Pre-race: Birthday weekend. We decided to get a hotel for the 4 of us (Amanda, Avery, Kate, and myself) in Savannah and stay Friday to Monday. It wasn’t totally for the race, but it was nice. Amanda’s parents live in Statesboro and we would have probably stayed with them if we didn’t get a hotel.
Oh, I should probably remind everyone that I grew out my mustache for this race. I even colored it using Just For Men. I had planned to do the Retro Tributary Triathlon the same weekend but it had been cancelled due to low registration numbers and a sponsor backing out. I decided to keep the mustache and run in a trucker hat/aviator combo. It was glorious.
We went to the island the day before to hang out on the beach and check out the course. There was a huge mutli-car pill up on the bridge to the island the shut down the entire road for a really long time. They did a really good job cleaning up all of the glass on the road. It was right on the bike path and we went over the bridge twice.
The night before I started having a little bit of a panic attack. I’ve been off both of my medications (as a result of my accident a few years ago) for a while now and it’s still a huge struggle sometimes. Should I still be on them? That’s a conversation for a different time. Suffice to say that things started happening and my brain couldn’t process all of it very well. Flat tires, no tire pump, the wrong kit, lost my helmet bag, rolled my ankle a little bit in the parking log jogging to stay lose, and I’m sure 20 other things that taken one at a time aren’t that big of a deal. But my brain doesn’t act right all the time and I couldn’t deal with it. I texted a few people in the club hoping they would have some advice because I was seriously going to wake up the next morning to watch everyone and try to enjoy the beach for a few more days.
I woke up the next morning feeling absolutely terrible. I can’t remember how many times I puked, but I was ready to quit before the race had even started. I couldn’t eat or drink anything because it made me sick. I eventually forced down a Clif Bar and a banana along with sipping on water the rest of the morning.
We arrived at the check-in ridiculously late. For those of you with kids, you get it. You think you’ve got everything packed. You don’t. You think it’s going to take 15 minutes to leave. It will take 45. I honestly don’t understand where the time goes. Whatever. There was all of 10 minutes left for transition and I just got out of the truck. I ran to check-in (in some hotel nearby) and ran back to transition. It’s a sprint so my transition setup is incredibly bare. It wasn’t wetsuit legal which also helps setting up everything go a little easier as well as keeping it together during transitions.
Borrowed a bike pump, rested my helmet on my bike, fastened my shoes ready to slip into with a couple of rubber bands, and laid down my running shoes next to my hat/race belt/sunglasses wad. It was time to head to the water and get some directions.
Oh wait, there are no life guards on the beach? The Race Director starts talking about how we might not swim. They are cutting the course down. Everyone not racing is being asked to spread out down the beach to watch the race and keep an eye on everyone. No one is allowed to swim out father than they can stand up. If you’re a kid and your parents say no, you’re done or you do the duathlon. So many people switched to the duathlon. We don’t know what happened with the life guards. They confirmed the night before. One of them was racing. They claimed they didn’t know about it and didn’t have enough time to get people there that morning. Whatever. I’m still racing.
Warm-up: I got in the water and swam around for 5 minutes or so. Swim Coach Sam has done a good job of getting me in the habit of stretching properly which I’m pretty thankful for. ITL Track Tuesday has been a good exercise (pun intended) in dynamic stretching prior to working out and I like the method and stretches I’ve learned there. I think those two things combined has really helped me feel a little less tight before and during the race.
Swim: I have never raced an OWS in the ocean before. I had no idea what to expect. I’ve swam in rivers, lakes, pools, and ponds. It can’t be that different can it? It was. Advice of what to expect from Tim Myers: You have to spit the entire time. You swallow a little bit of water during the swim, but in the ocean you need to make sure you spit everything out. You can’t be swallowing that.
I started on the left like an idiot because I got in my head and I was immediately down because we swam right. They said we wouldn’t go very far out and it didn’t click that they took away the first buoy. I was expecting to swim straight out, turn right, swim down, turn right again, and get out. I was looking around for the first buoy wondering how far out we were swimming and it was time to go.
