To most people, the phrase "8 seconds in July" probably has no clear significance. To me however, it brings back memories of an epic battle in the 1989 Tour de France between Laurent Fignon and Greg Lemond. For three long weeks Lemond and Fignon battled it out for the right to wear the yellow jersey and on the final day Lemond overcame a 50 second deficit in a short 15.5 mile time trial to win the Tour by eight seconds! This past weekend I got to experience my own "8 Seconds in July" moment, only the stakes weren't quite as high...
Max-O-Mania is a series of three races in two days held at the resort of Innsbrook. For those who don't know, Innsbrook is a community of vacation homes with more than 100 lakes, 8,000 acres, and plenty of steep hills to run and bike up! It is a challenging but beautiful place to race.
First up on the agenda, the "Prologue", an evening race on Friday consisting of a 1,000 meter swim across a lake followed by a 3 mile run back to the finish line. Following pre-race instructions from Mark Livesay with Ultramax Sports, all the solo athletes along with one team member (teams did it relay style) from each team lined up in the starting chute. While my goal is always to do as well as I can, sometimes there are specific people I want to do well against and in this case my friend Brian Rodenbeck was my target! Brian has been improving steadily and had recently beaten me at both the KC Triathlon and the Trizou triathlon; I was really hoping to reverse that trend...
Shortly after the race started, I found some feet to draft which was awesome. Despite the draft, the swim still seemed to take forever, but finally after 18:04 I was done and into transition. I tried to settle into a fast pace as I could see Brian ahead of me. It wasn't too long before I passed him, but I ended up paying for the early fast pace and slowing to walk up some of the tough hills. Eventually I recovered sufficiently and ended up with the fourth fastest run which only partially made up for having been fourteenth on the swim!
1. Louis Di Guiseppe 32:20
2. Andrew Person 32:27
3. Lou Jearls 35:37
4. Dave Otto 36:37
5. Peter Thurman 37:07
6. Tony Rigdon 37:23
7. Brian Rodenbeck 38:06
Day 2 began with Quartermax. This was the "centerpiece" event of the weekend and brought in 4 or 5 hundred triathletes who were only competing in it (or Octomax) and not Max-O-Mania. It consists of a 1,000 yard swim, 24 mile bike, and a 6 mile run. So once again my race was starting with a 1,000 yard swim! Having given up a considerable amount of time to several in the swim the night before, I figured the morning race would bring more of the same. On the plus side, I hadn't been too far behind Brian on the previous swim so I was really hoping I could once again keep things close and then not give up too much time on the bike. Surprisingly, as I was finishing the swim, I noticed Brian off to my right and ended up finishing several seconds ahead. He quickly passed me on the hill to transition but I just barely managed to get out on my bike ahead of him.
Once out on the bike, it wasn't long before he passed me again, this time for good. Not too long after, Eric Johnson and Jason Holland (racing as a team) passed me and were soon up to and ahead of Brian. For most of the hilly five mile stretch within Innsbrook I managed to keep the three in my sights, but they were gradually pulling away. Eventually, once out on the flat sections outside the resort, some of the faster general Quartermax competitors began to catch me. Each time a triathlete would pass me, I would use them as a carrot to pick up my pace and keep them in my sight for as long as possible, hoping to limit my losses to Brian and other Max-O-Mania competitors. Ironically, the cycling section used to be my strongest facet, not so anymore...
Finally the cycling was done and after a quick transition, I was out on the run. My plan was to run controlled for the first loop of the course and then pick it up on the second and final loop. However, things don't always work according to plans and when I tried to pick up the pace my legs just didn't want to respond! Even after seeing Brian just prior to the turn around, I still could not convince my legs to go any faster. I was at least several minutes down and I was now thinking about damage control and not losing more time on the run. Sunny Gilbert, the eventual women's Quartermax Champion caught me shortly after the start of the second loop. In previous triathlons I've found myself in the same position and have been able to match her pace and run with her for at least several miles, but not this time! About the only time I managed to pick things up was when I saw Eric Johnson and Jason Holland ahead. Using them as motivation I recovered slightly and had a decent final mile or two. In the end I finished 25th and 6th in my age group in Quartermax, but more importantly, I had lost considerable amounts of time in the Max-O-Mania results and overall standings...
