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White Lake Sprint Triathlon - TriathlonSprint

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White Lake, North Carolina
United States
Set-up Inc.
60F / 16C
Total Time = 1h 52m 30s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = 34-39
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

We woke up about 2.5 hours before my start time. I ate a PB/banana/honey sandwich made by my girl, but I was not very hungry. I drank one 20oz Poweraide (or something like it) and some water. Loaded the truck for the short (2 minuite) drive to the race site. I dumped the bike and stuff at my TA and went to pick up my race chip and get body-marked. I came back to set up my TA, and still had about an hour before I needed to be at the swim start. I always prefer to get to races early, get set up, and chill out. So I spent some time visiting other BTers, and chatting with Shannon. I was relaxed and ready to have some fun!
Event warmup:

Once I put on Body Glide and jumped off the bike rack and into my wet suit, I headed to the in-water start area. I warmed up in the cove area in the 10-15 minutes prior to my start time. I was protected from the wind, and I did some builds in the water (probably about 250-300 meters) and was feeling very strong! The windless cove gave me a false sense of security about my swim, and I was very relaxed as the countdown-to-start ticked down. I was pumped.
  • 21m 14s
  • 820 yards
  • 02m 35s / 100 yards

I will be honest in this summary because I want others who may have not done an OWS to learn from me and get mentally prepared. This swim was humbling, frustrating, scary ... but ultimately a powerful lesson. The horn sounded, and I started along at a slow, calm pace as Bostic (and others) had told me. I wasn't bothered by others close to me, so I was cool at this point. We came upon a piling (not part of the race buoys) which was at the edge of the protected cove, and I was feeling okay ... then, as we entered the chop, I took a breath which contained more water than air. I composed myself, took another breath ... more water. Then I was crunched between two Clydesdale (heavy-weight division) who were swimming with our age-group wave ... another mouth full of water ... and the wet suit started to tighten around my neck and chest. This is when I started to freak a little bit. Imagine being in a washing machine with two Sumo-wrestlers, and that's how I felt! I put my head up to sight, took in more water, and it was at this point that I mentally admitted that things were not going well! I'll admit it ... I grabbed the first lifeguard surf board I came to. I thought "it's not worth drowning." I wasn't just needing air ... I was basically in a bad situation, one that I've never felt in the water. The wet suit was tighter than I ever imagined it could be, and I can honestly say that I needed to hang on that board - at this point, I did not consider it optional. Conversation while on the board:
18-year old girl life-guard: "are you okay?"
Fat man in rubber suit (aka, me): "yes, just need to collect myself"
LG: "well, do you need the waverunner to take you in?"
Me: "Do I look THAT BAD! No, I'll be fine in a minute"
LG: "Well, I'm just amazed that you all are out here in these conditions ... I would never do it - it's crazy!"
Me: "uh ... I'm leaving now ... "
So, after those very encouraging words I launched, once again, into the breech! I was still going into the wind, but tried to get into my game again. It was tough ... I rounded the first buoy, and the wind was to my left, which is my default breathing side. I started breathing to my right, which was a little better. I felt like I had been out there FOREVER! An interesting note ... breathing only to one side really does make you fade in that direction. I was slightly off-course, so I went to bilateral breathing. Boom - water to the lungs again to my left. Got a little flustered, but was coming up on the last turn. I cut the buoy so close that my leg got tangled in the buoy rope. Could this GET any worse! I looked for a place to grab onto the buoy, to no avail. My leg did come lose, and I turned downwind ... finally! I got into my groove downwind, and salvaged what was left of my spirit. I had imagined that I had been in the water for 45 minutes, and was losing all interest in going on with this race. I was thinking "well, should I just call it a day?" In the 200-or-so meters to the swim finish, I learned something about myself. I came to the realization that I had just powered through something I had never faced before in the water. I have been a swimmer all my life ... I cannot remember a time when I was not a swimmer. I grew up swimming sprints against my cousins at our family lake house ... I swam in the ocean throughout my childhood, and was even a certified life guard in college ... and never, ever have I felt like I was going to drown. For about 2 seconds on Sunday that reality crossed my mind. I will tell you that panic set in, and all drownings start with panic. On the home-stretch of this swim, I swam methodically and meditated on what I had just experienced. I climbed up the ladder, and was broken by the humility I felt. I wobbled ... and wondered if I could even stand. And that's when it hit me ... I was NOT going to quit this race. I was going to walk to T1, but I was NOT going to quit.
What would you do differently?:

