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Jailbreak Triathlon - Triathlon

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Columbia, Tennessee
United States
Columbia Cycling Club
80F / 27C
Total Time = 1h 33m 36s
Overall Rank = 2/100
Age Group = 80+
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

First a note about the race format. In the TEAM divisions (rather than RELAY) the race is contested by 2-person teams. It's hard to put the stats in the form here because I'm not sure whether to list my personal stats or my team's stats.
I've listed my personal stats.

Alright, this race has a nice late start. The race starts at 10am. But since the first leg is a canoe ride down the river, shuttles begin taking athletes to the start at 9am. So all pre-race stuff must be done by 9am.

I got there about 7:40 and got my packet nice and early. I ran in to my team mate at packet pickup so we stuck together from that point on. We proceeded to the parking area and began to set up transition.
Event warmup:

My teammate Brad and I got on our mtn bikes and rode the first portion of the bike course, which is the same as the run course. This helped him to scope out the way that we flow from transition to the course and where the route flows on and off the established trail. We did this twice for good measure. He had done some brake maintenance recently and had removed his brake pads and sprayed lube on his disc brake pistons. Somehow in the process he contaminated his brake pads and found out right away he had no rear brake. We cleaned his pads and rotor as much as possible and hoped it would get better throughout the race. He probably didn't use much brake during the race to be honest. He never mentioned it after the race.

Once at the canoe start we got in and lined right up along the starting rope strung across the river. Getting a paddling warmup isn't worth it in this situation or else you won't get slotted in to a starting space very easily. You will be relegated to a starting location tight against the shore in the scrub brush and will have a horrible start.

Unfortunately, as we were putting in the canoe, Brad got in and began walking to his seat in the bow. He thought I was holding the canoe from tipping. I thought that he would know how canoes work and would stay dead center...Well, he tipped and fell right in to the water. He took it in stride and we remarked how that's no big deal for a triathlete.

We were only vaguely acquainted before meeting to partner up for this race, so I could only imagine the thoughts going through his head about partnering with a yahoo and wondering if he should have agreed... ;)

I get in the canoe and we get out starting spot and wait for 15 minutes. During this time my feet got wet (already in cycling shoes) because the tip had put water in the bottom. I had a chamois with me and used it to bail out the water. My hands also got wet (already had on cycling gloves).

  • 38m 56s
  • 5600 meters
  • 42s / 100 meters

I'm a stronger than average paddler. It's all the weight training. In years past I've had smaller partners that don't do strength training. This year, my partner Brad is a fellow gym rat with a background in football.
We hoped we'd do well, but I don't think paddling a canoe is all about strength...and when you are going for over half an hour it's endurance rather than max power that matters.
I'm the more experienced paddler, so I took the rear so I could handle the steering.

The start had wave 1 lined up across the river. 31 canoes had the river fully packed. We all had a hold on the rope. The rope is behind the rear paddler so that no one has to duck under it when we start. I had the rope behind me, so just needed to let go and paddle to start.

When they started the race everyone paddles frantically to try to get a hole shot. If you don't, you get crushed by the crowd of canoes and you can't paddle when 2 canoes are touching side by side.
You also have many people that suddenly shoot across the river out of control that broadside you. Or if they are in front of you, you broadside them and come to a stop. That must be avoided.

So they start the race and we go nuts paddling. In about 3-4 strokes I am confused to notice everyone moving forward and we aren't. It took me about 5 seconds to realize the rope had hung up on us! These silly rental canoes have BACK RESTS and the rope was in front of my back rest. Crap!

Here's Brad already thinking I'm a yahoo because he got dumped in the river. Now he's sure of it!

So off we go having given everyone a head start.
We spend the next 5 minutes getting banged and stopped and pushed by other canoes.

We sadly have to adjust our expectations from doing great and winning, to just trying to keep the damage in the canoe to a minimum. Our main competition is a pair that I know from my cycling club. Great mtn bikers. To have any chance of beating them we needed to canoe well and minimize the damage on the mtn bike so that we could run them down.

