Race Format: Sprint Triathlon – 500m swim, 16mi bike, 5k run
Date of Race: 06/28/2015
Total Race Time: 1:14:53 (Official Results)
Overall Place: 23/473
Age Group: M30-34
Age Group Place: 4/44
Pre-race: I woke up at 4am to eat breakfast and drive to the race. It’s about a 45-minute drive to Dallas Landing from my house so I planned to leave the house at 5am to make sure I had enough time to drive there, get transition set up, and warm up. I didn’t leave until 5:30am though. I got to the race and pretty quickly realized that I had forgot to fill up my water bottles and couldn’t find my chip. I had forgotten to go to the chip table after picking up my packet so I did that and started looking for water. Eventually Drew gave me an extra bottle he had but I was a little bit stressed until then.
Warm-up: I warmed up by running for 5 minutes through the parking lot, stretching on the beach, swimming around for 3-4 minutes, and more stretching on the beach. My heartrate was definitely a little elevated and I was feeling good. The water was 84 °F so getting out of the water made standing around for the National Anthem and countdown feel cold.
Swim: It was a wave start with M20-34 going first followed by other waves of various ages and genders. I didn’t like this because I wanted to start with the M35-49 as well so I had a more accurate picture of where my overall place was, but whatever. It was an in-water start as we were told to “walk out into the water until I tell you to stop.” After that we were called back up onto the beach. And finally we were told to walk back out into the water. Geez. I was standing knee-deep in the water on the front line of the first wave. There was A LOT of jockeying for position and trying to get in line straight to the first buoy turn. I had to physically push some people off me and I ended up giving one guy a good elbow to the ribs because he kept trying to swim on top of me.
I’m not sure if I took off faster than I wanted, but I did felt slightly out of breath after making the first turn. I attributed it to all the bumping and sighting I had to do up until that point and just kept on going with a pace I felt good about. I keep forgetting to hit the lap button on my watch as soon as I get out of the water so I have a more accurate time on the swim alone, so my time includes the 50 yard run up into the transition area.
I know my goal was to swim under 10, but I honestly was hoping to be much much closer to 9 than I ended up (including the run up to T1).
Swim Time: 0:09:43
T1: There weren’t very many people in transition when I got there. Most people were sitting on the ground putting shoes on. I’ve been pre-clipping my shoes (with rubber bands to hold them in place) all year so far and it’s been working pretty well. I’m practicing it at home and it’s really paying off on race day. I ran up to my bike, dropped my goggles and cap, and put on my helmet. In the past, for races sans wetsuit, that would be it and I’d be gone. But I changed shoes recently and the doctor suggested some inserts which changed my foot position in my shoes. Because of this I experience some rubbing in my running shoes if I’m not wearing socks. I ran in them without socks just after purchasing them and got some pretty terrible blisters. I didn’t want that again so I planned to wear socks on the run. So instead of putting them on in T2 I opted to put socks on in T1. I figured that if I was 100% going to wear them on the run I might as well get the benefit of the cushioning and comfort on the bike as well. (I thought about taking the shoes back because of the rubbing but I might have put too many miles on them for an outright return.) It took me a little extra time to put them on but I was still in and out under 1 minute.
T1 Time: 0:00:51
Bike: Matt at Podium fitted me the day before so I was excited to see how things were going to shake out. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve been biking a lot lately and I was ready to go faster.
I ran about 15 feet past the mount line so I could do my flying mount without anyone directly next to me. I want to be courteous of other athletes and I also feel like running past them and jumping on is a good place to get ahead. There were 3 people or so mounting directly after the line so I moved up 3 places during the bike leg without even riding the bike. The bike starts out with a left turn out of the parking lot and a long climb up to the main road. I didn’t worry about really getting my feet strapped until I had gotten my momentum going and had found a proper gear. Maybe 1 minute into the climb ones of my buddies outside the club passes me going up the hill. He’s traditionally much stronger on the bike than I am so I figured today would be a good test to see how the rest of the season would shake out between us. We passed a few people going up the hill and I finished the climb by passing him. (My bike split was over 2 minutes faster than his so I was able to put some real distance between us over the 16 miles.) Once I got out on the main road I was able to really start to get going and get into my breathing and pedaling rhythm. The first few miles have a good number of hills that take us out to Cobb Parkway to where you can really open up the engine and fly. We stay on CP for almost 6 miles with an average grade of -0.5% and a total elevation gain of -154ft (all according to Strava). I averaged 24mph on that stretch and passed what felt like 10 people. I was catching lots of people and it was making me feel really good. I passed people on almost every climb to which I attribute all of that success to my double-digit reps on Thursday Hill Climbs and my current KOM status. Looking over the cumulative numbers, I was 19th after the swim and 6th after the bike for all the guys in Wave 1. This means I passed 13 people on the bike. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!
I rolled up to turn off the main road down toward the park and there were some people yelling my name. I made out an ATC shirt but I didn’t see any faces because I had to make the turn. As I came down through the park entrance for the final turn in the parking lot, some people were walking a kayak across the course right as I came up to the turn. I saw them and started yelling a little bit while I was still 20+ yards out, “hello hello hello HELLO HELLO HHHELLLOO!!!” They were TOTALLY oblivious to me coming down the course and the volunteer on the corner seemed like he couldn’t be bothered. Whatever. Pull my feet out of my shoes and get ready to dismount.
