Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wallis Sands Triathlon 2012 - Race Report Part Two

We last saw Masher McBuns and his new tri buddy Doddy Blue keeping warm under wraps before the race start. They took one last picture together before the pre-race briefing and headed to the beach. 

Now that's a dedicated volunteer! Stephanie takes photos at the swim start.
Masher was nervous about the swim but the jitters didn't hit until the first wave of triathletes took off. With three waves to go before him, Masher had plenty of time to build up some courage. Lost in deep breathing, he had no more time to be nervous before he found himself in the water and the announcer was counting down on the loudspeakers, "3, 2, 1, GOooo..." Masher's wave let out a collective groan. The announcer continued, "...Ohh, I didn't meant to start you at the same time as the biggest wave we've seen all morning, I swear!"

Masher's wave is sent out into the fray. That's him in the pink cap!
Head down, labbit limbs pulling him through the water, Masher headed to the first buoy. He didn't feel like he was making much progress but before long, he had reached the first buoy and navigated a left turn. First buoy! He'd made it this far, and getting through the breakers was actually fun, if not a lot of work.

A little too much work, actually. He tried to get into a groove swimming from the first buoy to the second, but he was running out of steam very quickly. He looked to the other swimmers around him and found a good number were treading water, swimming breaststroke, or floating on their backs. No lifeguards to be seen, but with the chop, every time Masher brought his head up out of the water he could only get brief glimpses of his surroundings before a wave splashed him. Nothing but blue grey chop all around.

It didn't feel like swimming anymore, it felt like survival. Masher did his best bunny paddle towards the second buoy but felt like he wasn't making any forward progress. He started to get the sad feeling that he'd have nothing left for the bike, never mind the run. It felt like he'd been paddling for an eternity. How long would it take him to get back to the beach? He stayed calm though, making slow progress towards the next buoy, taking in the blue sky, thinking the entire time that there was no way he would give up, no matter how long it would take.

Then the next wave of swimmers was on his back. Blue caps surrounded him - this was Doddy Blue's wave! The swarm of swimmers would rattle others but labbits like the closeness of others. Now that he wasn't so alone, he felt re-energized. He had blue caps on the left and on the right, in front of him and surely behind him. Somewhere Doddy Blue was swimming alongside, and Masher held onto that hope with him around the second buoy and back to the beach.

Coming out of the ocean doesn't seem real.
Coming out of the water, Masher didn't even register he was done swimming. Cheers from the crowd surrounded him but sounded so far away. He shook water from his ears and waded up the beach. From the crowd, he heard his warren mates - Pipkin? or maybe Domo? - cheering his name, and that woke him up enough to run into transition. He picked up the pace and kicked his legs into high gear, running into the transition area for the bike.

Without too much thought he hopped on the bike and got pedaling. In an easy, steady spin for the first three miles, he wasn't sure he was alive. Cyclists zoomed past him on the left while his mind still swam in the grey waters of the Atlantic. Did he really make it out of the ocean? He could still feel the waves crashing against him. He could still smell the salt water and tasted it on his lips.

More cyclists whizzed by. And more. Too many! The course wound its way away from the ocean, away from the crowds and onto quiet town roads. Masher hit a bump and a clanking sound of something hitting the ground woke him out of his ocean dreaming. He pawes around his bike. Everything seemed in place, nothing loose. What was that sound? Water bottle, cage, check. He was still moving forward. The bike felt fine. He switched gears, spinning easier, slowing down. He felt behind him. The saddlebag! It hadn't been zipped up! When he and Doddy were taking photos he got distracted and didn't zip it up. Masher pulled over to the right and dismounted. He gave his bike a quick once-over to make sure nothing else was wrong, then zipped up his bag. His tire levers had fallen out and must have broken apart when they crashed to the ground. Jumping back on the bike, he spun up quickly with renewed energy. Back on course, he decided there would be no more getting passed. He pushed into bigger gears and got moving. He passed cyclist after cyclist, and eventually found himself enjoying the ride.

