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XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon - TriathlonOther

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Morristown, Tennessee
United States
Endurance Sports Management
84F / 29C
Total Time = 2h 06m 22s
Overall Rank = 9/102?
Age Group = 45-49
Age Group Rank = 1/6
Pre-race routine:

The guys began waking up at 5:45. I ate something..can't remember what. Drank a lot before departing. We loaded up and left the hotel by 7:20. Arrived at the site about 7:30 giving us an hour before start. We had already picked up packets so had most of that hour for warmup.
Event warmup:

Hopped on the bike and did a loop of the first 1.5miles of the bike course with Brad. Just after the 1 mile mark he went down on a sketchy downhill 'S' curve. When he didn't come along after waiting I turned around and found out about his wreck. All was OK, but his confidence was shaken. I know he was struggling with concern over the fact that he had no front brake.
I suggested we do that loop again to reclaim his mojo. He agreed it was a good idea and was happy after that second lap. As we went I explained to him that in this particular instance 'warm-up' was more than physiological. There is also a 'warm-up' happening in the brain relating to the very fine motor skills of handling the bike on a technical course...hence why riding rollers or just running isn't enough warm up for Xterra.
After this we racked our bikes and set our transitions. I went for a 5 minute jog while Brad went for the water.
After 10 minutes prior to start I got myself in the water and swam about 50m.
  • 18m
  • 900 meters
  • 02m / 100 meters

The swim began with all of the participants at the base of the boat launch in water ranging from waist to chest deep. We were to start heading parallel to shore to the first buoy. We were all standing in close proximity to each other when the race was started. So what happens when people who are vertical and close together try to get horizontal? Yep, it was a scrum! The first 50 feet were done with people on my legs, my hips, my arms...and I'm on somebody else's legs. It was a mess.
All the way to the first buoy it was like swimming in a school of humans. When we reached the first buoy there was an accordion effect and everyone piled up and had to tread water until those ahead of them made the turn. And unfortunately the person behind me didn't realize this and kept trying to swim through me.
However, despite all of this congestion and hassle I never got flustered or winded or disrupted really. One time when the same person kept swimming on to my butt for too long, I kicked HARD figuring by that time that they deserved what they got.
What would you do differently?:

Hmmm...taking an outside line might have been nice but I'm afraid I would have been crowded in to shore that way.
If I were a more accomplished swimmer who could swim a really fast 100 and then settle back in to a decent pace and recover then that would have been a good tactic in this particular race.
Transition 1
  • 01m 43s

Transition consisted of a 100yard run up hill from the lake. So it wasn't really fast. Once there I took the time to put on socks and cycling gloves so my transition time includes those trade offs.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing except be faster at putting on socks and shoes while standing on one foot while highly exerted! But this time I was able to do it without sitting down and without big fumbles...since I usually topple over when trying to put shoes on while standing and winded.
  • 1h 11m 23s
  • 13 miles
  • 10.93 mile/hr

In mtn biking knowing the course is critically important. You need to know what's around each corner, how long each up hill is, what 'features' you will find that require a certain gear, a certain line...
So I went out to the race site on Friday for the race on Sunday. Friday I got there and rode 2 laps. During the first lap I was not liking what I saw. I was not confident that I could ride this course in a way that would be competitive.
It was so full of huge roots and loose turns (many that were downhill, covered in gravel and having big root bundles mid-corner).
I gave a lot of thought to proper bike setup for this course. I already favor low tire pressure on all courses. For me that is about 20psi in my bike's tires. On the 2nd lap that day I dropped it to around 12psi and except for 1 very, very light touch of my rim on a root it was perfect. Ultimately on race day I chose 15psi to accomodate more aggressive riding.