Practice OWS, in the wet suit, in any condition. My advice to others is to practice in the open-water, and be mentally prepared for a little panic, and be prepared to let your mind go to a relaxed place, and keep swimming!
Transition 1
  • 06m 21s

It was a long walk to T1, mainly because I had some mental stuff to work through before I got there. I took my time. As I sat in T1, gathering myself after that horrible swim, I started to feel good. I just went through the motions of dressing for the ride. By just stripping the wet suit and getting dressed mechanically, I didn't let myself consider quitting. I just moved forward with purpose.
  • 45m 54s
  • 14.4 miles
  • 18.82 mile/hr

I grabbed my bike off the rack, and started walking to the start ... then I picked it up with a jog ... and it was then that my spirit returned. I felt inpired by the fact that I didn't let that swim knock me out. As I jogged towards the bike-mount line I felt -maybe for the first time - what triathloning was all about. I had looked quitting right in the face, and said "no" to it. The bike was good, and I enjoyed the flat course! I spent more time in aero than I had at the race last weekend, but still need to become more comfortable with it.
What would you do differently?:

Spend more time in aero during training.
Transition 2
  • 02m 38s

I felt good, but tired, coming off the bike. The headwind broke me down a little bit, but my T2 was okay.
What would you do differently?:

I just need to hustle a little more, and bolt out on the run with purpose.
  • 36m 25s
  • 3.11 miles
  • 11m 43s  min/mile

By the time I hit this run, I was proud of the fact that I was even on the run, after the way this race started. It was a totally flat course, but it took me a while to get my breathing normalized. I did the run/walk thing. At the half-way point, I got my stride. I rounded the corner for home, and ran the balance of the course. I felt great, having fought my way through this thing, and I strided into the finish.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing ... this was my best run (in a race) to date.
Post race
Warm down:

Went straight to a sitting position, still a little overwhelmed with the swim. I felt better after this race than either of my previous two! I was so happy to see Shannon at the finish, and we went together into the post-race feeding line! Got some salty snacks and drinks, and I tried to tell her about that swim.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Lack of practice in OW swimming scenarios.

Event comments:

All the times in this RR are unofficial, as the official times have not been posted as of this writing. However, I cannot convey how much I grew out of this experience. I am very nervous about my next OWS in June, but I will do it! In fact, I'm doing the White Lake HIM next year, damn it all!

Last updated: 2006-03-21 12:00 AM
00:21:14 | 820 yards | 02m 35s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Bad
Suit: Wet suit
Course: Upside-down triangle, out-across-back.
Start type: Plus: Waves
Water temp: 69F / 21C Current: High
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Below average Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 06:21
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
00:45:54 | 14.4 miles | 18.82 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Wind: Headwind with gusts
Course: Flat, double-loop. Some rough roads, but the majority of the course was butter!
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 02:38
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
00:36:25 | 03.11 miles | 11m 43s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Average
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2006-05-08 4:30 PM

Wilmington, NC
Subject: White Lake Sprint Triathlon

2006-05-08 4:42 PM
in reply to: #418006

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Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon

I am so proud of you and inspired by you!  You kicked that course's hinney and I could not be more impressed!!!


2006-05-08 5:02 PM
in reply to: #418006

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DC Metro, slowly working my way to NC
Bronze member
Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon
Awesome job there, and way to kick through the swim.  I promise, I WILL get an OWS in before June 25.
2006-05-08 5:36 PM
in reply to: #418006

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Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon

Wow, way to gut it out. Very good.

