Friday, July 23, 2004

EMS Off Road Triathlon

July 18th 2004, Rocky Gap State Park, Flintstone MD

More of the same garbage involving laughing, suffering, and racing....sorry it is so long but I did not have time to make it shorter.


We drove up to Rocky Gap on Saturday afternoon to get some pre riding in and do some camping to relax before the race. I find it best to travel the day before as it removes any travel stress immediately before the race, hell, it is hard enough to stay relaxed as is, so anything that helps. Stacey, Timmmay (James) and myself got there about 2pm and setup tents and such. John, Rob, and Dave arrive about 3pm. We get all our gear setup and hit the trail for some pre-riding. Luckily, this time, no mechanical failures or flats pre race. Course is real nice and very rocky for some sections of it....explains the name Rocky Gap.

Pre ride was done, course seems fine, nothing too hard, not too long, should be a pretty fast course. We get back to camp and Timmaaaay keep us amused with all sort of horrors from his time as an EMT on Key West. Nothing like chowing down some pre race carbs from Chef John of mac & cheese, tuna and peppers while listening to stories of high speed highway motorcycle accidents, and snorklers trying to chew on boat propellers. Makes for an interesting night and great dreams. Oh yeah, and I'm sure Stacey loved allll of the race stories, we just don't shut up at all.

However, in keeping with my string of good camping luck.......yup....Rain, of course. At least it held out until we were asleep this time. But man did it pour...all night...allllll...niiiiiiight. All I could think of was how this will make the rocks and roots nice and slippery. More on that in a minute.

Next morning early rise, pack my gear and head down to the race site. Thankfully this time my bike was not screwed up pre race, lady luck is smiling. I warm up in reverse order then setup my gear and down a powerbar. Jim Harman (runs EX2) gives us the usual pre race brief/pep talk and sends us off to the starting gate.


After being herded like cattle into the holding pen (to make sure all that go in the water, come out....very important part of the process, eddie) they start the race. It is a few hundred yard run to my nemesis, the water. This running has all my blood pumping into my legs + the adrenaline...I'm ready to explode!!! We hit the water and start swimming...water is a bit chilly, and my body reorganizes my bloodstream up to my arms to swim. Only problem is, somehow my brain gets lost in the mix. I just can't get a decent breathing rhythm, not to mention I'm getting swum over, kicked, etc. Someday I'll figure this triathlon swim thing out, but it does not look like any time soon.

Half way through the first lap and my goggles completely fog up. I must thank Rob for the anti fog goo that he generously offered to lube my goggles up with. "This stuff works great", he says, HA! I think he was trying to get an advantage ;-)

Somehow I find my rhythm and finish the first lap, now for a long run and jump back into the water. Man am I tired...I know I should not be this tired, but I still have a couple hours of racing ahead of me so I decide to not think about it. If only it were REALLY that easy. Time flies and next thing I know I am climbing out of the water. I hear someone yell "TIMMAAAYYYY!!!" Just so happen that James is right behind me. Yeah, real great...I got in the water a ways ahead of him and he's right on my tail...thus ends another trademark Febbraro swim . Can't wait until that damned trademark expires.

I get into the transition and put all my gear on. Rob taught me a little trick about rolling up my socks so they are easier to put on wet feet. Ok, maybe he wasn't trying to slow me down. I get out in about a minute or so, pretty quick, you can actually get better at this stuff,


So I take off on the bike. After a regretfully typical swim, I have lots of people to catch up to, and I know it. So I just start hauling ass. There was only one section of climbing so I knew I could take it fast and not worry too much about blowing up. I start passing lots of people that are having trouble on the slick roots and rocks. Now it is not that I am having the easiest time with it, but I'm just not too afraid to fall down or slip, crash, endo, etc.

I get to the a section of road and we head over a dam. On the other end is a wooden bridge, and one of the incredible volunteers says very clearly, "Be careful, bridge is slick!!!" Now, of course I hear her, but I'm far behind and I need to catch up so I don't slow down. I hit the bridge, then HIT the bridge. (Slutty, just like that time we wrecked after the hurricane on the GW parkway, but not like you hit the marble ;-) My bike slides out from under me and I go down like a sack of bricks, slide for a bit (yay, more road rash) then in one motion jump back up on my bike and keep riding, hoping nothing is broken, bike or otherwise. So far so good.

I now come into the only real technical section of the bike. Fire road, but with big loose rocks everywhere. People are going pretty slow, they are obviously smarter then me, but I don't care too much as all I want to do is pass them. Bikers are falling down all over the place, but I stay off the back of my seat stay off the breaks and focus on picking good lines. I roll past everyone in front of me and out to the road where I big gear it and haul ass, I get to the end of the first lap and the guy tells me I'm in 24th. I wasn't quite sure of what he was saying, but it finally sank in and made me try harder.

The second lap was pretty uneventful, I downed a GU for some needed juice on the run and I came into T2 in 19th place. I threw off all my gear and put on my shoes. Less than 30 seconds I would say, my best transition ever. Time to find my legs. I'm at about 1:25, so it looks like I'll be a little over two hours, right on schedule.


I start the run with a really good pace, it usually takes me at least a mile or two to find my legs, so I just focus on my breathing to make sure I'm not panting like a dog. The first bit is on roads and it gives me a chance to settle into a rhythm. Once we hit the trails it gets tough. My legs are really heavy, but as long as it is not uphill I can keep a good pace. The uphills are a bit faster than a crawl, but it is a run, not a walk, so I pretend. I wind up passing about five people, mostly on the uphills so I figure I'm in 15th.

We head a couple of hundred feet down into a ravine along a trail, or so they call it. It is all big rocks with arrows pointing which way to go. The rain had made these really slick..nasty even. I try going down at a good pace, but I hear someone behind me and they're getting I pick up my pace...and promptly slip on a rock and crash down on my side, giving myself a nasty charlie horse that stick with me for the rest of the race.

Once at the bottom of the ravine we cross a sketchy bridge, it's slick but I've learned my lesson. The guy behind me is right on me now, but I'm determined not to let him pass me. We now need to climb up a couple hundred feet out of the bottom to get back to the road. Not really possible to run, it is more like bouldering, so I scramble up as fast as I can (read: painfully slow) and I put some time on the guy behind me.

We round the corner and I can see where the road ends where we head back down towards the lake to the finish line and I look over my shoulder. The guy that was on me in the ravine, is falling further behind, but someone else is passing him and coming fast. I give it everything I have and figure I have a mile and half left and want to hold him off. No such luck, he hauls past me and is going fast, I give him a slap on the back and some sort of half gasping compliment and now need to hold on for a bit less than a mile. It's hurting pretty bad now, but I'm almost there. I can't see anything anymore, except the finish line, so focus and just make it.

YES!!!!!!! Finish finally, and somehow all the pain goes away. Rob and David are already there (great race guys) and I collapse on the grass for some much needed rest.

My time was 2:12:58.
16th overall, 4th in 25-29.

Shower up, packup the camping gear, and head back for some food and the awards ceremony. Rob got 2nd in his age group, and John finished his first triathlon ever...woohoo!!!!! I did not get any awards, but it's rewarding enough to finish strong and get another race number to put on the shelf. Until next time...

Thursday, July 22, 2004

First Blog

This is my first blog attempt. I have always hated these things, and now I have the distinct pleasure of hatin' on myself......I'd have it no other way....