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Small Texan Triathlon, Olympic - TriathlonOlympic

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Boerne, Texas
United States
Hill Country Sports Association
90F / 32C
Total Time = 3h 08m 16s
Overall Rank = 113/260
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 17/24
Pre-race routine:

On Saturday, my main meal was a hamburger, fries, and way too much coke (which I rarely drink). Along with some misc. snacks, it was not the best nutritional choices prior to my big race. I never got "sick", but my stomach was clearly out of whack.

I had camped out at the lake to save some money and all the local motels were booked up anyway. I knew I wouldn't get the best sleep, but it would be enough. Wrong!! I didn't count on some nearby guys fishing all night and chopping down trees at midnight to 2 a.m. to keep their campfire going (in a city park with a burn ban!). After the second go-round, I finally got up and asked them to be quiet because I had a big race today. I got maybe 3 hours sleep total.

Woke at 0530, ate a Clif Bar, oatmeal bar, banana, 2 Endurolytes, and drank a Starbucks doubleshot. At least I was already at the site so getting the transition set up wasn't a problem. Made the obligatory visits to the portacan before the lines were crazy long (why RD's skimp on portacans kills me), got marked and chipped, and was good for go.
Event warmup:

Ate a Powergel (2X caffeine & 4X sodium) 20 minutes before the 0730 start. Got in the water and stroked around for 75-100 yards. The water temp was perfect and the water was quite clear once you got away from the muddy shore and weeds.
  • 24m 6s
  • 875 yards
  • 02m 45s / 100 yards

The swim doesn't intimidate me anymore, I consider it as something that has to be done, and I just git-r-done. I swam pretty well, but had to pull up every so often to sight the buoys. Never really had much contact with anybody as we all strung out and I was in the middle of the wave.

I actually caught some of the prior wave guys backstroking and rest floating. In the end, I was pleased with my effort, but I was glad it was over with, so I could get out of the water, and get on the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Learn to sight/swim better. The lack of intermediate buoys made it harder for me to navigate. I was a little paranoid about getting off course, so I kept popping up to look for that far-away buoy. Other than that, I had a pretty decent swim experience.

Improvement of OWS skills.
Transition 1
  • 02m 16s

The swim exit was about 150 yards from the transition area. They had Astroturf carpet laid down but it did little to cushion the walnut-sized rocks. I'm such a tenderfoot, that it was hard to run even though I tried to. I walked fast, picked my way through, and used it as an opportunity to catch my breath. This extra time shows up as "swim time" because the timing mat was at the T1 entrance.

I spent 30-45 seconds putting on a jersey shirt and socks. I figured a race this long, it's not going to count that much.
What would you do differently?:

Not much that can be done other than swim in a tri top and forego the socks.
  • 1h 41m 30s
  • 27.96 miles
  • 16.53 mile/hr

I drove the course on Saturday and after seeing the sharp gravel, I changed back to my Armadillo tires. I decided to sacrifice some speed for the security of the heavy-duty tires. With the number of hills and my ability, this was not going to be a fast course, so the weight difference would be negligible.

The bike leg started out fine and it was an outstanding day. The dry air, light wind, and still cool morning made for pleasant conditions. Everthing was great until the first of many downhills...

Mile 4 had the first big downhill and as I gathered speed and neared 30mph, the bike started shaking VIOLENTLY. I tried to brake, but that only made matters worse. No way I could stay in the aerobars and was up on the bull-horns. I thought for sure I was going to crash and was looking at the grassy ditch as a possible escape. The prospect of eating gravel at 30mph at any second was unnerving. I somehow managed to hold it together to the bottom and make the 90° turn. I was scared spitless.

I train on hills, but have never been on any this big. This was the first time I'd ever experienced this and it was totally unexpected. Each hill was a combination of terror and apprehension after that.

The next downhill was the same scenario. I was actually strong on the uphill and would pass several riders. It was frustrating as they would pass me back on the downhills. One rider hollered out, "Hang in there!" as he passed me. It got to the point, that I would be on the brakes as soon as I approached each descent in order to keep the speed from building up.

(Side note: I posted this problem on BT and got really good responses. One post linked to an article describing "The Death Wobble" in detail.)

