Another great day at the Georgia Veterans Triathlon (Sprint). I managed to put up a personal best for this race, despite sucky swim and bike conditions.
My previous posts for this race:
This may be my last prep race before Augusta 70.3 and then, Ironman Florida. My main goals were to test some recent equipment changes, some transition tweaks, and nutrition strategies. From those respects, everything went very nicely.
Down and Dirty
I really enjoy this race. It was my first triathlon. This is my third time doing it. The swim, swim transition, bike course, and run course are all very friendly, and conducive to the first-timer, or the vet looking for something fun. This time around, the weather was less than friendly with recent thunderstorms creating choppy lake water, and wet bike pavement. There was a slight drizzle for the swim start, but it was gone by the time we got out of the water. The roads were wet for the bike, making navigation on the older road beds tricky. However, the roads had dried a good bit by the run start. I put up a personal best on this course, despite these issues. It was a good day.
Distances: 400 yard swim, 13.6 mile bike, 5k run. With relay team option, also
Course: Loop 400 yard swim in Lake Blackshear;
13.6 mile loop bike, no aid stations;
5k out and back run, 2 aid stations (can hit them going each way).
Registration: $55, early mail-in, USAT member. I hate online registration through those thieves at Active.com .
Host: Georgia Multisport
Weather: I could see thunderstorms in distance on the road to the race. It had clearly recently rained, and the race start was delayed 30 min, due to the delay in clearing the course from the recent thunderstorms. (good thing too, because a tree had evidently needed to be cleared from the bike course roadway). It was drizzling as we waited to start the swim, but that ended before we got out of the water. The wind did, however, create the choppiest swim conditions I’ve seen to this point. Even more difficult than Turtle Crawl. Good training though–we can’t predict what race conditions will be for any future race, and it is necessary to train and be prepared for all sorts of things. Same goes for the bike. The road was wet, and at least one guy I passed got some road rash. He stated all was good, though. My front tire was skipping on the older eroded sections of asphalt. Perhaps I could have taken a few pounds of pressure out of the front tire, but then again it was fine on the smooth sections which make up maybe three-quarters of the course. Weather for the run ended up being ideal, and I was blowing past people at a high rate of speed.
- Swim–Start at a sandy boat ramp. A simple out for 150 or so yards, hang a right for 100 or so, and back.
- Bike–Fairly flat. The first third to half is twisty and mildly technical. A couple of slow risers on the second half. Virtually dead flat on the last stretch.
- Run–Fairly flat also, a couple of short rollers between mile 1.5 and 2.5. Punch it after the last turn.
Competition: Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers.
My results: Mid pack on swim, Mid pack on bike, and front on run. An improvement for me all things considered. My greatest opportunities still lie in the swim and bike. Need to work on muscular endurance for swim to better overcome tough swim conditions. Once warmed up on the bike, I was able to build speed and hold it. On the run, I kept my strokes short, and continued to build speed after first mile.
General Impression: I really enjoy this race. It is well organized. Safety, especially on the tricky portion of the bike is a priority. There is roadway traffic, but it is light with no jerks. Nice looking t-shirt.
Room for improvement: No complaints.
This time I made the three hour drive from home race day morning with no hotel stay. This year it is important that I control my expense with two very expensive races on the calendar. The previous two years I’ve spent the night before in a local hotel. Also, with more experience, for these shorter races, I can wake up early, make the road trip, bust a race, ride back, all in one day. Trick being, as with all races, to get a really good night’s sleep the second night before. How many races can you really get a good night’s sleep the night before anyhow?
My goals were to test some things in preparation for Florida.
- I had recently installed an new wheel set, which works beautifully, however the new gearing had some kinks to work out.
- I’ve been training in Vibrams, but don’t want to race in them for a couple of reasons, hence I recently bought some Saucony Hattoris and wanted to test them in a race scenario.
- New water bottle configuration, and homemade sports drink.
- New bungee swim goggle straps, which have been working great in the pool, also worked great in the lake.
