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Drinking from the victory cup…literally…as I re-capture the Master's State 10k Championship - 3/1/2008
Christopher Giordanelli
Simpsonville Weather Forecast, SC (29680)

Rev3 Anderson Half-Iron Race Report

by G-Man 12. October 2011 01:17

Location: Anderson, SC
Date: October 9, 2011
Placing: 3rd Overall Amateur
Format: Half-Iron Triathlon
My Race Photos
Official Race Photos
Results: Click Here

Preface

My tri season is over. And let me just say that I didn't slip out through the back door. No. I left the party in dramatic fashion right through the front door. The Rev3 South Carolina race was half-iron race #5 for me this year and much like my last event in Syracuse, I had a well-executed race plan wrapped up and tangled in a series of unanticipated events that you might expect to happen to the hero in a feel-good blockbuster movie. Justice prevails, we all live happily ever afterwards and you are left with a sense that everything is right with the world. *(lights dim; curtain closes)*

 

Chapter 1: Bob #1

The day before the race, we met up with our friends Bob and Sue from Atlanta. Bob and I used to train for bike racing together back in Texas; just after the wheel was invented. We lost touch with each other for many years and then - apparently through the ineptness of the witness protection program - Bob found me again. We picked up our packets, racked our bikes and drove the bike course; making meticulous mental notes on each of the 2,000 turns and hills. Which turns required braking, which hills to use our little chainrings, etc. Yep, I had every inch of the course memorized and analyzed...until Sunday morning, when every road looked exactly the same and I forgot it all. I swore I rode the same 2-mile loop for 2 hours. Up. Down. Turn. Up. Down. Turn.


Bob starts yet another fad look. All the kids will be doing it next year.

In an obvious attempt to sabotage my day - so that he would come out on top - Bob made sure that I didn't eat one single thing on Saturday that any sane person would have on their pre-race menu. I will swear in a court of law that he MADE me get the 'special burrito' platter for lunch. And we won't even touch my 'bacon crab cakes' for dinner. Admittedly, I didn't resist much because I was in the perfect position for my last race - still quite fit, but having very little pressure since I could hang my hat on my recent performances in Syracuse and Portland. I was as stress free before this event as I have ever been. Most importantly - on Saturday - my countdown of "number of swims left for 2011" was down to 1.

Our day ended with the 4 of us using every electronic device we had to track the Ironman Hawaii race from our hotel room. I think we all fell asleep with our phones and tablets in our hands. Thank goodness for some Facebook posts because the Ironman athlete tracking web page was useless. They probably can't afford a new server, what with the nominal $700 entry fee for a race. So anyway, I'm hoping my TeamKattouf teammmate Chris Olson has a good race. Don't spoil it for me if you know - I'm still waiting for the Ironman website. Hopefully, their 'real time' tracking will let me know how he's doing soon. Seeing as how he finished 3 days ago.


Chillin' with Bob and Sue before the start. Of course it's still dark...most of the athletes are still sleeping.

Bob continued his antics to slow me down by waking up so early on race morning that I think we traveled back in time to a moment before we even went to sleep. That's right, I think I actually got 'negative sleep'. Our set up at the venue went smoothly (how could it not - there was nobody else there yet). It was cool out but it was nowhere near the 42-degrees I dealt with in New York. Temperature would be no concern today. What WOULD be an obvious concern was the fact that at 5 o'clock in the morning, it was already prime kite-flying weather. Calling it a breeze would be an injustice. It was a full-fledged wind. I found myself looking skyward several times to make sure Dorothy's farmhouse wasn't headed for me. As daybreak broke it became apparent that the wind had blown the sun completely out of the sky. It was a grey, cloud-filled day. There would be no 'looking directly into the sun' on this swim. And that's a good thing.


This must be Photoshopped. You can tell by the subtle nuances in the photo like...the fact that I'm about to swim and I'm smiling.

