Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sitting in for the Mental-Vacationing Vertical Man…

Devil’s Challenge Triathlon Race Report

By Intrepid Training Partner

I know what you’re thinking. “What the …???? I thought …”

First off, no he hasn’t dropped off the face of the Earth. And he’s fine. He’s just on the busy side these days. So I’ve offered (and he jumped at the offer) to do our collective race report.


Yes, I did this race, too. Or WE did this race as a bonafide relay team. We named ourselves the “Cheezy Deal” Team (though that name appears nowhere in the official race results). It’s a name that commemorates our triathlon/skydiving deal made eons ago. And with this race being in Wisconsin, it just made that much more sense.

“A relay team??? Huh??? VM can do sprint-distance tris in his sleep…”

Well, VM also has a big heart. I’m the one who was facing withdrawal from the race. The hip pain I suffered in the Chicago Tri has plagued me since then, so I’ve been sidelined from running and biking for the time being. But I CAN swim. And I love swimming. Love my wetsuit! He offered to form a relay team where I swim (the part he hates), and he does the bike and run. I hemmed and hawed at the offer, but as race day drew near, I knew I’d miss the race atmosphere terribly, so the “Cheezy Deal Dream Team” was born. Steve called the race director and changed our individual entries to a relay team entry. Remember this part. There’s a chuckle later.

We cruised into race day. Each feeling as though we had a pretty good deal. We were both relaxed and worked on our transition strategies that morning. It was nice to approach a race from a slightly different perspective after a long season of racing. I get to shoulder the pre-race butterflies at the swim start, but then I’m done for the day in ten minutes. He hops on his bike completely fresh and misses that cold-wind-freezie feeling you get when fresh out of the water and picking up speed on your bike. We were psyched for a fun race!

At this particular race however, the number of relay teams that participate is vast. And there are three different categories: All male, all female, and co-ed. All relay teams were collected in our own wave, which was the second to go off that morning --- after the elite wave. Realizing all this, we knew it would be a competitive race.

So I prepped for the swim. Or the LONG walk out to the first buoy! The water in Devil’s Lake was VERY shallow that day (from the summer drought). In fact, I could walk the course if I wanted. And most of us just walked around the first buoy, which was in about waist-deep water. It seemed easier to avoid traffic that way, as we were pretty packed at that point. Hitting the straightaway, we began swimming … through thick weeds! I actually grabbed some to help pull me through faster (a new experience!). Coming out of the swim, I felt good, but my legs felt like tree trunks. I couldn’t run to save my life (nothing to do with my hip). The water seemed too shallow to swim, but too deep to run, So I felt like I was in slooooooowwww moootion coming out of the water. VM didn’t seem to mind. He was standing there next to my strategically placed flip flops, which I donned to run faster to T1 (around a crazy path) where we could pass the timing chip and he’d be off.

We were like clockwork, and he was out of sight in the blink of an eye. He attacked that grueling hill (a mile-long incline) that greets racers as they leave the park confines. I remember that hill from last year---many racers hop off their bike to walk up the rest of the way (I know that scene all too well, myself). In his comments to me about his ride, he passed many along the way, and used his typical balls-to-the-wall, kowabunga-no-brakes approach on the long downhills. This bike course is a challenge!! But the freakishly fast VM turned in an incredible performance on the bike (top 5) relative to all the other “bike specialists” he was competing against.

While his smooth re-entry into the park left a bit to be desired (I missed seeing his flying dismount myself through the crowds), I understand he got a few applause for picking himself back up off the ground and his bike and racing back into T2. We hadn’t practiced this transition, but we were in synch (and I had no idea he had just fallen): I threw him his shoes, and I grabbed his bike and helmet from him, and again, he left me in the dust.

A short time later, he was doing his final kick towards the finish line … he was smokin’! I felt like we had done really well. He had done nearly seven-minute miles on a 5K course (racing against FRESH relay runners and after a spill off his bike). I knew we didn’t WIN, but I knew we were up there.

They began posting results rather quickly. So I wormed my way into the small crowd to see where we stood. OMG! There we were: in the M-RELAY (mixed relay) division: We had THIRD place!! I raced back over to VM to tell him the good news. We high-fived!! Then I wandered back over to the results to inspect them again and overheard the other relay teams talking. Let’s see, there’s F-RELAY, M-RELAY, … and X-RELAY ??? Wait a minute!! We’re entered in the MALE-RELAY division?????? I laughed out loud!!!

This has happened to me before. My name is typically a male name (though I assure you, I am very female). So back when VM called the race director to change our entries, she assumed we were two GUYS! I stumbled over to VM and couldn’t stop laughing. Then in a deep raspy voice, I said, “Uh, we did very well.” He looked at me not understanding. Then I started laughing, “We got THIRD for the MALE-RELAY division!!!!”


“It’s my name! You called in for us … they assumed that I’m a GUY!!!!”

Immediately thinking we’d place higher in the appropriate “X-RELAY” competition, VM ran over to the race director to change our entry once again. I couldn’t stop him in time --- in the co-ed division, we placed 6th out of 24 teams. Or 8th out of all 48 relay teams. … Or 3rd out of all 10 male relay teams. But we had FUN. And we were very happy with how we did. We had solid possession of our finishing places. Small improvements here or there wouldn’t have changed the results at all.

Medals were awarded only to the top two finishers in each of the relay divisions (which is a crime in this race!). We laughed: had we stayed in the male division and they awarded top three, we decided that it would be best if I went up to accept our award!

All in all, it was a great day in Devil’s Lake State Park. The weather was perfect. The water was calm. The winds were quiet. And the crowds were ever-present. It was a wonderful end to a great season of racing.


Comm's said...

Now that is a swim I get my mind wrapped around.

Vertical Man said...

Just a comment on the "elite" wave preceeding ITP's relay swim: if some of those "elite" swimmers are truly "elite" I'm Lance Freakin' Armstrong...

Keryn said...

Well, no matter how high you placed, the two of you obviously smoked the course! Thanks for the long overdue report!