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2013-08-27 11:17 AM

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Subject: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report

Anyone do this race over the weekend?  I did the HIM and while I did ok in meeting my loose time goal, the run definitely was brutal for me...Not overly hilly but it was definitely filled with rollers, and coupled with the heat and humidity sapped my energy...

And while I applaud the race directors for giving us the best solution they had available for some unexpected road construction on a CRUCIAL part of the bike course, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little ticked.  We were told by the race directors in the pre-race meeting on Saturday that even though they, the county and the road construction firm were on the same page regarding this race and that construction wouldn't start until 8/26, it started two days before the race.  Someone dropped the ball resulting in 600' feet of a hill section at the bottom of a long fast descent(I hit 38mph with no pedaling because I was looking ahead for the "slow down" signs they told us would be there) had to be addressed for a race that's been scheduled for nearly a year...

Long story short, we climbed uphill on a single-track (4-ish feet wide) roofing tar sheets laid down over crushed gravel that just latched on to your tires.  I was lucky to hit 8 mph....Then when we exited the construction zone there was still a 1/4 mile of climb left with no momentum... This was approx 40 miles into an already very tough hilly and hot bike course..

I'm not trying to diminish the overall quality of a great-tough race, I just wanted to convey a little about the challenges we faced.  And thank God I only had to hit that part once...The full racers got two laps and a buddy who did the full bike relay leg said sections of the roofing tarp blew away as the day wore one...

Fantastic on course support at every single aid station, well supported by spectators where possible and overall a fantastic event...

 



Edited by TriMike 2013-08-27 11:19 AM


2013-08-27 11:25 AM
in reply to: TriMike

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report
Hey Mike
I don't know if you follow the MITI facebook page, but the RD was blindsided about the tear up on the road. It looks like it was a good race overall. I was looking at the results and see Kevin had a really good finish in the full. Hopefully it will stay around.
Joe
2013-08-27 11:31 AM
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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report

I don't follow them on FB so the first I heard of the construction was in the pre-race meeting.

I attempted to point out in my post that I wasn't overly upset with the race director however this is the 2nd year in a row they've had a fairly major road construction problem so while I can empathize with them, I would also say that it appears that bird-dogging and constant communication with the county may be the only way to prevent this from happening again...

I didn't race this event last year but the same buddy I mentioned in my post did the full relay and he said there was a long section of loose gravel that was just a mess....

Race Director's fault?  No but they will get the brunt of the criticism because they cash the checks...

And just to clarify, this was a fantastic event....Just a blip and honestly this single track experience will make the race stories even better over the years...



Edited by TriMike 2013-08-27 11:32 AM
2013-08-27 5:18 PM
in reply to: TriMike

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report
I did the full. The road issues should have never happened. Especially with the last minute construction woes of last year, who ever is in charge of the bike course should have been on the phone/email with every township, county, etc... months out, then weeks, then, days.... Communication breakdowns are why these kinds of things happen. Furthermore, the tar paper solution by volunteer Dave was great. Dave was the real champion in all this. He was thrown into the lions den and stayed positive, was solution minded, and worked tirelessly on Saturday and all day on Sunday to make the construction stretch as safe as possible for us. On my second loop, he sprinted up ahead of me when he saw a piece of the paper had folded over on itself. Dave, you are a champion!


With that said, the issue should have never gotten to Dave. I had a few conversations with decision makers and from what I could tell, when they were alerted to the road issue, they got together and decided they didn't have adequate time/permits/etc... in place to make a course change, so they threw it to Dave. A proactive RD would have been on the phone with the mayor of the city/township and navigated around whatever standard permit / time ordinances are in place in order to re-route the course. If the mayors didn't budge, then the governor would have been the next step. You had 500 cyclists races put in danger because a construction crew who had made assurances (I assume through traceable means, i.e. e-mails) go back on their word. It's a county project I assume. The county leaders should have been called upon to solve the issue. Instead, the MiTi decision makers decided on their own that the best solution was to get some brooms out, sweep the two inches of gravel to the other side of the road and put a SAG vehicle at the top of the hill.