The waves weren’t that big. I don’t know wave vocabulary. They broke very close to the shore. They were not as tall as me. I only took breaths on the right which really helped since I wasn’t always sure when the water level would surge up on my left. I probably could have swam faster, but with my girls really starting to grow up more and my work schedule the pool time has been a little bit lacking. But I’m okay with the trade off of getting to see my girls (all three of them) five or six nights a week for dinner.
After what felt like 10 minutes I found the first and only buoy, one-armed around it to the right, and kicked it up (another pun intended) to the shore. It was a looooooooong run to transition and the timing mat was all the way up there. Unpacked sand is difficult to run on. Unpacked uphill is even harder. Over a walking bridge (another hill!) and through a kiddie pool across the mat into T1.
Swim Time: 0:09:29, 31/177
T1: Transitions are always kind of a blur to me. I don’t really remember them. I try to get in and out as fast as I can. I was racked middle of the pack. Maybe closer to run out than bike out. Goggles, swim cap, and ear plugs are already off when I get to my bike. Drop them next to my shoes, helmet goes on, and I’m off. Flying mount.
T1 Time: 0:00:35, 16/177, Only 3 people that finished the race ahead of me had a faster T1 time. Looking back at the final times, I was less than 30 seconds away from top 7. Seconds count in the shorter distances. Don’t neglect this aspect of your training. Make a plan, practice it, record it, watch it, make some changes. I feel like I’m at the point were I’m competing for a podium in almost every race I do now so it matters to me.
Bike: Coming out of T1 you make a left turn down the parking lot and the a right turn on the main road. Then you’ve got about 6 miles until the turn around at Fort Pulaski. The bike is exactly as advertised — completely flat with one hill at the aforementioned bridge. I check my watch to see what kind of mph I’m putting down (I don’t have a power meter). Nothing reading. That’s weird. Click up a few screens to see what Display Fields I have set. Nothing is changing. What the heck? At least the time is reading. Click a few more times. Nothing.
I’m coming up on a pack of people pretty quickly after getting on the main road. Young looking guys. They couldn’t have been more than 15 years old. I let the watch issue go and focus on passing people. We’re riding into the wind and they’re already slowing. I pass about 5 people by the time we get over the bridge and start counting the people that are already on the turn around coming back. 1, 2, 3, …, a few people bunched together as I turn and I could quite count all of them in my peripheral. Around 10? I’m pretty close to 7-9 so I feel like I can catch them on the way back.
We’re half way there and I’m feeling really good. Check my watch one last time to see if the data is ever going to read and still nothing. Check the time instead and try to do math by doubling the time and comparing that to the calculations I had done prior to the race about estimated finish time. Kind of tricky. Seems faster than I expected. Nice. Sip some water and crank. A few faster guys drafting the hell out of each other past me. Pisses me off. There are no race officials on the course. Whatever. Ride your own race. Try and stay close. Not working out too well.
It’s a beautiful course. No tall buildings in “town” and just miles of beachy shoreline all the way to the turn around. 6 miles back to the parking lot and another pack of people are catching me. I’m starting to feel a little winded. I was pushing it pretty hard for myself and felt like I was giving it 90% effort to stay within striking distance.
I didn’t realize it until I got back from the bike, but when I hit the lap button on my watching to start the bike it didn’t take. I did the entire bike as T1. That’s why I wasn’t reading any data.
Bike Time: 0:33:09, 17/177
T2: Another blur in terms of my memory. Hit the lap button and it read “Begin Biking.” Great. Thinking fast I hit it again real quick to start T2 (fastest bike split ever!) so I can at least have some good run splits and heart rate data to help pace with. Drop the bike and helmet. Slip shoes on because of Lock Laces and I’m gone running with the hat/race belt/sunglasses wad. Drop sunglasses. Decide to turn around to pick them up. Almost fall down because the parking lot is sandy and I stop quick.