The roads were brutal, and there were several riders out of the race with flats and mechanical problems. Changing to the Armadillos was a good decision for me. The roads were so rough, at the bottom of a hill there were 2 of the yellow sponge balls that pop out of the poorly designed Aerodrink bottles made by Profile Designs.

Between the dreaded descents, the riding was outstanding. I passed more riders than passed me and was able to push the uphills as hard as I could. Several times, I was in the 25 cog and could have used a 27 or 28.

At about mile 20, there was a small pack of riders about 100 yards ahead of me. A car and a pickup passed me and pulled in behind the pack. There was nowhere to pass due to the hilly, narrow road, and they followed along for a minute or so. The pickup driver was clearly impatient and pulls OFF the pavement to the RIGHT of everybody, hits the gas slinging gravel and dust all over, and zips on past the car and the riders.

Less than a minute later, a deputy sheriff passes me and I thought he was going after the pickup (yeah!), but apparently he didn't see what had happened. Instead, he pulls in behind the car and with his loud-speaker, tells the car that it's not legal to pass right now. I could've riden faster during all this time, but there was no point in riding up to the pack and getting involved in all the chaos. It was like this for another mile or two until the cars could pass the pack. The whole situation cost me some time, but thankfully nobody got hurt and there was nothing I could do anyway except take it easy and catch a rest.

According to my plan I ate (6) Clif Shot Bloks, drank 34oz of Gatorade Endurance, and ~15oz of water during the ride. This would be good for about 500 calories and I think I nailed the nutrition and hydration pretty well. There was an aid station at mile 17 with water and gels, but I did not want to mess with it. I stick the Bloks right to my stem and aerobar ends making them very convenient and easy to access.

The course doubled back on itself for the last 5 miles, so that meant we had to climb the big hill that I nearly crashed on at the beginning of the race. I went to my lowest gear and was able to pass several riders, though I ended up getting out of the saddle and mashing the last 100 yards over the top. Thankfully, there were no more descents.

Unfortunately, pushing hard up that last hill and mashing, may have cost me something in the end. About 2 miles from the finish as I coasted around a corner, both legs almost instantly "locked up" with cramps. I'd never had this happen before and it was yet another frightening experience during the ride. I quickly started spinning and stretching the legs to keep eveything loose and was very careful during the remaining ride and the dismount.

I was glad to be off the bike!
What would you do differently?:

The bike shaking (Death Wobble) during the descents was a huge factor, both physically and mentally. That has to be solved somehow. Not only did I lose hard-fought positions, but I had to approach each hill descent with fear and tentativeness.

Having a cassette with a couple of bigger cogs would have allowed me to spin a bit more on the big uphills.
Transition 2
  • 01m 8s

The fastest T2 in my AG was 0:50 and I was 6th with a 1:08, so I feel like I did a pretty good job despite my legs trying to cramp up. I had to be very careful with my leg positioning while changing shoes to avoid cramping.

I grabbed my hat and race belt and headed out.
What would you do differently?:

I guess try to be faster? A full-speed running dismount while leaving the shoes clipped to the bike is about all I can think of.
  • 59m 14s
  • 6.21 miles
  • 09m 32s  min/mile

The run started off well enough despite the legs wanting to cramp up, and I was able to keep a steady pace for the first 3 miles. The velcro band on the chip was eating holes in my ankle from the start. I tolerated it for a couple of miles, but decided this couldn't go on for another four, so I stopped and moved it to my other ankle, putting on top of the sock. The instant relief was well worth the 5 seconds it took.

With an aid station at every mile, I grabbed a cup of water and a cup of what they called "Gatorade" but was really some sort of weak electrolyte drink. It really wasn't bad, it just had very little taste and I was wanting something with some "flavor" at this point. I would walk through the station gulping the "Gatorade" and pouring the cold water on my head and neck.

The mile 3 station had fruit, gels, and extra goodies. I grabbed a handful of grapes and munched those down. They gave me some of the "flavor" I was craving and provided a little pick-me-up. It didn't last very long...

Mile 4 was the turning point. I was starting to fade and my pace dropped significantly. During the last 2 miles, as much as I hated the idea, I took several walking breaks of about 50 yards each. The effort, heat and full sun were taking their toll. I had passed quite a few folks earlier, but now I was getting passed by more racers. It was during this time an ambulance and race official car headed back on the run course to tend to someone.

