Monday, June 25, 2007

QuarterMax race report

QuarterMax was on Saturday, and I wish I could start this post off on a brighter note. Unfortunately, the race was overshadowed by the death of one of the participants during the swim. There were two races going on, OctoMax and QuarterMax. OctoMax was the shorter of the two races, so it started first. The women’s wave went, and then 5 minutes later the men’s wave went off. Approximately 50 yards from the swim exit, one of the men went under and didn’t come back up. We don’t know what happened to cause him to go under, but it took a couple of minutes for volunteers and the other athletes to find him and pull him out. The paramedics that were on hand at the race did everything they could to revive him, and he was transported to a hospital by helicopter. None of it was enough to save him unfortunately, and he passed away. This was a complete shock to us, as triathlon is an inherently safe sport, and the UltraMax events are especially so. There are divers and other safety crew in the water along the swim course at every event, and paramedics and ambulances on hand to handle any situations that come up. He was in my age group (25-29), so fairly young, and we heard that his wife and two young daughters were at the race to watch him. I really feel for them, I can’t imagine what they must be going through.

Aside from that tragic event, I had a wonderful race. Court and I pulled into Innsbrook around 4:00 to pick up our packets and then headed a few miles down the road to our hotel. We got there and discovered that there was a kids baseball team in town for some tournament, and lucky us, they were all staying on our floor. Fantastic. Just what we needed, a bunch of 9 year old boys running around the halls when we were trying to sleep. We grabbed dinner at Applebees and picked up a few necessities at Wally World, then took a quick spin on our bikes through the parking lot of an abandoned mall next to our hotel. We turned in early and set the alarms on both of our phones, plus the alarm clock in the room for 5am.

After we got all of our stuff ready to go in the morning, we walked down to the lobby to partake in the continental breakfast that every hotel known to man provides. Except apparently, for the Holiday Inn in Wentzville. WTF?! What sort of hotel doesn’t have breakfast!? Welp, we were going to have to find somewhere else to eat, because a Clif Bar wasn’t going to cut it. So we loaded up the Element and checked out of the hotel, and drove back towards the race site. We knew there was a Panera (excuse me, St. Louis Bread Co) at one of the exits, so we decided to stop there. Imagine our delight when we found that it had a drive-through! None of the Panera’s here have that!! So that was the first exciting thing of our day.

We got to the race site and unloaded all of our gear and headed over to the TA to get all set up. We were there by 6:30, so were both able to snag a good spot on the racks. OK, everything is all set up…..and its only 6:45. Our heat doesn’t start until 8:50. I like being early and all, but this was a little ridic. I’m not sure why they had such a late start, usually races start by 7:30 or 8. Oh well. I spotted our new teammate Leslie Curley setting up her TA so I went over and chatted with her for a few minutes. Then there was really nothing left to do but walk around and kill time. We took a short little warm up jog and stretched a bit, then headed down to the beach around 8:15. The first wave went off at 8:30, and most of the OctoMax people would be out of the water before we even started, so we wanted to take advantage of actually being able to watch people.

Finally it was time for the QuarterMax women to start, so we all lined up on the beach and waited for the cannon. I wasn’t feeling nervous at all, just excited to get the race started! Last year those buoys had looked SO far out, but this year it didn’t seem like any big deal. It was a .6 mile swim, and I knew I could handle that no problem. I’m a pretty slow swimmer, so I never have any trouble finding some open water to swim in once the pack gets spread out. It took me about 200 yards to get settled into my rhythm, and then I was just able to enjoy the swim. The water was a little warm, at 85 degrees, but it felt good. Before I knew it I was rounding the last turn and heading back to shore. About the last 100 yards or so, another lady and I were right on top of each other, bumping into one another on every stroke. We got out of the water at the same time and had a chuckle about it on our way up the hill to the TA. I grabbed my bike and started heading towards the exit, when I saw a helicopter landing on the beach. One of the volunteers said “they pulled someone out!”, and I remember hoping that they were ok.

Once on the bike I felt great. I knew I had 8 miles of hills inside the resort to get through before I got out onto the highway, but it wasn’t anything worse than the Lotawana ride we’ve been doing. I took it easy, not taxing myself too much, and knew that I could make up a lot of time once I got out of the resort. When we drove the course the night before, I had made a mental note of where the last hill was, so when I came up on that, I just hammered up it and got outta there as quickly as possible. Out on the open road, I cranked it up a notch and started passing people left and right. That sure was a new feeling! I tried to stay around 20mph as much as possible, and I think I did a pretty good job. I always try to keep a positive thought process going through my head, so it went something like this: “Go, go go! Your legs are pistons, you’re a silver bullet! GO!!!” They had mile markers every 5 miles, and each one seemed to come up quickly. I came up on the aid station, grabbed a bottle of water from one of the volunteers and dumped it into my aero bottle which was now almost empty. The thing about swimming is that it makes your nose run. That, coupled with freshly cut grass along most of the route, had me blowing snot all over myself for most of the bike. I haven’t mastered the farmer blow, so it always ends up going all over my arms and hands. Yummy! The lady I had gotten out of the swim with, ended up being with me for most of the bike, too. Back and forth, back and forth. We talked for a minute, and then I finally got ahead of her with about 5 miles to go.

