Renee Black - USAT Nationals

USAT Age Group Nationals

In September of 2013, shortly after hitting the submit button registering for the inaugural addition of Ironman Chattanooga 2014, I received an email from USAT informing me that I had qualified to race at Age Group Nationals. First thought … cool! Second thought … what the heck is age group nationals? After a little time on the Google I learned that participating in this race meant competing against some of the best age group folks in the nation. With each passing year I would receive the qualification email and find some excuse not to go. In full transparency I didn’t see the point in spending a large amount of money and time traveling to a distant location just to get my butt kicked. After the 2016 season was over I decided to stop letting fear hold me back. I registered for the Olympic distance race with a pie-in-the-sky goal of finishing in the top 25 of my age group in 2017 in Omaha, Nebraska. 

On August 9th, my most trusted tri-roadie (my dear husband, Todd) and I set out on our cross country adventure. As soon as I arrived to athlete check-in I knew this was going to be a top-notch race experience. I was surrounded by world-class age groupers who were super friendly and eager to share their stories. I quickly learned at the athlete briefing that the race officials don’t mess around and have no trouble handing out penalties and DQs. It was odd. Even though I felt like a baby guppy swimming in a shark tank I was so excited! Maybe it was because I had let go of any performance expectations. Maybe it was all those incredible cards of support I had received from friends and family right before I left. All I knew was that I was ready to race!

Race morning alarm rang at 3:45 AM. I hoisted myself out of bed and completed my typical pre-race morning routine. I told Todd I wanted to leave at 5:00 AM for my 7:07 AM start time. We were only a ten minute drive from the venue but I had read story after story of traffic jams from last year’s race. Our ten minute drive turned into a 50 minute crawl to the race venue. I was prepared. Todd was driving and in charge of playing my favorite, upbeat race songs while I kept my hoodie over my head and my eyes closed. If I can’t see it or hear it, it can’t stress me out. 

After transition set up and warm up were completed I went through my final mental pre-race checklist. Just as I was about to eat my pre-race snack it was announced that race start would be delayed 15 minutes due to traffic. Honestly, this was a relief to me. I was feeling a tad rushed and this gave me a bit of a buffer. A few minutes later that delay was bumped to 20 minutes and then finally 30 minutes. I casually made my way to swim start. I found a quiet place in the grass and did some simple breathing exercises. Again, I have no control over this. No need to stress. 

Fortunately, Omaha was experiencing unseasonably cool temperatures which made for excellent race day conditions … except for the swim start. Carter Lake was 81 degrees and the air temperature was 61. This meant that after completing the swim warm up I spent a solid five minutes standing on the dock shivering uncontrollably from head to toe. We were finally allowed back in the water for our “dock start”. For the next 2 minutes there was lots of nervous chatter. One minute! Thirty seconds! At ten seconds to go they started playing a very loud and slow heart beat over the intercom system. The air horn sounded and we were off! 

Swim was a rectangle shape course. Heading out, I had lots of clear water and was swimming smooth. Coming back, I started hitting some traffic and had more than one occasion of just flat out running into someone. I was able to keep my bearings and resist the urge to water wrestle with any of my competitors. Before I knew it I was out of the water and onto the bike.

I know what you are thinking. It’s Omaha! This has to be the flattest bike course ever! Well … kind of. A participant from last year told me earlier, “I think they purposefully went out and found every hill Omaha has and put it on the course”. It was an out-and-back course with one climb at mile 5. That climb was only a half mile and topped out at a 9% grade. And of course we had the pleasure of climbing the other side on the way back into town. Luckily, we had driven the course the day before and I knew that there was a bit more “up” to the course on the way back in than on the way out. With all this in mind, I headed out on course with a metered effort. The first half was great! I was smiling and having a great time! The climb was fine and I was managing to catch some of the faster swimmers in my age group. I hit the turnaround in the middle of a corn field (no exaggeration here) and headed back. I was quickly greeted by two things: a headwind and an upset stomach.

My first action was to stay calm. No need to panic. I decided to throw it into a bit of an easier gear and reduce my effort in hopes of saving my legs for the run and calming my stomach. I really needed to take a second gel but the thought of putting anything on my stomach at that time was just flat out nauseating. So I slowly sipped on my Skratch/BCAA bottle and focused on breathing. About five miles before T2 my stomach calmed down and so did the headwind. I picked the pace back up and finished the bike strong.

Coming out of T2 I had no idea what to expect. I knew my reduced nutrition on the bike would come back to haunt me on the run. I just didn’t know when or how. I decided to once again let go of the worry and just run. This is Nationals. Give it everything you’ve got. The run was a two-loop, flat-as-can-be course. The temps were still great and the humidity low. A set up for a terrific run. The first loop felt great! I was knocking off sub 8-minute miles and feeling like that was a sustainable pace. About a half mile into the 2nd loop, I felt a niggle in the right quad, followed quickly by a niggle in my right abdominal area. Yep, my body was starting to cramp up. Now, I’m irritated. I have perfect running conditions. I have spent months in “zone 4 efforts” training for these last 24 minutes of racing. I had no choice but to slow down. I took in a gel and some water and gave myself an out. Walk for thirty seconds. If the niggles quiet down start running again. And that’s what I did. My run was slow at first but I continued to drink and steadily pick up the pace. As the pace increased the cramping returned and I would be forced to slow the pace once again. And for the next 1.5 miles this is how I managed the race. At mile 5.5 I decided I’d had enough. I started running at my sub-8 pace again. Basically daring my body to quit. If I was going out on the run course at Nationals I was going to do it right. The quad and the stomach expressed their unhappiness with my decision and I responded by turning the screws a bit more. Before I knew it I was hitting that finisher’s red carpet with a smile on my face! 

I finished nowhere near my preseason top 25 AG goal and I honestly couldn’t care less. I had a blast! I smiled more than I have ever smiled at a race and genuinely enjoyed the experience; cramping, head wind and all! I’m looking forward to the chance to qualify and race again in 2018. I still have my pie in the sky goals. Someday I will find that top 25 finish and someday I will represent Team USA at the World Championships. Until that day comes I will keep smiling, keep pushing my body beyond its perceived limits and keep having fun playing triathlon!!

Katie Dotson - Springbrook Sprint

Springbrook Spring 


Sometimes the words flow easily for these race reports and other times I start a bunch of different versions only to delete them. This has been one of the latter.

Springbrook was tough. I had my eyes set high; however, I chose to take to heart  a wise reminder from my coach to focus on behaviors rather than outcomes and podium positions. Wise words.

So I did that, hill repeats, bike efforts, swim segments, lifting, rest days, good nutrition, recovery workouts and sleep... All balanced with a full time job, family, my own coaching clients.

Springbrook pushed me mentally and physically. I had a good swim, pushing hard. l came into transition determined and again pushing hard (the pictures reflect that). Got onto my bike and y'all those first hills of Springbrook just hurt! I had to talk myself through them.  I kept pushing on the middle section of rollers.  The false flat after the railroad tracks... another "settle down" pep talk was needed

I came into transition feeling good and was ready to hang on during the run.  Mentally that is.  Then the run started, and again with the hills!  I fought off two calf cramps in the first quarter mile.  But, I learned a few years ago that walking during the first mile is not an option for me, so I kept on. That first rest stop was a welcome reprieve and from there I was able to pick things up (a bit), find a good rhythm and finish out the run relatively strong.  Third female overall!

They aren't all easy, but each race has a purpose, a lesson to teach us.  Springbrook for me was a lesson in pre-race daily behaviors and during race mental toughness.  

Thanks to all those who cheered us along that day. We hear you, I promise! Even when we are deep in the pain cave, those words of encouragement are a sweet salve to our ears and hearts and cramping legs!


Derek Tingle - Wild Roses and XTERRA Panther Creek

Wild Rose and XTERRA Panther Creek

Two races in two days.  Sounds like fun right?!  My primary focus for the weekend was on Sunday's XTERRA Panther Creek, but I was coerced into "racing" the (women's only) Wild Rose sprint on Saturday.  How you ask?  Read on dear Reader.

Mrs. Tingle finished with a  PR and an Age Group Win. #TeamTingle

Mrs. Tingle finished with a  PR and an Age Group Win. #TeamTingle

My dear friend Muna (the race director for Wild Rose) came to me and asked if I would be interested in helping her out with this race.  She gave me two reasons why I should do it:  It was for a good cause and I got to start the race by going down the slide.  Really all she needed to say was I could go down the slide but it seemed like a win-win.  I "competed" with 4 other guys in a fund raising campaign before the race to determine the "winner".  Separately, the other guys and I decided that we would have our own competition to see who could come up with the most ridiculous outfit to race in.  I opted for a pink swim brief... and nothing else.  It was not just a pink swim brief, however.  Promiently displayed across my nether region was a graphic of a thumbs up and printed across my bum were the words "AWESOME DUDE".  It was fantastic.  Making the race even more fun was that my wife was there racing as well. She was racing for real.

Saturday morning, we arrived at the venue and got our transitions setup.  I was racing on a borrowed bike (a magnificent Pink, White and Silver Trek Madone Project One currenly for sale at Cedar Bluff Cycles) and in a "kit" that I wasn't used to so this was going to be an easy, fun day with no real effort.  We lined up on the slide and they sent us one by one.  The tricky thing was the lanes didn't line up with the slide so we had to move over and share lanes and such.  (The pool was set up for the women who were starting from the other side of the pool in a normal TT start).  I got lost.  It was supposed to be 150yd swim but I swam something like 200yds.  We also had several near misses and one almost collision.  It was chaos but all in fun.  I'm sure it wasgood laugh for all the ladies and spectators watching this circus unfold.  Anyway, I finally decided to get out of the water and trotted down to get on the bike.  Following close behind me was Larry Brede.  We each mounted our bikes and headed out.  Larry was riding his daughters middle school beach cruiser with side baskets and the most amazing dual tone bell.  He had put a bluetooth speaker in one of the baskets so we had tunes during our ride.  As we cruised around, I looked down and realized that we were two grown men, one on a girls beach cruiser, the other on a pink road bike wearing a pink speedo, riding side by side down the road.  I imagine that out of context (and possibly IN context) that must have been a very interesting sight.  A few minutes later, Steve Barto caught up to Larry and me and we continued on around the course as a threesome. 

We rolled into T2 with Larry in the lead and after a short transition we all hit the run.  The plan, I thought, was just to bop around the run course at an easy jog.  Turns out, though, that Larry's "easy jog" was different than mine and Steve's and before long we were full on running... and he was pulling away.  At that point, Steve and I just settled in to a good pace and kept on going.  My run was feeling good so I pushed a little harder than I should but it was all worth it.  As Steve and I came around the corner to the finish, we clasp hands and skipped hand in hand across the line to the laughter and cheers of everyone around.   It was a very fun experience and one that I was proud to be a part of.

