Tag triathlon

Waterfront Triathlon

I’ve been a bit bad about writing lately, so I’ll do a few quick posts to catch things up…

Last weekend was the BMW of Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon (yep, there’s that site I designed again!) While I did the whole event last year, this time around I was only interested in the bike portion (just not enough of the other stuff going on), so I recruited a few friends to team up with me: Carol (who’s becoming my #1 relay teammie – we’ve done Tsali the last 2 years together), and Kelly (who filled in for Michelle who couldn’t make it down). We thought we had a solid team, although it’s typical that the local high school all star athletes put together some ringer team, so who knows what we were in for.
Race weekend was fun – I had some friends in from out of town that crashed at my house, which meant some late nights. They weren’t racing (just promoting their company, TriathlonDVD.com, so they didn’t need the quality sleep I did!) Saturday we had some good storms – no worries, as long as mother nature got it out of her system. 
Well, she didn’t. Sunday morning came along….  the rising sun just never broke through the clouds, which became increasingly dark and angry as the minutes ticked by. Carol began the race as our swimmer, getting in the water shortly after the start at 7:30am. Us bike relay people were in the transition area tent, eyeing the sky. Sure enough, about 5 minutes before Carol emerged from the water, the big drops started to dump. *lovely* Everyone knows how much I hate skinny tires on wet pavement. I usually avoid weather like this so my experience riding in it is scarce. 
Carol ran in, gave me the timing band, I ran to my bike and was off (trying not to slip as I pushed my bike down to the mounting area). The bike course is pretty cool, which is why I really wanted to do this race. From the riverfront, we head up MLK and hop on Highway 27. It’s the main access road from I75/I24 through downtown. Long, swoopy and pretty straight. I don’t know the elevation gain during these 40km, but it’s pretty sizable for a tri apparently. My concern was riding on a well-traveled highway, and what the rain would do to the oil drips from cars that I was certain were running right through the middle of our lane (1 lane was used for cars, 1 for bikes). The left side of our lane was used for passing bikes, and I wanted to stay clear of the center, but riding in the right side of the lane was sketch as that was closest to the auto traffic. I just stayed focused and steady and did what I could. 
It rained steady for the first third of the course, then slowed to a sprinkle (not that the roads got any dryer!) Thank god for race adrenaline, as I think that gave me the confidence to keep a pretty steady pace… around 19mph. Not great, but faster than last year and not bad for crappy weather conditions that had me tense. I made it back into transition in one piece without sliding out (unfortunately several others did), and sent Kelly to attack the 10k run.
As racers finished and results were posted, it seems the women’s relay was conveniently left out. We stuck around for the awards.. just in case. It’s funny… we all thought our personal performances were rather mediocre… that if anything did happen , it was due to the awesome efforts of the other two. Well, our collective mediocrity still kicked ass, as we won our division! We got some cool etched wine glasses (that I have yet to break in) and Hammer Gel (always good to have as I suck that stuff down). 
A few pics…. the trio courtesy of Brightroom Photography.

speaking of sports + design…

a website i designed for the bmw of chattanooga waterfront triathlon went live recently. big thanks to the team at technology projects for their expertise in programming (i stick to the visual stuff and leave the code to others) and the chattanooga track club for letting me have some fun.

Tsali Challenge

This is one of those races that inked in on my schedule a year out – always a ton of fun with great competition – and this year was no exception. The weather was great, so Carol, Jim, Ted, Kate & I camped out (I even had to put on fleece tights & hoodie to keep warm at night!) Saturday was the solo competition. The last two years I was 9th and 8th in the women’s open division. While I definitely wanted to improve upon that, and felt I was in better running and biking shape, I’ve hardly paddled this year. In fact, I didn’t even have a boat secured until a few days prior. I used Jim’s squamish, rated a 5. Even though this was the most crowded wave, I think I had a better paddle than last year, when I had the Simril’s potato boat. With the water levels super low, the island we paddle around had a larger circumference, lengthening our paddle by about 1/2 mile (about 4.5 miles total).