Chapter 2: Synchronized Swimming

The 5 start waves went like this: pro men, pro women, men under 40, men 40 and over, women. I was glad to be behind the younger guys for once. I hate not knowing if someone who started behind me is beating me. This way, it's all about looking ahead. I don't have to wait for other people to finish to know if I wil lmove down in placings. The start seemed to come quickly today and before you knew it I was standing on the water's edge with 15 seconds to go. The course was simple - we started on one side of a peninsula, swam a rectangle and came out on the other side of the peninsula. There was a little more 'brawling' in the first few minutes than normal but nothing I couldn't deal with...until about 10 minutes in. A swimmer runs into me at such a sharp angle from my right that I instantly think I've missed a turn. Nope. I laugh as I let him pass by - headed to nowhere. Yeah, it was funny. For about 30 seconds; at which point the same swimmer broadsided me from the left. Seriously? No lie, his zigzagging continued for several minutes and I could not get away. Finally, we hit the long section of the rectangle and I lost him. I thought he was probably headed to either Florida or New Jersey at that point.


Time for the swawl. That's my term for the start of a tri. It's derived from the terms "swim" and "brawl". I'm the one with the yellow cap.

I found myself drifting a bit more than my usual straight-as-an-arrow trajectory and later on attributed that to the hefty wind. Shortly after starting the long segment, I noticed a swimmer to my left (because I breathe left). He was keeping almost perfect tempo with me and he was breathing right. We probably spent 15 to 20 minutes swimming 15 feet apart and glimpsing each other in 1 second intervals. Had this been a syncronized swimming competition, we would have been tough to beat. Our 'arrangement' was only interupted a couple of times (including once by 'zigzag man' who most likely swam twice the actual distance).

I made a decision at turn number 3 that it was silly to stay next to this swimmer who was obviously going the same speed and swimming straight - so I fell in behind him into his draft. I've rarely ever drafted in the water. It DOES work. My problem is that whenever I've tried it before I could never find anyone who could swim as straight as me. Those people are all 10 minutes ahead of me. I might have to start the "slow but straight" swimmer's club. Maybe I'd have to rename it to be more politically correct. Today was the exception and I followed this swimmer all the way to the swim exit where we ran into some congestion. The really funny part? After the race, my friend Bob asked me where I went in the swim. He said he thought he was swimming next to me during the entire long segment. Holy cow. That was my friend Bob the whole time. I got the last laugh when I told him that I drafted him to the exit. Sweet.

A quick glance at my watch...35:59. No way. 1 second off my estimate. What I completely forgot was that I had started my watch 1 minute before the gun went off. I actually swam a 34:49 (officially). That 1 minute will become very important 4 hours later. Another fairly fast swim for me using the same technique I used in Syracuse. I tried my best to have a quick transition but we had to shove everything we were leaving behind into a plastic bag that Rev3 provided; wetsuit, goggles, disdain for swimming, etc. This race had two different transition locations so we would not be coming back to this small park once we left. When I find the time, I'm inventing wetsuit bottoms that rip off like the sweatpants the NBA uses. I will be rich.


Seriously, wetsuit. Come off of my foot. I wonder if there any doctors who do foot-reduction surgery.

Chapter 3: Bob #2

I ran to the mount line and there was Bob, messing with his gears. Someone had apaprently knocked his shift levers in transition and he was having a time of it. I hopped on my steed and gave him a quick "c'mon Bob" and I was gone. I hit my Garmin to start my heartrate monitor. I hit my Garmin to start my heartrate monitor. Crap. My heartrate monitor - which has never failed me - did not want to read today. Looks like I would have to go by feel today; haven't done that in a couple of years. I'm not going to dwell on the bike - it was constantly up and down with a ton of turns. I'll never forget the first gust of wind on my first descent. With my deep dish front rim it felt like I was on American Gladiators and guys on both sides of me were whacking me with those giant Q-Tips. I had to quickly stiffen up my upper body and gain control. This would happen for the entire ride and I would find myself after the race with sore shoulder and neck muscles from 'manhandling' my bike all day.


Whoa, who's that guy at the mount line messing with his bike? I need to avoid him. Oh. Hey, Bob.