Fast forward to Sunday.  Woke up and went through the normal race morning routine.  I had my 2 cherry Pop Tarts, took care of the pre race paperwork and got all my gear loaded up before setting off for Morristown, TN.  We arrived at Panther Creek a little after 6:30am and transition was already bustling.  I racked beside my buddies Doug and Nathan.  After setting up my transition area, I milled around a bit and chatted up my fellow racers.  There were the usual suspects, Caleb and Marcus, along with Yaro, Ali and Amy who've been at pretty much every XTERRA I've done this year.  It's always fun to see and race with familiar faces.  

The swim was a two loop course for a total of 800m.  I tried to line up aggressively as I've done before.  I got a pretty good spot.  After a brief delay while the paddle board support got their fins installed, the cannon fired and we were off.  I went out hard and held on to the lead pack.  It was a little rough up through the second turn as we were all jostling for position.  I held my own though.  We started to spread out a little going into the second lap and for most of that lap I traded spots with a couple other athletes.  

Out of the water was a short run up to transition.  I made quick work of T1 and headed out on the bike.  I had a little bit of pedal fumble straight out of T1 and let one guy by.  I finally got my left foot clipped in and started chasing him down.  He was holding a good pace so I decided that I would just settle in behind him for a bit and see how it unfolded.  When we hit the first of several little punchy climbs, my legs reminded me of the run the day before.  For some reason, I always discount the bike course at Panther Creek.  It's got more climbing than I really ever remember.  My quads continued to be grouchy but never failed me.  By lap two I was starting to feel the climbs and my pace dropped just a bit.  I had been following that guy all day but he started to pull away.  By around lap 10 or so I heard another rider behind.  I knew I was holding a top 10 spot but I let him by hoping I would run him down.   

T2 was quick and I was out on the run.  I could see him ahead and I was gaining.  It wasn't long before I caught him.  He glanced over and gave me a fist bump.  We exchanged some congrats on good rides.  He said it was his first tri.  Not his first XTERRA, but first tri...ever.  I told him he was doing really well and make sure he saved some for the last hill on the run.  He thanked me.  I pulled ahead and settled into a steady pace.  I could hear him behind me but he wasn't gaining.  This remained the status quo for most of the rest of the run.  I held back a bit on the hills knowing the last climb was going to be tough.  I was expecting to drop him there but as we approached the climb he was right behind me.  I never could shake him.  We were holding 9th and 10th overall.  He stayed right with me until the finish.  I was expecting him to try and out sprint me for the line but he never did.  We both crossed the line and after catching our breath he told me that he owed me his run and wasn't even going to think about trying to outsprint me after I pulled him the whole way.  He was a really good dude.  I also found out after the race that he did the bike course on a SINGLESPEED.  Guy is a monster of a cyclist and not too shabby on the swim and run.  Just one more thing about XTERRA that I love.  At the end of the day, we are all just a big group of lunatics who love to play in the dirt.  

Results for XTERRA Panther Creek: 

9th overall and 1st in Age Group.  

Thanks again goes out to everyone who supports me and keeps me going: my wife, my team, my coach and my sponsors.  Special thanks to Dr. Talley at Healthsource Chiropractic for a great Kinesio Tape job on my calf so I could run strong.  

It's been a long season so far.  I've raced 10 times in the last 11 weeks.  It's time to take some time to recover and heal up for the rest of my season.   

Next up: XTERRA Auburn 8/19.  

Renee Black - The Honest Race Report - Springbrook Sprint

I love Springbrook. It was my very first triathlon in 2012 so if I have the opportunity to race it… well…. I’m gonna. I came into Springbrook off of a hard (and planned) three week training block. Aaron and I labeled this as a C race. The last blow out before beginning a taper for Nationals. 

I woke up that morning not feeling my typical race day excitement. I was tired. I hit snooze three times. I got ready, loaded the car and arrived early to set up. Todd (my husband and most awesome supporter) was also racing that day as part of a relay team. I was super excited for him to experience triathlon from a non-sherpa view and secretly (or not so) hoping that this would serve as his gateway drug to more races in the future. 

I got in a good warm up on the bike and run, double checked transition set up… (Oh, this would be a good time to mention that I had discovered the night before that I had accidentally thrown away my trusty neoprene race mat. Oops. Beach towel it is!) and headed to the pool. Uneventful swim warm up and lined up to start.

As I approached the race mat to jump in I was immediately hit with the “do you really want to do this today?” thought. I quickly ignored it and jumped in the pool. The swim went… well, swimmingly. I set a 13 second course PR over 200 yards and quickly exited the pool. So I am sure you are thinking at this point, “Oh this is one of those stories where the athlete feels all yucky and gross mentally and physically and then she gets out on course and sets a PR and wins the day!” Well, hold that thought…

T1 was a cluster. I mean seriously. The socks went on smoothly but completely crooked. Trying to readjust socks on wet feet isn’t exactly an exercise in speed. I slipped into my shoes just fine but forgot to velcro them. I tried to buckle my helmet four times before it finally buckled (did I mention my buckle is a magnet so you just have to get it to line up kind of correctly and it buckles without issue?). I went to mount my bike and realized that my bikes shoes STILL WERE NOT VELCROED! After spending entirely too much time filming a triathlon bloopers video in T1 I was off on the bike.

I will spare the bike and run details to simply say it was hard. My legs felt like cement the entire time. I never felt smooth with my bike or run cadence. And I felt like the harder I pushed, the slower I went. After about 0.75 miles into a 2.7 mile run I mentally quit and my body followed right in line. 

I offer my race experience to you with full transparency. I’m not pleased with this race. I’m embarrassed by it. And no, I don’t mean the performance. I mean my attitude. At the end of the day we are adults playing triathlon. We are blessed to have bodies and financial resources that allow us to participate in this sport. I have a HUGE community of family and friends that support and encourage me. My race times and where I finished in my age group do not define me as a person. I know all of this. Yet somehow, on Saturday, I lost track of it all. I sat on a picnic bench with my head hung down when I should have been at the finish line cheering on those that were out there giving absolutely everything they had and crossing the finish line with a smile. I’m glad I raced Springbrook. I’m glad I had a bad race. Because it has given me the chance to reflect and re-evaluate. So for my final race of the season my main goal is to let go. Let go of expectations. Let go of fears. Let go of bad attitudes. I want to be like my friend Shameka. You will never catch a race photo of her without a genuine smile. It is a smile of a grateful athlete. It is the smile of someone playing triathlon.

Ashley Powell - Springbrook Sprint Triathlon Race Report

The day had finally come and it is time to progressively make my way back into the racing scene. After what seems to have been a long six weeks of healing a fractured foot, I was able to carefully race Springbrook Sprint Triathlon. Reuniting with friends and teammates made the long wait to race all worthwhile, and it was awesome to watch how everyone’s hard work and dedication to their training has been paying off throughout their racing seasons.  My will to enter this race started with swimming an Olympic distance relay at the Music City Triathlon the week before; after a good swim and a nice shuffle in my walking boot to transition one, I stubbornly believed I was ready to ease back into a sprint triathlon.  With Dr. Sprouse’s approval, I thought I would be ready to race Springbrook Sprint the next weekend to some degree. Approved to race with extra caution, I entered the triathlon at the last minute, completed it, and finished 2nd on the podium with some great friends standing by my side.  I could not be more excited to be back racing, even if it is a progressive reentry. Life with a fracture in my foot has only made me mentally stronger and more motivated. The 2017 race season may be far from what I would have considered ideal, but I will be working hard to be race ready for the World Championships in September.  A big thank you to Dr. Sprouse, everyone who continues to support me, and all team sponsors; I wouldn’t be boot “free” and preparing to be race ready without you all! 

Chris Morelock - Oak Ridge Velo Classic TT

After a string of second place finishes, I finally managed to nab myself a top step. On the way, I also set a new PB on the ORV course, smashing last year's time. But it wasn't quite as smooth sailing as I had hoped.

For a short time trial (7.6 miles) I like to get in a pretty good warmup. So we arrived on site a little over an hour early, and I found some of my friends who had scouted out a shady area (it's still amusing to me that we "warm up" in 95° weather) and started setting up. When I took my bike out of the truck I saw that I had pinched the tube in my rear wheel installing the tire and now I had a flat that would have to be changed.

Fast forward another hour... my hands are in ruins, I've bent at least one tire lever, and I've given up on trying to get the super tight Vittoria G+ reinstalled and settled for the Specialized Turbo Cotton... You KNOW a tire is tiiiiighttttt (My friend Tony, who also gave up the skin on his hands to help me seat the tube under the tire, called them 695c tires) when you consider the Spec TC to be the "easier" one to install. Finally, with around 10 minutes to my start time, we have the bike back together. My wife and mother pin my numbers and I throw on my shoes and helmet... the bad news is I didn't get to warm up... the good news is I got a heck of a warmup fighting that tire!

I jump out on the road to check the brakes and shifter, and as soon as I grip the brake I can feel that my headset has worked it's way loose. Jeez... just like a car, a bike can brake down just sitting in the garage. Cue the whole "Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance" saying running through my mind... So the choice is either miss my start time or ride it the way it is.

I make my way down to the start tent and try to get my attention focused on the job at hand. I was in the lucky position of going last, so I only had people in front of me to pick off, which always helps me when it comes to focusing. Finally, after all the hassle getting to the line, we're down to the 3,2,1... Go time.

Orv's course is short, but it's lumpy in pretty much all the wrong ways, and I've found it's easy to pay for burning the matches too fast. I come out of the start nice and controlled and quickly find my way into the bars. My goal is to push for somewhere a little higher than my 20' power for most of the ride, driving it up a bit on the uphills and letting it dip slightly to recover on the downhills. I didn't wear my heart rate monitor because I didn't want to see the numbers I'd likely be hitting, blowing up was a possibility we had discussed and would rather see than a soft race. So on I went. Making my way onto the on ramp to Hwy 95 the course starts throwing the rollers, something I've almost decidedly gotten worse at since adding 20lbs to my frame.  As the turn onto Bear Creek Road comes into sight I am in the awkward position of needing to make a pass. I decide to burn a match and really put in an effort to get ahead before we go into the turn so that I've got free road to go. It's right on the limit of too much and it takes me a moment to recover, but I find my cadence again and just keep telling myself it's almost over. The back end of Bear Creek road is generally downhill, but still with some quick inclines and some overall mediocre pavement. As I make the final sweeping bend headed for the finish I pour everything I've still got in the tank (not much) into it and really hammer down. I pass my 5th rider in front right before crossing the line and stop the clock in 16:51, about 20 seconds faster than what we had set as a target.

