Being new here, I don’t really know the names of any of the roads, but on the first big hill, there were a number of people who were stopped with flats. I stopped to help one person and gave up my only tube, CO2 canister, nozzle and levers (I’ve never changed a tube, so they really wouldn’t have done me much good anyway). She already had two volunteers helping her, so I moved out. The day before the race I met Joanne at Princeton Sports and she told me everyone she talked to who did the race last year wished they had toe covers on their bike shoes, so I bought some. Shortly into the ride, I noticed my toes were nice and warm, which lasted until my socks got wet from the rain. After that my feet weren’t cold, just not warm. During the ride I wore a long sleeve Under Armour Heat Gear shirt, a light rain jacket, tri shorts, shoes and toe covers. I wasn’t cold until it started raining pretty hard which was when I noticed that during my slow, yet frenzied transition, I had forgotten to put on my gloves… awesome! For about half an hour or so during the ride I couldn’t move my fingers, they were bright red and if they could, they probably would have flipped me the bird! It was only my hands that were cold tho’, otherwise I was comfortable. Once it stopped raining my hands started feeling better. Lance flew by me about an hour and a half into my race and I think he told me he would buy me a beer later, but I wasn’t sure due to the Doppler EEEEEffeeecccttt. He may have said, “Don’t look at my rear”… don’t know, but I’m going with the beer story. At some point prior to that, Bryan caught me and we rode together for a while. He was great talking to and taking my mind off the hills and my screaming hip flexors. I have to mention the support… everyone from the volunteers to the spectators to the soldiers standing in the rain on their day off were out of this world. It was so inspiring and heart warming to see all those people out there cheering us on. Not sure if I was dreaming, caught up in a “Lance trance” or just hallucinating from dehydration but I even saw some guy in fairy wings screaming at me to get up the hill (Man, I hope he's not my fairy godmother, if so, I'm in deep port-a-potty)! By the time I rolled into T2, all those hills had done quite a number on my legs, hamstrings and hip flexors.

T2: 4:55 min

Getting off the bike I almost immediately realized my hip flexors and lower back were super tight and I still had 6.5 miles yet to go. I made my way up to the transition point, racked my bike and tried to put on dry socks. It was at this point I realized I had no feeling in my toes/feet. I thought when I took off my bike shoes, my feet would feel better, but I was mistaken. I had to sit on the ground to put my socks and shoes on because I had no balance (guess I shouldn’t have put tequila in my water bottle!). I didn’t want to sit down because I wasn’t sure I would get back up. Fortunately I was able to stand back up down a gel, some water, put on my hat and go.

Run: 1:02:22 hours

I’m really not sure you can call my first couple of miles a run, more of a shuffle. Imagine Fred Sanford (the late, great Red Foxx), from the TV show Sanford & Son, trying to run, that’s how I imagine I looked. I grabbed some Swedish fish at the first water point, right out of T2, and quickly realized that was a mistake. I wasn’t aware Swedish fish could double as a sort of sugary, European glue, but sure enough, it can (I’ll have to drop that in the IKEA suggestion box)! I did the Sanford shuffle around to the signs and was lifted by the outpouring of support for those who’ve fought and are still fighting the battle of their lives. I lost three out of four of my grandparents to cancer and my surviving grandmother is a cancer survivor. I felt proud of the support I was offering just by being part of the race. I repeated to myself a slogan I heard from one of the soldiers on the bike course “I hate cancer!” I gritted my teeth and surged into the hill just past those signs. Unfortunately my lower back and hip flexors have a mind of their own and I had to walk the hill. During the walk, I had a little talk with myself and I told those muscle groups they belonged to me; they could make me miserable in the short term, but they couldn’t make me quit. At the top of the hill, I started running again and passed a few people along the way, exchanging encouragements. By the mile three split, I finally had my legs back, could feel my toes again and was able to pick up the pace some, at least on the flat portions. The hills still kicked my buttocks, but I was feeling better. I pushed through the rest of the course and finished strong. I didn’t have anyone ahead of me to catch, or behind me to push me, so I didn’t need to kick it in and sprint at the end (if I did sprint I probably would have face planted… that would have been a great finishing photo tho’!)

Overall, I had a blast and am looking forward to my next race.

Thanks to everyone at the MMTC tent, all the volunteers on the course, our military and the Rev 3 staff. It was a great race and I look forward to competing in another Rev 3 next year!