I woke up about 3am, got packed, out the door, and on the road by 4am. Arrived at the venue right at 7am, set up transition, chilled out for a while. Got a good warm up swim. Bust the race. Ate some post race food. Saw I had no chance of medalling, and made the three hour drive to the princess’s soccer tournament. After the tournament, drove home one hour. Showered and made it to Keb Mo / Aaron Neville concert not too late.
Such is the life.
It was a good day.
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Yesterday I was scouting out a new 60 mile bicycle route for the Crew. What was supposed to be a ride punctuated with map checks, became a mini Warrior-Up session. This weekend I finished installing a new wheelset, exchanged my 8-speed Hyperglide for a 9-speed, new chain, new rear shift cable, and adjusted my bar-end shifters for the new set-up. Saturday night all seemed well.
Everything started out well enough. The route starts out the first 10-15 miles or so sharing the same roads of other routes we ride. I had to conduct a couple of map checks, to verify intersections, etc., but all was well.
Before the halfway point, my front derailleur stopped shifting to the big chain ring. I made a pit stop in Rutledge, GA, made the field adjustments, and proceded. Then the front derailleur began dropping my chain to the outside. Several roadside adjustments later, and I had that under control.
By adding time to the ride, my water began to get low.
Then, in the second half I couldn’t shift to my lowest gear.
Later in the second half, I couldn’t hit the #8 sprocket.
Then the #7 sprocket.
I stopped the check it out. Clearly a couple turns on my cable nut would square it away. I succeeded in up-shifting to my 12 tooth #1 with a completely stretched out cable, and the one nut on the whole bike I couldn’t adjust with my new onboard multi-tool.
I had to ride it out like that, hills and all.
There were at least two hills I considered dismounting and walking.
Eventually, the school parking lot where my truck was parked was in sight.
It didn’t kill me.
I’m glad it happened–now. We don’t want to have to Warrior-Up every training session. Once in a while, we need a little extra suck–those sessions where one thing after the other, after the other, goes wrong to really test and stretch us mentally.
The last couple of months have found me riding and running new and unfamiliar routes. In the last week I’ve revisited some of my tried and true, if somewhat recently neglected, routes. I often desire to seek out new scenery, new stimulation in my training. Along with this, time constraints force me to closer, well-worn trails–Often with a sense of drudgery.
That sense of drudgery never lasts very long though. Once on the trail, I begin to relish in the training.
Recently, I’ve run a couple of my old standbys, and found myself remarkably stronger in certain dreaded sections. Over the years, I’ve steadily improved on these hills. However, the recent improvement has been dramatic and surprising. Particularly so, given the time away.
Hence, another, more practical benefit to familiar routes is their benchmark factor.
When you’ve been away from one certain dreaded hill for several months, and return to it, never quite hitting the wall, still strong as the hills begins to top out–you now have confirmation that the training has been paying off.
Another reason to Praise Familiar Routes.
Today will finish out Week 2 of a 20-week build to Augusta. The 20-week plan is actually a full Ironman distance plan. My objective is to build 20 weeks into Augusta, take a week off, and then repeat the last five weeks going into Panama City.
For the past several months my focus has been building muscular strength and power, as well as rebuilding my swim stroke. At some point in my final training stretch I need to cut down the heavy lifts and gym session frequency. A couple of weeks ago my right knee felt weird doing front squats, which precipitated a break from leg work in the gym. That on the heels of my back seizure incident, let’s me know the timing for this switch was right. With double sessions virtually every day, the recovery time needed from heavy lifts and three times a week frequency creates too heavy a training load.
Week one went well, and I capped it off with Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Olympic Triathlon.
This past week, my local county pool was closed for routine maintenance going into Memorial Day, so that gave me the opportunity to get some extra gym work in. Knees are feeling better.
Right now I am as fit as I was going into Augusta last year. My specific race fitness isn’t there, particularly in the run. However, on the bike and in the water, with little race specific training, I am stronger than ever.
For the past several weeks I’ve been repeating the week one training going into the actual 20 Week build. However, my recent back incident and Life have made it slightly difficult. I have however, been able to reproduce the swim side for the past few weeks.