T2 Time: 0:00:41, 36/177, I don’t know what the hell I did here. 6 people that finished ahead of me had faster times. I probably lost 10 seconds here alone. That’s half way to that 7th place finish.
Run: Completely flat out and back. There’s a lady right outside the run exit yelling numbers. I don’t remember anything but “there are 7 people within sight around the bend.” Oh heck yeah. Let’s. Catch. All. Of. Them. I round the bend and I can see all of them. The guy farthest away is maybe 150 meters ahead and I’m starting to have flashbacks to John Tanner. Keep the pace. Keep catching people. Keep breathing.
I look down at my watch and we’re running a 7/min/mi pace. Pick it up. I catch about 3 people before the turn around and I’m counting places while people are coming back. I forget what it was now, but I know it fueled me. The aid station volunteers were crap. It was a group of children from some charity organization so I feel weird hating on them. They were competing to give us water and I almost got tripped going by the first aid station. Get to the turn around and there’s a trash bag in the middle of the run course and no real direction about where exactly we need to turn around. I hope I don’t get a DQ for not running the full course.
Heading back I catch more people and start picking it up for the last mile. I have to catch these 3 guys that I can see. Pick off the first. Pick off the second. Can’t get the third guy. Look at my watch to see roughly how much distance is left. A little over 400m. Wait, what? We’re already back! Ugh. I should have kicked earlier. Try to kick it around a double right angle finish to the line. I get a soft elbow/shoulder combo around the last corner from the guy so I try and stick my left foot out first so my chip crosses before his. There are three mats. Don’t know which one it is.
He got me. Exact same time logged so it must have been milliseconds. I’m now 3 for 4 in finish line sprints and I hate myself because of it.
Run Time: 0:19:31, 8/177, Only 3 people that finished ahead of my had faster runs. PR for 5k off the bike in a triathlon.
Post-race: I was back on kid duty pretty quickly. Traveling with two kids under two years old (some of you might be able to relate) can be fun sometimes. I just have to make sure that I’m not expecting Amanda do it all by herself even though I might have raced that day.
We walked about a little bit trying to find some real food and shade after munching on bananas, oranges, trail mix, and whatever else they had. Not much luck on either front though as it was still early in the morning by the beach and not much was open. I found an outdoor shower by the hotel pool and got cleaned up so I could change into some normal clothes. We pretty much sat around changing diapers until the awards while cheering all the finishers coming in. Eventually I had to pull out the ATC Race Team Podium Shirt™ and get ready for some pictures.
I got interviewed by the local CBS affiliate for the news. She wanted to ask me a bunch of questions about how I liked the area, how the race was, and what training for a triathlon is like. They didn’t end up running my story because of what happened in Orlando, but Amanda recorded it on my phone so we’ve got proof it happened!
Once awards were over we we found a lunch spot and made plans with Ed “Water Cheetah” Crossman and Michelle “My Husband Pushed Me Off My Bike But I Won’t Let That Keep Me Down” Crossman. It’s always fun to hang out with people after a race and it was cool to see them at this destination race considering it was our vacation.
What would you do differently: My run fitness is better than I expected. I wasn’t as tired as I normally am at the end of a sprint. I was pushing it on the bike pretty well and I felt like I could have run harder in retrospect. I’m not quite sure how you would test that prior to the race, but I imagine I’ll learn ore how to tell if I can push harder on the run the more I race. It’s been quite a few months since I’ve raced at this distance in a competitive environment so I need to keep doing it to stay sharp.
Rate your overall experience with this race: I give this race 4 out of 5 waves. I take away 1 wave for run course volunteers. It probably seems a little stupid but the kids honestly almost tripped me trying to give me water. If you want to have kids be posted at the aid stations I’m all for that. But I imagine there could have been a little more guidance for how to do it.
If you’re doing races expecting a medal, participation or podium, this race isn’t for you. No participation trophies and the same custom towel that says something about being an award winner for each person on the podium. You do this race for the destination, the scenery, and the experience.
The race was great though. I would do it again even if you told me if was going to be the same group of volunteers.