Glad you came away from this feeling positive.

I'm going to make alot of noises about OWS training when I move up there.

2006-05-08 6:53 PM
in reply to: #418006

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Marietta, Ga
Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon
Christian, that's one of the best RR's I've read in a long time!  Damn, I sure hope you're holding a brewski feeling good about what you accomplished this weekend.  Very cool!


I don't know what to say other than your RR helped me to come full circle with the things I dealt with in my first triathlon.  I still miss it in a strange way.  What happened to me in the process of conquering that new challenge wasn’t fully realized till much later.  Its in reading your RR that I realized how much I miss that fear of my fear and what overcoming it did for me.  I still get nervous before each swim, but now it’s a cherished feeling.

I can't wait to meet you in person and toast to your accomplishments.

2006-05-09 6:52 AM
in reply to: #418006

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Pittsburgh, PA
Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon
Christian, It's so nice to get a reality check for OWS. I am fearful of the swim, with justification, after reading this!! But, you were so cool, you got through it. Glad you did not panic, and grab onto someone racing or start freaking. Seems like you got through it, then moved on quickly. Way to regain your composure. I would have been a mess. I think it's a super accomplishment finishing. Considering the conditions, you should be proud. Lessons learned, my friend. Thanks for sharing!

2006-05-09 7:51 AM
in reply to: #418006

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North Carolina
Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon
Your account of the swim is almost exactly like my first OWS. It gets better with time and experience. You have to learn to control the panic. I still get it on every swim but only for a few seconds and I am able to keep my composure. You did great and I am glad you told people what to expect!! Unfortunately a lot of people do not have access to open water swims until race day. Great race and report!!!
2006-05-09 9:50 AM
in reply to: #418006

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Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon
ummmm, maybe i'll stick to dus.  great RR, i woulda rode the wave runner in.  you're a bigger man than i am. 
2006-05-09 10:43 AM
in reply to: #418006

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Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon

Wow -- great RR.

Moving foward with purpose is really the only skill we need in life. If we do that the rest kind of falls into place.


2006-05-09 12:37 PM
in reply to: #418006

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Extreme Veteran
Winston-Salem, NC
Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon

Congratulations Christian!! You faced the demons in the water and won!!! I wish I could have stayed and watched you cross that finish line. I so much want to thank you for being there when I finished Saturday.

Excellent race! AWESOME run! And I am very proud to know you!!

Now, Grab multiple beers!!!

2006-05-09 12:47 PM
in reply to: #418006

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Seattle WA
Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon

WOW, christian - GREAT JOB!!! that's incredible on the swim. awesome - congrats on sticking it out and making it through that. that fear of drowning is big, for me at least. i was afraid i'd drown when i first  stsarted swimming in a pool a year and a half ago or whenever it was, and frequently enough since too.

congrats, again - awesome job. you oughta be proud!! 

2006-05-09 1:40 PM
in reply to: #418006

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Whitsett, North Carolina
Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon

Not only a physcial victory, but a huge mental one as well.  Not many would have the drive and spirit to did.  Congratulations!

And next time you see that lifeguard, point her out to me, I'd like to have a few words with her.  What a freaking idiot.

2006-05-09 3:20 PM
in reply to: #418006

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In The Peleton
Subject: RE: White Lake Sprint Triathlon
I can totally relate to your swim experience. My first OWS I was so freaked out that I was absolutely drained afterwards. Believe me, it gets better with practice! A year ago I was doing my first tri--the mountain bike at Wildflower. I felt overwhelmed in the water, slowly walked up the ramp out of the swim, and took time to get reaquainted with the world once I got on the bike. I was back at Wildflower this year and stepped up to Oly distance, and felt great on my swim--not perfect, but it was a world of difference from last year. Even though the swim was four times as long, I was able to run up the ramp out of the water and have a great transition, feeling strong as I head out on the bike. So much of this sport is mental--and experience goes a LOOONG way! Thanks for sharing your experience, I have been there too!

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