After my 2 laps I ran the 4.5 mile run course. (Friday)

Saturday my race buddies had all arrived from nashville and we rode a lap together. My friend Brad was doing his first off-road triathlon and isn't a very experienced mtn biker (but one heck of an athlete). He rode the opening 1.5 miles at my request then came back to the trail head to talk to me. I then had him put on a spare set of wheels that I'd brought for him to try. These are set up tubeless which lets you run lower tire pressure without the risk of a pinch flat. I had these tires set up with about 18psi. We put those on and he rode the same section again and was excited by how much additional traction he had. He indicated that until he put my wheels on that he was thinking he wouldn't be able to take part in the race on Sunday! (back story: his front brake went out the day before leaving for the race. He assumed it was an easy adjustment that I could make for him on Saturday but it turned out to be a hydraulic problem for which I didn't have the tools or he was without a front brake all weekend).

So off we went on our first lap. Duane, Brad, Chris and myself. I was showing them the things I'd learned the day before. My bike was flowing very nicely over the roots with my suspension and tire setup. It's pre race day so we don't exert ourselves. We ride the up hills pretty slow and easy and we will run as much speed as we dare everywhere else. I was leading the group up the 'upper trout lilly' trail with a bunch of climbing up the 'mtn'. Then at the top it begins to wind down in a spiral around the 'mtn'. The initial down hill leads to a sloping downhill turn on loose gravel and I'd forgotten it was coming up around a curve. So I was going in way too hot. So hot that it was too late to slow and too fast to make the turn. I SHOULD have locked my rear wheel and did a skid around to bring the bike in line but my mind froze up and I just rode straight off the turn in to a dead tree. This tree was about 7-8 inches in diameter with the remnants of branches sticking off in all directions about 6-12" in length like a porcupine. I just took it head on, face first. I had the presence of mind to sit up straight right at impact so my head wouldn't be making full contact first. I let go of the handlebars as I hit and held on so I would stop and not continue on down the hill. I took the tree to my forehead (helmet) and my chin and my stomach and chest. I destroyed all the braches, crushing them by my weight and leaving lots of nice character marks on my body. The rest of the gang rounded the corner but hadn't seen me hit. They just saw me holding the tree standing upright. They made the turn and kept riding so I got back on and took off after them.
As we rounded the hill the trail got narrow. About 1 foot wide and cut in to the side of a VERY steep hill. The kind you wouldnt stop falling down for hundreds of feet unless a tree stopped you. I noticed my tire was pulling really hard to the left, trying to take me straight down the side of the hill. I had to simply lock up my rear wheel and skid to a stop as my bike was about to slide down the front tire had gone flat. It had been punctured by the tree impact. It's tubeless and should seal when a small puncture is made but the sealant as delivered by the bike shop wasn't up to the task. I tried but wasted a CO2 when we found the puncture wouldn't seal. Then I pulled out the valve stem and mounted my spare tube and got it pumped up and I finished the ride with blood running down my chin. :)
After that lap I wanted to pull the tube out, fix the puncture and reinflate my tire in tubeless fashion again. But doing this requires a big shot of compressed air to seat the tire bead. So I had to head off to a gas station with Duane to get that done. Once we succeeded we came back for lap #2 which was uneventful!

Ok, that was all pre-ride stuff.

Now for the race morning ride.

Out of the water in 32nd place means that there are a lot of slower mtn bikers in front of me on the course. With a mass start race most of that passing will happen in the first mile or two until passing trails off because the remaining riders are fast.
There were a series of people to pass early on when the trail was tight, technical and rocky and rooty. So many of those early passes required waiting for the right place then cooperating with the person being passed. All that went pretty well and it serves to keep me from getting too excited and blowing myself out early on the bike. Shortly after starting one of the people I passed was a triathlete friend named David. He was doing his first Xterra at my encouragement and I really wanted him to have a good experience. Based on his successful survival of his pre-ride the day before I was optimistic. I'd counselled him on the need for low pressure in his tires. It was good to say hi as I passed.

I continued to pass people even finding a person to pass as the first lap was ending. And during the 2nd lap where I wouldn't expect ANY passing, I passed 4 more people that were on their 2nd lap plus perhaps 10 people that were on their first lap. Those people were particulary easy to pass. In many cases they were standing next to the trail either resting or dealing with a bike problem. In other cases they were just very gracious in allowing us at the front of the race to race on through.

