Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Savageman Triathlon - Deep Creek, MD
Sept 21, 2008
International Distance - 1.5k SWIM - 23 mile BIKE - 10K RUN

Placing: Athena Division - 4 of 4

Executive Summary: Cold Water, Hills, Hills, Hills - Finisher Medal - I am an International SAVAGE Baby!! LMAO!

Long Version:

This race meant a lot to me for all sorts of reasons. It was my first olympic/International distance TRI since May 2007, it is the beginnings of my year of training for IRONMAN USA in July 2009 and the end of my very short (2 races) 2008 TRI Race season and most importantly, this race raises money to support awareness and prevention of MELANOMA, a subject that hits very close to home for me as a MELANOMA SURVIVOR myself.

When I signed up for the race in January 2008, I had grand ideas of fundraising $3000.00, a grand for every year I have survived Melanoma. Needless to say "Life" got in the way and when Jim and I drove to Deep Creek, I arrived having raised $500.00. I was happy to hear during the mandatory race meeting that every dollar donated would go straight to the Melanoma Foundation. A special THANKS to all those who were able to make a DONATION!

PRE-RACE: Race morning dawned early, 5:30 am, and even though I was not due to race until 9AM, Jim and I agreed that getting to transition early would be a good idea. Within 10 minutes of leaving the SilverTree Inn we were parked in the lot closest to the finish line and transition. I headed down to transition to do a final check of my bike (left over night ) and to set up my area. 15 minutes later I was back in car, enjoying a bagel and peanutbutter and listening to the radio with Jim. We left the car about 7:30 or so to walk toward the Finish Line/Swim Start to watch the Half Ironman distance athletes start there day. They had a 20 minute delay due to FOG but by 8:20 the first waves were under way.

SWIM: 47:41 - 1.5K (0.9 miles)

My swim wave started on time at 9:07. It was an "in-water" start and MAN WAS IT COLD! 68 degrees and even with my sleeveless wetsuit, I was having a hard time adjusting to the cold. It took about 300 yards and a whole lot of "self cheerleading" to finally relax and find a regular rhythm. In spite of my 300 yards of "putzing around" I came out of the water at 45:00 on my watch, which is when I told Jim to expect me. I have no idea where the extra 2 minutes on the chip time comes from (Jim's watch also said 45:00 from the start gun for my split.)

T1: 6:04

Transition included about a 400 yard run up a very steep sidewalk, 12 sets of stairs and all the way down the length of the transition area and then to my bike, which was racked almost exactly in the middle of transition on an end. I took some extra time to put on a long sleeve, summer-weight jersey, to keep the early down-hill chill from getting the better of me. After passing the "Bike Mount" line, I wasted about a minute trying to fix my race belt, which had come undone. So much for trying to save time now for T2 later by putting on my race belt! HA!

BIKE: 2:02:08 - 23 miles

Let's just say that after having done the International distance version of the SAVAGEMAN bike course, I have NO INTEREST in tackling the HALF IRONMAN distance bike course for this race, ever! LOL There were only 3 climbs of any significance in the short course and I'll admit that I had to get off my bike and walk the steepest grade (nearly 20% at the top). I was highly amused by the VIAGRA signs on the hardest climb but completely shell shocked when I realized that the first 9 miles of the course took me an hour to complete. I even shook my garmin (like that would help) to make sure it was actually working, I was so shocked at the fact that an hour had gone by. I would like the race organizers' to know that at one point during a climb, I thought to myself "This course is DEFINITELY just as NASTY AS MELANOMA" and I have some very personal experience in that department with the scars to back up my words - SAVAGEMAN is appropro to more than just the "general location of the race." The remainder of the course was "rolling hills" and so I was able to harness some power (while still trying to "save something for the run") and cover the last 14 miles over the next 62 minutes. Since my hope was to come in around 2:00 hours knowing this was a difficult course, I was satisfied with my efforts and ready to get off the bike and onto the run course.