During mile 5, a guy came up on me and we ran together and chatted a bit. This was his first Oly also and he was getting inspiration from seeing guys my age (48) doing pretty well; he was 33. Shortly, he left me behind and about 50 yards ahead, an obvious friend of his running from the other direction (not in the race), brings him a big bottle of something orange and cold to drink. They buddy up and run off together leaving me in the dust. What the....?!! Isn't that against the rules?!! Oh, well. Whatever.

I keep on plugging away to the finish gate.

A half mile from the end, I kick it up a couple of notches to keep a guy from passing me. I was able to maintain it, but 40 yards from the end, he out-kicks and passes me for the "win". I cross the line totaly spent and not having much left.

I have finished!
What would you do differently?:

Not much. My min/mile pace was the slowest I have run in a race, but the walking breaks and slowing at the aid stations brought that average down. By the end of the race, I was running out of gas. The heat and the extended effort of a race this long had taken me to a place physically that I had never been. This is when the mental aspects kick in and you just keep yourself going despite what your body is telling you.

Pace experience at extended distances.
Post race
Warm down:

After crossing the line, they give you a cold, wet towel, and a 20oz Gatorade. The towel felt great and I downed the drink in seconds. I walked around, drinking some cold water and catching my breath. I kept the legs stretched out, but everything was OK.

Unlike most races, there was no fruit or any other foods to eat. Your entry fee entitled you a lunch of sausage wraps and macaroni salad, but that didn't sound very appetizing at the moment.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Let's see... Overall experience and ability. Crappy nutrition the day before the race. Not getting a good night's sleep. The "Death Wobble" on the bike descents. Other than that, not too much.

Maybe I had pushed too hard on the bike uphills and paid for it on the run, but I don't regret that decision. My general philosphy is to go as hard (and efficiently) as I can during each element and then deal with the next as it comes. Pacing will certainly be an important requirement as I consider an HIM in Oct.

Event comments:

Overall, I had a good race as I finished within 2% of my pre-race time predictions on the splits and final time. The Olympic/International distance was certainly a challenge and to be respected.

I feel like I did well for a first-timer on a tough course, and overcame a certain amount of adversity. My preparation and training leading up to this race put me in a good position to finish in good shape. Of the ~260 entrants there were 207 official finishers. There were quite a few DNF's due to flats, mechanical, and phyiscal problems. No doubt, if a few more things would have gone my way, I would have had a lot faster time. Regardless, I am pleased with my performance..

My next sprint August 27th will seem like a big, fat piece-a-cake after this. However, I may not be as excited about the HIM in October that I'm considering. Hmmm...

Last updated: 2006-07-31 12:00 AM
00:24:06 | 875 yards | 02m 45s / 100yards
Age Group: 20/24
Overall: 150/260
Performance: Average
Suit: DeSoto tri shorts
Course: Triangular with 2 buoys and no intermediate buoys between them.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 80F / 27C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:16
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed:
01:41:30 | 27.96 miles | 16.53 mile/hr
Age Group: 18/24
Overall: 102/260
Performance: Average
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Road course along Interstate frontages and narrow country roads. About 15 miles of the route was freshly laid chip-seal (gravel & tar-puckey) topping that is very rough on the rider and the bike. Very hilly, so there were plenty of challenges.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 80
Turns: Good Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Below average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:08
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
00:59:14 | 06.21 miles | 09m 32s  min/mile
Age Group: 13/24
Overall: 96/260
Performance: Average
Course: A loop with 1 mile of rocky, dirt road with the balance being paved. Aid stations at every mile. Some small hills, but not too bad.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %?
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 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: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2006-08-04 5:47 PM

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Waller County, TX
Subject: Small Texan Triathlon, Olympic

2006-08-05 10:43 PM
in reply to: #502762

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Dallas, TX
Subject: RE: Small Texan Triathlon, Olympic
Great race report! Thanks for ALL the details!

Death wobble- scary! I have seen that happen on a motorcycle before... that guy hit pavement going fast... it was scary to watch. Thank goodness you stayed up right!

Yea, for your first OLY, this race sounds like it was very challenging! Those hills would have scared me to death. Going up- just fine with that... going down- NO THANKS!

Well, I am sure you will be fine for your HIM in Oct if you plan on doing it. You saw what did and did not work... and you will plan appropriately.

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