Additionally, those unexpected interruptions have left me feeling stronger. And if there were any doubt, today in the gym I was able to do five sets of power cleans, where my best to that point has been three.
Strength training wise, I’ll go down to twice a week in the gym, with a calisthenic & running speed session, for example Tabata protocol, or Crossfit-style “Helens”.
Given the past few races, and recent long sessions these are my emphases for this season:
- Swim–technique and endurance.
- Bike–muscular endurance.
- Run–Muscular endurance, Speed.
I just put my first triathlon of the season in the bag (I have a few more races scheduled)–it was the Spring Fling at West Point Lake, on the border of Georgia and Alabama. (West Point, Georgia, near LaGrange). This event actually consists of two races–the West Point Triathlon, an olympic distance, and the Spring Fling Sprint.
My selection of this race was that it was the first sprint distance scheduled on a Sunday. My Saturdays are impossibilities until after soccer season. In fact my next race will be the Turtle Crawl Olympic at Jekyll, the first Saturday after soccer season!
Down and Dirty
This is a fun race. The weather was great, the water temp was a tad cool, but I always feel the lake temps are cool. The people are fun, and the volunteers super helpful.
Distances: 600 yard swim, 15 mile bike, 5k run. With relay team option, also
Course: Out and back 600 yard swim in West Point Lake;
15 mile out and back (essentially) bike, no aid stations; 5k out and back run, water at start and 1.5 mile mark.
Registration: $65, early mail-in, USAT member. I hate online registration through those thieves at Active.com .
Host: Georgia Multisport
Weather: Weather was beautiful and warm. The water was still a tad cool–Wetsuit legal. I was able to test my new Xterra john suit. Weather stayed sunny and rain-free all day. I didn’t notice the heat until after the race.
- Swim–Start and end on a boat ramp, which is always slightly tricky in terms of toe scrapes. A simple out for 250-300 yards, hang a left for 50 or so, and back.
- Bike–Rolling hills. Somewhere this course was called flat and fast. It is not flat. No killer climbs, but don’t look for the flats. A Pit/Staffordshire mix came charging out on one uphill. Thank you to the sheriff who chased him off.
- Run–Again, not flat. Rolling hills, no killer climbs. I’m sure I negative split on the way back.
Competition: Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers. The first olympic distance guy was out of the water in 17 minutes. The last olympic people were behind me.
My results: Back of the pack swim, mid-pack bike, front pack run. Mid-pack overall, back of the pack for my age group. My biggest opportunity still lies in the swim, but I feel that getting better with every training session. My next opportunity is in the bike, getting stronger and smarter there all the time.
General Impression: Fun race. Close enough to home to get up early and drive to, race, and drive home. Well supported during all legs, with nice post race recovery food (I did not try, and cannot vouch for, the pizza though)
Room for improvement: Swag period. We got our numbers before hand, and the t-shirt. No swag at all though 😐
I woke up at 3:30am to get ready and leave for the race. I had done minimal preparation the night before (which I regret). My aim was to be on the road at 4:30. I finally got going pushing 5am. From my house it was right at 2 hours to get there. Definitely load up all your stuff once your parked, and head down to transition in one shot. the closest parking is 1/4 mile. Where I ended up parking is 1/2 mile easy. You don’t want to make that round trip unnecessarily.
Once I got parked, unloaded and down to transition, transition was technically closed. (One reason I recommend you stay the night if this is your first race.) I set up transition fairly quickly, copped a squat in someone’s chair, and squeezed into my wetsuit.
With a little time to kill, I hit the bathroom (no, not the port-a-potty). By the time that was over, the Olympic distance had already started. I slipped into my start wave and waited.
The swim was uneventful, except I need to work on my wetsuit adjustments. I had not hoisted the crotch enough, and it ended up pulling on my shoulders, chest and legs. I think this is an adjustment issue, not a sizing one. Although, I’m finding the triathlon sizing charts are made for skinner guys than I, and I’m not a bulky guy.