But whatever, I mean the fact that you had to scrub a bunch of speed and then climb for 600 ft sucked, but so what. It was just another challenge of the day. I found the tar paper section to be rough, but hardly any more than some of the other road conditions we encountered. I just grabbed a high gear, spun up the road with no slippage, and continued on my way.......twice! In the end, could the issue have been avoided, yes. Could it have been dealt with better once the road was torn up, yes. Did it have any significant impact on my race......not in the least. Maybe someone who flatted on the hill would think differently. I wonder if anyone actually encounted any mechanical issues due to the construction.


Last thing about the bike......I liked last year's course better.


The rest of the race only improved on last year. The bike aid stations were well manned with COLD beverages, thank god! Transition was set up better. The run course aid stations were again awesome, with plenty of ice and eager to help volunteers. The staff was great. Bike special needs was kind of a cluster fuk being manned by a bunch of texting and jabbering teenagers, and the fact that they gave us about two minutes to do a swim warm up was mildly challenging, but those are all kinks that will continue to get worked out. I still love the small town family friendly full iron distance feel of this race. My wife was encouraged to go stand right next to the finish line race photographer so she could take great pictures. Try to do that at an Ironman.


Congrats to all the racers and their families, and congrats to Doug, Ann and Andy for another successful year.

2013-08-27 5:32 PM
in reply to: TriMike

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report
Mike
I know I am typing, I was not picking apart your post, sorry if it came across that way. I read the RD post and thought oh no, They do have good info during the year on their FB page. They have group rides, swims and runs on the course and other events. If I recall you live on that side of the state. They usually have stuff on other events on the western side

If nothing else they have hundred of pictures up from the event, you may find yourself
Joe
2013-08-27 8:03 PM
in reply to: Puppetmaster

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report
Congratulations on your finishes guys. It was a tough, tough day no matter how you slice it. It was really hot, you had the rough road to deal with, and the course is quite challenging. I was able to volunteer at a run aid station and I was impressed with every single one of you. Way to go and nice job making the best of a sub-optimal situation on the bike. You are entitled to feel bitter about those conditions, but it sound like you are being good sports about the whole ordeal. My hat is off to you.
Peace,
~Sam


2013-08-28 6:06 AM
in reply to: Puppetmaster

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report

Originally posted by Puppetmaster Mike I know I am typing, I was not picking apart your post, sorry if it came across that way. I read the RD post and thought oh no, They do have good info during the year on their FB page. They have group rides, swims and runs on the course and other events. If I recall you live on that side of the state. They usually have stuff on other events on the western side If nothing else they have hundred of pictures up from the event, you may find yourself Joe

Joe - no worries.  I agree they do a lot of good things to grow their race.  I did their scheduled training ride (4th time riding the course as I live in the area) and they did a nice job with course support and just a solid positive atmosphere.

As DV 1 said, the course thing shouldn't have happened and hopefully since it's their 2nd year with a course issue, next year they will babysit / birddog the county to ensure it doesn't happen again...The guy in charge of the bike course did a stellar job turning a terrible situation into something very doable.  He was at the training ride and was in our group and was just a great dude encouraging everyone, taking turns at the front, then slowly dropping back to check on everyone.  Sorry for the tangent but what I'm trying to say is it didn't surprise me that guy took it so personally to make the bike course right....Thanks to you sir!!

As I mentioned, I rode the course quite a bit and actually where the construction occured is where they're ripping out the "hump" of a railroad crossing that's long since stopped being used.  So NEXT year that hill will be awesome as we should carry a ton of speed into the climb...