T2: 2:55:52

Seriously, don't ask me how it could take me nearly 3 minutes to take off a helmet, bike gloves and switch shoes - it's shocking to me too!

RUN: 1:24:30

I had two goals for this race. The first was to place top three in my ATHENA division and the second was the run the entire RUN course with only breaks at the water stops. Goal #1 slipped away in that first hour on the bike. The 3 women ahead of me all had previous races with sub-60 minute 10K times so the only place I could gain on them right now would have been the bike - so I stopped thinking about placing and simply put all my focus on the RUN. I was on track with my RUN, stopping only at water stops (every mile) to take water or some HEED (YUCK! I am such a GATORADE/POWER-AID girl...) and the first 4 miles went by with a steady 12:00-12:30 pace. My breathing was under control, my legs were moving along and I was enjoying watching the ELITE Half Distance triathletes do their thing. All the front runners were super friendly and very encouraging. Then we hit the CLIMB TO THE FIRE TOWER - which we had already been told we didn't have to do all of this year - and all I have to say to that is THANK YOU for CHANGING THE COURSE! LOL Mile 5 consisted of climbing this steep narrow fire road with rocks and skree and gullies.

As I started up it, one of the male Elite athlete's passed me and he said "That's it girl - keep it up - NO WALKING, NO WALKING" and away he went. I focused on him and did my best not to walk until I found myself gasping for breath and realized that if I didn't start doing some walking, I was going to sit down by the side of the road and not move at all. Putting ego aside that moment and just taking the climb one stride at a time, I finally found myself at the top and an aid station where I grabbed a wonderful, warm cup of COCA COLA, gulped it down and then settled in for the RIDE back down the fire road. WHEEEE!!!! It was like a barely controlled slide all the way back down the fire road, skipping over gullies, watching my footing constantly and trying to just "go with the rock flow." Very quickly I was at the bottom and in less than 2 minutes passing the 5 mile marker. Only 1 mile left to my SAVAGE day and I was feeling tired and a little hungry. My stomach growled to remind me that Cliff Shots and GU were not quite enough for a 4-plus hour effort (I was thinking closer to 3:45 when I planned my nutrition for the race) and I asked my body just to hold on for another 13 minutes. I spend the last mile (mostly uphill) just watching the runners on the other side of the road run downhill and imagined that every bike that passed me was pulling me one step closer to the finish line. Soon enough I was taking that lovely right hand turn that took me to the sweet, sweet downhill and the finish line. I was very surprised to be handed a finisher's medal at the finish line. That was an unexpected bonus!

It was a beautiful day, it was a SAVAGE race and I was completely satisfied with my race efforts - I had nothing left to give and I had no regrets at all - That is how every RACE should end.

POST-RACE: I was thrilled to get the chance to enjoy some ice cream, watch so many people finish the HALF SAVAGEMAN (My hats off to all of you!! You definitely EARNED IT!) and finally meet Tara Norton, last years SAVAGEMAN 1st place winner, a Pro-Triathlete and fellow TRI-DRS list member and 2nd-place Woman this year (due to some controversial swim-course issues amongst the first wave). Tara was wonderfully nice and kind and I'll be cheering for her in Kona at the Championships this year.

That's my race report - and I am sticking to it! I will be back next year but it will be as a RELAY TEAM with my soon-to-be husband, Jim. We decided we would relay the SAVAGEMAN Half Ironman Distance. I will SWIM, Jim will BIKE (and tackle the infamous WALL) and then I'll do the RUN.


Life is Good! Live STRONG!


Julie Oplinger said...

Congrats, Holly! That course was TOUGH! I wish someone had told me "no walking" up the fire tower road. I just reached a point where I thought it would be faster to walk! Hope to see you there next year :)

Ellie Hamilton said...

Wonderful report, Holly! It made me salivate to do the Int'l AS WELL AS the Half!! Another item for my lifelist....

You did AWESOME!! What a tough, savage course. You ROCKED it!!