My goal was to go 2-3 minutes faster than last year. I only ended up about 1 minute faster than last year which was sort of a disappointment because of how much time I’ve been weighting to the bike, but given all the other successes on the bike I listed I think it was a great bike overall.
Bike Time: 0:43:06 (22.3 mph)
T2: I was in the first rack by the bike in/out (which was really nice) so I didn’t have to run with my bike really at all in either transition. Helmet off and tennis shoes on. I took a chug of some RedBull (have been experimenting with it during run training at home with good success) and I was off with my sunglasses, hat, and bib number in hand. There was nothing super special to report or give elaborate details on.
T2 Time: 0:00:35
Run: The run was pretty lonely. Only 1 person passed me on the run and that guy ended up getting 2nd place OA. He was from Wave 3 or something and had caught me from the M40-44 AG. I was able to catch 1 person, but he had passed me on the bike and was also from the M40-44 AG (he ended up getting 1OAM). Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I switched to receiving distance alerts on my Garmin 910XT every .5 miles instead of every 1 mile after a suggestion from Drew a while ago. I can correct my pace faster and make some adjustments so I don’t get too far behind or ahead for a particular mile. (I typically go with the average interval pace and pay no attention to the current pace field.)
The course isn’t flat, but it’s not too challenging either (Strava reports 157ft of climbing). The parking lot loop really lets you know how much you’ve got left as it’s right out of T1 and includes a good initial climb and descent. I had the pace just fine while climbing and felt no added fatigue so I was ready for the next 2.5 miles. Coming down that initial descent and making a right turn to climb out of the park, a spectator walked backward onto the course and right into my run path. I had like zero time to react and totally ran her over. I felt so bad because I don’t like doing things like that, but it was 100% her fault so I didn’t even stop. It made me feel better though when she yelled that she was sorry and I could hear it in her voice too that she knew she done messed up.
Whatever. Kayaks on the course, running over people, just focus on running. At the next turn I goofed because I was still trying to forget about running over someone and missed the dang turn. It was only 15 feet or so (and you can actually see it in my GPS path), but I definitely blew the turn. The volunteer on the corner was on his phone so I only accept 50% of the blame. 😉
But like I said already, the run was lonely. About 1 mile in is where the 1 guy passed me and about 2 miles in is where I caught the other guy involved. My pace hovered around 6:40 to 6:50 for most of the time with a little dip down in the 6:10 range on one of the longer downhill sections. In my start wave the guy in front was almost 50 seconds ahead and the guy in back was almost 1.5 minutes back. The finish line was just me so I gave it a big smile in hopes for a good finish line photo!
Run Time: 0:20:41 (6:40/mi)
Post-race: After walking around to catch my breath and fist bump a few guys I recognized ahead of me, I grabbed some water and headed back out onto the course. I wanted to see how the Drew vs Harold race was shaking down. I got to see a bunch of people and encourage them to finish the last 200-400m strong. I was out on the course for 10 minutes or more before I came back to get some of the free food. I hung around for another 20 minutes or so eating and chatting with a bunch of different people before I ran/walked the mile back to transition to get my gear and go home. The ankle started hurting on the run back down to get my bike so I got on that RICE plan as soon as I got home and I’m wondering if I should go back to the doctor because it’s been feeling fine lately. I don’t know much about the body but I feel like elevation gain aggravates it the most so running the PRR on July 4 should be interesting to see if my theory holds.
What would you do differently: If anyone has read this far, something I’ve wanted to ask is if this question is to be answered as if I did the race and was suddenly transported back to the start to do it over again but with the knowledge of how things would shake out? If so, I would go 10 seconds faster on each leg to get to the podium! haha But seriously though I think I’d bike and run a little harder if I could do it again. I think I could have gone 1 minute faster with a little more focus/drive and I think I had more in the tank at the finish line. I’m having trouble recalling all my thoughts and motivations during the race so I can’t quite nail down why I was choosing those paces on those legs. But all that to say in retrospect I feel like I could have gone faster on the bike and the run. That could have been the difference between the podium and feeling like I had the perfect day.
Rate your overall experience with this race: I give it a 4.5 out of 5. I like this race a lot for a number of reasons: no hotel, close to home, sleep in my bed, home by 11:30am, good food, decently challenging course, good space in transition, and good competition. Whether you’re a beginner or a competitive age-grouper, I think you’ll find this race fun and worth the go. I think the only reason I’m not giving this race a 5 is that the finish area is super crowded even though they’ve block off the entire street in Downtown Acworth. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to spread things out a little bit more so people can actually walk around to get food, talk with each other, and check the unofficial results.
Additional Thoughts: I didn’t 100% hit all my goals, but I hit most of them. I swam under 10 minutes and kept both of my transitions under 1 minute. I wanted to bike 3-4 minutes faster than last year (43:56) and only got 1. I wanted to run a flat 20 minutes and was 45 seconds slower. If either one of those goals was hit I would have gotten 3rd in AG and if both had happened I would have gotten 2nd. But what can I do besides just train a little harder and trust that I’ve got the engine to go faster next race if I feel like I had more to give at the end of this one. I literally just started working with a coach so hopefully their experience and ability to go over my training results will help me pick some better paces to target on race day.