 

2013-08-28 6:10 AM
in reply to: Tri Sam

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report

Originally posted by Tri Sam Congratulations on your finishes guys. It was a tough, tough day no matter how you slice it. It was really hot, you had the rough road to deal with, and the course is quite challenging. I was able to volunteer at a run aid station and I was impressed with every single one of you. Way to go and nice job making the best of a sub-optimal situation on the bike. You are entitled to feel bitter about those conditions, but it sound like you are being good sports about the whole ordeal. My hat is off to you. Peace, ~Sam

Sam - thank you for volunteering.  I tried to thank every volunteer I encountered and officer working the intersections as it was a brutal hot day for you guys too.

For as many emails that went out leading up to the race scrambling for more volunteers, including telling us at the pre-race meeting on Saturday that any of the HIM participants who felt up to volunteering for the remainder of the full to please see him after the race, there were zero examples in my race that a station was under-staffed.

I think the volunteers at triathlons are often the un-sung heroes and are a key component to a successful race...

2013-08-28 3:44 PM
in reply to: TriMike

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report
Yeah, volunteers are awesome. MiTi has the best volunteers of any race I do. The run volunteers are just plain awesome! Bike stations could use some additional training and the interactions at those are brief so you don't really get the personal connections like other places. I thought transition was much better this year as well. Volunteers there were spot on! I'm not racing to win anything so my gauge of volunteers is along the lines of are they helpful, patient, non judgmental, and ready with what you may need. At the swim volunteer meeting the morning of the race the girl in charge started by telling all the kayak and boat volunteers, 1. Our primary concern is the safety of our athletes. 2. Remember that many of these athletes have trained up to a year for this race. If they need your assistance, be prepared that they may approach agitated and with a short temper. It's your job to remain calm and give them whatever support you can without being judgmental. What awesome advice to volunteers! I've been guilty before of ignoring aid station volunteers questions about what I need/want and just getting it myself. At MiTi I've never once felt pressure at aid stations. Keeping the fluids cold was a big improvement for MiTi this year. Bike SN needed more adult support like they had last year. .... And then there's the million things they got right that made it possible for all of us to go test our skills. Way to go MiTi!
2013-08-29 8:47 PM
in reply to: DV 1

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report
I did the half aquabike which is really odd race and turns everything into a TT, especially the bike.

The construction was really a non factor. Yes I have carbon wheels and a fancy bike, but I approached the construction zone at 40mph and entered the construction zone over 30mph, zipped by two people just crawling along on the tar paper. They had it so hard packed that it was just a little bouncing, but nothing major at all. I just didn't want to continue pedaling at that speed so it did suck to loose a lot of the momentum right before that climb.

I heard some say the construction was a little congested, but that's because people wanted to stay on the tar paper. There really wasn't a need to given how packed down it was. We don't have knobby tires so we don't have to worry too much about our tires throwing stones into our frame. I had zero concern for flatting. I figured they would have swept for sharp rocks.

The only issue I ran into was people riding in the left side forcing me to pass on the right. I also had a few people who would zig zag all over the road when they tried to get a drink from a water bottle. How they survive on a open road is beyond me.

I didn't do it last year so I don't know how the course compares. Other than SF, it's probable the harder of courses I've done.

Congrats to those who finished the day off. I was done after the bike, yet you guys had the brunt of the heat. Great job getting it done.
2013-08-29 8:51 PM
in reply to: TriMike

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report
Full disclosure - I was a race "Champion" meaning I helped with planning of the race over the past two years - specifically the transition area.

Last year I volunteered all day in transition. This year, I race the full. Finished in 11:50. 1st AG.

As for the road construction, I can vouch for the fact that the race directors and bike course guys were as on top of things as they could be. Short of babysitting 56 miles of course, I'm not sure what more they could have done. It is really unfortunate that this has happened both years though. As a racer, I was on the phone with the RD's on Friday as they worked out a decision on what to do. With the options they had available, I am confident they made the right decision. As mentioned, the volunteers at the section did an amazing job keeping it as clear as possible with the felt paper. It sucks that it had to be after a downhill, but I don't really think it slowed me down too much.