Back to the first lap....One of my local friends who is a pro mtn biker and who does some Xterras was there too. I beat him out of the water which I wasn't always doing in the past. It took him a good 3 miles to come up on me out on the trail. When he passed, he encouraged me to grab his rear wheel and stay with him which I did. I had been kind of resting and taking the ride easy to that point but when he came by I stayed with him as much as I could. He takes the trail much faster than I would on my own. So following him had me railing through a lot of these turns very aggressively. When the up hills came I was able to gain back what distance I lost on the previous down hill. I think I stayed with him for about 1 mile then realized I should let him go or suffer a big failure on the run. However, my ride was shaping up to be much better relative to him than the last Xterra was anyway.
No mishaps in either lap of this race. I finally caught up to my friend Brad (also on his first Xterra, but one of the best on-road triathletes in the Nsahville area). His swim was a close #2 and it took me about 9 miles to catch up to him on the mtn bike. I followed for a while encouraging him but when he flubbed up a turn and came to a skidding stop I went by and hoped I could put a lot of time on him!
What would you do differently?:

Transition 2
  • 00m 58s

I came in to T2 hot (fast). Fast out of the woods and around to the transition entry. Dismounted while moving and ran quickly to my rack. I had just passed another rider during the final 1/2 mile and wanted to beat him out of transition....but I couldn't find my rack spot!!!

I missed it and had to SEARCH for what seemed like forever. When I finally found it that guy had beat me on to the run course. I did get my shoes on fairly quickly, grabbed my race belt and got on my way.

There I encountered Duane manning the water station. I looked at him with a question mark on my face and he explained that he had broken a chain on the bike.

I got out on to the course but saw absolutely no sign of the guy that had gotten out of transition ahead of me...Doing the math it looks like he got out of T2 11 seconds faster than me. Plus he was a faster runner. I never saw him again even when we came to a long, straight section of trail that allowed me to see a quarter mile ahead. :(

What would you do differently?:

Duh!!! Must be able to find my transition spot. I did scope it out before hand but I think I must have focused on some aspect of transition as it was set up then that wasn't there in T2...such as my CYCLING SHOES and MY BIKE! neither of which were take note....don't make the 'distinctive' in your mind any part of your cycling setup or you won't find your T2 spot.
  • 34m 14s
  • 4.5 miles
  • 07m 37s  min/mile

Well, my run rank was definitely lower than perhaps any other triathlon I've done this year. I didn't feel so slow, I thought I was running relaxed and briskly but apparently not so much.

One cool thing...during the first mile of the run I got to pass one of the other racers while he was riding his bike!

Shortly after 1 mile of running my friend Brad came by running like a deer. He was really moving at what looked like a sprint.

Fortunately after that I wasn't passed by anyone else. But I did begin to figure I wouldn't be passing anyone either because at some points I could see quite a few hundred yards ahead and was all alone.

However, when I got to a point perhaps half way I saw my pro mtn biker friend who had blown up and was running very slowly. We exchanged encouragement when I passed him. When I did I saw someone else not too much further up and a minute or so later I passed him. From then on I was running on my own trying to manage my pace so as to hang on to the finish without breaking.
unfortunately I began to notice my left hamstring trying to lock up on me every time I went down hill. When going up hill it was OK. But going down hill not so much. I focused on relaxing it and running without using it was much as possible. I even compensated by taking on a little bit of a limp. At one point I was going along a straight section with less than 1 mile to go and it locked me up bad enough that I couldn't run. I took 2-3 steps walking fashion and began to run again. It was touch and go to the finish but didn't need to slow down a noticeable amount. So I will say that was a success.
Where did this come from? Well, I didn't drink. But it wasn't hot enough to really get dehydrated to the point of inducing cramps. I will say that the trigger was probably that this course required a lot of short bursts of high leg power during the ride.

