1.2 mi swim * 56 mi bike * 13.1 mi run
The drive was pretty uneventful. It's almost completely a straight shot west. James and I stopped for food (graham crackers for me, cheetos for him, although I did eat a fair amount of his cheeeeesy poooofs). We got into the town of Deep Creek lake and found our motel
Awesome, huh? AND it's for sale! Our room was pretty low tech (I don't remember the last time I was in a hotel with an actual key and not a room card) but it did have a kitchen and a tv, so all was well.
After we checked in we drove to packet pickup at the Lake. I got my chip, cap, race number, badass tshirt, and tons of samples and coupons, etc. After packet pickup we went to the mandatory pre race meeting -- safety safety, when the sign says no aero we mean it, no we probably can't enforce it but its for your safety, watch the hairpin turns on the decents, the wall is steep, the climb to the wall is steep, the 8 miles after the wall are all uphill, it's going to be cold when you get out of the water, it might be foggy and we will have strobelights on the buoys, the kayakers are there to help, safety is paramount, this is a hard race.
Then J and I got my bike and went to the safety check (for my bike and helmet)
Yay -- both passed! I bought a back up CO2 cartridge (but hoped, prayed that I would not need to use it) and then racked my bike. Then back to the hotel where James took a nap and I watched Meet the Parents and ate and fidgeted and unpacked and layed out clothes for Sunday (mine and James'). Then we went to dinner at Uno's where I had onion rings and bbq chicken pizza. We came back to the Alpine Village Inn Motel and passed out around 10:00.
I woke up (on my own at midnight and three, and then by my cell phone alarm at 5:00) and ate a bowl of oatmeal. I got dressed in my tri suit, and then put on a long sleeved shirt, jacket, and sweatpants. I woke up James and we left for the course at quarter to six. Transition opened at 6:00 and we were one of the first people there.
Then I got marked: 111 on each arm, and a 26 on my right calf:
Then to transition to set up everything at my bike.
At this point it was 6:30 and we had an hour and a half to kill. James and I wandered around for a while and walked out on the floating dock. I was nervous and excited but more of the latter and I was so ready to get started.
I went back to transition and put on sunblock, Body Glide, and my wetsuit. I bought a skull cap (don't laugh, I look awesome in it) to wear under my helmet for the first 18 miles of the ride.
The swim start was delayed 30 minutes, so all the athletes were standing around - barefoot - and shivering. I struck up a conversation with a woman who was doing this race to redeem herself after DNFing at IM Lake Placid this year due to hypothermia ... nevermind that she's completed 5 IMs before that! We finally walked over the timing mat and got into the water. I was in the first wave: women and elite males (note: I am a woman, not an elite male).
And.... we're off!! It was a little foggy but not too bad, and I had no problem spotting. The course was straight out and back so it was pretty easy to keep track of where I was. I could see the bottom at points and there were a lot of water plants that came up high and I kept thinking about Harry Potter being in the lake during the tri-wizard tournament but fortunantly I just had to swim 1.2 miles and not save anyone from mermaids.
I rounded the halfway point at 18:00 which was pretty much on schedule for me. The way back was a bit bouncy due to the boats but the waves weren't too high. I came out of the water, looking and feeling drunk and stumbled up and out of the water.
Swim Time: 38:51
I crossed the time chip mat right out of the water, so my transition time includes the long run up to transition -- hill AND stairs (of course, what else could I expect from Savageman?). I took my time in transition -- got my wetsuit off, dried off with a towel, put on my skull cap, helmet, arm warmers, and gloves and left for a very long and very painful bike ride.
T1 Time: 8:07
Okay, have my gloves, my socks, my cleats, nutrition, hydration, helmet, arm warmers jacket ... at mile 2: WHERE THE EFF ARE MY SUNGLASSES? Oh well, couldn't do anything about it then. The first 18 miles are a net downhill. It's an absolutely stunning bike ride -- through the mountains, through farms, next to a stream. Perfect weather, too -- could not have asked for a prettier bike ride. My Luna Moons were frozen and extra chewy, and I almost fell off my bike trying to get them out of the package.
At mile 18 I hit the town of Westernport (the bottom of the route elevation map) and began a steep steep climb. The three blocks up to the wall are at a 15-20 deg. incline, so when I finally got to the wall, I was exhuasted. I DID try the wall, but fell over about halfway through and was pulled to the side by a nice lady who also grabbed my bike. I walked up the rest of the wall (the first time I walked my bike ... but certainly not the last!) and then went on to climb Mount Savage (the first big peak on the elevation map).