Bike transition went smooth. Slightly slow, as I carefully eased the wetsuit past my ankles. The bike ride was also uneventful, one Lincoln buzzed me and pushed my bike number into my wheel spokes and I had the annoyance of that flapping sound for the last six or seven miles. I passed some folks and lost them on the hills. The pit/Staffordshire mix came charging out right before the 7.5 mile marker. He had his sights set on a cyclist in front of me, but a deputy ran him off. I tested out one of my homemade Lara bars. The bar worked great, but my wrapping, and deployment needs some help. Definitely not as simple as ripping open a gel. No sports drink for this race, only water.
Run transition was super fast. Rack my bike. Take off my helmet. Slip on my running shoes. Zing my elastic laces. and I’m gone. Nothing else to it. I hit an espresso gel at the .5 mile or so. After the 1.5 mile turn around, the gel hit, I kicked it in a bit, and finished with some fast guys, making me look a lot better than I am. The finish line sneaks up on you a bit, and is in a slightly different spot than the transition area.
Muscle Milk, cookies, bananas, water and a Coke for my post recovery stuff. There was a ton of other stuff. I wasn’t really craving anything else, and those hit the spot. Talked to some local racers for a bit, and headed home.
Got home in time to help my buddy with his hot water heater, and my son with his AP Statistics homework!
It was a good day.
This past Saturday was my first Tour de Pike Century cycling ride in Concord, Georgia. The bike ride actually has several mileage options from 8 miles to 10o miles. I opted for the 33 mile course. I was hoping to be ready for the century, but circumstances have hindered my training to this point. The 66 mile option was probably more in line with my training, but schedules in the Spring are super tight. Alas, 33 it was.
The ride is very nice. It is a low key start and finish. The rest stops in each town are nice, with friendly, helpful people. There is a good selection of refreshments. Some of the stops have port-a-potties, some real restrooms.
The route splits are well marked, but a decent map is provided for each distance route, just in case.
Terrain is rolling hills, with some longer climbs. Nothing too severe. However, the accumulation over miles can take it’s toll, so be prepared.
I had a good opportunity to test out some of my new nutrition strategy & my new water bottle/tool bag setup. There are a couple of things I still need to sort out, particularly placement of a spare tube & CO2 cartridges, give my new barebones tool bag.
Date: Saturday, 17 March 2012
Distances: 8, 18, 33, 66 & 100 miles
Times: Registration open 7am
Ride start 8:30am
Cost: $25 in advance, $30 after 9 March. walk-up registration available
After a not-good night’s sleep, I woke up race morning about 4am before Augusta 70.3 Half Ironmatn 2011. I tossed in bed after falling asleep late. I spent a good bit of my time last night hunting down a new cyclometer (see part 2). I got out of bed about 4:30am and made my way to the hotel breakfast for some coffee, and a waffle. Not much of an appetite, and I had my own preferred early morning. Orange juice, yogurt, banana, P&J (if I can get it down), not too much coffee. It was still a few hours before my 8:16 wave start.
Final equipment check, loaded up my transition bag, lubed up, put on my tri shorts, shirt, running shoes. My first race where a shirt was mandatory for the bike and run. Put on some tunes, and headed to the lobby for the shuttle. I don’t train with headphones, but I do usually listen to Damian Marley or something in the drive to a race.
The shuttle lady was extremely nice, and got us to the transition area very quickly. No parking pain. Extremely convenient. Had no cash for a tip (caught up with her later that afternoon)
I got to my bike about 6am. Transition was already packed with lines of people waiting for the race shuttles (school buses) headed towards the swim start. The space on either side of me was already staked out, and with the wrong-facing bike (guy still no where to be found), I had no space–a situation I promptly corrected. I borrowed a pump and topped of my tires. Affixed my new cyclometer. Did my normal layout. Headed to get in line for the buses.
By 6:30am the bus lines had died down, so we basically walked up and loaded buses. Easy. A couple of minutes later, we were unloading at the swim start.
