I wanted to write something different…I really did. I did not expect this to turn out the way it did. Unfortunately, I could not think of one positive thing about this experience. If you found this via search engine…don’t sign up for this race.
I signed up for this race the day it opened. I always book my hotel at the same time…and because there are very few places to stay in this town. The best I could do was a 45 minute drive away in Salisbury, MD. That hotel (Days Inn) was pretty janky. When I say janky, I don’t mean like a trap house…more like built by lazy contractors and maintained by a staff that really didn’t care because they knew you didn’t have any other options besides them.
To get back on point, I knew Cambridge was out in BFE. Some people assumed it would be a quaint little town, but my guess was that it’d be more like some backwoods Deep South hole in the wall. Turns out I was right. There was absolutely jack shit to do in this town. It was not the proper venue for an Ironman. Cambridge is like a down and out fishing town Billy Joel would sing about. The town is famous for everything crabs, but from the looks of the surroundings you’d best be careful to not leave with the wrong ones. These douchbags at Ironman took one look at the area and said “Look how little traffic control we’d have to do! Less people to pay, more profit for us!”
So we’ve established there’s nothing in the town to entertain me…Ironman time for you to step up and provide me with something to kill time. Yeah…no they did a bad job at that. The winds turned away vendors at the Athlete Village. There were probably 4-5 there: Normatec, Base Salts, Hoka, Clif Bar and BeachBody that had no swag to give away. Speaking of swag, Ironman didn’t have much to give. I got some weird backpack? Personally all the backpacks I’ve got from Ironman this year have been sort of crappy, but this was pretty useless to me because of the way you had to close it.
For those of you keeping track…This is only up to Thursday afternoon and Ironman is batting well below the Mendoza line.
It’s 2:00 am. My alarm is going off. I had to get up this early because my hotel was 45 minutes away. We’re off to a b-e-a-utiful start. Breakfast was the leftover Little Caesars Pizza and left over coffee from Dunkin Donuts $0.66 national coffee day. I pack everything up and load it into the rental car (sorry folks, the Monte Carlo was actually not part of this dysfunctional adventure this time). I managed to snag my wetsuit twice and put tears in it, but hey little did I know I wouldn’t even need it!
Race day parking was at a middle school. Maybe it was a combination of a middle school and high school? It had a lot of parking for building that didn’t have people who were old enough to drive cars legally. Still ran out of parking though (I didn’t know I was parked next to Tri Joe until I was packing my car to leave). Shuttle buses were the school buses. Those were fun after the race – we had to get our bikes onto the bus which blew, not to mention having to wait a really long time for a bus. By the way, it’s at this point in time I was on Facebook and saw the bike was shortened to 104 miles (not many people knew).
The bus drops us off somewhere near transition (the finish and transition are a mile apart). There’s a lot of flooding going on already in transition, but we just go through it. I just assumed it had to do with the rain leading up to the race (I later found out I was wrong). You only need to set up you water/nutrition, your bags are taken care of the day before. This is actually a royal pain in the ass and just costs more time in the long run. By the way, Mid-Atlantic this time of year = rain all day, ery-day. I put all my stuff in sealed Ziploc bags, then bagged it again and finally put it in the Ironman transition bags because it’s going to sit outside in the open all night long.
It’s about 6:15 now…pause. I got up at 2 am. I did not stop and dick-around at all this morning. Man would I have been boned if I had slept through those alarms. Unpause. I head over to the swim start with my water and hotel shampoo (use this to keep your lenses from fogging, rinse with water bottle if you can’t get close to the water). There was a small craft advisory out, but honestly the conditions were not horrible. I’m not saying it was the best; people who suck at the swim would have seriously struggled…but it was swimmable. I know because Rev3 Cedar Point in 2015 and IM 70.3 in New Orleans this year (2016) were far worse. It’s now 6:45…they delay the swim 30 minutes to see if the conditions chill out. I’m just hanging around shooting the shit with Thiago and other randoms…I know they’re going to cancel the swim. 7:15 passes and we’re not in the water. Finally a couple minutes later…they call it off.
The race director…I think his name is Gerry Boyle…he started to go into a speech to try to make us all feel better. He said something like, “It’s not finishing the race that makes you an IRONMAN; it’s all the work that you put in leading up to it that makes you an IRONMAN.” Man I just wanted to punch him right in his suck hole. That is really insulting. Stop trying to console me and start refunding me if you feel so bad about it. Oh wait, Ironman has one of those equations like the underpants gnomes on South Park that is unbreakable, “Step 1 – Charge outrageous registration fees; Step 2 – ?; Step 3 – Profit!” Funny, I think I was on my second loop of the run when I looked at the Choptank River and saw it was as calm as a Hindu Cow. Gerry let me tell you something…finishing two-thirds of an Ironman does not make you an Ironman, it makes you more like Lieutenant Dan.