As expected, my legs were all but asleep getting out of the boat. I tried to shake it off best I could before heading in to the trails for about a 4.5 mile run. Immediately we have 2 small (but hefty) hills that feel absolutely awful, but after that it’s flat and rolling and fairly manageable. I finished this leg feeling strong (although it looks like my pace was somehow slower than last year?!) and was excited to get on my bike. I think this was my racing debut with the Lynskey…. she did great! I haven’t ridden Tsali since the end of May, when Amanda and I were out there. The singletrack was dusty and loose. (Some call it fast, but I don’t often get to really use that word with my riding!). I liked the way my bike handled and felt pretty confident, with only a few areas tripping me up (like that one tight rocky/rooty area with a drop off right there…). Almost halfway thru I passed Shannon and another girl walking their bikes out. She had apparently crashed (and likely broke her wrist). She was leading at the time too… (heal fast!) The last half of the bike was fine – more climbing, but it was slow and steady (it’s nice to pass people walking up!) When I got close to the end of the final climb, I saw another person turning onto County Line Road… another girl?! As soon as I hit the top, I grinded it out as hard as I could. Carol and I had ridden the road Friday evening, so I knew where the soft sand and loose gravel were. A few turns from the finish I caught up, and passed, the girl I saw, which snagged me a 4th place women’s open finish. Yeah!! (Now, if Kim had raced masters instead of open, I could have gotten 3rd…. :)

kate at the start of sunday’s team relay

Sunday was the team relay. Carol and I were teaming up again, to defend our female team championship from last year. Ann was supposed to run for us, but is still recovering from an injury, so our plan was to scope out the attendees and snag someone fast. Friday night we saw fellow adventure racer/ultrarunner/general badass athlete Enid, who just happened to be unattached for Sunday’s event. Sweet! She’d run, I’d bike, and Carol would paddle. Carol actually was able to borrow Robert’s boat and improved her paddle time by several minutes. Enid had another strong run. My bike was actually 6 minutes faster. I felt good, although could definitely tell I worked hard the previous day :) When I headed out, I knew I was the 3 or 4th woman out…. it was hard to tell though who was coed and who was in our division. Immediately I passed 1 woman with a flat. Shortly after, I passed another. Hmm…. I yoyo’d with 2 guys a bit – it was nice to keep the pace up. On one tough switchback, I saw a bit of Norma’s jersey peeking through the trees. Darn! but it was good to see her riding strong again. She passed and I just couldn’t hold on. We ended up with a 3rd place female team finish. The competition this year however was much stronger, so I’m still pretty psyched with our finish.

me, enid & carol

more pictures here

chattanooga waterfront triathlon

i’m really not much of a tri person, but with a big race coming to downtown chattanooga, and with the vixens having a big role in helping outdoor chattanooga with it, how could i say no? this would be only my second triathlon ever; the first being the Gulf Coast Half Ironman i did with Team in Training in May’05. and that really was a whole ‘nother ballgame. the waterfront triathlon is an olympic distance event: 1.5k swim, 40km bike, 10k run. speed was much more of a factor in a shorter event like this… although perseverance does still play a role.

the day before the event, i volunteered for a bit at the vixen tent, then went home and cleaned & cooked (michelle and i had a big party over here after the race). as the evening wore on, i thought i’d pull out my bike for a final once over. hmmm, it’s not shifting quite. i call jeramie to pick his brain for help. i finally get one problem solved.. but create another. luckily rebecca drove by and volunteered to take my bike up to mr. hoff to get fixed. (HUGE thanks to both of them!) jeramie did note that i had a chunk of my tire missing and would surely flat. swell. i did have an extra set of tires here, so at 9pm, i am changing my first tires & tubes on a road bike. (hey, i’d have to do it sooner or later). i actually get to bed around 11:30pm, which was pretty decent.

