Sorry about the length, but it was a BIG race!
Todd Jensen o
AT&T Bell Labs ___^o_ __o <|\
(708) 979-1254 _ \<_ \
Leon's Triathlon - [1.5K swim|40K bike|10k run]
OVERALL MALE: Timothy DeBoom 1:49:xx
OVERALL FEMALE: Anne Curi 2:05:xx
Hammond, IN (7/11) - One of the Midwest's most industrial and toxic cities
played host to the Tri-Fed/USA National Amateur Triathlon Championships.
The race was pretty much a no-frills affair - no host hotel, no big expo,
no money. Just a T-shirt and the chance to compete against most of the best
amateur triathletes in the nation. Unlike the Nationals last year where I
tried to peak and taper for a good race, this year I trained hard up to
the race and tried to focus on having a good time instead of how badly I would
finish compared to the front runners. The morning of the race, my wife and I
woke up at 4:45AM in our own bed, loaded the car, and set off for Indiana.
When we arrived at 6:15AM, the transition area was already crowded and people
were out warming up almost 2 hours before the race started. The mostly sunny
sky, high humidity, and early morning temperature of 72F pointed to a hot day.
I had been quaffing water the whole day before and all morning on my quest to
be a camel.
While I was setting up in the transition area, the announcer said Tri-Fed
officials had measured the lake temperature and wetsuits would be allowed.
Seeing as the lake was 79 the day before and the night had been very warm,
this sounded suspicious and I was wondering if Leon had talked them into
forgetting about their new "no-wetsuit if 78 degrees or above" rule, especially
since the flyer for the race said wetsuits would be allowed no matter what and
Body Glove is a major sponsor. I was happy with the decision, as I always feel
more comfortable in open water with a wetsuit.
Everyone gave Leon a big round of applause while he waded out in the water
waiting to start the race. Everyone seems to really apppreciate his efforts.
This year the 30-34 year-old men went first, as ESPN was covering the race
and wanted the National Champion to come out of the first wave. All women
under 35 went in the second wave. I was in the third wave of 25-29 year-old
men. I watched my wife Lauren have a good start in the swim. Five minutes
later I was running through the water, dolphining for a few strokes, and then
fighting for position in the pack. Suprisingly, I never felt nervous for this
race and was actually having fun trying to keep up in the murky water. The
swim was a straight out-and-back, and I was able to draft almost the whole way.
I wanted to do under 25 minutes, but as I washed back onto shore only 23:40
had passed on my watch. I did a double take to make sure my watch hadn't
stopped, as this was 4 minutes faster than last year. I have to thank my wife
for getting my ***into the pool for some intense workouts.
I had a good transition, and was out on the bike course around 25:00. My
outlandish helmet cover evoked quite a few comments from spectators and
volunteers on the way out. I settled into a steady speed around 25MPH as
the bike started into a slight headwind. The first five miles of the bike
traced the run route, and after a few miles everyone was herded into the coned-
off center lane. This caused quite a bit of congestion, and I found it hard
and dangerous to pass people. I was worried I had gone too hard during the swim
and was riding a bit slower than I had planned. After about five miles, it was
time to turn onto the overhead expressway, totally closed to traffic,
that makes this race what it is. Just after I got on the big highway, a few
20-24 year-olds from the fourth wave caught me. I figured they were some of the
leaders in their age group, as I had only been passed by a couple of them in the
water. I decided to go for it, shifted up, and held the same pace as them.
Then a pack of about 10 guys more caught up, but never passed. Great, now I
was stuck in a pack of about 12 guys, all motoring for Team USA spots. I tried
staying at the front of the pack, so I wouldn't get DQ'ed for drafting, but
every once and a while one or two guys would come around me balls to the
wall, hit the wind, and then fall back behind in the draft. We were averaging
about 27-28MPH even with overpass slopes. Even with all three lanes open,
everyone wanted to be in the same lane so they could shave the corners. I
found myself passing people on the shoulder. Soon, a Tri-Fed offical on a
motorcycle was yelling at the pack to break it up and flashing the yellow
warning sign. He followed us for about ten miles, but it never broke up. As
for me, I just kept in front of these guys as much as possible. Near the
turnaround, one of the guys behind yells "on your left" and wants me to move so
he can pass. As he rode up alongside me he couldn't hold his speed because
he lost the draft. I finally blew up and yelled, "If you're going to pass,
*!#%$ pass!" I was sick and tired of these guys, shifted up a gear, and
sprinted for about a 100m lead.