Quartermax Results Total time
1 Louis Di G.. 2:15:23 1 Louis Di G... 2:47:43
2 Brian Rodenbeck 2:18:04 2 Dave Otto 2:54:41
3 Dave Otto 2:18:04 3 Peter Thurman 2:56:00
4 Peter Thurman 2:18:53 4 Brian Rodenbeck 2:56:10
5 Tony Rigdon III 2:20:42 5 Tony Rigdon III 2:58:05
Heading into the final race Saturday evening, I knew I had my work cut out for me if I had any hope of catching Brian as I was a minute and fifty-five seconds behind him and he had beaten me so handily that morning. Dave Otto had also been listed throughout the events as being in the male open or under 40 division, but the thought of catching him seemed out of the question so I really only focused on Brian and the idea of moving up to second in the male open division and 4th overall. I spent a large portion of the morning and afternoon refueling, relaxing, and sleeping.
The final race was a 10 mile bike, 500 yard swim, and a 2 mile run. The race started with the solo competitors so we were lined up in ascending order starting with Louis Di Guiseppe, who had such a comfortable lead this race was a mere formality. The first ten competitors were started every minute so I was starting five minutes behind Louis but more importantly exactly one minute behind Brian.
Five minutes later, it was my turn and I was off! The 10 mile course was an out and back over the hilly roads leading to the edge of the resort. These were the same roads we had raced out on in the morning, only this time I kept reminding myself to dig deep and push. I’m sure I reviewed in my mind just about every positioning and pedaling knowledge I've read as I mustered up all the speed I could. Still, despite the effort I was putting in, I was a little surprised when I started approaching the turnaround point and hadn't seen a returning cyclist! Finally, Louis came by but I wasn't quite sure if I had made time up or not, though I was pretty sure I wasn't losing time. It wasn't until the final climb to the turn around that Brian came back and I immediately began counting until I too had reached the spot, 45", I had gained 15" in the first half! They say success breeds success and in this case I believe it did as I found additional motivation to push hard. I kept hoping to pull someone to within sight, but the roads were too curvy. However, as I dismounted and ran into transition, I could see several people running down the hill to the swim, I was catching them!
Quick, rack my bike, grab my goggles and swim cap. Everything in transition should be thought out ahead and executed smoothly. If you can, do everything while moving and as I sprinted down the hill my swim cap and goggles were going on. As I approached the beach, Mark Livesay the race director could tell I was making up time and with his announcing the spectators got behind me and I was hit with more motivation. A mad dash into the water and I was swimming.
It felt nice to be back in the water and without a ton of swimmers surrounding me. Instead, every time I sighted, I could see three heads in front of me, slowly getting closer. This was a unique feeling, to actually feel like I was competing in the swim! I consciously told myself to keep a high turnover, it's only 500 yards, push it. It came as a shock to find myself finishing with three swimmers in my wake! I still sprinted up the hill though, out of sight is out of mind, if I could get out on the run well ahead I might maintain the time I had gained.
Surprisingly, I found one more competitor in transition and was quickly out the door and on the run, pulling ahead of him and into second place in the race, only Louis was still in front. I still wasn't quite sure how much time I had on Brian so I continued to tell myself to fight, it's only two miles, mostly flat, and it will be over quick! Once again Louis came by going the other way and once again I didn't bother trying to figure how far back I was, by bigger concern was how far ahead I was of the other guys and more importantly, of Brian. At the turn around I saw my friends Jessica Gallant and Emmette Smith handing out water and got some more encouragement from them, friends are great!
The return trip was pretty much a gradual downhill so I felt pretty good about not getting caught, but still felt like I should push it. You never know where you stand in a time trial start, I wanted to make up as much time as I could. Eventually, the finish line was in sight and I could hear Mark on the microphone bringing me in. From the way he was talking, it sounded like I had a quick time, which only helped to make me quicker! Also, Louis Di Guiseppe was in the finish chute cheering me on to a strong finish.
The finish line and I'm done, all that remained was to see how much time passed before the others crossed. Mark wouldn't reveal the results until everyone had finished. All he would say was that I had the fastest time in the final race by over two minutes with a 50:08. I could tell though from his hints that I had moved up a few spots, but had no idea how far. Eventually it was awards time and I learned I had gone from 5th to 2nd overall!
Final Total time
1 Louis Di Guiseppe 3:39:59
2 Tony Rigdon III 3:48:15
3 Dave Otto 3:48:23
4 Brian Rodenbeck 3:49:46
5 Peter Thurman 3:49:56
I had edged out Dave Otto by 8 seconds! My 8 Seconds in
What a race! It is definitely easy to say that having ended it on such a high note. However, even had I not done so well in the final event, overall I had a great time even in the two previous races where I didn't do quite so well. It was a smaller more intimate event in the sense that we all knew each other by the end, even if we hadn't when we started. I'm definitely planning on returning next year! Only I will be swimming and biking a little faster...