Kimberly Hicks

Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga

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I am stunned and excited to report that I completed my Chattanooga 70.3 on Sunday.  It was a major feat for me as I hadn’t been racing in 2 1/2 years, had a few injuries over the last 2 months and a bike wreck 6 weeks ago causing me to stop running for a month total during training. And lastly, I had Bronchitis the week before the race and really thought I wouldn’t be able to do it.  2 days before the race, my lungs began to clear and  I decided to give it a try.

Chattanooga is an absolutely fantastic race though it is far from easy.  I loved having the Podium team cheerleaders : Rene Black, Mike Wyrosdick there for moral support. And another perk was a  photo op with the winner Heather Jackson! 

The swim is perfect with a self seeded rolling start so able to avoid the dreaded swim trampling.  I kept a steady pace and felt confident the entire swim. The current was turned off so we had little to no assistance there and the course was a tad short at 1900 meters.  However, my average swim pace 1:31/100 is by far faster than any previous IM race with an overall swim time of 29:27.

Next up, the bike!  It was a beautiful rolling course with quite a few steep tough hills.  My new Trek Speed concept with a bike fit by Dr. Kevin Sprouse didn’t disappoint.  I was able to maintain a 21mph average with an overall time of 2:40:20.  I felt strong and well prepared for the course and enjoyed powering past as many ladies as possible.  My overall bike was the 4th fastest in my age group.

The run was my nemesis!  I had the potential to place in the top 4 if I could just hang on to my normal training pace.  I began strong with 8:19-8:30 pace the first 3 miles but then sadly the gut attack began.  4 porta-potty stops, lots and lots of heat and humidity at 88 degrees caused a dramatic slowing.  Next came the hills too.  I have confidence that with more run training and no porta-potty stops, I can tough through a run like this in the future.  However, this Sunday, I sadly got one of my slowest half IM splits with a 2:06:07 @ 9:38 min/mile average.  

The end result however was a 6th overall place in my age group, a 5:23:42 my new Personal Record by 12 minutes!! It was so fun to once again be racing with my Hubby.  I am so pumped to race more this season and am grateful for the Podium team support, Dr. Sprouse’s expertise to help guide the way, and my personal coach, Matt Dixon from Purple Patch Fitness. 

2018 Here we come! 

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Katie Dotson

Where do I put my bike? Where do I get that thingy for my ankle? I forgot my run shoes.  Will you help me with my wetsuit? Wait, how did you get those numbers on your arms? 

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These were just a few of the questions I received the morning of Lakeside of the Smokies.  We had multiple team mates and friends taking their first sprint triathlon and Mike (my husband) and I were overseeing many last minute race details for more than just ourselves.  

Race day was a bit more chaotic than normal,  shorter than typical warmup and an unsettled wetsuit.  

And the gun went off,  er well sort of... it malfunctioned for the ladies start 😂

I'm choosing to overlook the swim.  

First transition went well with only a minor cramp getting out of my wetsuit. 

The bike portion of this race is my favorite!! Rolling hills, a few challenging climes, unmatched scenery, views of the lake and mountains, and more. I had fun, stayed on my hydration and rolled into transition ready to run. 

Like a typical run, it took about a mile to get my legs in the run groove. If you come across me that first mile, I'm usually quiet and focused and my face probably says it all (it's a good thing I don't play poker). Then a switch flips and I feel a bit more human. I pushed on keeping the gap between myself and the runner behind me... and I laid out my plan if I heard them closing in on me.  I rounded the last few turns and finished with a smile.  And hands on my knees.  

I was able to cheer in my two friends finishing their first triathlon. The smiles on their faces said it all... "I actually just did that... like a whole triathlon!" Best part of the day. 

Turned out to be a good race for me too.  I didn't realize I took third female overall until they passed my age group with awards and my name wasn't called! 

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You should invite a friend to join you for your next event.  It's worth the investment (and I know my first time friends are already looking for a second chance to chase that finish line feeling).

Derek Tingle - Lakeside Sprint

Welcome back to another episode of Tingle Does a Thing Then Writes About the Thing. This week’s Thing was the Lakeside of the Smokies Sprint Triathlon. It was a good day. When I finished it was warm (I’m not allowed to say “hot” because I complained about the cold all winter). So, it was warm.. And I was glad I hadn’t opted for the Olympic distance race. But I’ll bet you’re reading this because you want to hear about how I did with the swimming and biking and running. If you’re not here for that, then stop reading now. If you are, well here’s how it went:

Again, in the interest of not getting repetitive, we’ll jump in after the Pop-Tarts and talk about the race. I got to the race about 90 minutes prior to start. I racked my bike next to Speed Demon Bill Beecher in hopes that some of his fast would leech into my bike and shoes while they sat next to each other. I chatted with Bill and other friends as we got ready to start the day. It was a wetsuit race so about 20 minutes before go time I got the wetsuit on (correctly the first time today) and headed to the water to get a brief warmup. The sun was peeking over the lake and I knew once we made the first turn we would be swimming directly into the sun. I also knew that most likely there would be at least a few people around me so I hoped that would keep me somewhat headed in the right direction. After a brief race briefing the countdown was on and we were off. I went hard toward the first turn and stayed right with the lead pack. After rounding the first buoy, sure enough, blinding sunlight smashed my eye holes every time I tried to sight. I caught a glimpse of the next yellow turn buoy so I headed that way. I had Mike D next to me along the back straight. When we hit the second buoy I made the turn and headed for the next yellow buoy. It wasn’t there. I was confused but for some reason I thought if I kept swimming it would magically appear. Finally I came to my senses and realized the “turn” wasn’t actually a turn, but more of a “line adjustment”. I blurbled an obscenity into the lake and turned and headed back toward the course. I got back in the mix at the ACTUAL next sighting buoy and turned up my effort in an attempt to get back in the mix. I passed a couple people and finally headed to shore after rounding the last turn buoy. As my hand grazed the bottom I pulled myself up and ran toward transition. I ended up adding about 60m to the 750m swim with my detour but still came out of the water in 13:23 with a 1:31/100yd avg.

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There was a long run up to T1 but that gave me time to get the wetsuit stripped down to my waist. After getting to my rack, I got the suit off easily then installed my headband, glasses and helmet on my head, my shoes on my feet and (after running the short distance to bike mount) my butt on my bike. The bike course climbs steeply out of transition before heading down to the highway where I put the power down. I knew I had made up a few spots with a quick T1 and after making a couple passes on the road I I knew I was in second with Bill ahead of me. On the back side of the bike course there were at least 6 dogs running loose in different spots. I got chased by a couple of Terriorists and barked at by some big grumpy fluffers and befuddled a big brown boxer but we all went our separate ways with no incidents. When I made the turn to head back toward T2 I still hadn’t seen Bill so I knew he was ahead of me I just didn’t know how far and if anyone else was in front of him. I heard My Manda yelling “you caught Bill! You caught Bill!” I knew I had put in a monster bike, 43:29 and a 21mph avg which was good enough for the fastest bike split of the day! I’ll take that!

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I knew Bill wasn’t far ahead and I was fighting for an overall podium spot so I made short work of T2 and headed out on the run. I looked up as I ran out and Bill was probably 400m ahead of me. I knew it was going to be unlikely I would catch him but my legs were feeling good so I decided I would try to match pace and keep him in sight over the first part of the run and then see what I had in the tank for the second half. I held that same distance up through the first turn. We were running 7:20’s. I new I didn’t have much more than that at the moment so I hoped he was hurting too. At the turn he saw me and we exchanged mutual “Good work!” encouragement. It was also at that point he realized I wasn’t far behind. This is the point at which he engaged a running gear that I didn’t have at that particular moment and started to pull away. I tried to close the gap but it just wasn’t going to happen today. I knew I had a good gap on 3rd so I just held my pace around 7:10 and brought it home for a 2nd overall on the day. Run split was a 22:02 with a 7:15/mi average pace. Solid.

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Lakeside was the first race of the year that I could compare data to see how my new training plan with my new coach is going. Sure enough, I made some major gains on this race cutting 3 minutes off my total time from last year coming in with a 1:20:44. I made the most of that in the water (even with my detour) and the run. I’m happy with how things are going but there’s still a LOT of work to do before OLY Nats and Kiawah later this year. Thanks, as always, to all you amazing people that support me: Podium Sports Medicine, LB Endurance, ORR Cycling Carbon Wheels, Stoke Signal, Cedar Bluff Cycles, Healthsource Chiropractic Knoxville, Infinit Nutrition, Harper Auto Square, and my family, friends and teammates. You guys are seriously the best!

Doug Slater - Pistol Ultra & Lakeside Olympic

These were both new experiences. Before Pistol, I'd never set foot beyond 26 miles 385 yards. Before Lakeside, I'd never participated in a triathlon. Now I've run 50 miles and raced one-quarter of an Iron Man.

 On the “podium” at 4:30am after running 50 miles

On the “podium” at 4:30am after running 50 miles

In both events, my expectations were exceeded. In the marathon, I am used to cruising at 6:50min/mi with a heart rate of 155. At Lakeside, I averaged the same HR at 8:00min/mi, and the exertion felt like I was moving 6:00mi/mi at 170. Triathlon is hard. Nevertheless, I finished in 2:36:04, placing second in my age group. Not surprisingly, the run was my strongest leg. I sincerely appreciated the cheering from Mike and Katie Dotson and Caleb Johnson, the pre-race advice and prep from Jack McAfee, and the sweet support of my girlfriend Abby.

At Pistol, I ran 50 miles in 8:31:54, placing first overall. I didn't know I was in first place until I was told after finishing. I told people at the start, I didn't mind if I didn't finish. Dramatically, the next finisher was only a minute behind me. 

Pistol for me represented the end of a long journey, coming right on the heels of three years of training to qualify for Boston. Lakeside, on the other hand, represented the beginning of a journey which should take me at least through Iron Man Chattanooga on September 30.

 

Kimberly Hicks - Hammer Sprint

Back into the Tri Life and loving it!  My first Tri since October 2015!  My absolute favorite part was seeing all my old friends.  I had so much fun and was filled with excitement before the race ever started.  These Co-exercise addicts are just a fun bunch of folks.  Now, onto the race results.  

I was delighted to earn 3rd overall female in the Sprint Triathlon, however It was far from my best performance.  Why??  Because the Swim was an outrageous mass start with men and women in one heat.  In addition to that, the first turn buoy was less than 100 yards away (actually I think it was only 50 yards from the start).  The end results was a mass of people turning around the same buoy at approximately the same time!!  I sadly was in a direct line with the buoy so was unable to swing out wide to avoid the crowd.  I started strong and fast, empowered by my new found swim strength, I was ready to show the Tri world my new found love of swimming.  However, so did every male in the sprint race.  I was quickly hit, kicked and run over by all the huge men!!!  I was so flustered, mad and frankly felt like I would drown so I raised my hand and was rescued by a Kayak.  I then proceeded to wait until the entire mass of swimmers passed then began again.  After another 100 yards, my wet suit felt like a tourniquet around my neck so AGAIN,  I waved down a kayak and hung on while they unzipped my wetsuit which then basically became a DRAG SUIT!  

LOL- what a crazy beginning of a race.  But, I put on my big girl attitude, threw on my helmet and hopped on my new Tri bike and rode like the wind.  My goal was to pass every girl in that darn race.  Boy was I determined. I  Almost succeeded in passing everyone except the top 4 girls.