Seems like forever for the 1st mile buoy. During this time I accidentally did a draw stroke rather than a J stroke 2 different times sending us careening off course. Once, we went right under a fallen tree and got scraped up by the low hanging branches.

Now Brad is really sorry!

We were generally awkward canoe partners. The rythm wasn't right and the coordination wasn't right. I guess that's to be expected from 2 people that don't make canoeing our 'thing' and never practiced together.

At first, Brad's paddle strokes were all being done with a flick of the paddle as he exited the water. During the first couple of minutes he soaked me. Each one was like a quart of water hitting me. The bottom of the canoe was filling with water again! I asked him to make an adjustment and that was solved pretty quickly.

So as time went on we really weren't fatigued. We began to discuss the time we spend in the gym. We figure that each of us did about the same amount, somewhere over 250hrs per year.

I noticed that the guys that were our biggest competition had moved from 2nd position up ahead to first. They had passed the team that usually wins the canoe segment. That was bad.
But they looked closer.
Eventually we were in 3rd.
Then we passed in to 2nd.
And as we were around 2.5 miles in to the race we took the lead. We were very pleasantly surprised! But that's how long it took for us to make up the missed hole shot. Remarkable that the start is so important.
What would you do differently?:

Definitely not get my partner dunked!
Not get hung up on the rope!
Try like crazy to get a practice session in as a team!

Transition 1
  • 00m

Transition time is included in the canoe split. I had opted to wear my cycling shoes in the canoe to save that time....but having shoes that can't get grip on the bottom of the canoe and the slower running uphill from the shore line (over 100 yards) makes this decision a toss-up.

Brad was in the front, so as soon as we beached the bow he was gone. I removed my lifejacket and left it and the paddle in the canoe. Got out and tried my best to run uphill in cycling shoes.

I looked up the hill to see Brad ahead of me and even though he was in his running shoes it didn't look like he was going too much faster.

When I got to the bike, he was just then pulling away having gotten his shoes changed and helmet on. I dropped my cycling gloes because they were soaked. But it was cool enough that grip wasn't going to be an issue anyway.

By the time I was leaving transition, the next few people had made their way there so the lead wasn't long.
What would you do differently?:

  • 37m 30s
  • 8 miles
  • 12.80 mile/hr

Brad is a stronger mtn biker than I am. He recently won the TN state mtn bike championship race in the 30-39 Cat 2 division.

But the main competition in the race was the team of Andy and Shaun. They were the ones out of the canoe right behind us. I've never ridden mtn bike with Shaun, but have been surprised to find that on road rides he seems as strong as I am....and according to Andy, he's a good mtn biker.

Andy is not competiting in mtn biking these days, but over the summer riding season on group rides he's proven that he is far stronger than I am on the bike. And he's got a history as a mtn biker. Even though he's not on the race circuit, he's one of the best mtn bikers in the state. (in my estimation).

I had gotten my lap times down in practice to a best of 38:20. From past years I know this is decent but don't know if it's enough. Also, when racing things are different. Sometimes I'm slower due to being in a hurry or pre-fatigued from the canoe.

Andy had done the full bike trail the week before in 40 minutes. I believe the full trail is nearly 5 minutes longer than our race that's a big margin. He will probably get 3 minutes on me in the bike...

During the first mile I get the occasional glimpse of Andy up ahead and about a mile in, I realize I'm catching him (he had an initial lead on me after transition).

It's good that he's pacing himself well...and so am I. I'm thinking about relaxing and flowing around the trail and staying off the brakes. It's so important not be hurried on the mtn bike.
We break out in to an open field for a while right in plain view of the spectators. During this point I put down power using my glutes and lock out my suspension for a while. By the end of this section Brad's lead is pretty small.
We then start a gradual extended up hill. At the top I catch his rear wheel at the same time that Andy catches my rear wheel. He asks for a pass so I immediately find a wide spot and move over.
Then begins a steep descent with turns and then a fun section of high-speed hairpins.
I quickly lose sight of Andy and Brad through here. I'm flying through this as fast as i think possible but the guys disappear from my sight.