I was trying to run the last 100 yards as fast as I could because I'd heard some cheering behind me and thought that there might be someone coming up on me for the final sprint. Fortunately that wasn't the case. As I ran under the finish arch I was on the boat ramp with only a short distance, downhill, to stop running. I just continued on at full speed to the edge of the water, ran up to my knees and dove in where I joined the other 8 guys who had already finished. Unfortunately the water seemed quite a bit hotter than during the swim. It felt like 90 degree water. It was warmer than the air and not very refreshing so after congratulating all of those really fast guys and a few that finished in the next 4-5 minutes, I got out and began to hydrate!
What would you do differently?:

Post race
Warm down:

walking. drinking. A little stretching.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Hmmm..probably just my fitness and a few seconds of screw up in T2.

Event comments:

Race director is unorganized and insufficient. The venue is great and the racers are great. Unfortunately the race director isn't. They had hired a race director company to come do timing and manage registration and other logistics but they didn't do their part (Riversportsoutfitters).

The course wasn't trimmed creating a potentially dangerous situation in places. Transition was in long grass. During the Friday pre-ride there were missing arrows so the course wasn't entirely clear despite their assurance it would be.

The advertised distances are not right.

The actual bike course wasn't described in the pre-race materials until I made a point to point this out. Then the map given wasn't the one that was ultimately marked off and raced.

No medical personnel were on site during the race and no bicycle mechanical support was present.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2012-07-03 12:00 AM
00:18:00 | 900 meters | 02m / 100meters
Age Group: 3/6
Overall: 32/102?
Performance: Average
Swim was advertised at 800 yards, however everyone swam significantly slower than they knew they should. With my swim time I estimate the course must have been just around 900METERS. Fastest swim split in the race was 13:23. Water temp is my guess. It was warmer than my 82 degree swimming pool. A lot warmer. Quite comfortable getting in. 84 may actually be too conservative of a guess. Might have been 2 degrees higher than that.
Suit: tri suit
Course: Rectangular. 2 sides near shore. 2-laps of this rectangular swim course.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 84F / 29C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 01:43
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed:
01:11:23 | 13 miles | 10.93 mile/hr
Age Group: 1/6
Overall: 7/102?
Performance: Good
The Bike course was advertised at 15-16 miles (2 laps), but I found out Friday that 1 lap of the course as it was laid out was around 6.5 miles.
Wind: None
Course: Ok...this course was unique to me. There's nothing like it where I typically get to ride. There were 2 unique aspects to this course. One of them was the roots. There were a very large number of roots in this place. And these were BIG roots in places and BUNDLES of big roots. In fact it was hard to ride without striking a pedal on the roots as they were often high enough to come up to the level of the pedals. The second unique aspect was the soil. In a lot of the course the soil seemed to be a crushed shale. So the course was covered in loose gravel. Put those 2 things together and you have a course that is sketchy at best, dangerous at worst. You come in to a lot of corners at high speed and they have loose gravel. it called for careful selection of entry speed. Failing that you needed to skid the rear wheel around, failing that you needed to ride straight off the corner and hope there was a route that you could ride through the forest back on to the trail.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 00:58
Overall: Bad
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Bad
Shoe and helmet removal Good
00:34:14 | 04.5 miles | 07m 37s  min/mile
Age Group: 3/6
Overall: 24/102?
Performance: Average
Course: Run course took the first 3/4 mile of the bike course and then finished it's last 1/2 mile or so back on part of the bike course. Those 2 parts were standard Xterra running...tight, twisty, rooted...But the rest of the run course was beautiful, easy cross country style running. Quite a bit of rolling, but climbing contained mostly to 2 longer uphill grades outside of the parts on the mtn bike course.
Keeping cool Good Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? No
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? No
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 2

2012-08-01 2:24 PM

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Columbia, TN
Subject: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon

2012-08-01 3:33 PM
in reply to: #4341775

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Mastic Beach, NY
Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon
Jeff congrats on a great race as always. That was an excellent race report thanks for providing all the details about the race especially the bike leg and your warm up the day before. I felt like I was there for the race. Glad to hear that you are alright as well after the crash. The swim leg also sounded pretty rough like a WWE royal rumble match. I think I would have been just happy to have survived it all much less finish. Xterra tri's sound very cool and I would eventually like to do one in the future.
2012-08-01 6:35 PM
in reply to: #4341958

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon

Thanks for the race report. I had a great one written too but BT ate it while I was trying to upload it.  I hate hearing that the bike course was 2 miles short.....kind of bums my high over how well I (thought) I rode. I guess I really DO suck at mountain biking after all (the ride took me 1:30).