Next came the run, I saw the leaders as I biked into transition and knew my chances of winning were slim to none.  I started out with great speed but quickly settled into a more manageable pace.  I was able to pass the 3rd place female at about mile 1.5 but the top 2 girls just had too much of a lead.

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My conclusion- I learned that I need to learn the swim waves prior to 50 seconds before race start, then strategically place myself so that I won’t be cornered against the buoy and overtaken by masses of assertive swimmers.  I still have to say that I loved the experience as a whole and am so pumped to do my first 70.3 in 2 years on May 20!!  Chattanooga, here we come.  

Kimberly Hicks

Renee Black - Hammer Olympic

Hammer Time!

I once again decided to open my triathlon race season with the hammer olympic distance triathlon in Lenoir City, Tennessee. Typically the first race of the season is a time to clear away the cobwebs and get back into the flow of racing. But this race had an asterisk. I had ended my 2017 season at Age Group Nationals. I finished mid pack in my age group. That left me with a strong desire to work hard in the out-season and get back there in 2018. But there was a problem, I hadn’t qualified for 2018. Hello asterisk*

Race morning. I woke up before my alarm went off ready to tackle the day. I sat up, looked at my phone, and quickly realized it was 1:05 AM. Oops. Probably should try and go back to sleep for a bit longer. Three hours later then alarm went off and I was ready to go.

I was the first one to arrive at the race site. I’ve never done that before. Can we say anxious much? I got a prime transition spot, checked in, and went through the usual pre-race warm ups without a hitch. I made my way to water’s edge to listen to pre-race announcements while simultaneously preforming the ever so seductive wet suit struggle dance. By this time the hubs was there ready to clap, cheer, snap all the photos and hold all the things. I gave him a big neoprene scented hug and slowly made my way into the 67 degree water. 

I’m a cold water weenie so when I first got in I was not a happy camper. Everyone around me was hanging out in the water, having casual conversations and I’m over here trying to blow bubbles and control my shivering. After a couple of deep breaths I dove in and made my way to the first buoy for a swim warm up. After that, no more shivering! Yay! 

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The race fields for the sprint and the Olympic were small. So, instead of the typical separation of men and women we all went together in one big mass start. The sprinters went off first and I made my way to the yellow boom. Surprisingly, the start was pretty uneventful. I took a few seconds to let the fast dudes go and started my race. The swim to the first buoy felt great. I felt strong and very much in control. No real contact of any kind. Then I started having trouble sighting. I found myself swimming off course. I was losing my rhythm and my focus. By the time I got close to shore I really couldn’t see anyone in front of me. Here I was in very familiar territory. One of the last ones out of the water with a lot of ground to make up.

T1 was smooth and I was more than happy to be on my bike. I am very familiar with this course. Lots of rollers and unpredictable wind. Seven miles into a solid ride I did something I haven’t done since the first time I clipped into a road bike 7 years ago… I dropped my chain. I quickly pulled over, calmly put my chain back on and got going again. On the way back to T2 the wind began to pick up. I backed off my gear a bit and settled into a higher cadence. I pulled into T2 having made up some ground and ready to run. I wouldn’t realize until after the race I had just PR’d that bike by over three and a half minutes.

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T2 was quick and I was off on the run. It was a cool and overcast day. Excellent running conditions. Right as I started my run I was greeted with footsteps. A gentlemen pulled up next to me. He had just finished the bike as well and was headed out for the 2 loop course. We seemed to be keeping similar pace and for the next 3 miles we ran together step for step. As we were going out for lap two he picked up his pace. Looking back I should have as well. I didn’t meet my goal of negative splitting the 2 loops, but I still managed to improve my run time from last year! My 2 goals going into this race were to do well enough to requalify and improve my overall time. I am proud to say I was successful on both accounts! 

This is my sixth season of triathlon. I continue to enjoy the process of improving. Even more I enjoy watching others around me improve and gain confidence. I am learning to not get too bogged down by the lows and not too over-inflated with the highs. This out-season has made friendships sweeter and bonds have been strengthened. If you will allow it, triathlon and its awesome community will change you for the better. 

A big thank you to my husband, family, friends, team, coach and sponsors for all their support and encouragement! 

Knocking the Rust Off - XTERRA Ft. Yargo

After a long off season and and a slew of duathlons, it was finally time to get triathlon season underway at XTERRA Fort Yargo. I’ve spent quite a bit more time this winter on the road and, if I’m honest, I’ve neglected my mountain bike. I’ve ridden the mountain bike maybe 3 or 4 times since Christmas. You could say I was a bit... rusty. I was a bit concerned at how I would get on since I rely on my bike leg heavily and, while I knew my bike fitness was coming nicely, there’s a whole other side of mountain bike racing that is just a feeling. There’s a feel for the trail and a feel for the bike. It’s not something that can be taught, but more something you gain over the miles of riding your bike on dirt. It’s knowing how your tires will react to differing soil types and how your suspension feels going over varying roots and rocks. There’s another aspect to riding fast on a mountain bike that is a little less ambiguous that centers around being in touch with the trails. As you ride more and more in the woods, especially at different venues, you begin to develop an understanding of how trails work. You can feel, instinctively, where they are going to go next and what they are going to ride like. After taking some time off the trails, it was these things I knew that I would be lacking so I knew I would need to both swim and run strong to make up some time. So, let’s see how it went down, shall we?

Having camped in the park the night before, race morning was pretty easy. I decided to go ahead and pack up the roof tent and drive to the other side of the park instead of riding. Then, I’d just head home after the race. Transition opened at 6:30 with a race start at 8am. I woke up a little before 5, had my Pop Tarts, got the tent secured and then went to change and do my pre race paperwork. I got to transition around 6:20 and some others were already setting up. I unloaded the bike and found a pretty decent rack spot. The sun was beginning to peek over the lake and it made for an absolutely beautiful sight. There’s just something almost religious about being in nature at sunrise.

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Water temp was announced in the low 60’s so it would DEFINITELY be a wetsuit race. I expected it would be but, even still, I neglected to do any training at all in my wetsuit leading up. Looking back I’m pretty sure it had been over a year since I had been in that wetsuit. With 30 minutes until go time, I got suited up... sort of. I worked the legs of my suit on then as I stood up I realized that it was backward. Like I said, rusty. Second try was a success and happily my suit fit! I made my way to the water and hopped in with the others doing their warm ups. I splashed around for a bit and let the cold water seep into my suit while I put my face in the water to acclimate. I took a deep breath and dove forward into the cold. A few hundred yards later and I was acclimated pretty nicely. My lungs opened up and my breathing relaxed. I turned back and headed to shore. The RD went over the pre race instructions and then it was time. I lined up at the front of the pack and on the horn, tri season was under way.

I went hard off the start, following the toes and bubbles of the guy in front of me. After a few hundred he started to pull away and I settled in to a hard but comfortable pace. Standing on the shore the 1⁄2 mile advertised swim looked REALLY long. In the water, it felt even longer. Stll, my pace was good and I was very comfortable in the wetsuit. Around the final buoy, I was holding just off the lead pack. I could feel the fatigue in my arms and shoulders from the suit but I was still swimming well. I hit the shore and pulled myself up out of the water. According to Garmin, the 1⁄2 mile swim ended up being just under 1300yds. Still I came out in 19:14 with a 1:31/100yd avg pace. Solid. Time for the bike.

T1 was a bit slow as I fumbled a bit with my wetsuit. Wasn’t too bad, although as I rode away from transition I noticed something was a bit... off. I couldn’t really hear. I freaked out briefly until I realized that my ear plugs were still in. Ahem, rusty. I removed them and stuffed them in my kit pocket and pushed on into the woods. The bike was rough. I never got any rhythm and things just felt unnatural. Still, I made up for it somewhat by having a decent level of fitness and just powering through. I got passed a couple times which is, honestly, pretty rare. My buddy and XTERRA regular Caleb passed me a mile or so into the ride. This isn’t new, my swim is better than his but he is crazy strong on the bike and run. I held his wheel for a bit until he broke a spoke and stopped to fix it. A few minutes later, he passed me again... until his chain came off and I passed him. Once again, a little bit further, he passed me... until his derailleur broke and I passed him for the last time. *side note: He ended up finishing the race, and only several minutes behind me and was able to laugh about it showing a great deal of mental toughness and resolve through some terrible luck.* Rolling back into T2, I was actually excited to hit the run. I’ve been working heavily on my run and I’ve put in some good performances in the duathlons. I was very curious to see how that would translate to the trail. Bike time was 47 minutes by Garmin and the 10 mile course registered slightly short. Avg speed 11mph. Again, pretty rusty but not bad. I definitely need to get some more time on the trails before XTERRA Oak Mountain next month.

T2 went a bit more smoothly than T1. I headed out of transition following two other guys. I passed one of them pretty straight away and set my sights on the other. He was holding a strong pace and I knew that I likely wouldn’t be able to pass him but I could try and pace with him. I kept him in sight for the nearly 3 miles of the 4.5mile run. Eventually he pulled away on one of the climbs and I was left to push on my own. My legs were very heavy but I was able to will them to turn over. With a little less than .5 mile to go I heard footsteps and looked back to find Jake hot on my heels. He and I had some great battles last year before he went down with a health issue at XTERRA Whitewater and I was very happy to see him back and racing strong. “Where’d you come from!?”, I yelled. “Dunno, found my feet”, he said. I tried to hold him off but he was too strong for me and I let him go. I held on his heels and I was hoping to catch him on a sprint to the finish but he kicked with a couple hundred meters to go and I lost touch. Props to him on a blazing run! Looking at my stats, though, I am EXTREMELY happy with my run as well. I put in my fastest XTERRA run to date holding a 7:56 pace over what Garmin measured as a 4.15 mile course.

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All in all, everything came together pretty well and I was good enough on the day to come home just out of the top 10 (in 11th) overall with an Age Group win. I will say that I’m both satisfied with the performance and excited with where my fitness is at this point in the season. I feel like I’m running better than I ever have and my bike and run are both coming along nicely.

As always, I’m ever thankful for the support of my family, my team, my coach and my sponsors. You guys are the best! Next up will be Lakeside of the Smokies Sprint on May 12 followed by XTERRA Oak Mountain on the 19th.

Derek Tingle Earth Day Duathlon

It is the athlete’s responsibility to know the course.  We’ve all heard it from race directors and I agree but I also think it’s the directors responsibility to mark the course well enough to be followed.  Why would I start a race report out this way?  Take it from me children, there is not a whole lot more disappointing way to end a race than knowing your physical performance was not the thing that cost you a potential win, but rather a stupid COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE error. Would you like to know more about what I’m on about here?  Good, now put on your learning caps and read on.

I had not planned to race Sunday’s Earth Day Duathlon.  I had planned to show up and run and bike and run but I hadn’t even put it on my schedule or my race plan.  It was just going to be a workout.  When I saw that one of my racing buddies, Daeton was going to be there, well that plan went out the window.  Daeton is a stellar young athlete and on his way to many great things and I was really excited to go head to head with him at this thing.  I don’t like to be THAT GUY but I knew from looking at the extremely small field registered for this one that he and I would be the ones racing for the win.  The tale of the tape was stacked fairly evenly.  Daeton is the better runner but I knew that I had an advantage on the bike (even if that was only because I was on my TT bike and he races on a road bike).   I knew the race would be won on the bike for me.  I had to limit my losses on the first run, put as much time into him on the bike as possible and then hope it was enough to keep him from catching me on run number 2.