I was doing a good job of taking advantage of my cycling skills - diving into turns, using my momentum on the hills, and looking sharp in lycra - when I started to catch a rider near mile 20. The course was never straight so I would see the rider for a few seconds before they would disappear. I could see them using the same techniques that I was using. It had to be someone who raced bikes. It was 6 miles later when I finally got close enough to see the telltale sign...shoe covers. Shoe covers meant that it had to be a relay rider (no triathlete would stop to put shoe covers on in transition...hmmm, what am I saying; triathletes will do whatever you tell them to). And there was only one person I knew who did triathlon relays that fast on the bike: Bob Chambers. Talk about history repeating itself. The very first triathlon I ever did 6 years ago was the South Carolina Half-Iron. At mile 50, I passed a rider - something I do all the time. But this rider passed me back a minute later and that took me by surprise. It was Bob Chambers riding as a relay team rider. He told me after that race that he thought I had to be a relay rider since I was going so fast. But I wasn't.

Years later - Here we are again. If Bob was anything like me (and I knew he would be) he probably felt comfortable going fast and passing so many people. But sometimes all it takes is a wake-up call to make you realize that you are riding in a complacent state. I was Bob's wake-up call. He passed me back a minute later. Turns out, we played a cat and mouse game for most of the remainder of the race. I simply stuck to my plan - I couldn't be jostled into a 'pissing contest' (for lack of a better term). We never actually rode close together; when the road would spend time going up, I would pass Bob and get a good gap on him. When the road would shoot down for a good bit, he would do the same to me. We actually only passed each other maybe 6 times total and there were a couple of times where Bob rode completely out of sight again before I would reel him back in. For the first time in a race, I could see how my circa 1890 frame was probably slowing me down when the wind was strong and the speed was fast. I didn't have near the aerodynamics as Bob's state of the art set up. As a matter of fact, when I first started to catch him I swore he was riding a pencil. The most important thing that happened by accident was that Bob became my heartrate monitor. I knew he would have one of the fastest bike splits of the day for amateurs and if I was moving close to the same speed then I could pretty much bet on a solid time without overextending myself.

With about 6 miles to go, Bob flew by me for the last time on a fast downhill. It was time for him to empty the tank. I didn't have that luxury with the thought of 13.1 miles of running looming ahead. We were joined on the last 5 miles of the course by riders who were doing the olympic-distance race. It gave me a few more targets to finish out the ride. I remembered to suck down the last of my water and with a half-mile left I used the last downhill to pull my feet out of my shoes and remove my Garmin from my handlebars. Riding over the series of speed bumps like this as I approached T2 took a bit of skill. With my Garmin dangling from my mouth, I slammed on my brakes just shy of the dismount line and even popped a bit of a front-end wheelie as I waved to the fans. It was easy to spot Janis in my TeamKattouf jacket screaming her head off for me.


Thanks, Janis for getting this shot 20 seconds AFTER I give myself a strawberry Ensure bath. Mmmm, I smell berry-fresh. But my fingers are now welded together.

Chapter 4: Let's Do This...Together

The Rev3 transition areas look so different because they use wheel holders on the ground (they look like ladders that are laying down in rows) instead of the high-standing racks. So when I run into transition, it looks wide open with stuff laying on the ground everywhere and nothing standing up. As soon as I entered, Bob Chambers was standing right there - having just handed off to his relay runner. At some races I will give a quick count of the bikes in transition; a rough estimate of how many people are in front of me but today I was busy reciting the location of my rack spot, "the light, two racks, go right...the light, two racks, go right". Got it. I threw my shoes on and grabbed my Rudy glasses, Garmin, race belt and Ensure all in one hand and started running. The Rudy's first...then the race belt...then I opened the Ensure and threw it at my mouth. I beleive 60% went on my shoulder and hand; 30% went onto my Rudy's; 5% went up my nose; and 5% went in my mouth. Lastly, I attached my Garmin to my wrist and hit the start button. Let's do this. Still no heartrate registering. The thought occured to me that maybe I was dead. I thought that can't be - heaven would be much better than this. Oh, wait a minute. Maybe this is....

I felt slow. But I always feel slow. Janis had run over to see me at the half-mile point. After a ride like that I just said in a very matter-of-fact way..."that ride was brutal - this run is going to be a bit slower than normal". I waited for my Garmin to beep the first mile. What would it be? 7:30? 7:45?. BEEP...6:38. There was no way I was believing that until mile 2. Just after the first mile, a 19-year-old from Georgia State pulled up next to me and I latched on to him. I ran off his shoulder until the olympic course seperated from the half course around mile 3...and we went our seperate ways. Those first three miles were crazy. Take a piece of string, wad it up, throw it in the air and let it fall to the ground. You just created a map for the first 3 miles. It was marked very well but you overlapped and turned around enough times that at one point I beleived I could see all 1000 competitors at the same time. I believe it was a Jedi mind trick designed to deter the weakest minds. "This is not the turn you're looking for"...