Eventually we break out with a super fast drop through a small, steep ravine and rocket up the far side and I don't see them even though I can see almost 100 feet ahead.

From this point on I know that Andy and Brad are locked in to a battle and I keep hoping that Shaun doesn't catch me.

I find that I'm riding quite well. But when racing it's hard to tell if what feels fast is fast. I don't know. When we get to long up hills I push fairly hard knowing this is a strength of mine, but also careful not to be red lined on descents or I lose skill.

At a point here I am approaching an uphill hairpin turn and I see Brad on other side of the turn above me. That spot is only about 30 yards away from the turn (60 yard lead). Now I'm wondering if I'm catcing Brad. That would be bad. But after coming around the turn I don't see him. Not longer afterwards I see a long way forward (over 100 yards) and he's not there. (I find out later he had a crash and that's what brought me back to him).

There's a section called the 'black hills trail' that starts with a very fast and dangerous downhill. It's very rooted and you spend a lot of the time bouncing off the ground and hanging in the air at over 20mph (if you are off your brakes). At the bottom, while still bouncing all over the place, there is a curve to the right, then a hard right and a 2 foot drop while switching to the left. Most speed needs to be scrubbed right there. Then you can open it up to 20mph again as you generally go gradually down while taking curves and dropping down and through a narrow rock gap while going over a rock drop off about a foot high.
I took this at brutal breakneck speed because just before that big descent began I heard the sound of gears behind me. I prayed it wasn't Shaun.

Another half mile later all the altitude is regained in slow climbing with tricky rocks. Someone catches my rear wheel there and we begin a fast crazy descent again. I know that I can take this trail section super fast so I don't bother to try to usher the rider past me yet.

After that downhill ends, he asks to pass. This trail section is super hard to allow passing but I find a place and let him by. He's not Shaun!!!
But boy he's good. He's gone out of sight within seconds. He doesn't strike me as someone dressed for a I figure he's a relay team...The relay division in this race is pretty popular. There is nearly as many relays as teams.

Getting to about the 7 mile mark I see around another switchback turn and there's Andy! Am I catching Andy?!?!? then he's gone....I found out later that he had crashed and been delayed by that....

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. It was a great ride! And I didn't over spend my metabolic budget either. I was still ready to run.
Transition 2
  • 00m

T2 time is included in the bike split.

When I arrived in transition I found Andy was still in transition. He was sitting on the ground putting his shoes on.

I put my bike in the rack and dropped my helmet. Running shoes slipped on easily and I grabbed the race belt and went. Andy was out of transition before me but I was close. He told me he wasn't much of a runner (hadn't been training) Years ago, however, it appears that he was a good runner and he's just generally one of those great natural athletes. I didn't expect him to run my pace, but expected he would move pretty well.
  • 17m 10s
  • 2.5 miles
  • 06m 52s  min/mile

I spent the first half mile making sure to relax and breath. I had some difficulting breathing and it could be a touch of asthma or my trachea constricting (that's what I think it is). It's been normal for me in years past to feel this during bike to run transition but this season I haven't experienced it until this.

After a steep drop down to the trail I can see Andy ahead of me. He's really running slowly and I catch him nearly immediately.

As I work on relaxing I am making sure to lean forward and stay on the verge of falling forward. making sure I'm not pulling myself with hamstrings. I am also focusing on lengthening my stride to get the maximum speed and minimum cadence for efficiency (but not overstriding).

Just after the half mile point I catch a runner that I think is that relay team. He is wearing vibrams. He is running fine and I'm only very gradually catching him and suddenly he stops to walk. I pass him and he begins running on my tail. He didn't walk long, but when someone walks that early on you know he's toast. but this guy stayed there. Even after another half mile he was there. I wasn't thinking about him though...he wasn't my concern.

After the first mile we break out in to the open and I see Brad up ahead of me perhaps a quarter mile.

The rest of the run is uneventful. I ran well, I maintained my pace, didn't fade. When I came out in to the field I picked it up and toughed it out to the finish. I didn't see Brad still running, so he had finished. And I was crossing in 2nd place which guarantees the team victory.