The race course was not posted before the event so I had no way to study it before hand and had to rely on the pre race instructions and course markings to get me by.  In the pre race briefing, the directions were given.  I thought I understood the course and figured, also, that the markings would lead me if I had a doubt…. 

The course started at Knoxville Center Mall and the runs were both on mall property.  We lined up and on the gun it was GO.  Daeton took off and I tried to stay on his heels.  Looking down after a couple hundred meters my watch showed a 4:55 pace.  WOAH!  Not sustainable for me so I backed it down a bit and let him gap me slightly.  It was only roughly a mile on the first run so I still kept it pinned pretty hard.  It was supposed to be an out and back first run but as we passed .5 mile there was no turn around sign.  We kept running.  A little further, still no sign.  Daeton looked back with a questioning look.   I yelled “keep going” we’ll just do a lap.  He nodded and we kept going.  I glanced back and the rest of the field was following us.  OK, good enough.  We came into T1 at just over a mile on the Garmin.  I yelled over at friend who was helping the race, “there’s no turn?!”.  She nodded.  Daeton was probably 40 seconds or so ahead of me at this point.  Not bad.  First run clocked at 1.14 miles and a 6:15/mile pace.

I had a pretty solid T1 and was out on the bike in no time.  I made my way out of the parking lot to the road and put the hammer down.  Before long I caught and passed Daeton.  Now it was just a matter of keeping the iron to the fire and putting as much time as possible into him.  I had a great bike and rolled back into the parking lot with a good lead.  As I approached transition, a volunteer asked me how many laps I had done (of the parking lot).  I told her 1.  She said go around again.  I KNEW that was not right but race brain took over so I started to pedal off before I hear the race director telling me to come back.  I turned and headed back in.  This cost me a good 10 to 15 seconds.  I was a bit miffed.  As I came into T2 I asked, “2 laps on the this run, right?” I heard a yes as I ran out of T2… the wrong way.  I was supposed to hang a right and do two clockwise laps.  What I did was run out and follow the first run course.  I realized this when about halfway around, I met Daeton… going the other way.  We both looked at each other confused.  Which one of us was right?!  We both kept going and I was almost back to the start of lap two.  The RD ran out and told me I was wrong but to just .5 miles and then turn and go back the way I came.  I did, however, on the way back I was directed back toward finish even though I had only gone 2 miles instead of 3.  I was then corrected again and sent out for another lap.  At this point, I thought about quitting.  Part of me thought, however, that they might just consider scoring by time since there was a very obvious break down in race markings and course direction so I kept going.  I finished my last lap and came in to see Daeton already across the line.  I finished the 2nd run with 3.13 miles at a 6:43 pace.  

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I confirmed with Daeton that I had, in fact, run nearly .2 miles longer than he did.  Obviously, I was (and still am) extremely frustrated with the way things played out considering I had a very solid performance but at the end of the day, it was my own fault for not knowing the course.  As frustrating as things like that are, however, I understand that things happen.  I have done many races put on by this RD and her events are typically VERY well marked and she does a stellar job.  This was just a case of my race brain taking over and there being a breakdown in communication in getting the course set up.  It happens.  The only thing that I can do is learn from this experience and use that knowledge to help me be a better racer in the future.  At the end of the day, I still crossed the line 2nd overall and because my distances were in line, I was allowed to keep my position even though I technically didn’t run the correct course.   

Thanks as always to my team, coach, sponsors and family.  Next up: XTERRA Ft. Yargo! 

Mike Wyrosdick - Road Race, Criterium, Trideltathon

ORV RR and CRIT and TRIDELTATHON

Better late than never . . .  

The ORV Cat 4 RR on Saturday was 50 miles of fun mixed with some pain.  Road racing and Crits are very different from triathlons.  Your efforts are more like bursts of wattage and intense HR spikes throughout the race.  Typically as you get into the higher categories the more organized teams become involved in how the race goes.  In ORV there were two teams that each had at least 4 members apiece in Cat 4.  Each of these teams would send guys on attacks throughout the entire race.  If you as a solo rider think one of these may stick you have to answer the efforts or be forced to sit in and hope the group can work together to reel in the breakaway.  I chose to answer the attacks every time one was made being that I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be in a break.  Which on about mile 20 of lap 1 happened.  Me and one rider from I AM RACING went off the front and were gapping the field by about 15-20 seconds and pulling away.  We were coming to the feed zone and at the main intersection before it he inexplicably turned right.  He would later say the marshall was flagging him that way?  Well it was now me by myself since I stayed straight and I knew I couldn’t hold off the group by myself so I dialed the effort back to settle back in with the group. 

I had just burned a lot of matches during my efforts with him when we were pulling away and as soon as the group got to me about 5-6 riders attacked.  I tried my best to stick to one of their wheels but they pulled away and once we hit Dickey Valley Climb for the second time my lungs and legs were starting to revolt.  I pushed through it and after the climb the damage was done.  Not only had the breakaway dropped me but now me and two others were 45 seconds off the back of the main peloton and 1 minute and a half off the lead group.  Here’s where the fun starts.  I don’t’ ever give up or mail it in so I continued to ride hard.  It was ironic that it was me and a guy from I AM who had blocked me earlier and put a nice elbow into me as I pushed my way past him on an earlier attack I had answered from one of his teammates.  So now it was me, him and a junior who probably weighed 95 lbs (not exaggerating).  We started to work to reel in some folks, only me and I AM were taking turns pulling.  We picked up another rider about a mile up the road.  Then we saw a couple of more guys and proceeded to gather them in as well, my buddy Rodrigo from Harper was in this group.  We now had 6 guys to work with, however they were all gassed and nobody was able to help pull.  It was up to me and I AM cycling guy.  We took the hard over 90 degree right hand turn that turns uphill and it was back to just Me, I AM, Rodrigo and the Jr. everyone else we picked up died on that uphill after the turn.  However, it was at this time that I AM tells me he’s done his legs are toast, as did Rodrigo.  I said OK lets see what you’re made of to myself.  I wasn’t ready to mail it in and said lets go catch these guys, we had cut into their lead and had it down to 30 seconds but time was running out.  I decided to bury myself and around the next turn I got a glimpse of them heading up a hill and around the corner.  That was all the motivation I needed. 

A couple of times the guy from I AM would say he was sorry he couldn’t do anything to help; I just told him to hang on for the ride that we were going to catch that group.  I didn’t realize at the time but the group had all come back together and that was everyone except one rider who stayed off the front.  We came up to the left turn at the main intersection and had about ¼ of a mile left to go to catch them.  We pushed harder and Rodrigo and I AM found the legs to help a little to get that final gap closed.  Right at the final right turn that was the finish we caught them.  As we rocketed up the hill now with the group I was excited to see what would happen the last 500M.  I was now 3rd wheel and set up really nicely for a good finish.  Sometimes you want your body to do things and it doesn’t want to.  I stood up to go and my quads said NO.  They locked up and I could just sit there and watch I AM, Rodrigo and the Junior all have top 10 finishes after being off the back for a good part of  Lap 2.  I’m okay with the finish.  Multiple times a couple of the guys thanked me for pulling us back to them.  As I looked at some of the efforts after the race I noticed one thing very different from most of my fellow racers.  My wattage 278W for the race (50.4) was hi compared to most others.  I AM was at 220W and Rodrigo was at 227W 2nd place was at 236W.  My best guess is that I burned way to much effort at the start answering attacks and getting in the break and then chasing back to the group.  Bottom Line I had fun.

Trideltathon Triathlon

Kelsey came into town for this one from Birmingham for the first race of the season.  I’ll be honest I was very unmotivated after the RR the day before and the weather but I still enjoy racing so I was there.  The morning started as planned, but as soon as we got to campus it started raining harder, arghhh.  We saw a lot of friends and teammates right of the bat; Katie and Mike D. were there and we set up really close to them.  We talked some a we set up.  Everyone was gone and I was grabbing a few last things and realized I had no bike helmet.  Swim was starting in 5 minutes.  I ran to my truck as fast as I could and grabbed it and ran back (that was my warm up).  The swim was starting as I walked through the door.  I ran up to where Mike and Katie and Kelsey were in line and jumped right in almost as soon as I got there.  

The swim was a struggle, lap 1 and 2 were good the middle laps were so so and the last 2 laps were good again.  Kelsey was really close to me on the swim, she’s really improved on it.  Out of the pool and into transition with no troubles.  I grab my helmet (thank goodness I remembered it) and shoes and bike and run to mount it and clip in.  There’s  a small problem, I switched my tri shoes to match my road bike and never switched them back to the tri bike cleats.  So now I get to ride without the ability to clip in on a rainy wet nasty day.  I kept it upright and the rain shortened ride was over before it started.  Rack the bike and start to run and my legs fell like to logs after the 50 mile RR from Saturday.  Mike D and I start the run at the same exact time.  I wasn’t “feeling it” so we run and make a pseudo pact that we will have a good steady run but not go crazy.  We see Katie and Kelsey on the run, Katie looks like a mad grizzly bear.  Kelsey look like she’s having a spry run.  Mike and I basically had a nice conversation for most of the run until he divebombed the last downhill and left me in his wake.  After it was over I ended up with  a 2nd Place in 45-49 and around 25 or so overall.  I had a very average performance overall.  Although I was super stoked that Kelsey finished 2nd Overall in 20-24 and only about 11 places behind me for a great overall finish in the mid 30’s.  Her great coach, Lana and Nutrionist, Katie D have got her geared up for her Half Ironman in May.  

Again I had fun seeing all my friends and enjoyed having Marvin and Brooke and Katie there to watch us and cheer us on in the crappy weather.  Now to go eat and get ready for the ORV crit.

CRIT Masters 35/45+

Way fun race with some heavy hitters; Most of these guys are Pro/1/2 and Cat 3 older guys that are “retired” from it but can still crush it.  I finished with the main sprint and won a little cash in the process.  3rd in the 45+ Catego

Poured down rain and frozen at the end but still had fun.

Crit Cat 4

Was burned out and missed the break in this one and finished half a lap back.  Legs were toast but I still was happy with the Masters Crit finish so it took some of the sting away.

Thanks to Podium Sports Medicine for allowing us to do the stuff we do. 

Thanks,

Mike

 

Chris Morelock - TT

Oak Ridge Velo Time Trial 

It's been a while since I last turned the cranks of my TT bike in anger. Actually, it was the Oak Ridge Velo TT last year that was the last time. As the schedule flipped this year it just so turned out it was the first race of the season this time! While the weather conditions would be vastly different, it would be a pretty good way to measure how I was progressing vs. where I was last year. 

