Tuesday, May 21, 2013

American Triple-T Weekend Race Report - Part 1

Alternate Race Titles
4 Races in 3 Days
140.6+ miles of fun
Hills and more hills - bring your climbing gears
One of the few races you'll actually get to know the people in transition
It might sound like a 3rd Grader wrote this

The much anticipated weekend finally came and went. In short, I finished and had a great time. I left St. Louis, with the nurse and pup, around 6:30 am and made the 7 hour drive to Shawnee State Park in Portsmouth, Ohio. With the hour time change I was hoping to get there around 3 but, we didn't make it until about 3:50 due to various reasons. Registration ended at 4:30 so, I was pretty worried during the last 2-3 hours of the drive.

We had about 12 people from the tri club racing so, it was pretty easy to find everyone. I got my stuff ready for the first race which is somewhat of an annoyance given that it probably takes more time to get everything ready than it does to do the race. All the races are a TT start (supposedly by number) so, there is a lot of standing around on the beach waiting.

Race #1 - Super Sprint

Swim: 250m
Bike: 6k
Run: 1 mile

This race is like a 5k run. The majority of triathletes can do this race on a whim. As I did for all the races I stood around with the tri club until there were about 50 or so people left and blended into line with 2 other people. It turns out the numbering system wasn't really enforced after #50 probably. During the wait it was interesting to see the strategies for getting out to the first buoy. Some people did dolphin dives, some tried to dolphin dive but failed miserably, others swam and most just high stepped/walked.

Not many people wore wetsuits for this one. I wish I had because the water was very cold in some spots, maybe 10-15 degrees colder and it was a nice shock. The swim was over before I knew it and I was on my bike riding to the turn around, then up a big hill to the lodge and back down to transition. Then I threw on my shoes and ran to the start of the running trail and about 200 feet in just as a tease and then back to transition. Somehow this all managed to take me 33 minutes. I figured I would easily be sub 30.

The split times are all messed up right now for every race. I doubt any of the swim courses were accurate this weekend because there is no way I swam a 6:40 for 250 meters. I'm not the fastest swimmer but I can do a 5 minute 250 for a warm up. The 6:40 equates to 2:45/100 which is barely faster than my first triathlon. It also says I swam 32:40 for 1.2 miles which is too fast even considering I was in a wetsuit. I think I could do 35 or 36 tops for a half right now but not after already having swam nearly 2 miles the day before. Not to mention all the biking and running. Anyway, it was time to recover even though it was not needed. We ended up ordering food from the hotel restaurant and the pizza turned out to be a big mistake as you'll find out in a bit.

Race #2 - AM ~Olympic

Swim: 1.5k - 2 Loops
Bike: 25 Hilly miles; 1-Cat 4, 2-Cat 5
Run: 6.55 Hilly miles

Goals: Come off the bike feeling like I didn't do anything. Finish the race and not feel like I raced.

The first Oly is the first race most people probably cared about. It's the easiest of the three but it can easily ruin the rest of your weekend. The pup decided he didn't like his sleeping arrangement and had to sleep in our bed which made sleeping a bit difficult. Nevertheless, I was up at 5:15 and out the door at about 6:15.

Race prep was basically the same as the night before except I actually had to fill my water bottles, take some gels and put on my wetsuit. For this race, I just walked to the first buoy and started swimming. Not too much drafting going on since everyone either couldn't swim a straight line or they kept veering away when I would move over to get behind them. Nothing eventful in this swim.

The bike course was a blast. In the first mile or two there were several wooden bridges we had to cross with huge bumps on either end. I saw at least 3 or 4 ejected water bottles at each bridge. I lost one of mine at the first bridge and was going so slow I stopped to get it. I was not that concerned with time this weekend...to a point.

The top of the first climb came at mile 2.62. I don't really remember this hill but, I remember it being a gradual uphill until the top. After that it was downhill, some steep and some gradual with some very technical turns. The RD warned everyone that when you see paint, or a person telling you to slow down, you better do it. He also added that if people fly by you on the downhills to wish them luck. The next hill was the worst of the day. It was a slight uphill approaching almost a 180 degree turn. Zero chance for momentum and there was gravel on the turn. Volunteers were standing around yelling about the gravel, sharp turn and the steep hill. I managed to get in my easiest gear before I made the turn. Others weren't as lucky. When I made the turn there was a girl coming down the hill...I also heard some people fell over, some walked up and someone heard a girl mash through all her gears and drop her chain. After that it "flattened out" for a bit. (The whole weekend was full of false flats because all the steep hills screw with your perception of flat land. I don't know how many times I'd look down and wonder why the hell I'm going 15 or 16 mph at this effort when it's flat...it wasn't flat.) Then it was downhill with some more sharp turns.

The last hill was featured in all three races...twice on Sunday. It has a gradual build to an out of the saddle climb for most people. Then it was a pretty fast downhill about 3 miles to T2. I took my time in T2 and slowly ran out to the course. All the runs were the same out and back with a gradual uphill then a steep downhill and back. The plan was to slowly run the uphill, walk the steeper parts and do whatever my body felt like on the downhills.

I finished in about 3:14 which turned out to be great considering I mostly felt like I hadn't raced. It should have been 3:11 or 3:12 but the pizza from the night before wouldn't wait 10 minutes and has to come out at the aid station at mile 5.5 on the run. The easy part was over, trying to figure out what to eat and how much in between races was going to be difficult. The nurse and I hung out under the tri club tent for a couple hours in between races and I tried to eat and rest.

Tune in tomorrow or someday in the near future for Part 2.

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