For Reference

2016 - 18:15

2017 - 16:51

It was great to finally take a top step again. It's been nearly 4 years (has it really been that long) since I got to stand on the top step at the end of a race. I suppose it's only fitting that it happened at the Podium Sports Medicine TT, and I'm glad I got to do it with them as my sponsor. We're still building towards something greater, but this was a nice confirmation that the hard work does reap some rewards even while working up to the bigger picture.  Maybe it's also a lesson to spend a little more time getting the bike race ready a little earlier during the week ;)


Thanks to the Sponsors: Podium Sports Medicine, Visit Knoxville, The Feed, Harper Auto Square, Stoke Signal Socks, Yee-Haw Brewing Co.




Katie Dotson - Westside Y


Westside Y is a favorite.  It's the first triathlon I ever did.  So I'm always excited to come back and see how things compare.   


I was able to get in a good bike and run warm up. I headed up to the pool for warm up only to discover I dropped one of my ear plugs.  So, I quickly sprinted down to transition to get a new one.  I'm glad I had the time!  They make swimming much more comfortable for me.  I picked a good start spot and was off.


Swim - After working on my stroke this past week, the swim felt strong and powerful.  No traffic issues.


Bike - The bike is always tough, and I knew I had to hammer hard.  On the second loop, I had to find a tiny gap between a cop and a car both in the middle of the road... yeah that was scary!  Hustled into transition and was off.


Run - I didn't seem to have it on the run.  I felt like I was running on my heels, fought a little calf cramping issue, and tried to do mental self-coaching.  It seemed to work a little, and I was able to finish a bit better than I started.


My hard work earned me 3rd overall!  I enjoyed sharing the overall platform with some hard working ladies - Melinda and fellow teammate, Karen!  


Up next, Springbrook

Derek Tingle - XTERRA DINO

It's Pronounced Ver-sales... Race Report: XTERRA DINO Southern Indiana (Versailles, IN)

This one's going to be pretty quick.  It's going to be quick because there really wasn't anything extremely interesting about my race.  It was a great race for me, plain and simple.  It was nice, too, because this was a very late addition to my schedule.  I have family in Northern Kentucky and this race was only an hour away from them so it worked out well.  I got to see my family and spend some time with them and get in a race at the same time.  

The morning weather was cool when I woke up.  64 degrees.  I was very glad that I had a sweatshirt with me.  Pre-race was uneventful.  I woke up, ate two cherry Pop-Tarts then loaded up my stuff and headed to the race.  Race start was 9am.  I arrived just after 7 so that I could get checked in and get my packet.  After packet retreival, I set my tire pressures, lubed my chain and then was getting ready to head to transition when a familiar black 4Runner pulls in next to me and Douglas Clark gets out with a big sheepish grin on his face.  He decided to sign up last minute to try and sneak a few more points in (which is pretty much the same thing I did).  It's always good to race with friends and having Doug there made for a much more enjoyable day.  

It seemed like we waited forever for the race to start.  We finally got the announcement around 8:30 that the lifeguards were set and the water was open for warmups.  I got my swimskin on, grabbed my stuff and headed to the water.  Water temp was 78 and felt really nice.  There was a bit of a chill still in the air so the warmer water was welcome.  I did a couple hundred meters warmup with a 25-ish meter hard efforts to get my arms working then headed back to shore.  It was an in water start but in the shallow so no treading water.  I lined up very aggressive near the inside.  The course was a counter clockwise lap around a 1000 meter triangle then back to shore.  The start command was given and I took off.  I went out hard and tried to stay with the lead pack.  There was some bumping and rubbing but it didn't phase me.  After around 200 I could see the clear leaders pulling away but I was happily in a pack of 4 or 5 guys and we were working well together and staying in our own tidy space.  It made for quite a nice swim.  I was able keep my head down and stay in rhythm pretty well.  After the first buoy we headed straight into the sun.  I couldn't see the next buoy at all so I just followed the guys in front of me and hoped they knew where they were going.  I'm sure they were doing the same but soon the sun was behind the tree line and the buoy came into sight.  Happily it was still in front of me.  I rounded the last bouy and headed toward the shore. 

Swim Time: 17:42

Out of the water there was a short, grassy run into transistion.  I stripped my swimskin to my waist and made short work of getting it the rest of the way off once I got to my rack.  After installing my headband, glasses and helmet, I grabbed the bike and was off.  The bike course was fantastic.  It had a little bit of everything.  There were lots of nice twisty singletrack, some nice little stinger climbs, some great little rocky bits, some roots, a couple of longer climbs and just enough techincality to keep things interesting.  I would say that this is in the top 3 of my favorite courses I've raced.  The bike ride went very well.  I traded spots with a couple guys and made up a few spots here and there.  I passed a couple guys with mechanical issues but thankfully I avoided any of my own.  The bike went very well for me.  I was smooth and comfortable... pretty much the exact opposite of my ride last week in Charlotte.  

Bike Time: 1:07:13

I had a smooth flying dismount that set up a very quick T2.   Racked the bike, slipped my shoes on, grabbed belt and bottle and headed out.  I had been warned by a friend of mine to save some for the run.  He certainly wasn't kidding.  The first half mile or so of the run wasn't so bad but from there to about mile 3 it was filled with gnarly rooted ascents, stingers climbs, rocky sections and even some stairs.  I was getting on pretty well, though.  Around mile 3 of the 5 mile run things smoothed out a bit and I was able to push the pace a bit.  All in all everything went very well on the run.  

Run Time: 45:16

Total Time: 2:13:32

I had a fun time racing this event.  The race staff did a great job of putting on a quality event in a beautiful venue.  Everything was well marked and the aid stations were staffed well.  It was nice to see some spectators out on the course at a couple of the places where the course crossed the roadway.  I would highly recommend this race.  I would also highly recommend making a trip to Versailles State Park.  The park has some great trails and lots of other great facilities as well.

Derek Tingle - Dabba Dabbo Doo!!! - XTERRA Whitewater (Charlotte, NC) July 8, 2017

This weekend's race adventure starts on Friday.  My plan was to drive to Charlotte on Friday, head to the U.S. National Whitewater Center (the race venue) and get in a little test ride before heading back to camp.  I found a little campground on the internet that was about 10 minutes from the race venue.  Well, while driving, I decided to go the campground first and get checked in, then go to venue.  I arrived at the campground, it was ... quaint.  It seemed that there were more than a few permanent residents.  Eh, it was only one night... it would be fine.  I went to the office and the nice lady showed me to my spot.  It was very close to the office... which I was thankful for.  At that point, I decided it was hot and I didn't feel like riding.  Since packet pickup wasn't until 5 and it was presently 1.  I had several hours to killand I had a couple movies loaded on the laptop so I just sat in the car in the shade and watched a movie.  Not a bad afternoon, actually.  After the flick I was ready to head to packet pickup... right after a naturebreak.  I made my way to the bathrooms and upon opening the door I found two toilets, no stalls and lots of nasty.  I immediately turned around and went back to the car. Nature break could wait until I got to the race site.  Packet pickup went swiftly and I took a quick walk down to the swim start to get an idea how long the run would be to transition.  It was about .3 miles to the swim start and the path was very small ... very sharp gravel.  Shoes would be a must.  After wandering about the Whitewater Center for an hour or so I headed back to the car to figure out dinner.  I wanted pasta.  There was an italian restaurant not too far away, winner winner!  On the way to the restaurant, I passed a Hampton Inn.  It was a very nice looking place and close to the race venue.... hmmm.  The thought of having a real toilet for my morning paperwork...and a nice bed...and A/C took over and I pulled in to the parking lot.  I sauntered in and asked the nice lady if they had a room available.  They did.  I was giddy.  She also handed me a list of restaurants that delivered to the hotel.  YES!  I was sold.  I got my room key and loaded my stuff into the room.  I then called the campground and told them I wouldn't be coming back.  The only place that delivered pasta was Dominos and my desire to not leave was very high.  Dominos it was.  Food delivered, I settled in and enjoyed my tasty pasta.  After dinner, I got my race gear prepped and got ready for bed.

Wow, that was long and we're not even to race day yet.  Everyone still with me?  Great!  On to raceday!

My alarm went off at 5:08 am.  I rolled out of bed, and got my kit on.  Breakfast was 2 cherry pop tarts and a bottle of my Infinit Preload Mix.  I was very pleased with the performance of the toilet in my room.  It was clean and comfortable for the prerace paperwork.  Paperwork done, I got the car loaded, checked out and headed to race.  Transition opened at 6:30 and I staked out an end rack about halfway down.  Got all my stuff ready to go and then the wait was on.  I talked to some friends, stretched and sipped on water until time to head to swim start.  The race director kept us out of the river until the safety briefing 15 minutes prior to race start.  They split the race into two swim waves: competitive and recreational.  I was in the competitive wave.  I liked this setup a lot.  It kept the slower swimmers together and let the faster athletes have a bit cleaner water.  Swim course was 1000m-ish in the Catawba River with the longest stretch going upstream.  Again, I liked this.  It favored stronger swimmers, of which I am one.   Anyway, after briefing, we got a few minutes to jump in a warmup.  A few minutes later we got the call to come back even with the dock for start.  We treaded water for another couple minutes before the countdown started.  3... 2... 1... GO!  I had a good start. I found some clean water and just settled in.  Swim seemed to take for ever, especially going upstream, but was otherwise uninteresting.  Coming back in, there was a tree in the way.  That annoyed me.  RD had a buoy marking it, but the buoy didn't mark the end so I got a branch in the chest.  I cussed a bit as I came out of the water and grabbed my shoes for the run to transition.  

Swim: 22:16

Into T1, I pulled off my running shoes and put on my bike shoes.  Sunglasses on, headband on, helmet on, I grabbed bike and was off for a 14 mile ride.  Into the woods I was immediately greeted with some pretty technical terrain.  I was thinking "this is cool, nice to have a little technicality" I would, however, eat those words shortly.  This would end up being one of the most technically challenging courses I've raced on.  There were plently of rocks, roots, and bridges to deal with along with some pretty steep whoops and some switchback climbs.  It really kept me on my toes... litterally.  I dabbed a lot.  (A dab, for those of you not up on hip mountain bike lingo, is when you put your foot down when going over a trail feature) It got to the point where I was seriously getting annoyed at myself.  Now, I'm a pretty good mountain biker but today I just didn't have it.  I wasn't comfortable on the bike. I never felt smooth and in control. I felt like I was just muscling the bike around instead of letting it flow along the trail.  There were a couple sections of the trail that weren't very well marked. I made a brief wrong turn before figuring it out and getting back on course.  This angered me. After more crappy riding, I made it back to the transition area.  I have never been so ready to be off the bike.  