The swim start was buzzing with spectators, family, racers–very good energy. The training teams were grouped, warming up. I hit the port-a-potty, turned in my swim clothe bag, and made my way to get in line for my wave. Had chance to watch the pros start.
The swim starts from a floating pier, extended perpedicular from the shore into the river. After walking out on the pier, each wave then gets in the water for a deep water start. Here you can feel that the current has an effect, but it is not a significant effect. Hence my point in part 1 that the current is a factor the longer you’re in the water, but not a huge factor. Even with 100 or 200 swimmers in my wave, the start was not that physical.
The swim course is well marked. It’s a straight shot along the shore. The area closer to the shore has some seaweed-like stuff. A little weird, but not terrible. I saw a snapping turtle–definitely something I would not want to surprise.
I came out of the water feeling strong. Hit the port-a-potties, found my bike, a good swig of water, loaded up, and headed out. The volunteers were abundant, and super nice–A constant theme throughout the race.
The bike exit was easy to find. Plenty of room to mount up and get going.
The bike leg exits the Marina and quickly heads out of town onto the freeway. The first third of the bike is
basically rolling hills. The first aid station was around mile 18. Grabbed some water, and hit the port-a-potty. (Need to work on the port-a-potty situation).
My bike nutrition strategy was to get down a bottle of my 6% electrolyte mix, replace that with water on the bottle exchange, then start working on my concentrated electrolyte, alternated with water. I planned to finish a water each aid station, and nurse my concentrated mix.
The stretch between each of the remaining bike aid stations have at least one or two decent ascents, depending on how one feels about hills. However, there aren’t any real killer hills. There are a couple of hairpin turns. One hairpin turn is at the bottom of a steep decline, and then a runs into a good incline. One rider wiped out ahead of me, and I had to break down to a bike stand while he was assisted off the course. Then a nice quarter mile climb out of that. My gearing was high for torque in the turn, but not for the resulting climb. A nice thigh buster.
The last ten miles or so of the course are very similar to the first (as might be expected).
Weather on the bike was hot and sunny. Not so bad on the bike because of the wind etc, and the downhills gave some good cool down opportunities. I topped out at one point at just under 40 mph.
The Run by the time I headed out on the run it was good and hot. Most of the run is in the sun. There are several shaded areas, tree lined sections and a few under passes. Going out on the first 3 miles, expect plenty of sun. Mile 5-6 is cooler on the back part of the first loop, and then back to the sun for the second loop.
The run is dead flat. There is literally only one hill as you leave the marina going through the levy wall.
With aid stations every mile. Water, Ironman electrolyte and gel products, cola, fruit. Very well stocked.
It’s amazing running through downtown Augusta, there are so many people cheering. Hanging out at the bars, having a good time. The aid stations are manned by various groups. There was a rugby team, a group of waitresses, JRTOC.
The split between finishers and second lappers is on the back half of the loop. It was something of a psychological hurdle watching those faster than me splitting off for the finishing shoot, while I was in for another 10k or so.
I had an unexpected second wind on the back half of the second loop, perhaps mile 7 or 8. The whole issue of second winds if baffling to me, and I was very surprised to have one at my longest distance to date. On the second loop there were some clouds and some rain. Both were very welcome, and certainly much better than the heat and sun.
There are aid stations every mile or so. Port-a-potties are not at every aid station, and are sometimes hard to visually locate.
The finish line was finally in sight. Here you should be sure to create some space, and take a good finish line photo, hands raised high, smiling. I got my medal, finisher’s hat, some water. The race over, I was afraid to sit down, lest I may not be able to stand back up. Definitely, the most brutal run of my life.
This is the point I missed my family most, as everyone else’s support crew and family greeted them coming out of the shoot, I felt distinctly alone.
Waited in line not too long for the Athletes Lounge (or something to that effect) pizza, chips, cookies, soda, water and beer. Had a good convo in line. Sat down, finally to munch with a fellow competitor.
I actually gave a post-race breakdown in my first post in this series.
So what next year? Getting psyched for a full Ironman. . .
If there’s some detail I missed, a question you have, or a comment, leave a comment below.
Please feel free to comment below.
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