"That ride was hard, baby - this run will be a little slower than normal. Hey, how do my new shoes look?"

Georgia boy and I had passed one of the female pros shortly before we seperated and a minute or two later, I could hear her chasing me. I could hear her for what seemed like forever and as we approached mile 6 I backed down just enough to let her pull up to me. My Garmin beeped and she asked me what mile that was; I told her we just passed mile 6. We had both passed another female pro earlier and were right on top of yet another one. We picked her off a few seconds later. We ran side by side - silently - for a while. We started some small talk. Her name was Courtenay and she was now in 7th (there was a payout for the top 10) and she wanted to stay there. I told her that if it bothered her for me to run with her that I could pick it up or slow it down. She was really cool about it and told me that it was actually helping her to hold pace. It was good for me too - another person taking the place of my heartrate monitor and keeping me in check. I decided right there that I would stay with her until the urge to 'go' could not wait any longer. We were hitting 6:45's and she was good with that. I was good with that also. I could feel myself holding back ever so slightly but that was really the best thing for me. If I had anything left, I would fire the afterburners at the end.

As we approached the far turnaround at mile 8, we passed my ex-bike-racing-friend turned triathlete Heath Dotson already going the other way. Wow, he must have beaten out of the water, stayed ahead of me on the bike and was now a minute or two ahead of me with 5 miles left to run. Hmmm. He was not in my age group, but still...


I had the pleasure of running alongside of pro woman Courtenay Brown for most of the run. I'm usually in "no-man's land" in many of my events (it's the downside of being old and fast that I'm willing to live with ;-) so having someone to pace with was phenomenal. By the way, I guess technically, I was still in no "man's" land...Courtenay took 7th. Sweet.

At mile 9 I offered my last Gu to Courtenay. At first she declined but a few seconds later she changed her mind. It was slightly up to mile 10 but that was a high point in the run and mile 11 was almost entirely downhill. We were working a bit harder now as she picked up the pace to the #11 mile marker. We dropped down some more and at about mile 11.25 we bottomed out and I decided it was time to find my last gear. I told her I was going to try and catch Heath. She thanked me and wished me good luck. Holy cow. With a target and less than two miles to go I found more than 1 gear...I found overdrive. I closed what was probably a 45-second gap on Heath before we hit mile 12. Son of gun. He is only 39! I thought he was 40. He actually started in a wave 5 minutes ahead of me. We exchanged some friendly banter but I was in no mood to chill - my legs was a movin'!

Chapter 5: Karma

I'm not sure if it was because I missed out on my top 5 finish at Syracuse, or if it was because I helped Courtenay a bit to her eventual 7th place finish but Karma was about to give me a little chuckle.

As many of you may know from reading my race reports, Janis and I almost make a game out of me estimating my times. It all started when she wanted to know about how long she should expect to be waiting to see me between disciplines. I fancy myself pretty good at it. When I was a bike racer my best event on the track (velodrome) was the "unknown distance". Part speed. Part ESP. Look it up. Saturday afternoon I put all the external factors into my head: wind, hills, number of burritos eaten the day before and I ran my incredibly complex algorythms. I spit out these times: 0:36:00 swim, 2:24:00 bike, 1:25:00 run and 0:03:48 transitions: a 4:28:48 total time. I told her that I was so confident that I turned around and entered the time on Facebook. You see, Yakima runs a promotion at every Rev3; you post your finish time on their page and the 2 athletes that get closest win a new Yakima rack. Fast forward to mile 12-point-something of the run...


I realized about 30 seconds ago that I was going to be real close to my time estimate. I mean REAL CLOSE...