Bike: 1:37:52

I was hoping that the 6.5k run would be a little less technical and would avoid some of the more exposed sections since the heat was becoming an issue.  It wasn't and it didn't.  I started the run strong but faded quickly.  By mile 3 I was cooked.  I had nothing left.  I think it was combined heat and training load for the week prior but I bonked hard.   I just kept telling myself to move.  I had no idea what position I was in but I new I had to just keep pushing.  I never cramped which was quite pleasing so all I had to deal with was just making sure my legs kept turning over.  I walked a couple of hills and ran when I could but mostly it was a jog.  Still, though, I moved forward.  The meters ticked off slowly but surely and I finally crossed the line.  It was a very tough day. A very humbling day for me on the bike but a very satisfying day after finishing.  The venue was spectacular and the race staff were very good.  I finished 18th overall and 2nd place in my age division.  After such a grueling day, I'm very happy to come away with the podium spot and the points.  I'm still sitting 3rd in the points but my gap to second has closed down to just 8 points.  With 3 more races to go I'm still in with a shot of taking second and maybe even first.  We'll see how it goes.  Up next: XTERRA Dino S. Indiana.

Run: 43:16

Renee Black - Tellico Summer Solstice Tri

My 4th triathlon of the 2017 season took me back to the Tellico recreation area for another race day adventure. My mom and plenty of friends came out on this hot and humid Sunday morning to provide lots of cheering and encouragement. After six years in this sport I am finally learning that not all races are “As” and don’t need to be raced as such. However, all races (except for that one labeled “you better rest up, taper and bring your A+ game”) can serve as learning opportunities in preparation for that A+ race day.

My A+ day is still 50 days away (but really, who’s counting) and I still have areas I would like to improve. Enter Tellico Summer Solstice Sprint. While I was hanging out with my coach on the yellow boom only a few minutes before race start I mentioned that I completely overhauled my pre and intra race nutrition plan and installed a new hydration system on my bike. All to be used for the first time today. He shook his head and said “Nothing new on race day, right?” Right. And with that thought I hoisted myself up onto the boom and waited for that race horn to blow.

Swim (800m) - honestly y’all it’s getting a bit better every time I get in that open water. I actually stayed with the lead pack for the first couple of minutes. I came out of the water 13th out of 31 females. I never thought I’d see the day when I would move from the back of the pack to mid pack. Always more work to be done but I will take it.

Bike (16 miles) - I know this course well and with my new hydration system in place I made myself stay aero the entire ride except for one steeper climb. I passed several folks on the bike and worked hard to make myself drink my Skratch Labs hydration mix and Thorne branch chain blend. I got about half of my 24 ounce bottle in. Again, more work to be done here but the ride felt great. Thanks to a hot tip from fellow teammate Katie Dotson and much persistence on the part of my coach I FINALLY conquered my fears and successfully learned the art of the flying dismount. So after a super quick T2 I started the run having moved up 9 spots to 4th female overall.

Run (3ish miles) – At this point I must say that my typically finicky GI system was on its best behavior with all the newness in nutrition. No slosh, no cramps, no nothing. AND my energy levels were feeling good. WOO HOO! I headed out on the run with the goal to push hard through the entire 3 miles and not trail off at the end like I have a tendency to do. I made the parking lot loop and saw 2 of the 3 ladies that were in front of me. After about a mile I caught up to the very familiar Zen Evo kit of Lizzy Miller. Lizzy is a beast and I knew I would need to find another gear if I was going to make the pass. We chatted for a bit and she told me to go. So I did. I ran the next 2 miles with her foot steps in my ears and crossed the finish line in 3rd. I wouldn’t have had that run if it had not been for Lizzy. She encouraged me and pushed me until the very end.

So lots of good lessons learned on this race day. I’m finally feeling like I am starting to dial in that nutrition enigma and it has given me an even brighter outlook on my run off the bike. I want to thank my coach and all of our sponsors for making participating in this fun sport possible!  Next up, Secret City sprint on July 1st!!

Derek Tingle - XTERRA Tsali

OK, so XTERRA Tsali is a little... different.  Coming out of the water, you put on your running shoes and then run 4.5 miles to your bike.  After which, you ride 11 miles and finish the race on your bike.  So yes, you swim, then run, THEN bike.  It's strange.  I had no idea what to expect. I've never been on any of the trails at Tsali, nor have I ever competed in an event set up that way.  I didn't practice it before hand or train for it in any way.  I just showed up and hoped for the best.  Curious as to how it all went?  Well, read on dear Reader to find out!

The original plan was to camp for this race.  That plan changed earlier in the week after torrents of rain fuelled by a tropical storm looked to ruin our weekend.  Thankfully, the rains came earlier than expected and weren't as bad as expected BUT I had already booked a hotel room so Wife and I just enjoyed a night at the Sleep Inn before the race.  If I'm honest, I'm glad we did.  Camping is fun but a good nights sleep in a bed makes for a better race.  

I woke up to my alarm at 5:30am.  The race started at 8am but we had a 20min drive to the venue and had to get packed up since we weren't coming back to the hotel after the race.  Breakfast consisted of 2 cherry Pop Tarts and a bottle of sports drink.  After breakfast, we got loaded up and were off.  

We arrived at the race site, got parked and unloaded.  I got my bike racked and then enjoyed catching up with friends and getting ready to race.  I headed down to the lake around 7:45 and got in to warm up.  Water temp was near 80 when measured but felt a little cooler than that.  It was still quite nice.  After a brief warmup, I made my way back to the shore and, after listening to the pre race briefing, got ready to go.  While sitting and shivering waiting on the start, I was chatting with some other racers about how the swim looked a bit long.  It seemed the buoys were floating a bit.  Apparently the race director noticed too and the rescue squad boat motored out and attempted to fix them.  Still, I kind of assumed we'd be chasing buoys all morning.  Anyway, about 8:15 the race finally kicked off.  I had a good swim.  I went out pretty fast and found some relatively clean water with only a few people around me.  There wasn't really a lead pack but a couple dudes that just took off and were way out front.  After coming around the third and final buoy I could swear that I saw a whole pack of people ahead of me that SHOULDN'T have been ahead of me.  I guess in my head they cut the course and missed the final buoy (it was kind of hidden) but in retrospect it was just an optical illusion because in the results I came out where I should have.  It did make me swim faster though!  In the end, the 800yd swim ended up at close to 1000 by my watch.  Pace was solid at a 1:41/100.

Out of the water, I ran over to my old bath mat transition area.  I dried off my feet, slipped on my shoes, picked up the wad of stuff containg my race belt, hand bottle (filled with water) and my headband and took off down the trail.  While slipping my race belt over my head, BOTH of my gels came out of their little pouches.  I was slightly concerned about losing my nutrition but even though I got a little behind, in the end, it didn't really affect me adversly.  The run was uneventful other than that.  I tried to maintain a solid tempo pace so as not to overcook it and suffer on the bike.  Other than mile 2 (which I think was ALL uphill) I stayed in the low 9's and dipped into the 8's occasionally.  The trails were slick so I didn't take any chances and really watched where I put my feet.  The run was a little shorter than advertised and I came into the finish chute for the first time around a little over 37 minutes with a 9:12/mi avg pace (per Garmin)

Though T2 was a little weird I executed it pretty well and was soon out on the bike.  I new I was behind on the nutrition so I made it a priority to get several large drinks from my bottle early on.  Otherwise, my watch went off every 10 minutes which would remind me to drink.  The bike was advertised at 11 miles.  It was a fast course.  It would have been faster if it was dry.  There were some stout climbs to negotiate, however there was always a good downhill reward.  By the lake there was some nice moderately technical sections to clear but nothing crazy.  I only dabbed once when I slipped on switchback (conveniently this happened right before a steep kicker....) then had to dismount to clear a fallen tree once also.  Other than that, it was a clean ride.  I finished the bike in 55:17 with an 11.3 mph avg speed.  Solid.   Total race time was 1:50:44 per my Garmin.  I finished the day with another age group win and just missed the top 10 overall with 11th.  It was an interesting race.  Doing the run before the bike was fun but not something I would want to do more than once a year but having the wife there to cheer me on always makes racing more fun.  

Thanks, as always, goes out to my wife, my coach, my team and my sponsors.  Your support means everything to me and I couldn't do it without you!! 

Derek Tingle - Summer Solstice 5K

I think I've mentioned before that I really don't like 5k's.  I do enjoy this race though.  It's tough but it has a great atmosphere and the Knoxville Track Club does a stellar job putting it on.  The race itself is held on a farm and is a cross country style race with the race being held on trimmed fields with some singletrack and a little gravel for giggles.  It's a neat venue and a challenging race.

I knew going into the race that I would be hard pressed to land on the podium.  This was an afterthought race for me and I did it as a speed workout preceded by a bike interval session.  Needless to say I was going in on tired legs.  

When I arrived at the race, the air was heavy and hot.  I lined up near the front.  I planned to try and hold on to lead group as long as possible then settle into a hard tempo pace and finish as strong as possible.  At the gun we took off.  I was running well and the group was pacing around 6:30-6:45.  I knew I couldn't hold that pace for long.  Thankfully as the terrain got rougher everything settled down a bit.  The leaders took off and stayed away, no surprise, but I was running very strong around a group of very tallented runners.  I paced with my buddy David Carrell from Team Health Shoppe Zen Evo.  I knew something had to be off with him since he's normally a much faster runner than I.  Seems a pub crawl and Mexican food for lunch might have had a hand in me being able to keep pace with him.  Still, I'll take that how I can get it!  

As the race unfolded, I felt very comfortable being uncomfortable.  I could tell that the work I had been doing in preparation for Xterra and racing off road was helping my speed.  I had a good race but with a stacked field and 10 year Age Groups I was relegated to 7th place in the 30-39 field.  Not a great result on the surface but all things considered, I think this was a good race for me and a great workout in my build toward Xterra success.

Chris Morelock - TN State TT

How to start this report... I've tried a few times and failed to muster how I feel about it. Bittersweet is the best I can come up with. Again the top step has eluded me, but I had one of my best races, ever, which is all the more important. Of the things I could control, I think I hit a 95 out of 100 on execution, which in itself is probably the most important takeaway from the day. But let's start at the beginning.

The TN State TT was a race that was uncertain for a long time. Whether it actually was going to happen or not was up in the air until a couple weeks from race day. When they finally confirmed it in a new location, I was happy as my build up was targeting it and I do hate to miss timing like that. The new course was also a bit more friendly than the previous location, which thankfully included a good bit less elevation change. 