A little while later, that other runner came in. turns out he wasn't a relay. He was the biker that passed me and he took the time to change his top and put on vibrams. Bad move!

Andy and Shaun took forever to come in. We talked, drank, stopped breathing hard....before they came in. We crushed the field.

What would you do differently?:

Post race
Warm down:

Walked, talked, drank. greeted other finishers.

Quickly got out of my painful race shoes and in to my comfortable shoes.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Canoe goofs!

Event comments:

Perhaps after it was over Brad wasn't too sorry he partnered with me. Our team finish time (our individual times added) is faster than any other team time in the 11 year history of this race.

I was only 1:15 behind Brad in the overall finish time. I had the 4th fastest bike split...only 31 seconds behind Andy and Brad (who's bike splits tied). For me this was an epic race!

And here's another story within the story. Both of my daughters competed in the jailbreak! They have been interested in it for years but you don't just drop in to mtn biking.
So Jordan has been working with me all summer to learn to mtn bike and was ready by race day. A triathlete friend of mine was willing to partner with her and they took 3rd place in the coed team division!

and a huge story is that my younger daughter Morgan did the race. She wasn planning to relay with a mtn biker but after trying and failing to find a mtn biker her best friend and roommate decided to mtn bike...she had never mtn biked...Inside I wanted to tell her not to. But I tried to be open to her courage...and I invited her to practice with me on Thursday and Friday prior to race day. She needed to see what was out there and what mtn biking was like.
On Thursday morning she didn't show up for the riding lesson. But my daughter Morgan did. She explained how she couldn't get her roommate to wake up and come. she figured she was going to kick her off the team...And she told me that they had been out there the day before to practice and her rider had crashed bad...and when she got to the 'trail of tears' she only went about 1/4 mile before quitting and walking out. Morgan had been WALKING and had to keep waiting up for her. so Morgan took the bike and rode the trail of tears...first time on a mtn bike.

So this is Thursday morning and Morgan and I go riding. We started at the beginning and rode the whole course. she had no crashes. She didn't have any difficulty with any downhill sections. A bunch of the harder climbs she had to dismount and walk up, but so do many participants in the jailbreak. I called my other daughter that day and told her I had good news and bad news. the good news was that Morgan could do this incredible feat of mtn biking on her second time riding. The bad news was that after all summer of practicing her sister was a better mtn bike handler...(not faster though due to conditioning).
In the end Morgan's race partner just ended up doing the run while Morgan rode. And she did just fine! She had a crash and got scrapes, but nothing much to worry about.

Another sub-story is the team of Patrick and Larry. These are the guys that usually have the fastest canoe, and Patrick is often the fastest runner. 2 years ago they beat me and my teammate by 4 SECONDS!
After Patrick finished we talked and were waiting for his partner to finish. He was surprised that he never saw him on the mtn bike because he's a stronger mtn biker. We walked over to make sure his bike was in transition wondering if he's had a mechanical and was perhaps stranded on the course.
We got to transition and found his bike and next to it was the absolutely shredded remnants of what used to be a helmet. It didn't even have a shape anything like a helmet. We were really hoping it somehow happened when the helmet was NOT on his head. He was apparently on the run course so must be ok.
He eventually came in on the run. He explained that he had crashed but didn't know how. His neck hurt and his forehead was bleeding. He couldn't straighten his head.
We walked him over to the EMTs who looked at him but he refused to go with them for xrays. He drove up from Huntsville and didn't want to get stuck all day in a nearby hospital.
We were worried. He told us where the crash happened but has no clue why he crashed where he did. There's nothing tricky there. but his head came in to contact with a downed tree trunk at a very high speed. When he woke up, he didn't know how he'd gotten there and asked passing riders for help...but a few minutes later he came to his senses (his words) and got up and grabbed the helmet remnants and rode the last mile to transition. He was thinking it was a quicker way to get help. But once there he began running. It sounded like he wasn't in his right mind when he started running, but he said he started to become more clear headed as he ran.