For the nerds out there that are interested in such things, and to add some spice to an otherwise "I rode hard" style race report, here's the difference in the weather at 4p.m. (roughly my race start) between years

7/22/2017 - (16:51) 91° RHO(kg/m3) - 1.1422 with wind ~ 7mph blowing Southwest

4/14/2018 - (16:50) 77° RHO(kg/m3) - 1.1744 with wind ~10mph blowing South

What does that mean? Well, the condensed version is that the day was slower due to the conditions. (I know, I've just opened up a whole new world of excuses for people to use for a bad day now! "Yeah man, I was feeling good, but the Rho was just not in my favor!") While the lower temperatures "feel" better, in general we usually go faster when it's hot. (The caveat being if it's so hot that you are truly overheating) To expand - 

In 2017 I finished the 7.6 miles in 16:51:xx

In 2018 I finished the 7.6 miles in 16:50:xx

What was the difference then? It took me 20 more watts to cover the distance 1 second faster this year. I rode the same bike, same wheels and tyres, with equipment/position that gave me a similar CdA (I looked!)  or at least similar total drag, (total drag being a mix of CdA, rolling resistance and drivetrain efficiency) and paced the race similarly. (Note this doesn't account for traffic draft, changes in road surface over a year, etc etc) If you look at other repeat racers times vs. 2017, pretty much nobody went faster this year.

But enough of the nerdy stuff. This is a race report! 

As a full disclaimer and apology, most of the people racing the ORV TT had already been riding on Saturday before I even got out of bed. Road racing, and especially any going longer than an hour isn't in my wheelhouse any longer, and I don't miss it! Nonetheless it's my new secret strategy to winning Omnium TT's... just don't wear yourself out earlier in the day!

 Abs of steel has been failing me...

Abs of steel has been failing me...

I arrived about an hour and a half before the start. The general plan is to get to race site with plenty of time to fix whatever inevitably breaks on my bike (last year it was a flat!) and sequel into the start tent moments before it's time to start with a sky high heartrate. Somehow the universe mercifully spares me any mechanicals and I get to spend that time socializing. Some may say it's the right time to warmup for such a short event...but what do they know. Eventually I do kit up (In my red kit... which hides the blood from when I'm stuck with safety pins... just like a spandex Deadpool) and figure I probably should at least pretend to warm up. I do some openers, which any the track guys I know would laugh at, but felt like huge starts for me, then ride into the start tent. As usual, once things start moving, it moves fast.

3,2,1 Go

I come out of the gates hot. (For me, again... laughable standing start watts) As soon as I'm up to speed I find my place on the saddle and tuck. For me the race is split into three sections, the first third (up to the highway on ramp) is to get into a good rhythm and settle my heart rate. The second section is all about making power (a long steady incline up the highway to the turn on Bear Creek Rd) and the third section is about maximizing where I spend my energy.

The first third goes by to plan. My heart rate settles in around 180 and my watts are pretty consistent though the slight rollers. As we approach the on ramp I catch my first rider. I split my focus between the road, (a dangerous balancing act as the shoulder is not swept, and the curvy road begs impatient motorists to make dangerous passes... all divided by some gnarly rumble strips) my wattage and relaxing...as much as you can relax at 180bpm at least. I've found giving myself things to think about helps me TT much more consistently. Nothing worse than a blank mind counting seconds. I come up on my second rider but I'm close enough to the edge I can't squeak out an "on your left" I just have to pass and move on. 

Making the turn on Bear Creek it's time to bury myself. At this point the terrain changes pretty significantly, going from a general trend of steady uphill/false flat to true rolling terrain. Unfortunately I'm at my worst at stuff like this, I just can't get comfortable and stay in a gear, and my watts can drop / jump pretty wildly. I focus and just try staying smooth, something that has gotten a bit easier with my increased track time, but still isn't optimal. I pass my third rider and as I cross one of the hills I can just glimpse my fourth one. I figure if I can hold my pace and increase it to the finish I might just catch him. As we make the final sweeping bend before the final straight, I take my first second (too much, a full cadence drop to 0 in an otherwise beautiful power data file) of freewheeling. Once I'm out of it I put my head down (don't try this at home kids) and just follow the white line. I glance up and can see the finish, and realize I sadly won't be catching my fourth rider! I don't have anything left for a sprint, so I just hammer on to the line. Finally, I hop onto the base bar and can gasp air again. 

The primary success for me was hitting my targets (technically I was 1 watt below my goal... but I'll allow it to be rounded!) and feeling "comfortable" doing it. That was a success. It was a happy bonus to also be able to take the top step of the podium at my "home" race as well.  The fact that I was able to add a chunk of watts to my race on less fitness (for those of you who are Trainingpeaks nerds, around -20 CTL to the race last year) should mean my goals for later in the year are going to plan. 

After that, I watched some of my friends start/finish their race, and collected my sweet sweet prize purse. It was great to see so many of my teammates dipping their toes into the world of bike racing.

So that was my ORV TT. I managed to sneak into the top 10 overall (I'm a nerd and looked) finish times, which I'll also take a small amount of pride in. 

Renee Black - ORV Time Trial

There’s a first time for everything…

Hey y’all! 2018 race season is in full swing. This year I decided to open the season with a time trial, or what folks in the cycling world call “the race of truth”. I had never attempted this before, but for several years I have had a strong desire to give it a go. Truth be told, I was scared. Scared of making a complete fool of myself. Cycling is my favorite part of triathlon and I can hold my own. However, I knew I would be racing against some pretty bad ass women. So, I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride and clicked the register button for the Oak Ridge Velo Classic Time Trial. 

As always I was met at the race site with overwhelming support. The hubs was there volunteering. Katie, Ashley, Amanda, Alex, Sharon, Melinda and Lana had all raced hard that morning in the road race and all greeted me with smiles and encouragement. Expert level sherpas JD and Shameka were there to hold and carry all the things. After taking a solid 15 minutes to pin 2 race numbers on my jersey I hopped on the trainer, put my ear buds in and settled into a 30 minute warm up. 

Those 30 minutes flew by and before I knew it Katie and I were off to the start line. 

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I kind of knew how the start procedure worked. Someone holds your saddle while you get clipped in. When it is time to go, that person lets go of your saddle and you take off. Sounds easy enough, right? The race official counts down and says, “Go!” I smash down on the pedals and nothing. He says again, “Go!” And again, I’m still sitting there not moving. Finally someone says, “Let go of your brakes!” Oh!! That’s a good idea! I let go of the brakes, take a good ten strokes out of the saddle and then settled in for my 7.6 miles of pain.

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The plan was simple. Hold back a bit on the first 2 miles which were on a slight incline, then let it rip until the finish line. One thing I am learning is that going fast takes a tremendous amount of focus. No matter how genetically gifted you are or how hard you work going fast hurts. The key for me is not letting my mind wander in an effort to ignore the pain. When my mind wanders, the focus is lost and so is the speed. Looking back, I had two key moments during the race where I lost my focus and it cost me some time. 

First, there was a steady climb on highway 95 leading onto Bear Creek Road. As the incline increased I could feel my cadence lowering and my effort increasing. Instead of dropping into a smaller gear and increasing my cadence I chose to keep mashing away in way too big of a gear. This really took some power out of my legs and cost me some speed on the gentle rollers ahead. Lastly, I totally misjudged the location of the finish line. I rode the course the Sunday before but in my oxygen deprived state I missed the mark and ended up letting off the gas before the finish.  I crossed the finish line 2nd in the cat 5 group and 5th overall in the cat 4/5 group. 

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Overall, I am super pleased with this first TT effort. Afterwards I immediately told the hubs that I wanted to do it again! Once again I cannot say thank you enough to my husband, my friends and family that give me endless encouragement! Thank you to Kevin, my Podium Sports Medicine racing team, and all our sponsors for their support. Lastly, thank you to my coach Robbie Bruce for all his guidance and those winter trainer miles!

Next up… Hammer Olympic Distance Triathlon!

Mike Dotson Omnium

Oak Ridge Velo Road Race, TT and Trideltathon 

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What a weekend of Firsts!  First official cycling race out in Oak Ridge, and what an eye-opening experience.  First time riding with a pack all bunched together at much higher speeds, and feeling the yo-yo effect near the back end.  First time getting left in the dust on a moderate climb like I’d never ridden a bicycle before.  I am pleased with the road racing experience and will definitely come back for more.

First participation in a time trial the same afternoon as a road race.  First day spent at a cycling event with teammates and friends.  Thank you Bike N’ Tri and Podium Sports Medicine for the encouragement, support, and friendly faces.

Sunday was filled with more Firsts.  First Triathlon of the 2018 season.  First time in the pool since October (oops).  First triathlon immediately following a day of cycle racing.  First triathlon where the run was longer than the bike (thank you inclement weather).  

 First races with friends by my side for most of the course.  Such an encouragement and joy to be able to ride and race pedal by pedal and step by step with teammates.  That is what made the difference for me this weekend, and that is why I encourage others to join in the endurance sport community.  Oh yeah, and the final first…..First Place Male Age Group 30-34.

Mike D

Derek Tingle TT & Road Race

2nd to Double First and Back... Oak Ridge Velo Classic 2018

I decided early on this year that I wanted to try my hand at some road racing. It just so happened that with the Oak Ridge Velo Classic being moved up to April, it fit perfectly in a nice little window in my racing schedule. Criterium racing holds absolutely no interest for me so I opted for the road race and (of course) the time trial.

This being my first foray into road racing, I didn’t really have any expectations for greatness but I did have some goals. My goals were to stay off the deck and finish in the front group. Beyond that, anything else would be gravy. My race plan for the road race was just to stay as close to the front of the pack as possible in order to stay out of trouble and to try and get in a breakaway. I knew that if it came to a bunch sprint, I had very little chance. I’m not a sprinter... like not even a little bit.

Race day came and I went through the normal routine. I finished my Cherry Pop Tarts (one day I’m gonna have to get some sort of sponsorship if I keep schilling them in my reports...), loaded up the Roadie and the TT and headed out the door. I was actually quite nervous. I know what to do when I get to a triathlon or multisport event. I know what to do when I get to a mountain bike race... I felt like a total fish out of water at a road race. I got my bike unloaded and set up on the trainer behind my car to warm up. As I was spinning on the trainer and going through my warmup, across the parking lot, I spotted my Podium teamies and my good friends from the Bike and Tri team all hanging out. They invited me to crash their party and happily accepted. Warmup done, it was time to line up for the Cat 5 roll out. Last minute instructions were relayed from the official and we headed out.

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After the neutral rollout, once the ref gave us the signal, the race was on. I was mid pack, farther back than I wanted to be and it was a bit frantic. Guys were flinchy on the brakes and I could since the tension. When I saw my moment I moved slowly up toward the front and found myself sitting comfortable 4th or 5th wheel. I picked out a couple of guys who looked particularly strong and marked them as who I would try to stick around. Just as the race was starting to heat up a bit we caught the last of the juniors and the race came to a grinding halt behind the lead car. We sat behind the car at neutral speed for what seemed like forever until the lead official let us around. It wasn’t long after that we hit the climb. I metered my effort with the front two guys and crested in 3rd. One guy made his move at this point attacking the descent. One other guy and I went with him and I had hoped this would be the springboard we needed. Our break never organized, however, and the pack caught us not long after that. The rest of the race pretty much played out the same. There were a few times where guys would make a move but the peloton never let a break go. As the miles ticked away, I knew that my chances of catching an opportunity were fleeting. We made the turn toward the finish with a large group of around 16 guys. The finish is uphill so I hoped that when the pace lifted it would break a few guys off. It didn’t. At 1k to go everyone was still there. 500m to go and still together. The sprint opened up at 200m and I was a second or so late to open. I watched the “real” sprinters take off and I fought it out with a couple other guys for what was left.