Coming off of the Georgia State TT I made some modifications to my equipment, not wanting to run out of gears going downhill again (a problem I had in GA) I swapped from my 50t to a 54t chainring (I run 1x) and put on a slightly wider cassette. With 3% being the max grade I was certain I'd have the gears I needed going up and down. I had ripped my skinsuit at the GA TT, but fortunately Kevin Sprouse came through in the clutch and got me into the new Body Paint 3.3 skinsuit before he left for the Tour de Suisse. It was also my first time running the new, extremely quick Vittoria Corsa Speeds, the new king of fast tires.  So, with my ride pimped out, it was time to go make what meager watts my motor can do.

We (my mother, wife and I) drove down to Dover on Friday evening, and I got in my final spin in at the hotel room. We had dinner at an excellent pizza place nearby and then watched the back half of Saving Private Ryan before bed.

Saturday we made our way to the race site about an hour and a half early, giving me time to get my numbers and get everything set up for my warmup.  I spent about 40 minutes total warming up (with a 5' or so break to pee in the middle) including a ~5 or so build and a couple of 30" efforts to open the legs up. Finally it was time to slip into (nothing so elegant actually happened, it was actually a lot of tugging...very gentle tugging) the skinsuit and head to the start tent. 

My holder did a fine job, and then it was time for the countdown. 

3, 2, 1, Go.

Coming straight out of the gate I spiked my power a bit getting up the bridge, then immediately slipped into my position and found my rhythm. The goal was to hold very steady power on all the flats and uphills (the out of the course had a generally steady "false flat" profile to it) and then at the long drag (~3% grade) to the actual turn point to spike it up just slightly and expect to recover a bit on the following downhill. All in all, I wanted to keep my heart rate in the low 180's for the majority of the ride.

As I came over the bridge from the start gate I smash into the open bit of pavement between bridge and road. It jars me hard, and for a second I wonder if it was hard enough to blow a tire. It wasn't, but it was also not an experience I wished to repeat as I crossed the other side of the bridge.

They say nothing new on race day, and I try to stick to that. I'm decent at bunny hopping on a road bike, but admit I've never done it (in aero) on my tt bike... but the concept is similar, except for that slight bit less control and having your elbows locked in place and the body weight distribution and so forth... Perfect time to try it out, right? I pull hard on the end of the bars and then immediately after pop my feet. I take a great amount of pride in the fact that I landed it... not perfectly, but adequately enough that i didn't wipe out, which I suppose is good enough. 

On a long straight out and back time trial you get plenty of time to think about things, which is a blessing and a curse. Some people can turn their mind off and just hammer, me I sit and think about things. It's something that has hurt me in the past, when I let my mind wander to "this sucks" territory... but this year I've worked hard on focusing on other stuff. I also moved my computer higher so that I can see the numbers just by glancing, which gives me some "motivation" to stay on watts and some buffer to calm me down. The other thing I've worked to focus on is staying as still as possible. Most of the guys I'm racing against out power me by a good 70-90 watts over an hour effort, so anything I can do to maximize my slipperiness is an absolute must. 

Slowly, I start picking people off. As we near the turnaround I'm passed by a Cat3 rider, and I shadow him the remainder of the first half as we start going by an increasing amount of traffic. With the turnaround in sight and two riders immediately ahead of me I put in a "too big" effort to get by them (and to the turnaround first, so I can pick my line) which in retrospect probably cost me 15" or so overall. Fortunately after making the turnaround I'm able to get my heartrate back under control and start the fast return trip. 

Holding my watts steady on downhills is a problem I have, so I really had to focus hard on what should have been the "easy" part of the course. I did a good job (for me) but still left some time out there. It's about this time I start to think to myself that the chamois in the Body Paint 3.3 is not the most robust... my undercarriage was really hurting! Finally I see the cones that lead back over the bridge to the finish line, and I get out of the saddle to try to power over. The stretch takes a lot longer than it did on the way out, and it's all I can do to stay in my right mind as I crest the hill and put in my last effort to the finish line. 

Final Time - 57.52 on a slightly long course (25.3mi)

It was good enough for second place on the day, which was not the step I had hoped to land on, but it came from one of the best executed races I've ever had, so I am happy. It's also the first time I've "officially" broken an hour in a 40k, so small victories and all that. There is a saying in car racing "no replacement for displacement" and at a certain point it's true in human motors as well. The difference of motor size matter a lot more when the competition is also trying to check off all the aero boxes. It does give me something to look forward to next year, and motivation is always welcome! 

Thanks to the Sponsors: Podium Sports Medicine, Visit Knoxville, The Feed, Harper Auto Square, Stoke Signal Socks, Yee-Haw Brewing Co.

Nick Morgan's Five Race Roundup

Nick’s Race Roundup:

  1. LE 5K
  2. Expo 10k
  3. Foothills Sprint
  4. Xterra Tri Relay
  5. Johnson City Downtown Mile

Summer is a great time to jump into shorter races that are easier to recover from and are catch up with friends and revisit friendly local rivalries. Since the Flying Pig marathon a month ago, I’ve managed to squeeze in 5 shorter races and get to try some new courses and meet and race against some new faces. 

The first 5k I ever won was the Law Enforcement Memorial 5k in 2015. The event didn’t run last year, so when I saw it on the schedule for this year, I was excited to do it again, even if I wasn’t in top shape. With the course moved to Cherokee Blvd, I knew it would be a fun course. It also turned out to be a hot and exceptionally humid Saturday morning. I lined up with some familiar faces and friends and anxiously awaited that point of no return, when the gun goes off and the pain begins. Through the first mile, I ran with one other young runner, who I didn’t recognize. By midway through the second mile, he was starting to drop me and gain some separation. I convinced myself to keep pushing an see what would happened (a survival strategy that paid off again in a few weeks), and by 2.5 miles in, on a steady incline section, he started to fade. With a strong push, I caught and passed him in the finishing stretch and came in at 17:41 for the overall win.

The next week doubled the distance to a 10k at the IT Company Expo race. The weather was slightly cooler this time around, but just as humid. The new course for the Expo 10k turned out to be a challenging course with some long inclines over a two loop course. I didn’t have a great day, fading early in the race, but managing to sneak into the top 10 with a 38:27.

A couple of days later the Memorial Day Foothills Triathlon returned to Lenoir City, and despite no bike or swim training, I wanted to test out whether I could survive a sprint triathlon. In the past I placed 3rd and 2nd at this event, so I wanted a shot at finally getting the overall win. With a really short swim, I tried to not lose too much time, not spike my heart rate right away, and get through T1 smoothly. On the rolling bike course, I was happy to hold 23.4mph (even if it was much slower than the same course last year), but I definitely felt the lack of bike legs when I got to T2. Regardless I came off the bike with about a :45 second lead. However, my legs felt wobbly as I began to run and my heart rate was high. I ticked off a 6:18 first mile trying to go a little more conservatively and to find my legs. I didn’t expect anyone to be running mid 5 minute miles, so I was shocked when shortly after, I saw Team Zen Evo’s Daeton Byers closing in on me. I held pace and he caught me at the turnaround at 1.5 mile. I matched his pace as he seems to slow a little as he took the lead and settled in around 10m in front of me for the next mile. I kept the gap steady and tried to think back to the Law Enforcement 5k. At 2.5 miles I decided to empty the tank and go for the win, and picked up the pace to under 6min/mile. I passed Daeton on the last small hill and turned to the finishing stretch and started my finishing kick into the finish for the overall win. 

Equipped with a false sense of well being about my biking ability coming off Foothills, I jumped at the opportunity when a relay team slot opened up for the Xterra Knoxville Trail Triathlon with Kim Preston swimming and David Black doing the trail running honors. I hosed off the caked on Baker’s Creek Dirt from last fall and loaded up my bike and headed to Mead’s Quarry on a perfect Sunday morning. I’m no mountain biker, but I do enjoy the change in scenery from the road. At times I felt the flow of the trails and guided my hardtail Trek through banked turns, off drops, over bridges, and around rocks like I actually knew what I was doing. At other times I took lines so reckless and ill-considered I sent course marshals ducking for cover (sorry Alex). However, I managed to stay right side up and finished with my hands cramped around the handlebars and lower back muscles burning.

My latest racing adventure led me up the Johnson City for the inaugural Global Running Day Downtown Mile. Without waxing too poetic, I have a soft spot for mile races. This doesn’t mean I don’t dread them, by there is something special about the simplicity of a mile. It’s the yardstick by which every other distance gets measured, and one all-out, painful, lung burning mile is both miserable and magical. So, I jumped at the opportunity to go to Johnson City and represent The Knoxville Track Club in the Elite Mile race. Disclaimer: I am not an elite miler by any measure, but I managed to not be last in the men’s elite division. The weather turned out to be amazing. Mid 70’s with a good breeze. The course had a number of sharp turns that were challenging at mile pace, but overall this is a really cool race that I would recommend to any runner. When the gun went off, I knew I was running with some fast guys. The pack formed right away and I did my best to hang on to the back of the pack. We went through the first quarter under 1:10. At that pace, I wasn’t going to be hanging around much longer. At the half mile mark, I hear my split called at 2:30 and I was on an island in no-man’s land. My goal for the race was to get under 5, but given that I was still coming off back-to-back marathons, a gaggle of shorter races, and no speed work, I knew it might be an ambitious order. However, at halfway I tried to marshall my mitochondria to pump out all they could. It was already hurting at this point—Badly. I kept churning my legs and turned onto the finishing street with about 150m to go. I saw the clock at 4:40 and whipped my legs to turnover as best I could. With a few meters to go I watched the clock turn to 5:00 and then I crossed a handful of seconds later in 5:03. A little off my goal, but for where I am at the moment I was happy. Well, at that exact moment, I was stumbling around like a drunk man and gasping for air like I just narrowly escaped drowning.

The next few weeks look to have some more fun summer racing opportunities, starting with the Buster Britton Triathlon in Alabama this weekend.

Derek Tingle - Xterra Knoxville, "Redemption Day"

Xterra Knoxville Race Report : Redemption Day

Xterra Knoxville has been on my mind for the last 3 years.  In 2014, I was a mostly clueless, completely green endurance athlete.  Mountain biking was what started me into cycling many years ago and I had fallen in love with trail running.  When I heard about Xterra Knoxville, I knew that was going to be my goal.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  A 3 hour multisport event was completely out of my realm of comprehension.  I had no idea how to fuel or pace for that type of activity.  As you can imagine, come race day, I was doing well until the run.  I was WAY off on my nutrition and hydration and my legs locked up on the run.  I finished but it wasn't pretty (sounds a LOT like my experience at Oak Mountain a couple weeks ago doesn't it?...)

