Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Triple T 2012 - Race #3

Seriously....another Olympic distance tri.  With only 5 hours rest between.  Yes that is the mystique of Triple T.  The mystery is what to do during the down time.




I ate lunch then sat around with the crew bs'n and having fun.  Around 2 we started getting our gear together and ready for the 3PM race.  The afternoon race has a slight twist to it.....we bike first....then we swim...then we run.

When I got to the transition area the sun was beating down on us.  No shade except around the perimeter of the parking lot.  Part of the trick with the race is getting your wetsuit on when you are a sweaty mess coming off the bike.  The best piece of "equipment" you can have is a plastic bag.  I slicked down the legs of my wetsuit with Suit Juice.  Combined with the slickness of the bags lets your feet slide right through.  Fortunately Janet had extra bags because I completely forgot to bring any.

After I made sure my transition area was set I took my bike over to the start line.  The time trial start would send off two bikes at a time.  While waiting for 3PM to roll around I stood under a tree.  I swear the temperature was 10 degrees cooler in the shade. 

Shannon, the race director, had us line up and tried to get us motivated.  He asked if we were ready for our next race.  Three people and myself were the only ones to respond with a big cheer.  Shannon said we could move up to the front of the line. 

The bike course is an out and back on Route 125.  There are two major climbs on the way out and two on the way back.  The largest descent/climb is two miles long.  There is also no tree cover on this route so we would be in the sun the entire time. 

I hit the climbs fine and if the coast was clear I bombed the downhills.  On the two mile downhill I had to be patient until I could pass two riders ahead of me.  But once I passed them I reached 42 MPH on the sweeping curves. 

The return trip was fine as I kept myself under control during the long climbs.  I kept my heart rate manageable and didn't burn up my legs.  During the ride I thought how good I felt going into the run...only to realize I still needed to swim two laps around Turkey Creek Lake.

Heading back into transition I dismounted, racked my bike and slipped my feet into the bags.  Zip they went right into my wetsuit.  I just had to adjust the legs and pull it the rest of the way up.  With goggles and cap in hand I made my way to the beach. 

Just like the morning swim I got into a good rhythm right away.  As I finished the first lap my legs were feeling good.  In 2010 I cramped real bad between laps and when exiting the water.  This year the water was much warmer and I didn't have any problems. 

The water was weird.  As with any swim there are cold spots and warm spots.  But the spots I swam through were significantly different in temps.  It felt like a 20 degree swing when I went through these spots.  The warm spots were so warm I could feel the heat when I exhaled under the water. 

I sighted all of the buoys this time and didn't get off course.  Into transition and off to the run with my water bottle in hand for the 6.55 mile run. 

Due to the temps I slowed it down a little to the tune of about 30 seconds per mile.  Still happy with my finish time despite it being 11 minutes slower than the morning race. 

Bike:    1:22:19 -- 18.3 average/ 42.2 max speed
T1:           2:35
Swim:    25:27
T2:          2:15
Run:      55:12
Total:    2:47:48

Run splits:

Again I didn't wait around to long before heading back to camp.  I wanted to shower and start eating.  Janet made some tasty spaghetti sauce for dinner.  After relaxing around the campfire bedtime arrived at 9:30. 

Only one more race for the weekend.  Race #4 for most of us......Little Smokies Half Iron for those only racing on Sunday.

Triple T 2012 - Race #2

Sleeping in the RV was comfortable but hot, at least for me.  I had drawn the curtains for privacy and to keep the flow of cool air off me from the AC unit.  My little sleeping cave became hot and I was sweating quite a bit.  It also could have been extra body heat still escaping from the race late Friday.

I rolled out of bed around 5:30AM for the 7:30 start.  I hit the bathroom and started fueling up with OJ and a banana.  Everyone else was up in the next 30 minutes and we all prepped our gear for the day.

We rode over to the race site to setup our transition areas.  I did another 1 mile warmup to get the legs moving and empty the bladder in the woods.