So I’ve now lost my advantage in a triathlon. I guess I had to come up with a Plan B? I mean I’m already here, there’s no way to get my money back…I guess I’ll just try to race it anyway. Plan B turned out to be crushing the bike and hold that 8:40 pace on the marathon. I could live with that?
No swim meant we were going to do a rolling start for the bike. It’s pretty anticlimactic. I was bib 1269, so I had waiting to do, but not as much as others. Remember how I said Ironman also posted on the Facebook page the bike would now be 104 miles? That was a lie – it was less than 100. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places to hide from the swirling winds in the marshes. The off/on rain was a nuisance and caused minor blistering issues with my tri shoes. I didn’t do a special needs bag. I just put a gooch cream in my back pocket and used it when I stopped to pee at halfway. I spent the whole time passing people and most of that was in the opposite lane of traffic. So many people just don’t understand how to ride.
Transition was slow, but in all honesty I didn’t care since I lost out on a swim and took my sweet ass time. Having the separate bag thing was a pain and wasted more time. I dried my feet off as best I could and covered them with tri glide before rolling on my socks.
The run was the main event in the sense that we did the whole thing, but had piss poor planning by Ironman. For the first 15-16 miles I had been able to stay glued to my pace and kept my heart rate in Zone 3, but then high tide came.
I was told locals say it’s a daily thing for the streets to flood during high tide. It mostly impacted the last 10 miles of my race, but around mile 11 the puddle had already started growing. Actually, my exact words to an Ironman employee were “WHERE THE FUCK DID THIS WATER COME FROM?!” I’m from Ohio…I don’t know a thing about tidal flooding so it surprised the hell out of me. At that point I had no way around this inland sea to stay dry, but there was a guy driving a golf cart ahead of me. I let him part the seas so I sprinted to get right behind the dry patch behind the wheels. It was reminiscent of the T. Rex Jeep chase in Jurassic Park. I caught up and began tapping the tailgate. The driver looked back and I was yelling, “Go! Go! Go!” He floored it through the lake and I got out with dry shoes, at least for the moment since I had another loop and a half to go.
By my second pass the lakes grew and multiplied; there were three according to my count. In some places it was easily past my knee (I’m 5′-11″ for reference) and I couldn’t get a good view of where my foot was landing – you never know what’s below. People took off their socks and shoes to go through; fuck that shit – I ran the whole thing as is. It got harder the longer it went on because the shoes felt like they were made of cement. Also, my right shoe began falling apart at mile 18 from getting stuck in the mud. The inundated streets and muddy paths destroyed the pace I had going on and it just ballooned from the mid 8s to low 12s.
Truthfully, there was a point where I just mailed it in and it probably was when I could feel part of the right shoe dragging across the ground with each stride. This already wasn’t an “Ironman” and I was just doing it because I had already paid for everything. The tidal flooding killed the pace. It became exhausting to have to run through the water and make sure my foot cleared the surface with each stride. If you didn’t clear, it was only creating more resistance for you to fight and tire you out quicker. If you look at my GPS data – I had followed the new game plan until this flooding happened.
I actually was able to remember one positive moment about Ironman Maryland. On the lead out from transition there was a young woman with a sign. I saw her holding it down at her side waiting for some dude named Jeff to run by. The sign said, “JEFF – STILL WILL DO BUTT STUFF IF YOU FINISH!” She gets credit for most original sign at an Ironman and at least it made me laugh…I wonder if he finished?
Don’t expect shit for a post-race massage. There were 3 masseuses for the whole race. The one douche canoe calls my number and said “you get 5 minutes and I can work on one thing.” Really Ironman? FOH! I was enraged at that point; I was not going to spend one more minute there. I drove home to Atlanta all through the night with the exception of stopping at a friends place in D.C. to shower so I didn’t smell like a bums nutsack…also maybe to get some of the shame off too.
Ironman should feel embarrassed about every aspect of Ironman Maryland. This race sucked big fat rhinoceros dick. What am I supposed to do with my time? It’s not like I can consider this abomination a PR [Ninja edit: Ironman sent us out an email in April (2017) saying “Come back to Cambridge again and PR!” It’s like they were oblivous to what occurred at that race past two years]. If they modify the race in any way they should be compensating the participants. You can say “it’s all the work you did leading up to the Ironman that makes you an IRONMAN” all you want, but that’s a crock of shit. I didn’t pay to call myself an Ironman, I paid to do 140.6 miles and you didn’t give me that. You should not hold a race where the city floods every day. So either you didn’t do your due diligence or you’re just stupid.