Well, fast forward to this past Sunday.  I wanted redemption.  Redemption for 3 years ago and redepmtion from 2 weeks ago.  Oak Mountain was a very harsh re-introduction into long course Xterra and I was eager to take my lessons from that race and apply them to this one.  My main goal was to run strong.  I would hold back on the bike and try to save my legs knowing the climb in the final mile of the run was waiting.  For the most part, that's exactly what I did.  Again, it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns but it wasn't quite the debacle of 2014 (or 2 weeks ago).  

Race morning went smoothly.  I woke up, had my breakfast of 2 cherry PopTarts and got my things packed.  I started sipping on a bottle of Skratch hydration while en route to the race.  After getting checked in, body marked and my transition set up I enjoyed some down time talking to friends and other racers while waiting on the race to start.  I also managed to wipe my arm numbers compeltely off while applying sunscreen.  I got re-body marked along with a good amout of flack (in fun) from the race director and went back to get my suit on for the swim.  I decided to wear a speed suit over a wetsuit for the race even though it was wetsuit legal.  I did this mainly because I didn't bring my wetsuit but, like Pelham, it was only just under wetsuit temp and I'd rather not deal with it if I don't have to.

The Xterra Knoxville swim is in a quarry lake with an in water mass start.  After a couple quick yards of warmup I made my way back to the dock and hung on while waiting on the cannon.  As I held on shivering in the water, I was anxious and excited to get the day underway.  I lined up with the intention of going out very agressive on the cannon and trying to get a good patch of clean water.  After what seemed like an eternity, the countdown was on and then the cannon fired and we were off.

I went out hard and was feeling very good.  I continued to push the pace for the first 400 or so yards before settling in.  The swim felt very good.  It was nice to get a clean swim for a change.  I was passed a couple of times by faster swimmers but they were clean and gave me a good opportunity to catch a draft for a few seconds before the bubbles faded away.  Before long I was out of the water and headed up to T1.  

Swim (.75mi) - 17:32

T1 went smooth.  I took a few extra seconds to put on my hydration pack then helmet, glasses, shoes and I was on my way.  The bike course follows the greenway before turning onto a gravel road leading to the trail proper.  I used this section to take several pulls from my Camelbak which contained 2 full servings (approximately 600 kcal of my Infiinit race mix).  This was part one of avoiding the nutrition bonk that happened at Oak Mountain.  I also took that time to start my Garmin on my bike and hit my watch lap button to set it to bike.  There was a slight problem there in that I already did that earlier so now my watch was out of sync.  I promptlyrestarted the triathlon mode on the watch and got it going in the right mode before I hit the trail.  

It wasn't long before I heard a familiar voice behind me.  It was my good friend Jim Hall coming up fast.  I pulled over and let him pass then settled in behind him letting him pull me for the next little bit.  As we got to the more flowing section of the course I was pushing Jim pretty hard.  We swapped places and I pulled ahead with him letting me pace him for the next several miles.  We worked together for most of the course, swapping places and pacing each other.  It worked out very well for us.  Eventually, I pulled ahead and he fell back a bit ( I think he had a "moment" which cost him some time).  I was deliberate with my hydration and I took the last drink out of my pack as I was rolling into T2.

Bike (16.6mi) - 1:42:02

T2 was a bit slow for me because I took a few extra seconds to make sure I had the rocks and dirt wiped from my feet before putting my shoes on.  Other than that, it was as expected.  Took off the pack, wiped feet, shoes on, grabbed belt and waterbottle and took off.  I was hoping that being a little conservative on the bike (along with the nutrition strategy) would allow me to run strong.  I looked back and caught a glimpse of Nathan Mize coming up fast.  "Where'd you come from?!", I yelled.  I was surprised to see him as I knew he was farther back on the bike.  Come to find out, his frame broke and he cut the bike course short.  He was just doing the run for fun after turning in his chip.  I didn't feel quite so bad, then, when he ran off and left me.  As the trail started to climb slightly I felt a twinge in my quads.  Not good. I increased my turnover and hoped for the best as I kept moving.  Before long, though, it was obvious that I was going to have to go into survival mode.  I was determined to keep running, though.  I just kept repeating "relax, relax" to myself.  Actually I'm pretty sure I was saying it out loud.  This kept up for next 3 miles.  The cramps kind of moved around from my quads to my hamstrings and back again.  I was able to keep running though.  Then, the climb.  I had long decided that when I hit the climb up Tharp Trace around the quarry I would hike it.  My legs were in no shape to try and run that hill.  I limped up the climb at the best pace I could muster.  Actually, going up wasn't so bad.  My quads were screaming but at least they weren't full on cramped.  I crested the top and started down.  It was at this point that my legs gave me on last big middle finger and cramped up pretty hard.  I hobbled as fast as I could and eventually I hit the bottom.  Once the ground flattened, I was able to pick up the run again and actually ran pretty strong for the last 150m or so to the line.  After hobbling around for a few minutes recovering, I wandered over to the results monitor.  I had finished 11th overal and 1st place in the age group.

Run (4.6mi) - 46:54

Total Time - 2:48:08 

While it was disappointing to not have the run I wanted, I consider this redemption earned. I had a great swim and bike and I'm satisfied in that I was able to keep running despite the difficulties.  I think I got the nutrition right and my race plan was sound.  If I had to guess, the cramps were a result of 1.) muscle fatigue from 3 races in as many weeks and not being fully recovered from the damage of the cramps from Oak Mountain and 2.) the difference in muscle usage in long course mountain biking versus road biking and not having done enough hard mountain bike rides earlier in the year.  Thankfully, I have a few weeks off from racing to recover and rest before Xterra Tsali later this month.  Time to rest and relax then begin the build all over again.  

As always, huge thanks to my coach, my team, my sponsors and espcially my Wife who is always there beside me, cheering me on and just generally being awesome in every way.    

Katie Dotson - "Adding Up the Yes's" at Foothills Sprint Tri

Foothills Sprint Tri was a race where I felt like my YES’s started to add up.  Bear with me while I explain what I mean.

Listening to my body -  These last two months something was a little different - I felt run down, wasn't sleeping as well, and generally felt off.  So, I pulled a few workouts, took a few easy, and scheduled a visit with Podium's own Dr. Sprouse.  Sure enough, a few things were off.  Recognizing things early is key!  The adjustments will take a little while before I feel “right” again, but the process has started. 

I chose to say YES to getting help, YES to prioritizing good sleep, and YES to skipping a workout or two, and it all added up! 

Specific to Foothills, I listened well to my body cues – race morning I felt good, strong and powerful.  So, I pushed hard on the bike, and was able to continue the push throughout the run!  I was super pleased to lay down one of my better bike splits and average paces! 

Nutrition – Late in the fall last year, I started tracking down some GI related issues.  Finally discovering some sensitivities and saying YES to food that nourishes my body rather can cause inflammation has helped a bunch!  

So, for Foothills, I dialed in my nutrition (upping it from B+ to A-ish level) to avoid any unwanted GI trouble the week leading up to the race.  The morning of the race, I chose a quality breakfast full of good proteins, carbs and fats, followed by a 1/2 banana prior to race start.  During the race, I took in electrolytes and branch chain amino acids on the bike... and ta-da!  No belly whamp, GI distress, and good energy throughout.  

Training - My coach has me doing some tough run workouts!  I've been challenging myself to do them to the best I'm able - trusting the process, saying YES.  Sometimes that means doing them with a group and sometimes doing them in the wee hours of the morning by myself.  Yall… spending a good chunk of time in Zone 3 and 4… HURTS!!  

For Foothills, those tough workouts paid off!  Even after an aggressive bike strategy, I was able to follow it up with a solid run.

I still have plenty of areas in my life where I need to say YES a bit more – more time with Jesus, more quality time with loved ones (they are still the most important anyways!), earlier to bed, transition practice, and discovering bike power.  However, the YES's that I've already chosen to make have added up pretty well.  

At Foothills, my YES’s turned into … First place age group finish, 7th overall female, quality bike split (for me), and a solid run! 

Here’s to more training days and races where the YES’s pay off!

Shout-out to THE FEED for carrying the bulk of the nutrition that my husband and I use during training and racing!  Peanut Butter RxBars, Coconut Barnana Bites, and Banana Beet with Ginger Clif Organic Energy food pouches for me, and Orange Skratch Labs Fruit Drops, Lemon Lime Skratch Labs Hydration Mix and Beef Epic Provisions Bites for him!

Derek Tingle - Foothills Sprint Tri

I usually do not do pool sprints.  I don't really like them.  I don't like them for the same reason that I don't really like 5k's, they hurt.  The swim isn't long enough for me to really take any advantage out and with a time trial start it's impossible to really know how much you can "safely" pace so it's just a go, go, go situation and hope for the best.  All that being said, I showed up Monday morning for the Foothills Sprint just the same.  Xterra Knoxville was looming a week away and I was just racing for fun and to support the team.  

There really aren't too many details to go over in a race this short but we started with a 150yd swim.  It was a time trial start so I lined up somewhere near the front.  I got passed in the pool by the young lady that started behind me.  I don't really feel too bad about being passed by a 10 year old, though.  I knew I could get it back on the bike.

T1 went smoothly and I mounted the bike and rolled out.  A couple turns and I hit the long out and back stretch of Hotchkiss Valley Road.  I've ridden this road a lot.  It's a great road with a couple of long rollers and some really great opportunities for a strong ride to put you in a great position for the run.  I started out way to hard on the bike and I knew it.  After playing some back and forth and trading witty banter with my buddy Alix I backed off to try and save some for the run.   

I rolled back into T2, executing a flawless flying dismount and looking SO PRO. I then almost ran out of T2 the wrong way because I wasn't paying attention before the race.  Goes to show, no matter how pro you look, you still have to know which direction to run out of transition.

Run course was nice, shady greenway which was really nice as it was starting to warm up a bit.  I had a good run.  I was pushing hard but I knew I was fighting for a podium spot after a solid bike.  At the turn I could see a couple guys gaining on me.  One of them was in a Zen Evo kit.  I tried to stay ahead of him but eventually he caught and passed me about .5 mile from the finish.  I saw he wasn't in my age group so I didn't give chase.  I crossed the finishin 54:54 taking another age group win and just cracking the top 5 overall at 5th place.  

I can't really complain too much about the day at all.  It was a fun race with some great people.  Podium Racing came up big with podium finishes all around.  As always, the best part of the day was seeing and hanging out with all of my teammates and friends!  

Renee Black - LOTS Triathlon

(We'll call this a #tbt report!  Renee got it to us awhile back, but we were delinquent in posting it.  This is good stuff though, and congrats to Renee on a great race!)

Those that have raced Lakeside before know that it’s kind of like swimming, biking and running on the surface of the sun. However, this year the race was moved from mid-August to a cooler and cloudy early May.  I have done the Lakeside Olympic course on two other occasions but this would be my first go at the sprint. Once again my sweet mom showed up to lend her support and be a pre-race holder of all the things.