my alarm went off around 5:15 and i crawled out of my bed around 5:30. the goal was to leave at 6 to head to the finish line, where our transition was. (from there, we had to be transported a short distance to the start of the swim). i was on target with my time… decided to go ahead and pump up my tires one last time. and pssssssssft! i blow one of the tubes taking the pump off the valve. now i’m getting nervous. i decide to go ahead and drive to the start and change my tube there. luckily my second ever tube change went smoothly, and i had plenty of time to get things set up.

at 7, ann and i walked the mile to the start at the UTC Boat Ramp. swimmers would be released one at a time every 3 seconds – MUCH nicer than a mass start that is mass chaos. however, it took awhile to get to my number (and the start was delayed about 20 min too). once in the water, my friend jim was the guy releasing us, so it was nice to see a smiling face before i headed downriver. i’ve done this swim several times before, but it seemed sooooo long today. i’m not a fab swimmer and i think i expected adrenaline to kick in and help out. yeah, not so much. about halfway through, something feels funny on my ankle. i look down and see my timing band about to come off! i grab it and tread water while i wrap it on my wrist – figured i could keep an eye on it there, but it was annoying as my arm didn’t glide into the water as easily. finally, we were at the docks downtown and helpers were there snatching us out of the water. then we had some lovely concrete steps to run up to get to the transition area.

since i’m not experienced with tris, i know my transition times could have been better. however, i did take the extra minute to spray some more sunscreen on my back (as the bike leg was very exposed), and to apply some chamois butt’r. (wet bike shorts + 40k bike = not a happy body i’m sure). then, off i went! the bike leg was going to be intimidating. we would use MLK to access 27 – the main highway going north through chattanooga – and ride it all the way to 153 and back. traffic was detoured for a stretch were we entered/exited the highway. we used the inside lanes, so once we were there, traffic joined us. the TDOT did a great job with the cones and safety. since this is a rode i’m on all the time, i knew the bike would be tough. it’s 2-3 lanes in each direction with a big grassy median. there are no straight stretches; rather, long sloping ups and downs. and 100% exposed to the elements. luckily it was very overcast, which my skin is thankful for (no sunburn!) strangely, the bike wasn’t nearly as hard as i thought it was going to be. not that it was easy, but i was expecting worse. i had borrowed some aero bars from a friend, but ended up not ever getting down in them as i just wasn’t feeling comfortable enough in the open area. while speed demons rocketed past me, i did my fair share of passing too.

i felt strong finishing the bike and was looking forward to the run, even though it was on the riverwalk, which meant lots of concrete (the absolute worst!) it started with a sloping ascent that really wore on your legs quick since they were still in biking mode. once things evened out, i picked up the pace and think i held it well. the waterstops were perfectly spaced and there were several opportunities to get wet and cool down if you wanted. (cyclist friend pat was more than happy to hose us gals down!) the course was there and back, so it was fun to see friends out there suffering too :) right after mile 5 was the last hill before the descent to the finish. no biggie… short and sweet. but, not quite today. i had this weird heart palpitation (similar to what i had at the hogpen hillclimb in ’05), then my vision narrowed and i got dizzy. i started walking, hoping to shake it off. well, not today. it got a bit worse so i pulled over to a tree and held on for a few. a course marshall was by my side quick to check up on me, but i would be fine. i stayed still for about a minute, then walked for another. feeling better, i started jogging, then was able to sprint it in to the finish (passing an age grouper on the way!) however, my finishing picture does look pretty horrid :)

in all, i had fun (because i always do), but definitely still prefer the dirt to the road. and to be honest, this race just cost too much. I could sign up for a 12hr AR for what is cost for 3hrs of fun here. but the experience was great – downtown chatt is a great place for a race.

the stats:
age group finish: 20th (out of 55)
swim: 0:32:25.24 pace: 02:09.7
transition 1: 0:02:34.62
bike: 1:23:00.42 pace (mph): 18.8
transition 2: 0:01:39.02
run: 0:53:45.93 pace(minutes/mile): 08:40.3
total time: 2:53:25.22

and, here are a few pics that the Times Free Press snapped – awesome shots!