After the dust settled, I was happy with my performance. I had accomplished both of my goals. I finished with the front group and I didn’t crash. After waiting around at the finish to see my friends across the line and watch the ladies come across, I headed back to the lot to spin down and recover before the TT in the afternoon. Once they posted the results I was shocked to see my name in 2nd!!! I was a little confused but my brain wasn’t working well enough to argue it at that point. Before long I heard there were protests to the results and updated results were posted. I went back to check, sure enough, my name was now further down in 11th (or Double First as Patrick put it) where I knew I should have been. Not a bad day at all. I’ll take it.

After my recovery spin, I was in uncharted territory. Never had I had to race in the morning then recover for a second race in the afternoon. I hung out under the tents, laughing and talking with my team and friends. Honestly, that was the thing I enjoyed most about the experience. I loved just sitting around shooting the stuff with my friends. It was actually quite relaxing. When a couple people left for food they offered to bring stuff back. I took them up on that since I had forgotten to bring anything other than Clif Bars and Untapped Waffles. After some time though I was getting very hungry and they hadn’t made it back yet. Katie offered me some pulled pork and sweet potato that she brought. Again, I accepted since my other food hadn’t made it back yet and I was getting close to my feed window closing before I had to warm up again for the TT. It is true, cycling is a team sport and I get by with a little help from my friends.

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My coach gave me a pretty stout 30 minute warm up for the TT with some tempo efforts to wake the legs back up. I started this about 60 minutes before my start time. I was much happier to be on my TT bike. After all, Time Trial is my thing.. I just usually swim (or run) before it and run afterward. The plan was simple. Go hard. Go as hard as I could and use everything I had left. I was almost the last Cat 5 to go off so I had several guys in front of me to try and catch. That gave me some extra motivation. In the start house, the holder steadied me. I clipped in, started my Garmin (which worked this time... It decided NOT to record the road race data.) and waited for the count down. 3...2...1... GO! I stomped on the pedals out of the gate got up to speed before settling into aero. It became obvious very quickly I didn’t have much power left in my legs after the morning. I relied on a high cadence and my slippery Trek Speed Concept cutting the wind to help me keep the speed up. It was a real struggle any time the road turned up at all. I continued to focus on keeping my cadence over 100 and watching for the next guy up the road. I passed at least 4 guys. After that it was all tunnel vision and just trying to will my legs to keep turning over. I gave it one last push to cross the finish line in a time of 18:20. Good enough for 2nd place and my first road podium!

Looking back on the day, my only real regret is not having the data from the road race. I accomplished every goal I set before the race and I had a great time with my team and my friends. While I certainly won’t be giving up triathlon or mountain bike racing for a road career any time soon, this almost certainly will not be my last road race. Huge thanks go out to the race organizers and all the volunteers for a great race experience! Also a MASSIVE thanks to Bike and Tri for letting me hang out all day under their team tent, you guys are AWESOME! Lastly, thanks to my village: Amanda, Coach Lana, Kevin, Patrick and the Podium Sports

Medicine Crew, all my teammates, Dr. Chris at Healthsource Chiropractic, Jason and ORR Carbon Wheels, all the guys at Cedar Bluff Cycles and everyone who supports me!

Next up: XTERRA Ft. Yargo in two weeks!! Stay tuned!!

Katie Dotson Omnium

Summoning My Inner Warrior (and mixing in a little crazy)

Sunday afternoon, I stood up from a laughter filled lunch with friends, my legs protesting each pound I was demanding them to carry.  My body felt broken, unwilling to rise up to the challenge of standing.  This all seemed like a good idea a few weeks ago...

Saturday morning I ventured into the world of cycle racing.  Starting with the Oak Ridge Velo Road Race - 27 ish miles of pushing my body (and my bike) to the limits... holding it there, and continuing to demand more.  Riding bicycles with other like minded ladies - what a blast.  

My team and I are new to racing.  Given the early season race and our race strategy to work hard, work together, have fun, and see how things went (it may have been a bit more laid out than that... just a bit), we had a great race!

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We worked together to stay with the main pack for the first portion of the race.  When the lead ladies turned up the heat, we stayed with the chase group.  Over the next many miles, our small group worked together to chase back down the lead pack, arriving there only to be dropped again.  We stuck it out, through headwind, lonely climbs and burning quads to respectably finish mouth breathing, smiles in tact and ready to do our next race (just maybe not for a few days, please)

The 4 hours until the next race were spent with laughter, magazines, good music, enjoying the breeze, eating and hydrating.  

Saturday afternoon.  With the bike on a trainer, I hoisted my complaining body onto my TT bike (a special bike meant for aerodynamic suffering) for a warm up.  The next race was a Time Trial (TT), 7 and change miles of "fast as you can, hard as you can" one-at-a-time racing.  Whoever has the best time wins.  Simple to explain... 

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It's a pain cave.  I was calm going into the start, knowing I would push the limits of my mind and body over the next few miles.  I took a deep breath, then 5, 4 ,3, 2, 1, Go.  I took 10 pedal strokes out of the saddle, settled in and focused on my breathing.  I pushed hard, adjusting the gears to keep my legs engaged without my mind quitting.  My best friend and teammate passed me on the first big climb (she's been DOMINATING her training and is going to have a fantastic season).  The last major hill behind me, I settled in, pushing all the rolling hills both up and down, fighting for every ounce of power I could muster.  I turned the last corner to see the 500M mark and laid out everything I had.  

I came across the line proud of my effort, proud of my performance in light of my earlier morning, and just trying to breathe.  Another 10ish minute cooldown on my trainer and I packed up for part 3 of the weekend.

Sunday morning's triathlon was a soggy mess.  In light of the looming thunderstorm, the bike course was cut short.  If I were able to muster the strength, I would have jumped for joy.  

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I kicked off the morning with a 400 meter indoor pool swim. Yes, avoiding swimming for the last 5 months made it rather interesting, and I don't recommend the avoidance.  I finished well enough and without drinking too much water, and  "ran" to transition for the bike 2.88 mile bike segment.  I tucked into aero position and assembled my inner warrior and pedaled.  My bike handling skills felt instinctive even in the rain and I pressed harder into the discomfort, finishing with a rusty dismount. 

The run proved to be the finisher I expected. It usually takes about a mile to 1.25 miles to work my legs into a comfortable stride... today took 2.  I kept telling myself one foot in front of the other, relax your shoulders, breathe, and keep moving.  No matter how slow, keep moving.

The last little bit of the race I distracted myself with how many "blocks" it was until the finish.  (ah the strange things we think about)  But the welcome reprieve of the downhill segments was just what I needed to come up the final two hills strong(ish) and finish with a smile on my face.  I had given it all I had. 

I don't think I care to repeat three races in one weekend, but I'm glad I did.  I shook off the rust from the winter training months.  I found (a few) areas of improvement.  And I was thankful for all the time I invested in strength training these last few months.  

Plus cycle racing and triathloning makes some of the best and deepest friendships.  

Now for the sofa, chips and guacamole and the occasional laundry transfer when I can will myself to move again.

 

Two Days of Run, Bike, Run FUN

USAT Duathlon National Championships 

In 2017 I accidentally won my first duathlon.  Some time after that I got an email from USA Triathlon inviting me to the 2018 Duathlon National Championships in Greenville, SC.  There are a couple things that, if you’ve followed me on the blog or social media, you’ll already know. First, I like to start the race season early and second, I’m a huge pansy when it comes to cold swims.  I decided, then, that kicking off 2018 with a duathlon sounded like a fun change of pace.  There were three options for races over the weekend, an ITU style draft legal sprint on Saturday, a non-draft (TT) sprint and finally the non-draft standard distance on Sunday.  I signed up for both the draft legal and non-draft sprint races.  

Until this weekend I had never raced a draft legal multisport event.  Actually I had never raced a draft legal ANYTHING.  I’ve ridden in plenty of pace lines and done some aggressive draft riding with my friends and on group rides but I’ve never done it in a race setting.  I was very excited to see how that played out on race day.  See, the thing about a draft race (especially a draft DU) is that it is a runners race and I’ve never considered myself a runner.  My strong area has always been the bike and being able to draft really makes it all about that last run.  I strategized before the race that my best chance was to go out on run 1 and try to find a pack running just above my “comfort zone” to pull me along to get me to the bike.  Then, I would find a strong group to work with on the bike (ideally containing guys NOT in my age group) and go all out on the last run.  Now, that would have worked well if I was ONLY racing Saturday, BUT with a race on Sunday I had to think about tactics there as well.  Still, with a slot on Team USA on the line and a chance to compete in on the world stage on the line, I had to give it my all.  

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Now, a quick aside about Team USA and worlds: USAT assigns slots on Team USA by placement AFTER the age up rule is applied.  I skimmed over that last bit upon reading the qualification process and it made for a little bit of a whirlwind of emotions after day 1…. More on that later.

I woke up Saturday to less-than-ideal weather conditions.  50 degree ambient temps and rain greeted me on race morning.  I was a little apprehensive about the draft race in rain.  I don’t doubt my bike handling but I do question everyone else’s.  Pure cyclists have long regarded multisport athletes (triathletes in particular) as… well… lacking in the bike handling department and in some cases with good reason.  I knew I would have to be extra vigilant so as to avoid hitting the deck if things hit the fan racing in tight quarters.

Here’s the part of the report where I’d normally talk about my morning routine, but since all of you have (hopefully) read one of my reports before, we’ll skip it.  Just suffice it to say I woke up, ate Cherry Pop Tarts, pooped, went to the race site, set up my transition, did a warm up and got to the starting line as planned.  There, now on to the race:

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Both sprint races consisted of a 5k run, 18k bike and a final 2.85k run to the finish.  Tension was high in the start corral.  I was in the first wave to go off.  There was a light drizzle and it was cold but there were a surprising amount of spectators there.  The energy was high and on the horn it was like getting shot out of a cannon.  It was a slight down hill for a few meters before a sharp right and little climb out of the park before turning onto the highway for two laps.  I looked at my watch after hitting the road to see we were running a 5:15 pace.  I KNEW that wouldn’t work for me so I backed off to mid 6, a pace I could hold.  I there was a slight break in the pack and I found myself just trying to hold the tail end of the lead group of 20-30 guys.  I was feeling strong and the miles ticked by pretty quickly.  My legs were still quite happy when I made the turn off the road back into the park to head to transition.  My rack spot was garbage and located near run in/out meaning I had to either run in socks or my bike shoes ALL THE WAY to the other side of transition twice.  I opted to run in my bike shoes because I don’t do flying mounts.  Transition was quick, and I clopped my way to bike out.  On the bike course I pretty quickly caught up to a guy who seemed to have a clue.  “Let’s work!”, he yelled.  “10 second pulls!”, I replied.  We had a great chemistry immediately and worked quickly to move up the field.  There were three laps of the bike course and before long we caught up to another small group.  They joined our little party but became a bit of a aggravation as the day went on.  My friend and I encouraged them to work but they either didn’t know how or weren’t interested.  We tried several times to get away from them but they were strong riders and we just couldn’t shake them.  This kept up all the way back to T2.  Thankfully, we all made it safely back and it was time for the last push.  On the way out of T2 my thumb caught my bib and ripped it off my belt.  I opted to go back the few steps to get it over chancing a penalty for not having it on the run.  It cost me a few seconds but in the end it wouldn’t be enough to change the outcome.  The legs were heavy out of T2 but they cooperated pretty well.  I was holding pace in the low 7’s and staying pretty “happy” there.  Run 2 was one lap of the same run course from earlier.  I pushed hard and very shortly I was rounding the final corner and hitting the red carpet for the final kick to the finish.  I crossed the line in 1:03:29.  Good enough for 10th in my AG and a slot on Team USA… so I thought....