The worst part of the bike, for me, is the last couple of miles before you get back into the resort. There are a couple of relatively steep, long hills, and after I’ve been cranking for 25 miles, they kinda hurt. Plus, that stretch of road is pretty rough and in desperate need of repaving. I hit a pothole at the bottom of a hill going probably 25mph and the sponge in my aero bottle bounced out and smacked me in the face, followed by a huge splash of Gatorade. Fantastic. Should I stop and pick up my sponge? You’re not supposed to drop stuff on the course. Eh, screw it. But man, I found out how well those little things work! I was soaked by the time I got back to the TA from all the Gatorade splashing out all over me. I got off my bike without falling and making an ass of myself (always a worry for me) and got into my running shoes as quickly as possible.

I was NOT looking forward to this run course. It was hilly and mostly gravel. I started running right off the bat, and then about ¾ of a mile in decided that I needed to walk for a minute since I still hadn’t caught my breath after getting off the bike. Damn! There’s a photographer, I cant be walking in a picture! So I started running again. Then walked for a minute once I got past him. I made it to the first aid station and grabbed a cup of water, drank half and dumped the other half over my head. We’d had a nice cloud cover for most of the bike, but now the sun was out in full force. The run course was mostly shaded, but it was still HOT. Hot and hilly. I walked up all of the hills, and tried to run the rest of it, but dang, there were a lot of hills! The second aid station had wet rags, which was awesome to wipe the sweat out of my eyes. It was a two loop course, and when I was getting close to the turn around, I passed Courtney going the opposite direction. I had wondered where she was! She was running up a slight incline, and looked strong. I made the turn, and was ready to get this thing done. I felt a lot better the second loop, my running legs had finally kicked in, but I still felt kind of stiff and heavy. Guess I need to be doing more brick workouts!

I finally got back around to the end of the course, and passed the 6 mile sign. Only half a mile to go! The finish chute is pretty long, probably 50 yards. As I was entering it, another girl was a few yards in front of me. They write your age on the back of your calf, and I saw that she was in my age group. I really wanted to beat her, so I started taking longer strides to catch up to her, and then once I caught her, I turned on a full sprint. I blew by her, and someone yelled to her “she’s in your age group!” and she started sprinting too. She caught back up to me, and we were neck and neck then she pulled ahead of me just as we got to the line. DAMMIT!!! It was my own fault, I turned it on too soon. Lesson learned, if I’m going to sprint someone for the finish, don’t start with 25 yards left, wait until they wont have time to catch me. Oh well, it was still fun. And I was kind of happy to learn that I could actually sprint after having ridden 28 miles and run 6.5.

I found Courtney, and we rested for a few minutes, then headed over to find the massage tent. While we were waiting, it suddenly clouded up, and then started pouring. Crap! It felt really cold since I wasn’t completely cooled down yet. The rain only lasted about 5 minutes though, so it wasn’t too bad. While I was in the chair getting my massage, Mark Livesay (the UltraMax director) got on the mic and made the announcement that Kevin Hunt had died. That was some very sombering news to hear, and it definitely put a cloud on the rest of the day. We packed up our stuff, which was now soaked, and headed back to the hotel for Courtney to pick up her mom’s car. We stopped at Burger King on the way back, and then sat in the parking lot chowing down. A Whopper and fries have never tasted so good! I stopped at the Nine West outlet in Warrenton on the way back and picked up a couple pair of shoes, and the sales lady gave me an extra 10% off because I had raced! How nice of her! I was pretty tired, so it was a long drive home back to KC by myself.

The official results aren’t posted yet, but according to my watch, I came in around 3:24. I had wanted to break 3:15, so that’s a little disappointing, but I beat my time from last year, so I’m happy about that. Next year I can break 3:15!

Results are up. My official time was 3:24:56.7. The chick I sprinted against at the end beat me by 3/10 of a second! Sonofabitch!

Swim- 27:16.3 (they included the hike up the hill to the TA, and T1 in this time. My actual swim was closer to 22)
Bike- 1:40:16.3 Avg Speed- 16.8 mph
Run- 1:17:24.1 Pace- 12:29/mile (not too terribly bad, since i had to walk a lot and I typically average 12 min/mile anyway)

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