Lobsterman was one of the first races I did after moving to Boston a few years ago, and it’s been one of my favorite races ever since. The course is fantastic – albeit vertically challenging – and the scenery, roads, and park where it’s held are decidedly and uniquely Maine. I was coming off the Pumpkiman Half Ironman 5 days before, and I honestly had no idea how I’d do. I was still pretty sore and sluggish after balling out of control for the first 10 miles of the Pumpkinman run, and I just hoped that I wouldn’t embarrass myself in front all my adoring fans. But I decided I couldn’t pass up this race, despite the assured guarantee that racing one of the hardest Olympic Courses in New England would most certainly be a first class ticket on the paintrain to struggle city.
Going into it, I also knew it was going to be a time trial due to the age group wave format, which I definitely do not enjoy. The one major flaw with this race (and honestly it’s probably the only one, aside from the long run course) is that there’s not an Elite wave. It’s all based on age groups. Last year the guys in the top 5 were in 3 different waves. I knew that at least one of my main competitors – Brett Hellstedt – was going off in the first wave. The best I could hope for would be to get some time splits on the out and backs during the run.
Swim ??? miles (25:55)
The swim is in a protected cove on the coast, so even though it’s technically the ocean, it’s usually very flat water. Unfortunately right from the start, it was clear we were weren’t going anywhere fast. We were definitely swimming against the tide, and we were fighting a diagonal current pretty much the whole way. Mother Nature was all like SLOWWWW DOWNNNN. For the first time this year though, I executed the swim well and drafted guys who were a touch faster than me for almost the entire race. Heading into the last buoy I parted from my pack which was being pulled too far right, and went straight for shore. In doing so I actually passed the majority of the wave that went off 4 minutes in front of me. They were being dragged out to sea and I wanted no part in that. The only problem with my direct line was that it went through an apparent Seaweed farm specializing in extremely dense and aggressive seaweed that feeds on humans for the bulk of its diet. Fortunately I didn’t succumb and managed to wrestle it into submission with a sweet combo of professional Ninja / Flailing maneuvers. Transition was a flashback of Eagleman though, and we had to battle through ankle deep mud on the way in and out.
Bike 25.1 (1:03:55 total, 1:03:04 riding)
The first and last quarter mile of the bike is on a dirt road which is usually pretty smooth, but the recent rain made it ungodly rough and it was all I could do to avoid the crater-like potholes. I didn’t realize it at the time because I was Battenkilling the shit out of it, but I definitely lost a bottle, 2 teeth, and all circulation to my junk. The first few miles of the course are seemingly all uphill, and the fact that I was barely hitting the watts I rode at Timberman was not bodding well. The course is tough, and has been known to bring grown men to tears. Meaning it’s particularly devastating to my delicate sensibilities – I tend to get sad while on the bike (if you’ve seen a picture of me riding my bike, you know what I’m talking about). Despite the I’ve-just-lost-my-puppy feeling, I was still reeling in dudes, and just tried to stay as aero as possible. It was super windy as well, and being completely alone made it tough. Since I’d passed the bulk of the first wave during the swim, the roads were pretty much wide open and I was able to crush the descents and turns without any real obstacles. I started to find my legs around mile 15, and upped my wattage to where it should have been the whole time, and was able to pass and drop another 3 guys. Coming in on the bike I saw Brett heading out on the run, and tried to take note of where he was so I could get a split to him.
Coming into transition it wasn’t clear where the dismount line was. Someone was yelling to slow down and I ended up dismounting prematurely. It was really embarrassing, like one of those moments when you… nevermind. Running up to transition, the entrance paralleled the finishing chute, and unfortunately there were two volunteers standing blocking the entrance to transition. In the heat of the moment I assumed they were standing there on purpose to direct me alternatively to the right. Based on where they were standing and pointing it seemed like I chose wisely – but really I chose poorly. I ended up running about 50 meters up to the right before someone stopped me, so I had to turn around and run all the way back, then up into transition.
Run 6.4 (38:26)
Starting the run I felt absolutely terrible. Usually I don’t have much trouble transitioning from bike to run – it hurts – but my legs can still turn over. Not today. They were like two large dumptrucks full of smaller dumptrucks full of cinderblocks. I estimated I was about 6 minutes down from Brett – so I had to make up 2 minutes to be able to beat him, and I wasn’t feeling confident that could happen. I tried to unzip my race suit so I could pull it down and air out the guns – hopefully if I felt cooler I could at least trick myself into thinking I felt good – but to no avail. The zipper was all jammed up and I couldn’t pull it down. It was a bit of straightjacket situation, and I was starting to feel like the freaking thing was suffocating me. There was a guy running on my shoulder for the first mile, and eventually I think he got so annoyed with my flailing that he gave up and decided to help me, and was able to yank it down. I immediately felt 100 times better. After a quick thank you, I took off and dropped the guy, which I’m confident made the guy immediately regret his generosity.
I really struggled through the first two miles, which were around 7:05, then 6:35. I just couldn’t move my legs. Right before mile 3, which I’d at least picked up to around 6:10, I saw Brett heading the other way, and estimated I was still a virtual 2 minutes back. He was leading, and I could see only a few other guys from my age group in front of me, so I began to think that a strong close could put me on the podium. I picked it up to a 5:50 for mile 4, passed 2 more guys. I also saw Carolyn then – who took a quick break from her 100 mile long ride to cheer for me. I suddenly felt better that at least I still didn’t have a bigillion miles left to ride, just a few minutes left to run. My legs finally got the memo that it was a race, not a casual stroll through the countryside, and I was able to throw down a 5:20 for mile 5. I went all in for the last mile despite barely functional legs (still a dumptruck situation, but at least now they had momentum). With a bit of a downhill assist, I closed in 4:55 for the last mile, plus an extra 2:15 for the additional 0.4 up to the finishing chute.
I was happy I was able to assblast the last few miles, but disappointed it took so long to find my legs – I think it was just a matter of accumulated fatigue and my body finally resigning itself to the fact that I was going to completely annihilate it, whether it was on board or not for the destruction. Kind of like if Godzilla and King Kong were to make a pact to destroy stuff, but didn’t have very clear contract terms, and so they wasted a good 2/3’s of the time they had allotted to destroy stuff just dicking around before finally getting down to business. That said, there’s nothing like a massive negative split to bury yourself deep, deep in the pain cave, so I at least felt fully walloped at the end. I was actually the third person to cross the finish line, having reeled in all the other guys from my wave, and catching all but two of the guys from the wave that went off in front of me. When the results came through, I ended up finishing exactly one minute behind 1st, and 5 seconds behind 2nd. I was really happy to podium, but it would have been a lot more fun to have faced off against those guys. The guy who won had an absurdly fast run split, and I would have liked the opportunity to get on his shoulder and let him drag me for awhile.
Afterwards we hung around for while, caught up with lots of friends, met some new folks, and saw an adorable puppy. Even though I missed out on the sweet babyprize for 2nd place, I managed to come home with some cool swag – a big bag made from recycled sails, a pair of polarized Smith Sunglasses, engraved pint glass (best trophy ever) and a bunch of other random stuff. If you haven’t done it, it’s definitely a race worth fitting into your calendar.