Are You Savage Enough?
BJ and I end our triathlon season with SavageMan – pretty much the hardest triathlon in triathlon history. While it is, hands down, the hardest race of the season, it is also the most fun!
If the name alone doesn’t scare you, just wait until climb the first huge hill….less than 0.5 miles into the bike. It’s uphill from there. Literally.
I had 2 goals for the race:
A) Beat my time from last year (2008: 3:06:06)
B) Finish under 3 hours
I knew that #1 would be easy – all I needed to do was shave a few seconds off of my transition times. I was skeptical about #2 – the course is brutal and I had less than 1 week to recover from The Nation’s Triathlon.
Rematch: SavageMan 2009 vs. SavageMan 2008
Here we go:
SavageMan takes place at the Deep Creek Lake State Park in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains in Western Maryland (yes, mountains!). Deep Creek Lake is so beautiful – the lake is crystal clear, the leaves are changing colors and the weather in September is perfect for a race. It’s hard not to look around and enjoy the sights, even while grinding it up a mountain and cursing Kyle Yost, the course architect, for creating a race that brutal! Simply put: it’s the perfect place for the hardest race.
Pre- Race: Race day morning was a little chilly but warmer than last year so I knew that by my 9:30am start, I would be fine (no long sleeves for me). BJ competes in the Half-Ironman distance and starts 1 hour before me, so I was there extra early (compared to the other Olympic distance triathletes). I had the place to myself – and set up a pretty legit transition area. Transition closed 15 minutes before race start, so I was able to go-in-and-out accordingly. I love how laid back it is.
Start: 9:30am – All Females (excluding Elite)
Swim: The water temperature was 69 degrees and wetsuits were “strongly encouraged”. The water still felt cold even with my full body wetsuit so I can’t imagine what it felt like without one! Once I was comfortable in the water, I positioned myself front and center. I felt really strong in the water (that doesn’t happen very often) and was totally rocking the navigation! The lake is great – the water is clear and you can actually see the bottom. My friends cringe at the thought of me swimming in the Potomac River [for Nation’s Tri], so there is something surprisingly refreshing about being able to see the bottom for a mile. For once, I enjoyed the swim (shhh, don’t tell anyone). Fastest swim of the season – Time: 28:39!!! (YAYYYYY!!!)
T1: Long, slight up hill run to T1 (but way easier than last year). I had a hard time getting my wetsuit off – I really need to figure out a better strategy for getting that sucker off. Time: 2:28 (#2 fastest T1 time)
Bike: The bike starts off with a hill – and it only gets worse from there! Let’s just say I didn’t plan on setting any records on the bike. The hills are long and hard only to be followed by an extremely curvy downhill, a sharp right [or left] turn at the bottom and immediately back up a
hill mountain. It. is. hard. I couldn’t wait to be off the bike. Time: 1:27:25
T2: I slipped when I tried to rack my back and it scared me a little – but I was in and out – and ready to run. Time: 1:11 (#2 fastest T2 time)
Run: The run course is hard, especially after biking through the Alleghany Mountains – but I’m a runner and I know that this is my strongest part of the tri. The course is completely shaded and perfect for running. No one passed me on the run – instead, I passed people like crazy (I love that feeling). I felt really strong and was on course to run a major PR! Must. keep. pushing. through. pain. and. up hills. With about 600m to go, I sprinted to the finish – and the announcer said, “MP from Arlington, VA – that’s the biggest and prettiest smile I’ve ever seen”. Duh, Mr. Announcer – I just shattered my time from last year!! Time: 51:40 (8:19 pace).
Overall Time: 2:51:21 (15 minute improvement)
Division Place: 10/87
Age Group Place: 4/14 (missed 3rd place by 14 seconds!)
Awesome things about this race, besides EVERYTHING:
2) Everyone is having a good time. No jerks, no super serious (Type A) triathletes. Even the pros are friendly. (Bjorn Anderson apologized after the race for not saying “thanks” when I said “good job” to him; he was really suffering on the run)
3) Awesome volunteers (!!)
4) PLENTY of water stations
5) Really well organized – the race director is genuinely concerned about the safety of the athletes; the bike course is clearly and very well marked
6) A PR for me and BJ!!! BJ beat his 2008 Half-Ironman time by 45 minutes.
Not so awesome things:
I, seriously, can not think of one thing I would change about this race!
Overall: 10 – can’t wait for 2010!!!!
P.S. In true Half-Ironman training (my 1st is in June 2010) I ran the first 6.5 miles with BJ. It hurt! Like Hell!