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Remember when I said the slots go to top 10 AFTER age ups…. Well that was the bit I glossed over.  In the excitement of the day I was sure I had a slot if the times held but I wouldn’t find out for sure until 6pm at the awards ceremony.  That gave me all day to stew on it.  I tried not to get my hopes up but I just couldn’t help it a bit.  The afternoon was spent napping, watching movies and just generally trying to rest up.  Before heading to the awards ceremony the wife had a short run to do so I went to the hotel gym with her.  I spun my legs out on the gym bike and did a little stretching and yoga in attempts to get my legs ready for day 2.  Upon arriving at the host hotel for awards (we stayed further out at a less expensive hotel), I checked the Team USA list.  I found myself in 11th, one spot out.  I was in disbelief.  Disappointment washed over me.  I knew there was still a chance of roll down but that didn’t matter.  To me, that was a consolation prize.  My wife reminded me that there was another chance tomorrow.  She was right.

My race Sunday was in the afternoon with my wave going off at just after 1pm.  That morning, though, the Standard Distance race was underway early and with several friends competing, we wanted to get there and cheer.  We arrived in time to see all our friends as they came off the bike and headed out to run 2.  It wasn’t raining, but it was cold and everyone looked frozen coming off the bike.  I was really hoping it would warm up before my race.  

By around 11, it was time to get ready so I trekked back to the car to eat and get the bike.  Lunch was, you guessed it, 2 Cherry Pop Tarts.  Hey, if it ain’t broke…   

I got my (backup) kit on.  I had to go to the backup as my only Podium kit was WAY to wet and smelly to wear again.  Our new team kits hadn’t arrived and before I left and I only have 1 Podium kit that wasn’t covered in XTERRA dirt so I had to default the spare kit.  

Honestly, my plan was basically the same for the race as it was on day 1 other than on the bike.  Since today was a TT the bike plan revolved around going as hard as I could to set up the second run.  Run 1 was good,  a bit slower than yesterday but that was to be expected on tired legs.  On the bike I was moving well.  The legs were ok but I was down a bit on power.  I was trying to stay around 220-230 watts but I just didn’t have that much in there.  Still, I made up a ton of time on the bike and set myself up nicely for run 2.  I came out onto the run course feeling, well, great honestly.  The legs, while fatigued, were turning over with relative ease and my pace was in the low 7’s for mile 1.  Heading into the last bit of the run I found some more speed in the legs and made a great final push for the line.  I crossed in 1:04:45, a bit slower than Saturday but still good enough for 10th in the AG.

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Now, for the non draft race, there were only 8 spots allocated for Team USA.  However, age ups still had to be tallied AND qualifiers from yesterday’s race had to be removed so I still had a chance.  We packed up our things and headed to the host hotel to meet up with our friends (and my coach) Lana and her husband, Chris who both raced in the morning’s Standard Distance event.  We still had some time before awards and Team USA announcements so we made a quick field trip to a local Thai joint for some grub.  Chris had done a bit of maths and by his calculations I looked good for the quali.  Still, after yesterday, I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  It wasn’t until they revealed the lists that I was able to find myself… in 7th.  I had done it.  After a rollercoaster weekend of emotions and two races in two days I had accomplished a goal I didn’t even really know I had.  

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Looking back over my performances in both races I’m very pleased with where I am in my training and I’m hoping to build on this fitness as the season progresses.  I was very thankful to have my wife there supporting me and it was great having so many great friends to share these experiences with.  As always, this individual sport takes a village and I’m forever grateful to Kevin and my Podium Racing teammates for supporting me, Lana for her guidance and direction, Patrick for helping to make me a stronger and more stable athlete, Dr. Talley at Healthsource Chiropractic for keeping me performing in top condition, Jason at ORR Carbon Wheels for keeping me rolling fast, Gerry and the crew at Cedar Bluff Cycles for keeping all my bikes in top shape, Stoke Signal Socks for keeping my feets happy and my co-workers at Harper Audi for all they do while I’m out gallivanting and racing. Lastly, thanks again to my wife and my family for being the best support and fan club I could ever ask for.  

 

Next up, I’ll be trying my hand at some bike racing.  I’ll be flying the Podium flag at the Oak Ridge Velo Classic Road Race and TT next weekend!   Until then...

Redemption

Doug Slater Myrtle Beach Marathon

I feel confident about the possibility of a sub-3 finish on my next race.
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I finished Myrtle Beach in 2:59:26, firmly securing a spot at Boston 2019.

For this success, I must tip my hat to Evan Lindauer from Powell. On race morning, there was a persistent and gusty Northwest wind, downgrading my comfortable 6:50 pace up Ocean Boulevard into a groaning 6:50 effort. Evan suggested we take turns cutting the wind every mile. It worked. We were the last two finishers under 3:00:00.

I must give credit to others too:

Training up from novice to a BQ took three and a half years, from September 2014 to March 2018.

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In 2017, despite lots of hard volume, my PR plateaued, only dropping 2 minutes in a year. I was self-coached, following Jack Daniels 2Q, a very demanding plan which calls for two weekly 20+ mile runs each ending in 6+ threshold miles.

Recognizing the plateau, I sought out help. First, I wanted to know if I should even bother.

In November, I had a VO2max test at Podium which revealed huge potential. Dr. Sprouse also referred me to Knoxville Endurance (KE) to help maximize this potential.

With KE, biweekly track speedwork, hills, just one weekly long run, and a lot more easy miles with strides at the end finally broke me out of my plateau.

I also changed my nutrition.  Before October 2017, I thought carbs were bad. This thinking was based on coaching from Provision’s Casey Peer, which was perfectly valid at the time it was given. At that time, I was not a distance runner. As a distance runner, I was experiencing glycogen depletion by mile 18. In October, I read Matt Fitzgerald's book, "The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition" in which he teaches athletes to unlearn Atkins diet-inspired thinking. I changed my diet from 40-60% carbohydrates to 75-80%. Immediately the wall moved back to mile 22, 23, or beyond.

Stay tuned for my next post about my first ultramarathon.

Wallowing in the Hollow

Jeff Snyder -  Dark Hollow Wallow March 11, 2018

I don’t get to run many KTC races typically due to conflicts with other races, this one happened to fit perfectly for me. My plans had always been to start the race year off with the Fall Creek Falls 50k but those plans were put on hold when my oldest daughter got the lead part in a local play. Her last show was the 11th so I started looking for a replacement race. I selected the Dark Hollow Wallow at Big Ridge State Park. This allowed me to get a race in and not miss her last show. As an added bonus, I had never run any trails in this park. 

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Afternoon race starts are few and far between so this allowed me a somewhat normal morning and a chance to gauge the weather. It had been raining and the start of the race was overcast with a slight breeze. I was overdressed from the start. I quickly made the decision to hand my wind breaker off to the wonderful Stacy Ward before the start. I was so glad I did because only a couple miles in I was looking to shed my shirt and had already stashed my gloves. My shirt did eventually come off around mile 7 after I cleared the largest hill climb. 

I never start races up front but I wish I would have for this one. As the race turned uphill after only a half mile it became a game of weaving in and out of racers who weren’t adept at letting others pass. I got going after a couple miles in and the spacing opened up. The course was slick in spots, the hill everyone talked about wasn’t bad (I didn’t stop nor did I slip going up). I was clean as a whistle for 10.75 miles with only briar scratches on my legs from early season growth. Only 150 yards from the finish line, I bit it. A slick spot of mud found me and down I went, hard. My goal of a sub 2:00 hour finish was approaching so I bounced up like Tigger and took off. 

My two pictures prove a clean race until the end. The first one is coming down the backside of the hill and the second is less than 100 yards from the finish line.

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It was a nice productive early season trail race.

Overall Finish 19th out of 72.

Male Masters 2nd place.

Time was 1:50:30

Doug Slater - "Where do we GO?

Charleston Marathon 2018 – Doug Slater

As I raced by at 8.8 MPH, that was my urgently shouted query to water station volunteers standing idly across the street. 

I strongly suspected that I and my pack of runners had missed a turn. About 400 feet prior, I had seen a police car and orange traffic cones in the distance down a road not taken.

The volunteers had only a few precious moments to reply. My eyes met only blank stares. With possibly seconds to spare for a Boston Qualifying finish, I had to continue. No time to stop and press for an answer.

Turns out, I was right. I missed the turn. There had been no sign and nobody present to direct the runners.

 Doug's Route 

Doug's Route 

 Correct Route 

Correct Route 

My fears were confirmed a few minutes later when I crossed the mile 23 marker. My watch displayed 20.3 miles. Uh oh. I promised myself the sign was wrong. So wrong. Yet I knew I had cut the course by 2.7 miles. 

I had run so well. Disappointed by the impending disqualification, I barely found the motivation to continue. I crossed the finish line at 2:40:40 to the cheers of my very impressed waiting friends. 

No, I did not run a 2:40 marathon, guys. Good grief! 

I declined a medal, found a bagel, and made my way to the car.

I found out later what confluence of circumstances produced this dramatic error. First, it was very windy. A sign had existed but had been blown over. Second, one of the two volunteers at the turn had not shown up. Third, the remaining volunteer had taken a bathroom break. The duration of this individual's absence can be predicted by the hole in the 3:00-3:07 finisher results.

 Only One finisher between 3:00 and 3:07? Seems legit

Only One finisher between 3:00 and 3:07? Seems legit

This is my second denied BQ attempt, the previous one being at Steamtown back in October. On that day, the weather had turned impossibly warm and humid for a BQ. The Strava activity titles vocalized everyone's suffering.

Yet in Charleston, after I ate some food and stopped shivering, my disappointment dissolved. While I had the right to complain, I instead found gratitude and a good attitude. Everything else had gone perfectly. I had seen a lot of folks I know. Travel and lodging arrangements had worked out problem-free. The weather and temperature were excellent, except for a relentless West wind. Training and nutrition were spot-on, rewarding me with a 6:51 average pace, a huge personal accomplishment for 23.5 miles.

 Everyone smiles at mile 5 

Everyone smiles at mile 5 

I was far from alone in my disappointment, though. On Facebook, a firestorm of negative reviews emerged. The race organizer apologized profusely and promised to make the situation right. Later, I was offered by email a full refund as well as a free entry into the March 3, 2018 Myrtle Beach marathon, which I have accepted. 

I feel confident about the possibility of a sub-3 finish on my next race. Next time though, I will probably memorize the course!

Derek Tingle - XTERRA World Championship 2017 – Kapalua, Maui

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Hello again boys and girls and welcome to another race report by Yours Truly.  This one is going to get a bit long so bear with me here. I'm going to do a bit of a season recap and review of my preparation leading up to Maui but I'll also cover the trip itself and the days leading up to the race before going full on into the day and the suffering that transpired thereafter.  It's a good ol' story and one that I hope you'll enjoy reading so buckle up kiddos and away we go!