Any ways, my race was a hard fought battle. My swim was slower than normal and included my timing chip falling off within 50 yards (I found it and put it back on), my road ID coming undone, and my calves cramping up on the final stretch.

I made up a bit of progress on the bike but rode pretty much by myself the entire time. The out and backs were nice to see other racers on the course and figure out where I was at. However by the 2nd loop I was starting to bonk. My back was really sore and I couldn't get comfortable at all. My nutrition was leaving me bloated and I considered dropping out from mile 80 onward. The headwind for the final stretch didn't help at all.

I started the run feeling pretty down. Once I got some fluids in me though I started to perk back up. Water, Gatorade, and Pepsi at each aid station and my day started to turn around. It was brutally hot out and the run was more or less a death march to the finish. My run time was much, much slower than previous races but I overcame some mental roadblocks so I'm calling it a win.

I got to cross the finish with my wife and son on my shoulders which made for a fun way to end a long day (and long training season).

It was pretty freaking awesome to see the winner (Jimi Minnema) out there crushing it. He lapped me on the run at the 12 mile mark for a 9:11 finish. And it was his first time racing the iron distance. Watch for him to tear it up at IMAZ.

If you are interested a full race report w/ pics, you can read it here: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2013/08/28/race-report-michigan-tita...


2013-09-01 10:33 AM
in reply to: kevinneumann

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report
I know Ann, Andy and Doug and can say with confidence that they were on top of things. Like Kevin said, you can't babysit 56 miles. You can only trust the communication has made its way to everybody involved. I'm guessing the construction company finished another project early and wanted to get a jump start on the next but forgot the restriction.

Transition was great, although I heard a few people upset with the bathrooms being away from T2 exit instead of on the way to T2. There were a couple near the changing tents, but the remainder were at T1 exit. I can see the gripe there.

I'm also amazed how many people screw up racking their bike. Even with the arrow pointing the right way. Good God how do these peope function on a day by day basis.

Doing the aquabike, I was in transition when a lot of HIM were rolling in. People had a hell of a time finding their bikes. I make it a point to have some external markers (tree, water, etc) to help. I was right at swim exit so that was easy. Some others though were running all over the place with their bike. I put that more on the athlete than the design of transition. Unlike Steelhead, there was a ton of room to get around.

Next year it will be my frist full IM. Wanted to do Wisconsin but wife has a bunch fo trips she's going on with friend for her 40th B--day year. Interesting she celebrates all year, I only got a day. Given the quality of MiTi, I'm more than happy to do that instead of Wisconsin.
2013-09-01 11:55 AM
in reply to: guppie58

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Subject: RE: Michigan Titanium - MI/TI - Race report
Originally posted by guppie58

I'm also amazed how many people screw up racking their bike. Even with the arrow pointing the right way. Good God how do these peope function on a day by day basis.


This.

HAHA! And this year was 100x better than last year. I designed the rack labels and specifically added the arrow because last year we (the transition volunteers) spend over an hour turning bikes the correct way after bike dropoff.

I'll make note of he bathroom locations in my post-race report to Doug. We are supposed to be having a post-race-review meeting in the next week or two. If anyone else has anything they want mentioned, please let me know so I can make sure we work to improve it next year.

We go back and forth about how much/little to do with transition. Sure you can clutter it up with signs, but with too many signs it can almost be counter intuitive. And, like you said, we sort of put the onus on the athlete to know where their bike is. Personally, I do a walkthrough before the race starts. Exit water - T1 - Find bike - Exit T - Back in to T2 - Back to bike rack - Exit to run.

Well now that you just outed your wife's age on the Internet, there is NO WAY she is letting you go to IMWI We look forward to having you back next year. And hopefully you can make it to IMWI in the following year because that is another great venue.
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