I grabbed my second pair of goggles for the swim to avoid any leaking.  When the starter sent us on our way I took one dive into the water and started swimming.  I was very happy there was no water leaking into my goggles.

I settled into a very comfortable pace during the first lap of the swim.  I felt that I was sighting well and had a solid stroke.  As I finished the first lap my goggles were a little foggy and I found myself being told by a lifeguard I had to swim around the buoy.  I was about 10 yards inside the buoy.  Oops....I swam over to the buoy and turned towards the beach with everyone else. 

I cleared my goggles while on the beach and had much better vision for the second lap.  I picked up the pace slightly and still felt great heading for transition.  I cleared the water in 22 minutes, which would be extremely fast for me but a lot of people said the course was short....definitely.

On the bike I was taking it easy so I wouldn't blow myself up too early.  I was feeling comfortable again and attacked Thompson Hill with some energy.  I let out an excited cheer to begin the climb.  I mean why face the steepest climb of the weekend with a negative attitude.  I felt great climbing the hill and passed some people to boot. 

After we finished the climb a female competitor passed me and commented on my enthusiasm at the beginning of the climb.  We chatted for a while then she pushed ahead of me.  She was quite the speedy tri chick.

This bike course is the hardest of them all.  Thompson Hill is steep, there is a very technical descent and a final climb on Route 125.

The Hairpin turn on this course is very dangerous.  HFP started marking the road with cautions at least one mile before the corner.  The park must have done some maintenance on the road because there were some big patches of gravel across the road leading up to the turn.  Then the turn had been repaved with fresh asphalt.  There was some sand on the road to provide some traction but it also could have caused some skidding. 

I made it through the corner safely maybe riding 3 or 4 MPH.  As Shannon had said before the race, it's not worth it to take a risk because it won't make your race, but it could definitely break your race...and body...and bike.  He was hoping to have no accidents this year on the corner.  He said there has always been at least one.

The only other thing I didn't like about the bike courses this year was the chip 'n seal.  It was probably fresh from last year but it still sucked this year.  Once we made it back to Route 125 it was fresh and smooth pavement all the way back to the park. 

There was one final hill we had to climb but it didn't seem too bad this year., despite going over it four times during the weekend.  The reward was a wonderful downhill with a few false flats.  I hit 39.2 MPH and then kept an average of 26MPH all the way to the park. 

I slipped my feet out of my shoes before entering the parking lot and made ready for the dismount line.  I transitioned to the run and headed for Blacklamp Trail.  Because of the warm weather I grabbed my half full bottle of Nuun from my bike and carried it for the 6.55 mile run.  I'm glad I did because it was nice having a drink whenever I needed it.  I was actually quite comfortable carrying the bottle during the run.

Some of the steeper hills I walked and that made the less steep hills seem not so hard.  In fact some of the sections seemed shorter and easier this year, similar to the bike course.  I just didn't want to fry myself too early. 

At the run turn around I took some time to clear some small rocks from my right shoe and sock.  It was a good decision because I was much more comfortable when I put my shoe back on.  I started to pick up the pace and once I crested the final big hill I settled into a quick pace towards the finish. 

My splits for the race were:

Swim:    22:11
T1:          1:42
Bike      1:19:19  --  19.1 average/ 39.2 Max
T2:           :53
Run:      53:09   an estimate since HFP hasn't posted the splits yet.
Total:   2:36:33

My run splits were:

4:01 - final half mile to the finish

I am very happy with my splits over the first four miles.

I refueled with some food at the race site but didn't loiter around too much.  I got back to camp, showered and ate some chips, a turkey sandwich and drank coconut water.  We sat around talking about all sorts of stuff before getting ready for race #3.  With a 3PM start we only had 5 hour recovery.  We felt bad for people who take longer because the recovery/rest would be so much shorter.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Triple T 2012 - Race #1

No lead up, no excuses for not blogging, no training status.  Let's get to the heart of the matter. 