After breaking out in a full sweat wrestling with the bear known as the full sleeve wet suit I made my way to the water. My original intention for signing up for this race was to get more open water practice. And oh boy did I. I went out entirely too hard for the first 150 or so and found myself nice and tuckered out for the remaining 800 yards. Yet another swim lesson learned. Don’t go out like you are being chased by a shark.

The first five miles of the bike were great! Where are all these hills people were… oh wait… never mind. Still I managed a strong bike and came into T2 with the mindset of running comfortably to the finish. I took the first mile at a manageable pace knowing I had a pretty significant climb coming out of the neighborhood. A little over a mile in I saw Melinda Spiva gliding along like a gazelle. As I crested the hill to the turnaround point I saw fellow teammate Katie Dotson coming down the hill looking fresh as a daisy. It was then I realized I was in third. Wait? Seriously?!? In my five year triathlon career I have managed two overall podium finishes so this is not a position I am accustom to. As I am coming down the hill from the turnaround I see Marsha Morton flying up the hill with a determined look to catch me. At this point I decided that I needed to find another gear and give it a go. I crested the last hill in the neighborhood, looked over my shoulder and saw no one in sight. I cruised to the finish as the third overall female!

I have already read several race reports and social media posts this week about our awesome triathlon community. Our fellow racers, friends and family are consistent in their support, encouragement and generalized awesomeness. I witness folks building each other up and celebrating successes. I type all this to say that my finish last Saturday would not have happened without this triathlon community and my uber- supportive husband, mom, friends, coach and Podium team. To stand on a podium alongside women that I admire for their kindness, courage, and athletic abilities was an absolute surreal moment for me and one that will not be forgotten.

A big thank you to all our sponsors for their support! Next up Foothills Sprint!

Chris Morelock - Georgia State TT Championships

It's been a while since I had a race report to post, and now I've got two in one!

This year I've decided to focus solely on becoming a better time trialist. Unfortunately, in Tennessee time trialling is really not a thing... so starting my "season" has been a long time coming. 

My original focus was the TN State Time Trial Championships, however as the race date drew closer without a confirmation I feared the worst, that it would be re-scheduled or worse, simply cancelled. Georgia's State TT had been on my radar for a while, but we had originally figured it as a tune up / train through race, however, as TN's race became less certain and with my fitness coming towards a peak for the season, I decided to re-schedule and make sure I had at least a single good race to focus on lest I just miss out on everything. Shuffling your training plan to shoe horn in a peak/taper last minute a few weeks before planned certainly isn't the ideal way to do it, but it is what it is and what we had to work with.

The couple of weeks leading into the GA TT had/have been rough, I was pushing longer weeks and higher intensities and missing a fair number of those targets. It erodes the confidence we have built up and we start thinking somehow we've backslid into de-training, even though that is not logical. Nonetheless, I was getting a little nervous about the race. Tapering went like my tapers always have historically, I feel pretty "meh" as volume drops and recovery increases. I'm used to this by now, so I wasn't too freaked out by it. On Thursday we sat down and discussed my strategy for the GA course, keeping in mind that I'd have to go back out within an hour and try to hold it together for the 2 Man Team Time Trial. Although that was an afterthought, I still wanted to at least be able to not be totally embarrassed by my pulls. I would limit myself to low 300's for the punchy climbs and not let my heart rate climb too far above 180 until the last 3k or so, as at that point I'd start digging a hole I couldn't recover from. I've blown up in a longish TT before in epic fashion, it's not an experience I ever look to repeat.

I took a half day off work Friday and met my friend's Jimmy and Sharon at their house. We'd decided to split a hotel room since the upcharge staying in a college town on Memorial Day weekend was ridiculous. We strapped the bikes (three Speed Concepts) to the Subaru and made our way down to Gainesville. 

By the time we drove the course, got unloaded and found a place to get some dinner it was close to 8p.m. I'd planned to do a 30 minute spin with a couple of pickups that evening (sitting in a car for a couple of hours isn't great for keeping the legs fresh) but decided it was late enough it was best to cut it short and not risk getting too worked up right before bed. Sleeping in a hotel is already enough of a challenge without a sky high heartrate. 15' spinning would have to do. We turned in a little after 9 and set the alarm for 6.

Race day rolled around fairly uneventfully. One last check of the bike, we packed the car and met the rest of the crew at a local Panera Bread for coffee and breakfast. Then it was off to the races, as Sharon and the rest of the girls started about an hour before us.

The course itself was a little short of a 40k (measuring about 35k) and an easy enough out and back setup with only the turnaround in a 3 lane road as the "technical" section. Going out was vastly downhill, and the back half, as you might imagine, was mirrored uphill. It would certainly punish someone who didn't hold a little back for the return trip.  

I've been using Team GB/Sky's TT warmup for a couple of years now (ever since I saw and stole it) and I've always felt it was a great warmup that didn't run on too long. I was surprised that my parents had made a side trip on their own mini-vacation to see me off... that's always great for morale! I ran down to the start to see some of my friends off, gave Jimmy some well wishes (and a stick of gum... our tt secret weapon) gave the bike a final check over and fully kitted up... then rode to the start ramp myself. Finally, at 10:07 on the dot, it was go time.

I went off the ramp and took a hard right out of the parking lot into another right onto the main road the rest of the race would play out on. As I've mentioned, the first portion is very fast due to the gradual decline. I've been running a single front chainring for a while now with a 50t ring which has treated me well up to this point. Unfortunately I found a 50x12 big gear simply wasn't allowing me to push my target watts. I was running in the low 200's for some long stretches... a rookie mistake not to match the necessary gear to the course. It wasn't a disaster, but with the length of time spent in 50x12 it was certainly not optimal. Stay aero, stay tucked, stay focused. I say stay focused because here I made a real error. As I was coming onto the time check I saw a volunteer standing up in a truck bed as a side road entered onto the race course. There was a cone in the middle of the lanes. For a moment my adrenaline addled mind thought "am I at the turnaround??" (actually, it was the turnaround for the juniors) I move to my pods/brakes (USE Tula's have some funky brakes) and start to slow... I'm a bit confused. The volunteer notices that I'm a moron and starts yelling "go go go!" Even after driving the course and knowing the distance I'm still not smart enough to trust I know where to go... Ferdinand Magellan I am not. I curse under my breath at the seconds wasted but there is nothing to do but get tucked in and drive on. I was checking my computer fairly regularly to keep me reigned in on the uphill sections and to remind me I wasn't going hard enough on the downhills. I stayed tucked into my aero position and just continued my rhythm. It had been a while now and I hadn't caught my minute man... that was slightly worrisome but I didn't panic. I also hadn't been caught.  Finally, as the (real) turnaround neared I saw riders in the distance. Then it was like a gate had opened, I passed a duo, then another, and finally another before the turnaround. As I made my U-turn I took the opportunity to grab a swig of water. It wasn't a necessity, but I figured I'd be thankful for it soon as the course was only going to get harder on the trip home. 

At this point I was able to get some bearings of where the rest of the field stood. Everyone that started behind me was still a fairly even to farther distance away from me on the road. I saw Jimmy blazing through and considering how far he started behind me I figured he was having a good ride. I was still feeling pretty good, but my heartrate had been staying pretty steadily in the high 170's low 180's for a good chunk of time. It was sustainable, but I was feeling it. I decided that I'd cut back the power I was averaging on any section of uphill I thought would last over a minute to high 200's instead of low 300's, then I'd use anything I had left at the last climb before the finish. I made another pass at the 10k sign, and got a glimpse, finally, of my minute man. Now I had a target... something that makes the pain just a little more bearable. At this point the course really makes you pay for all that downhill you enjoyed on the way out. Nonetheless, I stuck to my plan and eventually caught my minute man just after the 5k sign. On the next climb he passed me again on the uphill section, and put in a good enough effort that I was unwilling to respond but kept him well within sight as a pacer. Finally after what seemed like forever, we crested the final hill and made a mad dash for the finish tent. (and more importantly, the finish line) I stopped the clock in 51:21, a bit slower than we had predicted (with the help of Bestbikesplit) but still in the "good day" category. Back to the caravan I fueled up as best I could, knowing I'd have to go back out there within the hour to do it all over again. Jimmy finished not long after (51:07) and we went to see how we had placed.

I managed to secure second place in the 4's... missing the top step by under 10 seconds. I knew I had left that 10 seconds out there, maybe by just not slowing down at that one point, definitely by having a better gear ratio. Live and learn... It was fitting a native Georgian stood on the top step in my mind anyways. Jimmy had an even tighter squeeze... He finished in third, under a half second behind second place. Still, a good showing for the Tennessee boys. The ladies of course absolutely dominated... sweeping the top step all around.

After my best attempt at re-fueling/hydrating it was time to return to the start line for the team time trial. Showing up fortunately had already nailed us the top spot on the podium, and at least I was more than a little happy that I wasn't going to have to chase or be chased again. We knew going in that Jimmy would be the stronger of us, so it would have to be up to him to do the larger share of the work. On the one hand you feel a little embarrassed that you can't do more while your buddy is suffering pulling and you're just tagging along, but since time is taken on the second man over the line it's not doing either of us any favors if I kill myself and have to totally limp home while he rides away.  I do the work I can for the first half of the race, we are on a 2 minute rotation and with a little help from the extra rest and the gracious downhill I'm able to help out at least a bit. As we close in on the halfway point I tell Jimmy I'm not going to be able to go much higher than 300 on the climbs, as I'm starting to feel the earlier efforts. At the turnaround Jimmy tells me he's feeling good...  As he takes his pull on the first gradual incline I almost lose contact... "DOWN" I feebly yell, our call signal for distress.  Jimmy takes the lead the majority of the return trip, and although it's certainly helpful to have a wheel in front of you to keep you motivated, it doesn't help nearly as much when you are climbing, as the drafting benefit isn't really there. I take some short pulls on the quick downhills and a couple of flats, but for the most part I'm just trying to keep my legs moving and not cramp up. A little past 5k Jimmy tells me to pull to the 3k sign and he'll get us home. It's hard to believe just how far 2k is on a bike until you're counting off mailboxes, trees, ruts in the road, whatever just to try to pass that time. The road finally straightens out into a false flat and at the end of it is a bright neon "3k" sign. Agonizingly slowly we creep past it and Jimmy takes over. Here the road pitches again pretty much all the way up to the finishing straight, and again I'm close to losing contact although it's clear by my computer that I'm not pushing all that hard. A little under 1k, the final uphill section and I stand up out of aero... a big mistake. My right leg immediately starts cramping. I sit back down and will myself to make a circle with both legs... it works well enough that I don't literally just stop and topple over. Finally we crest and can see the finish tent. It's a fairly long drag and again a slight false flat running up onto it... I give it everything I've got left and we stop the clock at 54:36. 