The course wound back onto the coast. People cheered as he whizzed by, and now there were more groups of cyclists, passing him in their matching jerseys and fancy rides. Were they in the race? They turned left ahead of him, and a volunteer shouted, "Pursuit racers, north!" Pursuit racing? Was that him? There was no one ahead to the north, no one with a race number. He was positive that the course ran along the ocean so he stayed on, but still, no other cyclists. He began to slow. What if he was supposed to have turned there? Doubt filled him, and his cadence dropped. Just as he was about to turn around, Masher heard heavy breathing on his left. Another cyclist, and in a racing bib! The cyclist turned to Masher, "that was confusing! We're going the right way, right?" Masher nodded and they pushed on.

In fact, Masher was closer to the finish than he realized. There were no mile markers along the way, and he hadn't ridden the course beforehand, and his daydreaming had thrown off his sense of time. 15 miles were up. He could hear cheers from the spectators surrounding transition. He made the turn into transition and decided to go for a flying dismount off the bike.

Did he fly! In fact, Masher was a little too enthusiastic and ended up hitting the ground hard. Something in his jaw clicked but he shook himself, grabbed the bike and kept running through transition. He went through the chute, heard the reassuring beep from the mat to tell him his timing chip was still transmitting and headed off on the 5 km run.

Image courtesy of Nuvision Action Image
The run felt good. Masher was breathing steadily, smiling at all the runners coming back on the out and back course. Lots of high fives and "way to go!" cheers were exchanged between the runners in opposite directions. Energy was high - only 5 km to go! He focused on his cadence, finding an even pace. Then a voice rang out, "Masher!"

"Blue!" Masher beamed. There was Doddy Blue, on the home stretch of the run! So nice to see him on the course.

Before the halfway point, he grabbed a drink at the water station from the lovely volunteers, and notched up the pace. He was feeling really, really good! Running along the ocean drive, the Atlantic looked calm and blue. He had tamed that beast! With that thought in his head, he heard names being called out over the loudspeakers. He was close to the finish line! Someone shouted out his name from the inns and bed and breakfasts that lined the ocean drive. He looked around, he couldn't imagine the lady behind him was named Masher, but he was positive he heard his name. (Turns out it was Blue's family cheering him on!)

Quickly he approached the finish chute. Someone said, "sprint for it!" and he kicked his back legs hard. Why hadn't he put this much energy into it sooner? He had plenty of energy left! He bucked past the finish line, and heard his name over the loudspeakers, "Masher McBuns, of Bellows Falls Vermont!"

Done! Complete! Survived an ocean swim, no flat tires, and even ran what felt like an easy, fast run!

Pipkin and Domo gave him congratulatory hugs past the finish line. Masher did a quick tour of the post race food but didn't feel like eating at all.  Masher tried to eat a cookie but it just wouldn't go down. Domo polished that off for him, no problem! Concerned for his warren mate, Pipkin practically force fed Masher a banana.

Then Pipkin took a good look at Masher's face. It was covered in sweat and salt, but after a brief grooming, Masher realized what had happened at that wild dismount. Masher had chipped a tooth! He went back along the end of the course to look for it, but figured it would have been swept aside by now.

When Doddy Blue caught up with him, he thought it looked so bada$$ Masher decided he wouldn't bother fixing it. So they took this charming photo after the race:

They look great in their racing bibs!

It's been over a week since the race and Masher and Doddy are still talking about the race. They can't wait for the 2013 racing season. Hopefully they'll get to race together again, but until then...Doddy's going to visit the Vermont warren and do some off season training with  Masher. Here's how they did at the race:

Masher McBuns
Bib: 144
Division: Labbit
Wave: 4
Hometown: Bellows Falls VT
Swim: 12:54 2:12/100 yds
T1: 2:58
Bike: 51:38 16.8 mile/hour
T2: 1:29
Run: 27:40 8:55 min/mile
Total: 1:36:37

Doddy Blue
Bib: 16
Division: Labbit
Wave: 5
Hometown: Gorham ME
Swim: 9:29 1:37/100 yds
T1: 3:18
Bike: 42:47 20.3 mile/hour
T2: 1:18
Run: 23:44 7:39 min/mile
Total: 1:20:35

Way to go triathletes!


  1. Great to meet you and race with you Masher!! Looking forward to joining you at future races.

    D. Blue

  2. Love this race report!!! So creative :)


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