The first race of Triple T is a super sprint race starting at 5PM Friday evening.  The race consists of a 250m swim, 6k bike (3.72 miles) and 1 mile run.  This is a great way to kick off the weekend and loosen up after driving to the event.

I left the house around 8AM to pick up some last minute items at the grocery store and then meet Jen and Joanne at a coffee shop (Cafe 83).  I was anxious to get going.  I could feel the nerves in my stomach for the last couple of days and they were present Friday morning as well. 

Part of the nerves were because of some differences compared to previous races.  First off, Aimee was not going to be with me.  She was awesome as my race support in '09 and '10.  I knew it was going to be different without her being there.

I decided to cancel my hotel reservation and camp with Janet (Daisy Duc) and Joe.  Janet offered a mattress in their RV that I couldn't pass up, even though I had my tent and other camping equipment ready. 

The drive down to Shawnee State Park was fine and we arrived around 1PM to pick up our race packet, which essentially was out swim cap and racing singlet we would wear for the all four races.

Jen and Joanne went up to their room at the lodge and I headed to the campground to meet up with Janet and Joe. 

After getting unpacked and situated we had a couple of hours to relax in the shade.  Christian K and his friend Harvey drove in from Alabama.  Christian was staying in the RV with us and Harvey was sharing a room at the lodge.  Ian, Rob and Scott arrived and set up their tents a couple of spots from us, so the majority of the Cleveland race crew was ready to go. 

Shortly before 4PM we gathered our gear and rode our bikes to the event site.  It's one mile between the campground the race site which allowed us to loosen up the legs before and after each race. 

I picked up my chip and got marked.  The volunteer who checked me in commented that my race number was the same as my birth year.....' 67.  This number would put me near the front of the pack when we would start each race in time trial fashion. 

I put together my transition spot and warmed up with a 1 mile run.  I reached the turn around for the sprint run and stepped into the woods to empty the bladder one more time.  It was good to get warmed up after driving four hours in the car.

Before the race started we gathered for a picture on the beach.  The time trial start sends two people off in five second intervals.  Most people didn't wear a wetsuit since the swim is so short.

When it was my time to go I ran down the beach and dove into the water.  Immediately my left goggle filled with water.  Not completely but enough to be a bother and make me worry about loosing my contact.  I did all of my breathing to the right so that I could spot the turn buoys with my "good" eye.  I was surprised how straight I seemed to be swimming. 

One change for the swim course this year was the exit.  A small channel had been dredged by the park which allowed us to swim closer to the transition area and not run across the pedestrian bridge.  That was nice for the spectators because they weren't stuck on the beach while we ran to transition. 

I quickly put on my socks, mainly because I can't run without socks, shoes, sunglasses and helmet.  I grabbed my bike and headed out for the short uphill ride.  I attacked the uphill pretty good and passed a couple of people.  I didn't let up at the top and continued to push the pace. 

As soon as I started the down hill I unstrapped my shoes.   I wasn't going to be pedaling much on the downhill.  I had to wait for a clear shot to pass two people but once I did I bombed the downhill...at a max of 42.8 MPH. 

I slipped my  feet out of my shoes and rolled to the dismount line.  I racked my bike and put on my running shoes for the 1 mile run.  I pushed the pace and crossed the finish line rather strong to end the first race of the weekend.

250m Swim:       5:05
T1:                     1:08
6k bike:             11:49
T2:                     00:34
1 mile run:          6:39
Total race time:   25:14

After the race I grabbed some of the food offered by HFP and soaked the legs a little.  The creek water wasn't as cold as years past so the benefit wasn't quite there.

We rode back to the campground and showered.  I had some potato salad, a blue cheese burger and a salmon patty for dinner.  I also had one beer with dinner to celebrate the beginning of the weekend with friends.  Bedtime was 10PM for the Saturday morning race.