As we (well I at least) limp back to the car Jimmy suggests we return to the finish line to see the girls 4-person team finish. I agree and make it to the turn in the road downhill before rational thought strikes me "I'm not going up this hill again." I turn around and head back to the car... sorry girls. (They crushed everyone else without me seeing it anyways!) 

So our two man TT was slower than either of our individual efforts. Not unexpected given our fatigue, at least my own. Still, I felt like considering the increase in temperature and wind we put down a pretty solid time for our first venture into team time trialling. A special thanks to my teammate for pulling me along the course, especially while I was hurting.

Overall, It was a good day, very important for ironing out the details for TN States, where hopefully I can improve my podium positioning by a step.


Thanks to the Sponsors: Podium Sports Medicine, Visit Knoxville, The Feed, Harper Auto Square, Stoke Signal Socks, Yee-Haw Brewing Co. 

Mike Wyrosdick - Chattanooga 70.3

To say this was a big weekend for me would be an understatement.  I
was heading to Ironman Chattanooga to do my first Half distance triathlon
with a lot offamily and friends there to share in the moment; it was
lined up to be an epic long as the weather would cooperate on
race day.  

Not only was this a big weekend for me, it was also a big weekend
for the whole family, you see the end of May is when everything happens.
It's my oldestdaughter Kelsey's 23rd birthday (May 22nd); it's my wife
Katie and mines 24th wedding anniversary the same day (I still say Kelsey is
the best 1st anniversarypresent ever), and it's my youngest daughter
Brookes 19th birthday (May 27th); oh yeah and my birthday (May 26th).  So we
would go celebrate all these thingswhile also "squeezing in" a race.  

After celebrating Friday night with a nice dinner we called it quits
and made plans to get up early and hit the IronKids 1 mile run that Marvin
would do withbig sis Kelsey.  About halfway through the run he looked at
Kelsey and said we should've done the half mile race.  He's a sprinter.
Remember he's Haitian notKenyan.

When the run finished we decided I would go check-in and get my
packet while they checked out the village, little did I know they were
secretly buying mybirthday presents.  A cool beer tumbler, visor,
shirt and some other cool novelty items.

After getting all checked-in I hooked back up with them and we
planned on heading back to the hotel pool for a swim and some hot tub time.
I checked out mynew goggles and they worked great.  Now it was time
to take a spin and then run afterwards, all coordinated around the bike
check-in and the athletes meeting,  while The Fam hit the discovery
museum with Marvin.  

While dropping off the bike at check-in I ran into Jennifer Powell
Parker and Sarah Lamont.  I had gotten behind schedule and wanted to run
longer but theyconvinced me that I should go to the meeting and not
skip it to go run.  So I went, and as I was leaving I see the two of them
walking up with bags in hand.   I asked where they went and they said "we
had more important things to do you know"; shopping!!!

The final spin and run went well and it was time to meet up with The
Fam again to do our favorite thing, EAT.  One more family meal, the pre-game
meal wasfinally picked and the winner was Mellow Mushroom for pizza
and maybe a beer (don't tell my coach).  After eating we went back to the
hotel and I began toprep for the big day by getting all my stuff
prepared for the morning and T1 and T2 and boom I'm ready to go.  About the
time I finished after a beautiful twodays the dreaded weather we all knew
was coming finally arrived.  It looked awful, I checked the radar, even
worse.  What had been a lot of fun up until thenjust become a
nightmare.  I'll admit I was kinda bummed, but as Katie prayed that night
for my safety and the other athletes safety and that the weather notbe a
factor, I felt a sudden calm about everything and not anxious.

I slept well and when I woke up I was pleasantly surprised to see
that the rain had subsided and the winds had calmed. Hallelujah!!!  Brooke
was up with meand planned on driving me down to the drop off for
transition.  At breakfast we met a young man from Sweden via Atlanta who was
going to walk down totransition, over a mile, but I convinced him to ride
with us.  Good thing he did otherwise he would've missed the race (I'll

As Brooke dropped us we wished each other luck and parted ways, and
as I approached transition I could hear them announce 15 minutes until
transition closes?? WHAT THE HECK?  15 minutes..that must be wrong, I've
got 45 minutes according to my faulty calculations.  The time I had recalled
was 6:45 that it closed not6:15.  Crap, I was all of a sudden in a rush
and flustered.  I didn't get my T1 stuff set out, my bikes shoes, my socks
(I always wear socks), my glasses,  etc....none of my food.  I quickly
grabbed my wetsuit and goggles(which I remembered at the last second) and
was ushered out by the transition staff...My swimcap I didn't have my
swim cap. I was in a rush and forgot it in my wetsuit bag, which was in the
transition area.  They would not let me back in.  I slothedover to the
buses and got on and took the first seat inside the door; the next two faces
I saw; the duo of JPP and Sarah Lamont.  They took the seat directly
behind me and we talked, they calmed me down it was good seeing their
smiling faces and hanging out with them.

We would soon see more familiar faces in the form of Katie Dotson
and Renee Black.  They snapped a photo JPP/SL and me.  Thanks for being
there team.

As the swim was about to start I saw Paul Horton, one of my favorite
45-49 yr old age groupers.  He quickly introduced me to Andy Jones(more on
Andy later)  and Jim Hall.  Good group of guys.

As we waited for the swim start they announced the upriver portion
was cancelled that the current was too much.  As we walked down the ramp I
wa ready to go.  
I hit the water and started churning.  Everything went great and
before I knew it I was getting out.  I saw and heard my family yelling my
name and cheeringfrom the crowd and it made me excited to be here.

SWIM TIME: 18:34  

On to T1...I lost a ton of time here looking for my socks, where
were my socks, dang it I can't find them.  Finally got them.  I finally got
them and my shoesand my helmet and glasses and I was off and heading
to the bike out (After 8 long minutes, not acceptable just plain awful).  

Finally off and rolling on the bike I began to pick off people very
quickly.  Although I had 1 guy that I would go back and forth with for the
next 32miles (until I dropped my water bottle making a transfer
from an empty to a full one from behind my seat).  He was as sad as I was as
I heard him say "oh noooway man", as I slowed to stop and retreive
the rolling cylinder.  We had pushed each other up to that point and it had
kept our paces up.  I leaned the bikeagainst a mailbox while I
frantically ran around looking for my bottle.  While I was stopped Andy
Jones came up and as he passed by asked me if I was Ok? andif I needed
anything like a tube or something? did I flat?  He was concerned enough to
ask just a couple hours after meeting for the first time and risk hisrace
to see if he could assist me.  This says a lot about him as a person.

I was off and rolling again and back to doing my most favorite thing
to do on a bike tri course...pass people.  Another mistake, while on the
bike I wouldonly take in two bottles of fluids and two gels packs.  This
course was awesome though.

BIKE TIME:  2:27:36

On to T2...another slow transition; if I cleaned those up I would've
broke 5 hours, which was my goal initially.

Once again, I was spurred on by the cheers of my family and friends
as I exited the run to start my first ever venture into running double digit
miles.   The most I had evere done beofre today was 9.5 roughly.

Now that I was on to my achilles heel, pun intended we would see how
things went.  After high fives with The Fam to keep me reved up I hit the
first hill outof transition an knew that it was going to be a grind.  I
felt my hamstrings start to twitch and remembered that feeling just before
both of them cramped on aprevious brick.  Yep not too much after that
both of them seized up and had me straight-legging it while trying to
continue to walk.  I reached in my pocketand grabbed this thing
called a HOT SHOT that had been included in my goodie bag.  I proceeded to
slug this down while tasted like a shot ofFireball and
I don't like Fireball.  I began to run again and made it about 100 yds
before I leaned up against the guardrail and hurled.  I glanced up to see
a lady running by, as I continued to dry heave, that had a major blowout and
had I not just puked I certainly would've after seeing (and smelling her run
by).   A fellow racer with a good sense of humor pat me on the shoulder and
said atleast you didn't $h!t yourself.

I laughed cause that's all I could do; then I started to run again
and a strange thing happened, no more issues with the hammys or claves or
quads.  I was offand running again.  I got to mile 4 or so and passed
by a large aide area with everything inlcuding porto-pottis, because I
didn't need to use one at thetime.  Too bad I suddenly got the urge about
3 minutes after passing this area cause there wasn't another close enough
for me according to the way I suddenlyfelt.  Oh man this was bad, I was
about to like that lady I was smelling earlier, nasty!!!  I did all I could
to squeeze my cheeks and run at the same time,  this is hard to do, all
while trying to look like a normal person.  

I finally got to another set of porto-pottis, thank goodness, but
wait, what, I don't have to go it's actually only gas, I could've done that
on the coursehad I not been afraid it was more.  Get your butt up and get
back out and keep running man lets go.  

Got out started running again and passed the split for the first
lap.  I got to high five my son and wave to the Fam and hear some
encouraging words fromthem like "are you really that slow a runner"?  I
know I am.  I was off and running hard again after that boost, but wait, it
wasn;t just gas, it was Back.

2 miles up the road was going to be the closest place to go; could I
make it?  YES I did.  At last, relief.  As my son Marvin would say, "I
didn't go #1 or #2that was a #22".  You don't want to ever go #22.
WHOA!!! I got out and the next 5 miles were like a breeze.

I would see Katie and Renee again at the top of a nasty little hill
cheering people on, that was a needed boost after that climb.  

I started to realize that short of a disaster I was going to finish
my first half, which was goal number 1; I knew it was close but I was sure
my ship hadsailed on my second goal.  I wanted to break 5 hours.  I
knew I had to just keep churning and after I came across that wooden bridge
and made a left turn Iwas getting pumped up.  

I came down the last hill towards the finish and heard Brooke first
yell way to go Dad, then I saw Katie and Marvin and my triathlon buddy
Kelsey and Istarted to get a little emotional after I had crossed the
finish line.  I was so thankful they were there to share in this with me and
to genuinley beexcited for me to complete the race and we all
hugged.  It was a great day and my main joy came from having them there with

RUN TIME  2:08:39
Rank: 586 Overall 64 Division  


Thanks to Katie and Renee and Derek for being on the course and
thanks to Dr. Hicks and Nick Morgan for answering all my texts and phone
calls about what todo about anything I had questions on, and any others
for being out there; if I failed to mention you I'm sorry.  Thanks to Dr.
Sprouse and Podium for puttingthis team together and for the sponsorship
and I look forward to the rest of the season.  Oh yeah, first race blog, so
all others will be much shorter if Iever do one again.