Savageman 70.3

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I think I started getting emails from the Savageman race the first year. It looked like a cool race, but I was more focused on the marathon, the full Ironman, and the 100 mile trail. The race never left my mind though, and on new years day 2011 when people were nursing hangovers and making resolutions, I signed up for Savageman.

Welcome to Savageman

Even though I knew it was a difficult race, I casually ignored it, being focused on running a fast marathon in November.  Well, life, and injuries, sometimes reset priorities and at the end of July I finally started swimming and biking only because I thought more running would be detremintal.  Good thing I at least pumped up the tires.

The Swim…

image copyright Savageman Triathlon Festival

This race is known for a cold swim and it was a bit cool this weekend.  At race start it was windy, the air temp was 48 and the water 64.  Everyone was in wetsuits then this lean, very white guy walks across the beach in nothing but a speedo.  A guy beside me screamed, “NUMBER 240… YOU ROCK!!!”.  I heard someone else say, “Must be from Norway.”  The swim start was in 4 waves with me in the last, male 40-49.  It was sort of an out and back swim.  At the gun it was a typical tri with swimmers all over top of each other.  I had trouble getting in a good spot and kept my breathing every 2 strokes, switching sides every 3 or 4 breaths.  After the turn around it opened up and I was able to relax, breathing every 3 strokes and minimizing kicking.  Swim split was 33:41, 28:00 / mile pace.  Not bad for me.

T1 was painfully slow.  I unzipped my wetsuit and a cloud of vapor escaped.  I wore my bike shorts & jersey under the wetsuit.  I put on a longsleeve running shirt, warmup jacket, half finger bike gloves and a Giro helment (too hot normally, but not so bad with wet hair and cold air) and was out in 8:51.

The Bike…

image copyright Savageman Triathlon Festival

First 5 miles on the bike were rolling hills, then we had a 10 mile blast down Savage Mountain to the town of Westernport.  This is where the fun starts.  We rode up a hill and turned left up a really steep hill. It was about 2 city blocks.  I rode the first half ok and the road sort of leveled out at the cross street.  I sat down and rode as slow as I could to catch my breath for a couple seconds.  Then I was on ‘the wall’.  Busted up concrete road at 31% up.  People lining the street like some Tour de France thing, bikes crashed all around, people trying to zig zag their way up, and a few people riding a beeline for the top.  I rode a straight line.  I was both pushing and pulling on my pedals with all the strength I had and barely moving.  By half way, my lungs were screaming and my heart felt like it would explode.  I could only focus on the pavement at my front wheel, ignoring the people dressed as devils taunting the riders.  Then it was over, the grade slacked off and I was still moving.  I screamed, “YEAH!  THATS WHAT I’M TALKIN ABOUT” and kept pedaling.  Up, for another 7 miles and close to 2000 ft.  It was brutal.

Miles 25 – 36 I met a guy from Colombia and we chatted  bit on one of the long climbs hablando a veces en espanol y usando las palabras sucias.   Nice guy.  I never got his name, I just called him Colombia.

Mile 38 they call ‘Killer Miller’.  It doesn’t look nearly so bad as the other climbs, but after the other climbs this may have been the worst.  22% grade.  More devils lining the road.  Beyond that is mostly a blur.  I remember at some point we took a right turn onto a road that that was really steep.  Steep up.  There were a couple people standing there and I said, “I was hoping there would be a hill here!”


The gps track is interesting.  The last time I tested max running heart rate was a few years ago, and I tested at 183.  At mile 18 on the bike in a half Ironman I hit 180.  Unreal.  The crazy thing is biking heart rate is lower than running heart rate.  For my last Ironman, I averaged 18 mph over 112 miles.  On this race I averaged 13.8 mph over 56 miles.  Bike split – 4:02:43.


All good things come to an end, and so did the bike leg.  T2 was pretty slow at 5:35.
The run…
image copyright Savageman Triathlon Festival
Started out really slow to see how my ankles  would feel.  No pain so I gradually sped up.  This course had some minor hills (everything minor compared to the 4000 ft climb at Bighorn 100) and one technical section of steep rocky dirt road that we ran twice.  I took the ultrarunners approach: power walked up it and hit the downhill at sub 6:00 pace.  Apparantly not too many ultraruners in the group, they looked at me like I was a nut case.  Run split 1:52:29.
 The finish…

image copyright Savageman Triathlon Festival

Final time 6:43:15 – 20th in my age group.  Pretty slow but not bad given my training.

Calories burned:  swim 500, bike 3144, run 1408 = about 5000 calories.  Enough to earn a Dogfather Stout after the finish, if only I had felt like drinking it.  Had to throw my wetsuit over the handlebars and ride my bike back to the b&b.  They don’t call it Savageman for nothing.


Up Vs Tuck


Still feeling some ankle pain so I am mostly biking and swimming.  About 20 minutes into today’s bike ride I decided to see if I could tell when it is best to ride in a tucked versus upright position.  It feels so much easier on the heart to be sitting upright, I have always wondered if there is some sweet spot to try for.  I picked out a 2 mile loop and decided to ride a series of loops alternating sitting position and speed.  I was riding a Specialized Transition tri bike and wearing a Giro aerodynamic helment.

My first lap was at 17.3 mph tucked.  As soon as I started my second lap sitting up, riding was instantly harder.  I completed four tests at about 17.3 mph, then a lap at 20.4 mph.  The best I could do sitting upright was 19 mph.  Then I decided to slow down and check out the other end where the wind plays much less role.  I ran a couple more tests at 15.3 and 13.8 mph.

So here are the results.  Basically anytime I am going faster than 14 mph I need to be in a tucked position.  Much slower than I would have thought.