On the way back I thought we would have a tailwind, and put my head down as
I was doing over 30MPH. But once again, those same 10-12 guys caught me and
then settled back to my pace. I got caught behind a few guys and tried to stay
legal as much as possible. Some clouds appeared and suddenly the wind shifted
from a light southerly breeze to a northeast wind. My speed started to drop
suddenly and the upslopes became tough. The only good thing is the combination
of the wind and a long overpass broke up the pack. I got off at the Calumet/41
exit and turned toward the transition area. I averaged just over 25MPH
on the bike, somewhat lower than I expected, but figured it was due to the
changing wind conditions. As I racked my bike I saw Rob Wood just leaving
his bike for the run. Then I knew the bike was slow this year as Rob is an
excellent cyclist and was 10th in our age-group last year, beating me by
about 13 minutes overall. Now I was really pumped and knew I was having a
decent race. It was a long run from my bike through the transition to the run
start, and I must have been in oxygen debt already as I can't remember what
time I saw on my watch - somewhere around 1:25, I think.
The clouds had disappeared, the wind had died down, and the sun was beginning
to really heat things up as I chugged down the road. Just before the 1-mile
mark I though I was going to lose my breakfast, as the chemical plant on the
side of the road was spewing out some really noxious odors. But I kept my
cool and fell into a comfortable but fast stride. Rob had shifted gears and
was now way ahead of me. I kept feeling better the entire run and was passing
many more people than were passing me. A lot of people looked really bad
and seemed to be suffering. My legs felt great so I opened up my stride at
the turnaround and picked up my pace. Since I got off the bike I had an urge
to pee, but didn't want to stop. I figured it was a good sign that I was well
hydrated, so I didn't bother to drink any water on the run. Instead, I just
poured one or two cups of the cool stuff over my head at each handup.
With two miles to go I caught my wife. I was very surprised, as I thought we
would be on course for a similiar time. She was running very slowly for her,
so I tapped her shoulder and told her to hang on for the finish. She said,
"I love you" (it was our first anniversary), and I continued on. Lauren
never made it to the finish. She overheated, became clutzsy and
delerious, and decided to quit around the 5-mile mark. At the time she was
the fifth women overall. I spent the better part of a half-hour after I
finished trying to find her while she got an ambulance ride to the finish.
She became very ill and will be feeling the effects of heat exhaustion for a
while. Too bad, because she was having the race of her life.
I moving along at a good clip when I saw Roy Nilsen. I had never beat him
before in a race so I sprinted by him near the one mile mark and just kept going
until the finish. At first I thought the run start was the finish, but as I
got nearer I saw the finish line was another few blocks away. I was wheezing
big time down the home stretch, but felt the thrill of finishing strong as
I crossed the line and stopped my watch at 2:01:00. A PR by almost 5 minutes.
Leon shook my hand and asked if I was okay. I assured him I was as I almost
tripped and stumbled my way down the finish chute.
- Many people were hauled away to the hospital for heat stroke - mostly younger
people who were trying to red-line it the whole way in the heat.
- I don't know if anyone was DQ'ed or penalized for drafting, they didn't post
results by the time I left. A few people were DQ'ed for chinstrap and helmet
- The run was short, 6.05M instead of 6.2M.
- Team USA will be made up of the top 12 in each age group, with unclaimed spots
being passed down to the top 20.
- Once again, the overall male winner came from a wave that wasn't the first.
Could it be because of the draft you can get while passing people from earlier
waves during the bike?