On this bike course you are either climbing or free falling -- there really isn't a lot of inbetween ground. The course was well marked with helpful SLOW: SHARP DECENT signs to prevent riders from flying off their bikes and a hilarious NO DRAFTING! sign on a 10 deg. climb (near the top of Savage Mountain). I got to the top of the mountain and was met by volunteers in devil costumes, telling me that I was in HELL (like I couldn't figure that out from the pain in every muscle in my body).. and refilling my bottles with Heed and Water and giving me electrolyte pills.
A nice 3-4 mile decent follows the peak of Savage, but it's short lived. I did talk to a cow (I was getting a little delicious at this point) and was paced by a jack russel that ran out barking at me and ran besdies my bike for 15 feet. There were a few people (locals) out on the course, cheering and waving, which was very nice.
I thought I was lost more than once -- although the course is well marked, there were a few miles were I didn't see any people or any signs and I was sure I was off the course... and was thrilled when I was passed because at least it meant that I was on the course.
After coming around a very sharp left turn (really, it was a u-turn) I looked up a Killer Miller (the second big peak on the map) -- a 1.2 climb of about 9*. Yeah, right. My legs were SO fried at this point that I just hopped off and walked up the entire hill, and was relieved to see a few people doing the exact same thing behind me. I was greeted at the top by angels and some more water.
The rest of the course, I was told, was "flat" but these people have such an effed up defintion of "hills" that I should have known that flat = not HUGE hills. The last 10 miles took forever and the thought of running 13.1 mi was making me ill... well, that and the several GUs and Luna Moons I ate. I was so sick of sugary sweet foods and drinks and my stomach was not thriled with me. Finally, mile 55, and then, a couple minutes later, I was finished.
Bike time: slow. oh okay, real time: 4:58:38, 11.3 mph.
I almost cried when I came into transition. Almost every single bike was back and it was SO disheartening. Still, I saw James, got off my bike, and re racked it. I changed from cleates to running shoes, turned on my Garmin, and put on my hat, and was off to run/ shuffle/ walk/ crawl 13.1 mi.
T2 time: 4:01
The run is evil -- you cross next to the finish line TWICE before actually running through the finish. I set off at around a 10:30 pace -- a far cry from my usual 8:10s for a HIM -- and took several walk breaks. My carefully planned nutrition plan was shot to hell as I ate a cookie and drank some coke at each aid station. At this point, it was about one thing: survival. I was going to drag my broken body across the finish line if it killed me (and it almost did). I finished the first lap and set off to do the second. There was almost NO ONE on the course at this time -- everyone I saw while I was on my first loop was on their second, and they had actually crossed the finish line while I was running next to it on to lap 2.
My ego was almost as sore as my butt -- I am not, by any means, a fast runner, but I normally place in the top 25%ish of women. What was I doing in the back of the pack? I reminded myself of my goals: finish and have fun, and I sucked it up and kept going forward. One step at a time, one mile at a time. There was this horrible run up a fire hill... and we did it twice. I met up with a woman and we walked the last 4 miles together. We did walk them at about a 13:30 pace, so it's not like we were strolling, but I couldn't believe how slow I was moving. We turned a corner and picked up a pace fast enough to call a jog, I think ... and booked it - as best we could - to the finish.
Run time: 2:41:45, 12.19 pace (compare that to my HIM PR of 1:47, ha!)
I crossed the finish line to a cheering group of people (I was shocked anyone was left, but it turns out they were waiting for their awards. Yeah, me too.). I got a metal and a coke and some pretzels and my James.
Then we went to McDonalds, where I had a McFlurry (m&m), quarter double pounder with cheese, fries, and a coke. Oh, and I changed into the race tshirt, and yes, I wore my metal.
I could not have done this without my wonderful husband, who drove to and from Deep Creek, stayed with me at a shady motel, came with me to packet pickup and sat through the pre race meeting, woke up at 5:30 with me to go to the course, carried my bike, cheered me on, took pictures, told me I could do it, told me he was proud of me, and made me laugh when I felt like crying.
Oh, and finishers:
Number of female athletes: 41
Number of DNF female athletes: 8
Number of male athletes: 182
Number of DNF male athletes: 20
Crazy amout of DNFs + not a lot of females that even attempted it = one happy Trish for even starting this race and crossing the finish line.