Yes, that swim was a mess. I liken it to swimming in a men's Cat5 crit. Still, I had a ton of fun just being out on the trails. Great race report!

2012-08-02 5:38 AM
in reply to: #4341775

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Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon
I just love reading your race reports, Jeff. You're a very detailed writer and it makes for fun reading. Congratulations on yet another 1st place AG win! Glad you survived the crash the day before without serious injury. Mtn biking just seems scary to me but you seemingly have no fear. Good for you. Again, congrats on another rewarding triathlon! You rock!!
2012-08-02 5:48 AM
in reply to: #4341775

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Extreme Veteran
Racine, Wisconsin
Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon
Jeff congratulation on this race, and happy to hear you are ok after your crash. Iam not a mtn biker so this all sounds prertty intense. I felt like I could imagine your whole weekend thanks for the great report!
2012-08-02 6:20 AM
in reply to: #4341775

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Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon

GREAT race and report.  thanks for sharing.  What is it with you and the trees?  lol  Hey glad you could help your friend out with tires and all.

How are you hamstrings today?

2012-08-02 7:40 AM
in reply to: #4341775

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Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon
Best race report I have read, thank you for taking the time.
2012-08-02 8:11 AM
in reply to: #4341775

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Cypress, Texas
Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon
awesome RR. .  Great race too! Thanks for sharing. 
2012-08-02 9:12 AM
in reply to: #4342756

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Columbia, TN
Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon
KWDreamun - 2012-08-02 6:20 AM

GREAT race and report.  thanks for sharing.  What is it with you and the trees?  lol  Hey glad you could help your friend out with tires and all.

How are you hamstrings today?

Ah good question.  Hammies were sore on Monday mostly the area directly behind my knees.  I swam first which was a great thing for a post-race leg-hang-over, then I ran.  It was bothersome for the first mile but then felt great and I have no after effects now except for the cool looking abrasions and bruises. 


2012-08-02 9:29 AM
in reply to: #4342285

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Columbia, TN
Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon
Shop Cat - 2012-08-01 6:35 PM

Thanks for the race report. I had a great one written too but BT ate it while I was trying to upload it.  I hate hearing that the bike course was 2 miles short.....kind of bums my high over how well I (thought) I rode. I guess I really DO suck at mountain biking after all (the ride took me 1:30).

Yes, that swim was a mess. I liken it to swimming in a men's Cat5 crit. Still, I had a ton of fun just being out on the trails. Great race report!

Same here about the avg pace...  However, since the swim was long you can take comfort in knowing you didn't swim as slow as you may have thought!

I don't think 1:30 on the bike was too bad on that course!  Is that you that took 2nd overall?



2012-08-02 10:24 AM
in reply to: #4341775

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Extreme Veteran
Urbana, MD
Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon
Great race Jeff! I'm glad you're okay after that cRash, although the mental picture of you hugging a tree is pretty funny...

2012-08-02 11:51 AM
in reply to: #4343245

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Columbia, TN
Subject: RE: XTERRA Panther Creek Triathlon

guitarfrk75 - 2012-08-02 10:24 AM Great race Jeff! I'm glad you're okay after that cRash, although the mental picture of you hugging a tree is pretty funny...

I seem to have a thing for hitting trees.  If I'm not crashing right in to one then I'm scraping it pretty hard as I try to get the tightest line around a turn..or I'm hitting my hand on one.

Whenever I smash in to one I wrap my arms around it so there's only 1 impact.  it's better than 2 impacts! (tree then ground)


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