He so far seems to be OK in the sense of head trauma. Even though he never went to the hospital in Huntsville. His neck is sore, but he hasn't gotten xrays yet. He's stubborn. He should be checked for cracked vertebrae...

Even with that, their team took 2nd place in the 80+ age group (to Brad and myself).

Profile Album

Last updated: 2012-10-01 12:00 AM
00:38:56 | 5600 meters | 42s / 100meters
Age Group: 1/
Overall: 1/100
Performance: Good
Course: Remember, this is canoe and not swim. The river meanders it's way for 3.5 miles. There are buoys with mile markings on them along the way. Places are shallow and route must be picked carefully to avoid bottoming out.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 76F / 24C Current: Low
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Good
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 00:00
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
00:37:30 | 08 miles | 12.80 mile/hr
Age Group: 2/
Overall: 4/100
Course: The course is single track that is fast in places and hilly, twisty and technical in some other sections. It's my home course so I've been practicing it quite a lot all summer long.
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 00:00
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
00:17:10 | 02.5 miles | 06m 52s  min/mile
Age Group: 2/
Overall: 2/100
Performance: Good
Course: The run course is the exact same route as the first couple miles of the mtn bike ride. But after 2.25 miles we divert through the woods and in to a field where we go AWAY from the finish and turn around and run back down the field. A good quarter mile in the open at the end.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2012-10-01 3:21 PM

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Columbia, TN
Subject: Jailbreak Triathlon

2012-10-01 6:59 PM
in reply to: #4435600

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Extreme Veteran
Racine, Wisconsin
Subject: RE: Jailbreak Triathlon
Sounds like a fun race, couldn't help but laugh at the canoe best in 11 years Congrats!
2012-10-01 7:17 PM
in reply to: #4435600

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Mastic Beach, NY
Subject: RE: Jailbreak Triathlon
Jeff congrats to you and Brad on the overall win and with your 2nd place overall finish. You write up some of the best race reports on BT! I enjoyed reading this one it was pretty funny. You always provide all the details I always feel like I was in the race with you. You guys absolutely owned this race. Also congrats to your daughters as well for thier great finishes as well. It must have been great for you to have had the opportunity to particpate in the race with them.

Edited by strikyr 2012-10-01 7:18 PM
2012-10-02 10:40 AM
in reply to: #4435600

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Subject: RE: Jailbreak Triathlon
GREAT report Jeff, you had me laughing so hard with the canoe.  Way to canoe, bike and run!
2012-10-02 2:51 PM
in reply to: #4435600

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Subject: RE: Jailbreak Triathlon
Congratulations on your epic race, Jeff! Thanks for clarifying that your "swim time" was a canoe because I looked at the number and thought "GOOD GRIEF - Jeff swims faster than a fish" ! Your reports are so entertaining and make for enjoyable reading. How fun that both your daughters joined in the fun. You're obviously a good example to them that they want to do what you do. This race sounded like a blast. Way to head into "race retirement" and surgery on a very high note. Again, congratulations!
2012-10-02 3:28 PM
in reply to: #4435600

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Subject: RE: Jailbreak Triathlon

Great finish to a great season.  Sometimes we mentees forget you're a racer too!  Man, your speed never ceases to amaze me - it's all science fiction from where I sit.  And I agree that your race reports are over the top.  I not only get entertained and feel like I watched your entire race, I always learn something important which I can apply in my own racing.  Thanks so much for the details and congrats on another great race.

Didn't know you were over 80 though...

2012-10-02 4:37 PM
in reply to: #4437565

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Columbia, TN
Subject: RE: Jailbreak Triathlon
Warren, I'm old! It helps to enter that age group. You should try it in your next race!From where I sit, the way I MTB biked is science fiction! I'm so pleasantly amazed. I wish every one of you, my junkie friends, could be here to race along side me at this one. It would be a blast!
2012-10-02 6:43 PM
in reply to: #4435600

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Subject: RE: Jailbreak Triathlon

Enjoyed your race report but that race sounds brutal! You have two tough daughters to take that on.

Congratulations on a great finish!

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