Monday, October 6, 2008

Better Late Than Never - Monster Dash Duatlon Race Report

I had intended to be much more active running this year, as an attempt to transition from 20 years of road and mtn bike racing (cat.3/master, vet/expert) to running and multi sport events. But an achilles tear in february kept me from running until july, and I'm still only running less than ten miles a week.

This report is about the 2007 edition of the Lowell Monster Dash. Now, this race happened a year ago. Why am I writing about it now? Here's why:
* I'm a lazy sack of shit
* My performance in the event was, shall we say, less than spectacular - certain caveats notwithstanding
* I only recently found 'evidence' of the caveats (just today, in fact, I found pictures on the web, after searching for many months)

The lowell monster dash duathlon is sponsored by the lowell elks lodge. It's advertised as a two 3.1 mile runs and a 15 mile bike. These distances are not correct, at least the bike leg isn't. In fact, you'll find three different distances advertised for the bike leg depending on where you look: 13.5 miles, 14.5 miles, and 15 miles. I didn't have a computer on my bike, so I can't tell you what I clocked. To make matters worse, the official website for the event doesn't even _list_ the distances. This is the first of 'problems' I ran into in this race.

Anyways, It's advertised as a 'Monster Dash'. Now, what's the first thing that comes to mind when you read 'Monster Dash' in the context of a race?


I thought - 'Gee this sounds like fun, I'll make a costume'. Most of these events have a 'best costume' category, which is what I was _really_ entering, but I had this bizarre idea of a Viking Warrior flying past amazed crowds on a TT bike. That was it, I was going as a 'berserker'.

I bought a viking outfit at wal mart, a 4' long sword at target, made a backpack sheath for the sword, and disassembled the horned helmet from the viking costume, attaching the horns and the plastic 'skull' motif to an old bike helmet. I spent probably six hours putting the whole thing together between modifications and shopping, slightly less time than I spent that week actually training.

So I go to the event, get there early enough to drive the bike course (always a good idea for TT events), and of course, get my costume together. As I'm preparing things - setting up the transition area - checking out the bike - I noticed something peculiar.....there were _no_ other costumed competitors....hmmmmmmm...."Monster Dash"? indeed....This would be the second problem I had with this race.

I had only brought the one helmet to the event - the one with the horns and skull decoration. I had brought clothing that was appropriate for the cooler conditions and that included the costume. But hey, no one ever accused me of being shy, and I spent too much time preparing and was too psyched up to bail out. So I said "screw all you buzzkillers". I dressed in full costume, and went to the start line, lined up toward the back of the ~110 competitors. I received many compliments, especially from one of the organizers, the _only_ other person there in costume. He was dressed as a friar.

As a bike racer for the past 20 years only recently transitioning to running, I held no illusions about running well. The week before I had run the Pinnacle Challenge, a double duathlon. In the 5 mile road run there I paced about 6:45. This day, in full costume, including the bike helmet and sword, I paced a 6:44, for a 39th place overall....Not bad!!!! However, people cheered me as I went by, one of them yelling "Go Thor"!.....more on that later.

I knew my best result would be on the bike, but dressed in a horned helmet, flowing faux fur tunic, and with a 4 foot sword attached to my back, I knew the aerodynamics would be, shall we say, be 'compromised'. I passed _alot_ of people. The coolest part was with the sun at my back, seeing the horns from the helmet, the handle of the sword, and the flowing tresses casting shadows before me. I was a Valkyrie!!! (well, ok, the valkyries were know what I
mean). Since the distance wasn't clear, my pace was as well as could be expected considering the costume and the fact that I was keeping my heart rate below AT because of the impending run. I finished the ride in 42:31, which was the 15th fastest bike split. At the pinnacle challenge the week before, I completed the 13.75 mile road bike leg in 39:37, which was good for 7th fastest bike split (out of 71). That was also after a 5 mile run and a 6 mile MTB leg. This day there was an appreciable headwind along the river which constituted a good six miles of the course. So, I wasn't disappointed, but had hoped for better. This moved me up to 21st overall.

The second run....well...that's where it fell apart. I did a 7:42 pace. ick.

But, coming into the finish, buoyed by the cheers from spectators showing appreciation for the only costumed competitor, I withdrew my sword, sprinted for the line, waving it wildly over my head and screaming a battle cry!!!!! YYYEEEEEAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

Check out the cool shadow....

As I noted, I had no illusions about doing well, I was there to have fun, which I did. Some young college kid from U Lowell came up to me afterwards with his buddy, asking for a picture. He wanted me to pull his head backward while I held my sword to his throat.....sure, why
not, I beat the kid by five minutes anyways.

I placed 28th over all. I went through the results posting, and found out that I got 2nd in my age group!! (45-49). This is also where I found that there was actually a guy named Thor in the race!! So maybe the people yelling 'go Thor' weren't actually yelling for me, but considering that he ran the first leg at a 5:57 pace, he was a more than a minute ahead of me at the halfway point in the run where I heard the yells....maybe, maybe not....

Problem #3:

So I waited around for the awards ceremony, but...hold on, they announced the winners in the 40 to 45 group and 46-50 group......Uh, hold on kids...You advertised 45-49. In fact, they even announced winners in the 30-34 and 35-39 age groups. I complained. You can't give awards in age groups that are different than what you advertised. Not only that, but why did they change the gradient and include _6_ years in the 40 to 45 group, while all the others are consistent in 5
year groups? I was told "it's too late to change it now". I felt even worse for the guy that actually _won_ the 45 to 49, this little mistake pushed him to 5th.

Here's where it got even more stupid: The results were posted on cool running a few days later.


Note the second column....'place in division, 2nd'. But, on the 'age group winners page:


1 2 Jim St Pierre 36 DRACUT MA 1:14:20
2 3 Kyle Welch 39 CHELMSFORD MA 1:14:46
3 4 Jeff Cadobianco 35 WALTHAM MA 1:15:13


1 5 Fabio Piergentili 44 ANDOVER MA 1:17:02
2 6 Ray Johnson 43 WOBURN MA 1:17:32
3 12 Kyle Bowers 41 BOXBORO MA 1:20:30


1 39 Scott Graham 48 WESTFORD MA 1:30:58
2 51 Dave Tyler 48 LOWELL MA 1:34:10
3 84 Myles Collins 46 WESTWOOD MA 1:48:39

I emailed the promoter about this, and was told it was the fault of the timing service company. Um, no, it's clear they had the right breakdowns, some one changed it somewhere else, after the timer handed in the results.

I _could_ take it personally, Maybe they don't actually _want_ costumed competitors, maybe the guy who got 3rd in my age group is a friend of the promoter, and would have been too embarrassed to have it publicized that he got beat by a guy in viking costume. Whatever the case may be, I'm not taking it personally, Harboring that sort of emotion can be destructive. I had a good time and my efforts were appreciated by a lot of people. I'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt and acquiesce to a 'mistake'.

That said, I'm not going to run it this year. Not because of the three issues I listed ( though I wouldn't blame someone if they were to make that decision), but because I tore my Achilles tendon in february, and don't have the base miles built up to run 6 miles at tempo without
damage yet. It is good incentive, however. Had I not been injured, I would have done the race again. This time, with a full season of running events, being coached by Fernando Braz this past winter (andover track workouts), and incentive, I would have gone for it, training and
resting properly before the event. Oh well, there's always next year.

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