Daniel, Race Recap

Guest Post: Tri Chewacla Triathlon

I was able to convince Daniel to do a post about his triathlon last weekend! Woo hoo! It’s a good one too. Enjoy! 

I didn’t think I would do a race recap on this one, but after talking with Sam, I decided it may be nice for me to have this to refer back to down the road. We actually referenced one of my other recaps in the car on the way to the race, so I guess that proves that it may be useful to have. Let’s get to it! 

I’m still fairly new to the triathlon and biking in general, but after doing IM Augusta last year, I decided I wanted to continue biking regularly and doing a few triathlons (this has really helped with my hip injury). I looked around and found the Tri Chewacla Sprint and Olympic Distance Triathlon. I opted for the sprint distance, which was a 500 meter swim, a 12 mile bike and a 5K run. After looking at the previous year’s results, I decided my primary goal would be to compete for an overall award and my secondary goal would be to compete for an age group award. 

Swim – 500 meters (9:42)

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I hate to admit this, but I haven’t been in the water to swim since getting out of the Savannah River in Augusta last year. Despite the lack of training, I was still confident that I could cover the distance. I also didn’t really feel like there was much to gain or lose in the swim in terms of my overall time. My goal was to be close to 9 minutes for my overall time on the swim.

My training for the IM was always around 2 minutes per 100 meters, so I felt like I could keep a sub 2 minute per 100 meter pace during this race and still feel fresh. Since it was a chip timed race, they let each person start individually to avoid a big pile up. I was approximately seventh into the water (definitely in the first 10, but not the first 5). There was a serious looking old guy in front of me and I figured he was who I needed to chase. I caught him midway through the swim and was feeling like I was in a groove. As I was finishing, I heard (or thought I heard) someone yell “First out of the water!” so I was feeling REALLY good then.

The run up after the swim was VERY rocky, rooty, and rough. I elected to slip on my flip flops out of the water and run in my flip flops up to my bike (they allowed everyone to do this if we chose to). This was probably a tad slower, but my feet were happier. This long trek to the transition likely resulted in a swim time that looks a little slower than I expected.

T1 (1:11)

Prior to the race I got an email outlining several USATF rules. I never knew this, but one rule that was highlighted was if you touch anything else in transition prior to putting on your helmet and latching it, you are automatically disqualified! I heeded these rules and felt like my transition went pretty smoothly. Helmet on, socks on, shoes on, grab bike, and go. I still do a stop and mount on the bike and I fumbled a bit getting it off the rack, so this could’ve been a little cleaner, but overall everything went according to plan.

Bike – 12 miles (32:59)

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I looked at the route online and knew that there would be a few rolling hills, but I felt prepared. My bike training prior to this has been 1-2 rides per week. One ride is a Tuesday 25 mile “hammer” ride which is pretty much an all out effort with the local bike shop, ProCycle & Tri. The other has been 20-30 miles easy after my long runs. The Tuesday rides have been tough and I have averaged in the 22-23 mph range so I felt like I should’ve been in shape for a 23 mph average for 12 miles. This did not happen.

Sidenote: I did a really hard track workout on the Tuesday before the race with Sam and I think my legs were still feeling that a little bit. As soon as I got on my bike and stood to get up to speed I realized my quads were already spent. I thought I was going to fall over from my legs being so fatigued and I hadn’t even gone a mile yet! I sat back down and decided to try to get my cadence up as high as possible and go from there. After a few minutes I was averaging around 22 mph but I knew getting to 23 was going to be a stretch.

I decided to just keep the effort up as much as I could and not ease off any in anticipation of the run. The old guy from the swim passed me around mile 3 (on his superbike) and he and I proceeded to flip-flop for the next 6 miles (don’t worry, we both allowed plenty of space between us with each pass and did not draft off one another). Finally we got to a big downhill where I thought I would be able to catch and leave him, but no, he crushed it (and me). I never could get closer than about 50 meters to him until we came back to transition. According to Strava, I averaged 21.9 mph and given how bad my legs felt at mile 1, I thought this was a good time.

T2 (0:43)

This was fairly simple. Racked the bike, changed shoes, grabbed my bib and I was out.

Run – 5K (20:39)

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I knew from my pre-race research that this run would also be a hilly course. However, I underestimated just how steep it would be. The race directors and event staff kept referring to it as “running up the mountain.” I love climbing in general and I feel like it is my strength in running, but since my legs were so fatigued and my quads in particular were tired, this is the worst I’ve ever felt in a 5K. I literally had the thought of walking go through my mind at one point (I did not walk though).

After transition I was ahead of the old guy and felt like that meant I was in a spot for a podium possibly. Half a mile in, I was caught by a young guy and knew at that point he had made up time on me so unless I could find some energy to gap him on this climb, my chances of getting on the podium were getting slim. We ran together for a bit until old guy number 2 appeared. He jogged right past us and we were both scratching our heads trying to figure out where he came from. We discussed the idea that he was a relayer, but since he was wearing a tri suit, we decided he had to have done the whole thing like us.

The guy running with me tried to go catch him, and I was left alone. At this point I had no clue if I would even place at all and began to dread the thought of being passed by people during the run (what should be my strength!). We summited the mountain and I noticed there was someone running in front of me who I had not seen. I later found out I was actually second out of the water and this guy had been so far ahead the whole time that we never saw him on the bike either. I decided that I would be really mad at myself if I didn’t truly push it and give my best on this last mile and a half. I was able to negative split the race (and yes there were hills both ways so it wasn’t just the descent that helped) and ended up finishing 3rd overall!

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Even though I didn’t hit any of the specific time goals that I had in mind (and felt like I was in shape to do), I am pleased that I was able to compete and grind on a day when I didn’t have my best stuff. I like reflecting after races (especially triathlons) and trying to see what I could’ve done to improve my time. Both of the top two guys beat me in the transitions (one by over a minute and the other by 35 seconds). We were separated in the overall standings by less than a minute and a half so I know the transitions are somewhere I need to improve if I want to keep competing. I also know I will have to do more brick runs and put more miles in on my bike in general to be able to continue competing.

Next up, I want to do an Olympic distance tri and really give it a good training effort. Also, to be very open, it’s been pretty disappointing to come off of the bike and not have my legs under me. I feel like this should be where I shine. I have had several strong brick workouts, but I’m not sure what I’m missing as to why I can’t seem to replicate it in a race setting. My best guess is to just put more miles in on the bike and run after every ride.

Any tips from some seasoned vets out there?

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