As I mentioned earlier we're going to start this story with a bit of a season recap.  If you have been following me, you know that I spent all of 2016 training for Ironman Lake Placid.  If you haven't been following me, well, I spent all of 2016 training for Ironman Lake Placid.  After finishing IMLP I decided that 140.6 was NOT my distance.  I finished IMLP in a respectable 13:30 and change, well within my goal of 12-14 hours.  What really struck me about my recovery after that and the rest of 2016 was how my central nervous system recovered... or rather, how long it took for it to recover.  My muscles were good to go in a couple days for light efforts and I started working back into moderate workouts after a couple weeks.  The interesting thing was my heart rate would jump straight up to Z4/Z5 (that, for those non athletes out there, is high. Z5 being the upper most zone at 165bpm + for me) almost immediately and just stay there even at low to moderate RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion). Anyway, back to the story at hand... I knew after finishing IMLP that I wanted to keep my races to a 3hr-ish range for 2017.  I also knew that I wanted to put a pretty hefty emphasis on XTERRA.  I really missed riding my mountain bike while playing Ironman and was ready to get back on the dirt.

I laid out my season and realized quickly that I would be able to make it to most of the XTERRA events in the Southeast with the longest drive at just over 7 hours to Florida for XTERRA Blackwater.  I knew that I wanted to make a bid for XTERRA Worlds but my plan was actually to try and qualify in 2018.  I would use 2017 as a time to reacquaint myself with off road triathlon and also to better acquaint myself with some of the courses.  There are a couple ways to qualify for XTERRA Worlds.  1.) Place in the top 3 in your age group at one of the regional championship races, 2.) Qualify for the XTERRA USA Championship, then place in the top 3 in age group there, 3.) Win the regional points championship, 4.) if one of the winners of any of the championship races declines their invite to worlds, the slot will “roll down” to the next in line.  

Fast forward a bit to the XTERRA Southeast Championship in Pelham, AL and I placed 5th after a really tough day.  I was pretty bummed but a week or so later I got an email saying that I got a roll down spot!  After talking it over with the wife, we decided to go for it this year and I registered for XTERRA Worlds in Maui.  Now, I kept on racing XTERRA and eventually I won the Southeast region points Championship after a hard fought battle with a couple other guys.  That's the thing about XTERRA, especially if you are racing a larger number of races.  You become very close with the guys you race against.  You become brothers.  You congratulate each others successes and you empathize when the day goes south.  Both of my brothers had a tough race at Charlotte that ended their run for the points.  I was, obviously, happy to clinch the title but I was sad that the competition didn't get to play itself out completely.  I'm sure both of them will be back next year, though, and we can start the battle all over again.

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Ok, I know this is a LOT of backstory but if you are still reading... CONGRATULATIONS we're almost ready to start talking about my race.  But first, we need to talk about the days leading up to the race.  XTERRA Worlds are held in Kapalua, Maui at the Ritz-Carlton. This year the race was on Sunday, October 29th.  Wife and I were scheduled to fly out of Nashville on Wednesday before the race on Sunday.  I had a work thing in Washington D.C. Monday the 23rd that came up so I would be flying to D.C. Sunday for the work thing on Monday then hopping a red-eye back to Knoxville Monday night.  Well, Monday night high winds rolled in delaying my flight which would cause me to miss my connection in Charlotte.  I decided, stupidly, that I would just drive back.  I hoped I would get all the way back but got sleepy and decided to just stop and sleep in a hotel on the way back.  This got me back to Knoxville Tuesday around 11am.  I already had my bike packed up thanks to Gerry at Cedar Bluff Cycles so the only thing I had to do was throw the rest of my crap in a suitcase.  Wife worked all day Tuesday and we drove to Nashville Tuesday night and got a room.  Our flight left at 6am Wednesday morning so we were up at 3:30 to get the airport and get checked in on time.  We landed at Dallas for our connecting flight on to Maui.  We made the connection with no problem.  

The nice thing was, we decided to splurge and go first class.  Neither of us like to fly an on the 8 hour flight to and from, we wanted to be comfortable.  It was a nice experience.  Full meals, lie flat seats, good in-flight entertainment options and pleasant flight crews made the flight pass pretty quickly and before we knew it, we were on the ground in Maui.  We were expecting blue skys and sun.  What we got were grey, overcast skies and forecasts for rain and high surf.  Not good.  We tried to look on the bright side and just go about our day.  My good friend Doug who I raced with all year (in a different age group) also won his points championship.  He and his family arrived later in the day Wednesday.  Our plan was to pre ride the bike course Thursday but the rain had the trails a sloppy mess and the upper section of the course was closed.  I decided I would use that time to get some swim practice in.  I had never swam in that kind of ocean before.  The waves were around 10-15ft that day with larger surf expected Friday into Saturday topping out over 25ft.  Not going to sugar coat it, the first attempt at a swim was terrible.  I kept panicking and I got washed over with the high surf and white caps.  I was VERY concerned at this point about even completing the swim.  After spending some time acclimating to the ocean I made it out to the buoys and back.  This boosted my confidence somewhat.

Later that day I decided to go ride a bit of the bike course.  A little word on the bike course.  The course traverses an old golf course and utilizes both public and private lands.  The course was a mess.  The upper section was closed but the lower section was so messy I bailed out early and followed the cart paths back down.  It still took me a good 20 minutes to clean up my bike afterward.  I was not thrilled about the prospect of racing on the course in this condition and hoped that the upcoming forecast of dry weather would help the course conditions.

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Friday morning brought better weather conditions.  I started the morning by heading down to meet Doug for another practice swim.  The morning surf was still high but much better than it was the day prior.  I had a great swim Friday.  Navigating the shore break came much easier and my confidence was much higher out to the buoys and back.  I came back in and spent the next few minutes working on getting efficiently past the shore break.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing and enjoying the beautiful Maui weather until dinner.

 

Saturday morning was the XTERRA Trail Runs.  Wife and I were both signed up for the 5k.  I wasn't racing the 5k, just running it with her.  The 5k utilizes part of the 10.5k triathlon run course so I was excited to see a little more of the course.  The morning temperatures were warm and it was getting hot very quickly.  The course was challenging and I spent a little more energy than I planned just finishing it.  After that, it was back inside to recover and refuel in preparation for Sunday's race.  

 

RACE DAY:

 

Race morning started like any other.   The race started at 9am.  I woke up with plenty of time to enjoy the morning. I sat on the porch and enjoyed my traditional cherry Pop Tarts while watching the sunrise.  I used these quite moments to reflect on what I was getting ready to do and what I had accomplished to get here.  I told myself going in that this would be a victory lap for my season.  It would be a way to celebrate what I had accomplished and that I wouldn't be concerned with what the results looked like. Deep down, though, I wanted a good result.  I don't show up to a race without the intention of racing.  I had aspirations of a top 20, maybe even top 10 in my age group.  I knew I was physically capable of posting a good time, it would just a be a matter of if my body would cooperate.

 

I learned a lot of lessons on long course XTERRA this season.  After the heartbreak of Oak Mountain I adjusted my nutrition plan and had a great day at XTERRA Knoxville.  From those two races I knew I would need to have at least 3 bottles of nutrition and supplement that with water.  My plan was to take my hydration pack on the bike with 50 oz of water mixed with 2 servings of my Infinit race mix.  That would be just under 400 cal.  I would then take a bottle of Water at Aid 1 and then Gatorade at Aid 2.  I would have 1 gel with me on the run along with my hand bottle with water.  I would supplement with extra Gatorade at each of the 5 Aid Stations. 

 

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After double checking all of my nutrition and race day gear I headed down to transition.  We had assigned racks so I wasn't concerned about finding a good rack spot.  Walking into transition my dear friend and XTERRA legend Charlotte Mahan was volunteering at check in.  I got a hug and she sent me to my spot.  After setting up, I wandered around and chatted up some of my friends and made a couple new ones.  Before long, it was time to head to the water.  I got a hug and kiss from my wife, then speed suit, goggles and cap in hand, I headed to the beach.  I was pleased to see that the waves had died a bit and we were presented with a beautiful ocean to swim in.  There was a good size shore break but after that it was just rolling waters.  Perfection.  

 

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I got suited up and stood in line to be blessed by the local cultural practitioner with a traditional Hawaiian blessing for a safe race.  I felt calm and at ease.  I was ready. At 9am the pros started.  I was in awe watching them.  The ease that they made their way through the break and the speed they were swimming was incredible.  I could only stargaze for a few minutes because at 9:05 the cannon went off for the age group men under 40.  I ran out into the water.  I didn't charge too hard but I felt good so I went for it.  I navigated the shore break with ease and found myself in a good pack.  I stayed with this set of guys for most of the swim.  The course is a big “M” with a brief run on the beach between legs.  On the beach I saw my wife and cheesed for her camera before heading back in for leg 2.  The water felt a little rougher on this leg but was still no issue for me.  I rounded the final buoy and headed for shore.  I had a great swim.  Looking back it was actually the most enjoyable part of the whole day!

 

Swim Split: 27:26

 

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T1 went as planned.  I mounted my bike and headed out.  The bike course starts with basically a 6 mile long climb to the top of the ridge.  Most of it is singletrack with a little detour on some cart path.  It's also steep.  I don't really know the average gradient but I can tell you more than once I saw 20% gradient on my Garmin screen.  The part that detours to the cart path kicks up to over 26% at the top.  I couldn't get my heartrate down.  I was pushing 179bpm and tipping into the 180's for most of that climb.  I knew I had to get that under control but it just wasn't possible with the steepness of the climbs.  I was just having to work and there was no other way around it.  I just had to hope there would be a chance to recover once I hit the top.  After what seemed like forever, the tree line broke open and I was treated to the highlight of the course.  Razor Ridge is the quintessential “Money Shot” for any coverage of the XTERRA Maui race.  It's simply stunning.  Trail follows the top of the ridgeline with 100+ foot drops on either side.  Now, the trail is 15 or so feet wide so there's really not any danger of falling off the edge but the view is just unbelievable.  You feel like you are on top of the world, and really, you kind of are.  The awe is short lived though because after that it's a crazy technical downhill section.  It's steep and rutted out with some rocks.  It was here that I took a bad line, got crossed up and put my front wheel into one of those rocks catapulting myself over the bars.  The bike and I tumbled for a few feet then came to rest.  I got up quick and got off the trail to dust myself off and survey any damage to the bike... or me.  To my surprise and delight, both the bike and I were pretty well no worse for wear.  I had a couple of banged up spots on my knees and my shoulder was a bit sore.  My Garmin mount was broken but other than that we were good.  I took the Garmin off and stuffed it in my pack.  I would have to use the watch for the rest of the day.  Not a big deal but I do like to have a little more data, oh well.  As I was doing all of this, no less than three other people did much the same thing I did and tumbled down the hill so I didn't feel too bad.  Once I got back riding again I was really pleased to see that my NOX Composites wheels were still perfectly true.  Not a bit of a wobble.  I was still a bit timid and didn't really get my nerve back the rest of the ride.  Speaking of the rest of the ride, it was basically more of the same.  Big climb, crazy fast downhill, repeat.  I was excited once I got back to the lower section of the course because I knew the big climbs were over.  There are quite a few little stinger climbs on that last 5 miles though and after the ride thus far, those things hurt.  At one point we turned a corner into a steep little 25yd stinger hill and I just lost it.  I cussed that hill out loud.  The guy behind me laughed and added his own vocal displeasure to mine.  Finally, and mercifully, I made it back to T2.  My quads were already grumpy and I could tell this run was going to hurt.