I had just passed my friend Heath and was tearing it pretty good towards the finish line. For the first time since I exited the swim, I glanced at my watch (which holds my 'master' time). 4:25:30. It took only a second for my brain to go from "cool - under 4:30", to "holy crap! if a train leaves the finish line traveling towards me at a 6:00 pace; and I'm a half-mile away...carry the 2...times sixty...I could finish within a minute of my estimate." I near the finish and they surprise me with a hidden u-turn that throws you up a final climb. I glance at Janis at the turn and just point at my watch...4:28:30. I was kicking it prety hard but I wasn't going to make it. Damn, I'm gonna be long.

Then, a voice jumped into my head and slapped some sense into me. "You dummy - you started your watch on the beach a MINUTE BEFORE THE START. GAME ON!! I ran the last 300 meters like Usain Bolt (on his easy day). I was sprinting so hard when I came around the turn into the finish chute that people kept looking behind me to see who was chasing me. They had no idea. 4:28:40...42...44...46...BAM! 4:28:48 ON THE NOSE! I just about collapsed for a second before standing up and pointing to the Yakima tent right next to the finish line and yelling "YES! IT'S MINE!!!!" Un. Real. You'd a thought I won the lottery. Apparently there is no need to put competitors in front of me. Just offer me the chance to win something and I'll run like nobody's business. What a finish. Reminded me of chasing down my friend Dan Moss 4 years ago at Rock n' Roll Man Half. Envigorating.


There is no way this picture is real. I know for a fact that I was flying down that finishing chute. I look like I'm out for a jog.

Janis met me at the end of the finish chute and looked up my official time on my phone: 4:28:47. Fourth overall. I actually ran 1 second too fast. It was like icing on the cake. As if to say "I'm not only gonna win that rack, but I'm gonna BEAT my time estimate too". It took us a while to realize that one of the people ahead of me was Bob Chamber's relay runner. I had finished 3rd overall amateur. A phenomenal way to end the tri season. And I got to share it with tons of friends and teammates since the race was so close to home. What started as a pretty crummy season - ended with a bang the last 3 months. 2011, I'll miss you...


Epilogue: Timing is Everything

As a numbers guy, I just can't resist the "call of the data". Here is an interesting comparison table of my estimate and actual times:

Segment My estimate My actual Difference
Swim 36:00 34:49 <1:11>
Bike 2:24:00 2:24:01 +0:01
Run 1:25:00 1:26:50 +1:50
Transitions 3:48 3:06 <0:42>


With respect to the amateurs, my times were: 53rd best swim of the day, 2nd best ride, 5th best run (My friend Heath had the 3rd best ride just 8 seconds behind me...shoulda put the shoes on in trasition, Heath ;-). Also, Once again my average run pace was exactly my first mile split (6:38).

Notes:
* Although I persevered in Syracuse and still had a great race, I was disappointed to have missed a top 3-5 placing. I guess it just wasn't my time YET.
* Although the bike course never reached a high altitude, there was still 400 more feet of climbing than in Syracuse - which is considered a moderately difficult course. The difference was that this course never stopped going up and down.
* I had given time estimates to win the Yakima rack at both of my other Rev3 races this year. In Knoxville, I was just getting over my asthma problems and was slower than anticipated. In Portland, they changed the hilly course to a flat one and I was faster than my estimate.
* Janis and I housed two pro racers for the weekend: Brandon Marsh and Scott DeFilippis of Team TBB. Although he had just gotten over being sick, Brandon had a decent day finishing in 14th in the pro field. Unfortunately, Scott had a bike mechanical and had to pull out. Very cool guys. Watch for them at Kona next year.
* This was my last tri of the season. Number of swims I have left for 2011? 0.
* It was awesome to see so many of my friends and teammates placing and taking home some swag. My friend Heath finished 7th overall and won his age group. My teammate Rex Morgan took 2nd in the 50-54 and my friend Bob took 5th. Teammate John Henis took 3rd in the 45-49. Too many people to mention!
* I scored a TYR backpack, Avia shoes, a case of GU, winter hat, Fuel Belt, Inside Triathlon subscription and hopefully - a Yakima rack (it's not official yet. You know how Karma works, maybe two other people hit their times on the nose)
* At one of the feed zones on the run, the girls all dressed up as princesses. It was pretty awesome. Anything to take your mind off of the effort.
* Time to back down for a month with a couple of half-marathons and then a big break in November.

Next Up: Spinx Half Marathon and San Antonio Half Marathon

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