Renee Black - Hammer Olympic Tri Race Report

Let’s hear it for the start of triathlon season! I opened my season with the Hammer Olympic distance triathlon in Lenoir City, Tennessee. This was labeled a “C” race as in let’s “see” where I am three months out from Olympic distance age group nationals. With really no expectations other than to finish, I arrived to the beautiful Tellico Dam recreation area on Sunday morning without my typical race day belly butterflies.

After going through my usual pre-race set up and warm up I was greeted at the swim start by a number of familiar and friendly faces, including my husband (the always dependable tri-roadie), my mom and numerous friends. Lots of hugs and one final wetsuit check by fellow teammate Katie Dotson and I was off to splash around in the water until my 8:19 start time.

Swim- Honestly uneventful. This is by far my weakest discipline. Seriously y’all. I have one of the biggest cases of Adult Onset Swimmer Disease you will ever find. My goal was a steady and very manageable 2:00/100 yard or 32:00 minute swim. Unfortunately, my lack of sense of direction in the water had me zig-zagging around like it was an obstacle course. I wasted a lot of time not swimming in a straight line. I got out of the water, looked down at my watch and saw a time of 33:47. While this was a frustrating swim, I learned some valuable lessons and I know where I will be focusing my swim efforts for the foreseeable future.

Bike- I’m going to categorize this bike segment as Triple H: hot, hilly and headwinds. Knowing that my bike legs are not 100% this early in the season and that this was not a flat course, I chose a manageable 18mph average or around a 1:23. I took it easy on the climbs and took full advantage of the downhill and flats. Traffic was for the most part agreeable and the volunteers did an excellent job of directing cars and the racers on course. I came in at 1:18:34 or an 18.3mph average.

Run- So last year was not a good year for running off the bike. A combination of a swim-focused off season and a poor mental game left me with slowing run times and, honestly, hating the run. This was extremely frustrating since up to that point the run was my biggest strength. So, like any good triathlete I had an honest chat with my coach and we came up with an off season plan of strength work (posterior chain anyone?), track practices, and a goal of a sub 1:50 half marathon in February. The off season came and went, I hit my half marathon PR, and here we are. While this run is not hilly (except for the small but steep climb at the end of the levy which the oly distance folks got the pleasure of doing four times), it was hot and the wind was doing her best to mess with my mind. I started off strong but could feel the heat getting to me quickly. I chose to back off the pace a bit but stay consistent. I got to see several familiar faces, including our own Kevin Sprouse who was out there killing it! Everyone was super encouraging! I finished the run in 50:27, by far my best run off the bike at the Olympic distance. Super pumped to see my run game has returned!

My total time for the race was 2:45:12. Good enough for an age group win, 5th overall female and a 6:40 Olympic distance PR! Overall, I could not have asked for a better start to my triathlon season. Thanks to the sponsors that help make every race a possibility - Podium Sports Medicine, Visit Knoxville, Yee-Haw Brewing Company, Harper Volkswagen, Provision Physical Therapy, and The Feed! Up next, Lakeside of the Smokies sprint!