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 Bike Split: 2:16:26  

 

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I made quick work of T2 and headed out to the run.  Immediately my quads started to tighten up.  I shortened my stride and did everything I could to work them out.  The problem is that the run course starts climbing right out of the gate and follows basically the first 3 miles of the bike course climb.  It was a battle the whole time.  My inner quads were locking up constantly and as soon as they would let go my hamstrings would join the party.  I was extremely frustrated because at this point I knew any chance of a decent finish was gone.  I also knew that I cost myself a lot at Oak Mountain by not continuing to move so I forced myself onward.  Eventually, after reaching the top of the hill and starting back down my legs started to loosen up a bit and I could run but not fast.  I still had to be very ginger with my steps for fear of setting my cramps off again.  When I came to mile 5 and started down the technical section of the run it was all I could do to fight off the cramps.  So many “abnormal” movements had to happen and that made my legs VERY upset.  Finally I hit the beach for the last ½ mile.  It was hot and the sand is soft.  It sucks to run on.  I just wanted to be done.  I felt like death warmed over and I knew that there was still a little hill off the beach  and up to the finish.  I came off the beach and headed down the finish chute.  My face was contorted in pain.  I tried to put on some sort of happy, badass, hey look at me kind of face for the camera but it just wasn't there.  The only face I could muster was pure exhaustion.  I was physically and mentally beaten down.I heard cheers for a guy coming behind me.  I heard them say “Go Jordan.” I knew who was coming up behind me.  I tried to push but my legs just wouldn't go.  Jordan passed me in the chute and came across the line to beat me by 7 seconds.  He and I raced against each other all year and this is the first time he's beaten me. Talking to him after the race, he had a crash on the bike also but had a great run and made up his time there.  He's worked his tail off this year and he earned every bit of that result.  Not to worry though, there will be plenty of time for a rematch or two I'm sure! 

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Run Split: 1:15:17

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

 

So, now that I've had time to process everything, here's how I'm feeling. Truthfully I'm very disappointed in how the race turned out for me.  I know that it's a huge honor to race there and I realize that there are plenty of other athletes who are absolutely satisfied with just crossing the finish line.  I, however, am not.  I didn't have a good race.  I didn't race up to my full potential.  I got “it” wrong.  I'm still trying to process what it is that I got wrong and caused my run to go south.  The best I can come up with right now is just improper preparation and over exertion on the bike.  At Oak Mountain I knew that I didn't get enough calories or hydrate properly and that led to my cramps.  I don't think that was my issue here.  I just think I wasn't strong enough to ride the kind of ride I needed to ride.  I know going into the off season that I will be hitting the gym and incorporating a lot more lifting into my training.  I know I need to get stronger if I want to be able to ride my ride then still have some left for the run.  I wonder about gearing on the bike.  I run a 34T front chain wheel with an 11-42T rear.  I wonder if I dropped the front to a 32T or possibly even go to an 11-46T rear if I could have spin my cadence higher and if that would have helped.  It's so very hard to prepare for a race like that having never seen the course.  Everyone told me the course was steep.  It's hard to process how steep something like that is until you see it in person.  I guess what really has me bummed is that I know I'm capable of more than I showed in the race.  Had I been able to run to my full potential I would be satisfied come what may with the results but knowing there was more in the tank and not being able to use it is what is most disappointing.  I am very happy that I was able to go and to experience Maui.  It's a place like none other and knowing where I've come from on this fitness journey I am proud of what I've done.  It's just the competitor in me that won't let me be satisfied with just finishing.  I will go back one day but until then, it's time to get to work.  It's time to get stronger.  It's time to get faster.  

It's been a great season and I've had a great time racing.  I've also had the support of some of the best people in the world that made all of this possible.  First and foremost, my wife and family.  My coach, Scott.  I wouldn't be where I am in this sport without you and your guidance.  Next, my team and sponsors: Kevin Sprouse and Podium Sports Medicine, My whole Podium Racing Team p/b Visit Knoxville, my boys at Cedar Bluff Cycles for keeping my ride tuned and ready to go, Dr. Chris Talley at Healthsource Chiropractic for keeping me tuned and ready to go, NOX Composites, The Feed, Infinit Nutrition and Betsy's Pantry for keeping me fed and fueled and Harper Auto Square for being such a great supporter of Endurance Sports in Knoxville.  Lastly, I have to give a huge shout to my second family at Rocky Top Multisport Club.  It's truly a pleasure to be a part of such a tight, supportive group of people.  I'm still formulating my plan for next season but I'm sure it will involve lots more swimming, biking, running, cheering and kilt dancing.  But now, it's the off season.  I'm going to take a few weeks to recharge and reset... and eat... and sleep.  If you are still reading, thank you.  It's been fun to document this season through these reports and hope you've had some fun reading them.  Until next time..... 

 

 

 

 

Derek Tingle - Lula Lake 5 Point 25 Race

Thank goodness that's over.  Actually, I can't really say that the 5 Points 25 was all bad.  It was, for the most part, a pretty fun day.  The race didn't go at all how I planned.  How, you ask?  Well, sit back children and I'll spin you the tale of my day.

My alarm went off at 4:30am.  I pressed the snooze until 5 then rolled out of bed and got dressed.  I lumbered downstairs and got all my gear loaded up.  I grabbed my cherry Pop Tarts to eat on the road on the way out the door.  The drive to Lookout Moutain, GA was uneventful.  I ate my breakfast and was sipping on my Infinit Pre Load mix.  I planned to get there a bit early but arrived a little earlier than I was originally thinking leaving me around 2 hours until race time.  I wondered up and got my packet, got my number plate affixed to the bike, set my tire pressures and checked my fork and shock pressure.  By now it was 1:45 until race time.... so I just sat in my truck and listened to podcasts until time to get ready. 

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The race started at the entrance to Lula Lake Land Trust, which is up a big gravel hill from the parking and finish area.  I made my way slowly up the hill chatting with my buddy Glenn who I met racing XTERRA this year.  He was doing the 50 miler.  We chatted a little while more then it was time for the 50's to start.  I wished him luck and then a few minutes later, they were off and it was time for the 25's to line up.  I took my spot at the front of the line, we got our instructions and then it was go time.  The race has about 5 miles of pavement to start before hitting the woods and the pack always splits.  I wanted to be in the top 5-6 going into the woods so there was less chance of getting held up trying to pass.  On the road, there are a couple of pretty good little climbs.  At the first one, the pack split when the first attack came.  I went with him as did 2 others.  We got to the top of the climb and had about 200m on the rest of the pack.  I tried to get the group organized into a rotating pace line but that was futile.  We hit the next climb and our little breakaway blew up.  There was one guy off the front and then me.  The other two guys dropped back.  I kept pushing but metered my effort and let the pack catch me.  I slotted in around 4th place in the line in front of one of my breakaway buddies who let me in.  We stayed in a line until we hit the woods after overtaking the one lone leader.

Making the turn into the woods, I passed for 3rd.  The two guys ahead of me were riding really strong and I decided to let them go so as not to blow myself up early.  There was a lot of riding... and climbing yet to go.  I gapped the rest of the pack on the next climb.  It was a rocky technical bastard of a climb that just kept going.  It had some switchbacks but they were all rideable.  I just kept my steady pace and focused on even power.  By the top I had a sizeable lead on the guy(s) behind me.  The decent was rocky and rough but not really technical.  It was now around 8 miles into the race.  I started to feel the rear end of the bike get a little loose.  I knew it was going down.  I stopped.  

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I was hoping it was just a thorn or something so I flipped the bike over and tried to find something.  There was nothing.  I couldn't hear any air leaking so I figured it had come out and the sealant had now done it's job.  My CO2 inflator was rolled inside my tube so it took me extra time to get it out. Once I had it out and inflated the tire I heard a hiss.  Not good.  I finally found the issue.  There was a small hairline crack in my wheel.  My heart sank.  I decided to put the tube in and see how far I could make it.  By the time I got the tubless valve stem out and the tube in and the bike back together I had lost around 15 minutes (ish) and I guessed around 15-20 positions.  I debated calling it a day and just toodling to the aid station and sagging it back in.  Once I was back riding, though, I found some motivation.  The rim seemed to be holding up fine and I was riding really well so I decided to push on. 

Knowing I was now VERY behind I rode like a man possessed.  I was picking off people rapidly.  I overtook whenever I could on the trail and everyone was kind enough to let me by.  I would thank each of them and wish them luck on the day.  After passing the first aid station the course made it's way back into Lula Lake Trails.  There are some technical climbs and a large creek crossing.  The RD warned that the creek was high and we'd had to walk it.  He wasn't kidding.  I dismounted before the creek and waded in.  The water covered my knees.  The rocks were slippery.  I was using a cyclocross carry keeping my ride out of the water but I nearly fell several times. I kept it upright and made it through before remounting and then climbing up a hill past aid 2 to the road.  This is where things started to go a bit south.  The road is a net downhill here leading to a monster of a climb up a power cut.  For those of you who have ridden Haw Ridge in Knoxville... think Hill of Truth only longer.  The climb is roughly a mile with a little respite in the middle before kicking one last time.  My legs were on the verge of cramping the whole time and I had to be careful how I moderated my power.  I became grumpy.

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The RD said before the race that our climb up the power line would be rewarded with some great new singletrack and he was right.  The next section was a fast little downhill number with a couple of bermed corners and great flow.  Then, however, things got a lot more technical.  The trail wound along up and over some pretty gnarly rock outcroppings.  I wouldn't have minded them so much if I could use my legs to their full potential but I had to ride very gingerly for fear of cramping.  My grumpy came back.  A guy on a singlespeed came up behind me.  I offered to let him pass.  At first he declined but then after pulling him along for a bit he offered to return the favor.  I obliged.  He said he knew the trail and called the lines to me.  It was welcome help for sure.  I cleaned most of the obstacles, only dabbing once or twice even with my crampy quads.  We hit the last climb and I had nothing.  I thanked singlespeed guy and watched him ride away.  There was no one else behind me close so I cranked as best I could up the hill back to the road.  

A quick stretch of pavement led back to the entrance to the land trust where the race started.  I made the left turn and it was back down the hill to the finish line.  I crossed the line with a final clock time of just over 2:30.  By my Garmin (which auto pauses) my time without the flat was 2:15:50.  I rode straight to the car and put my bike up.  I didn't really even want to look at results.  I knew I rode with everything I had but was just extremely disappointed.  Eventually I worked up the gumption to check the timing.  I finished the day in 7th overall but managed a 2nd place in the male open category.  As disappointed as I still am about what could have been I'm quite proud of that ride.  It was a tough day made even more so by the mechanical.  In the end though, it was a great boost mentally to know that I put in a solid day even with the issues and I'm thankful to be able to ride at such a level that even last year probably wasn't possible.  For that, I have to thank my coach, Scott.  I also have to send a HUGE thanks to Dr. Kevin Sprouse of Podium Sports Medicine for helping get me through illness last week so I could be well enough to ride today.  And, as always, thanks go to my team and sponsors and especially to my wife and family.  You guys mean the world to me!

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