Sunday, May 31, 2015

Over The Mountain Triathlon

MAY 30, 2015

1500M SWIM

Swim - 26:04
T1 - 2:51
Bike - 1:29:01 (18.6mph)
T2 - 0:54
Run - 46:48 (7:34/mi)
Finish Time - 2:45:34
3rd Overall

I made the decision to do this race just one week ago.  I was bitter about the $100 price tag that Set Up Events was charging for an olympic distance event, but ultimately was convinced to sign up with one of my training buddies.  Two weeks out from the race I was vacationing on the beach in Florida so the only training I did was struggling through daily runs in heat and humidity.  This past week I was back in the groove of regular training and just took a lighter day on Friday and not any significant taper.  Fortunately I made the very wise decision earlier in the week to buy the Normatec MVP recovery boots and my legs were loving the TLC the two days prior to the race.  

King's Mountain is about 40 miles from my house, so I was up and out the door about 5:15am with the usual pre-race breakfast of toast with peanut butter, banana, cinnamon, and honey.  Over the Mountain is a point-to-point event, so that brings with it some additional logistics on race morning.  I arrived first at T1 to pick up my pack and drop off my bike.  The picture below is the view from T1 back towards the swim exit.  That would be a nearly quarter-mile uphill run we would have the pleasure of facing after the swim.  Then it was a 10 minute drive to T2 and the race finish area to drop off run gear.  Finally, we all boarded a shuttle bound for the swim start.  I had a half bag of Gu Chomps and water 15 minutes prior to the start.

This is an L-shaped point to point swim in Moss Lake with an in water start.  As far as lakes go, this one was fairly clear and had minimal debris.  Water temperature was 82 degrees so I wore my swim skin.  I registered open, so there were only about 10 people in our swim wave, which made finding clear water very easy.  I found a good rhythm and with the exception of being blinded by the sun at the turn, was successful in my sighting.  They had warned us to be careful exiting the water due to rocks, and sure enough there was a big rocky ledge at the swim exit that managed to cut the bottoms of two of my toes.  I had hoped to swim sub 23 minutes for 1500 meters, but since my Garmin shows 25:58 for 1700 meters, I wasn't too disappointed.  3rd fastest.

The aforementioned hill ensured that my heart rate was sky high in no time at all.  I spent a little too much time here between getting my swim skin off and putting socks on my bloodied foot.  I go back and forth about socks, but I'd rather trade a little extra time for blisters on the run.  8th fastest.

The bike is also point-to-point and is noted to be the "featured element" of the race.  It travels from Moss Lake to downtown King's Mountain and in doing so passes through Kings Mountain National Park with a total of 1800 feet of elevation change.  The entirety of the bike is either going up or going down without any flat stretches.  I got out to a what I felt was a strong start and felt more confident on the hills than I have in the past.  Generally my lake of quadzilla thighs equal being passed by other stronger women, but with the exception of a single pass, I held my own.  The scenery through the national park was a great distraction and provided shade under the canopies of trees.  I made the conscious decision to race based on feel and try to push hard on the bike, so I never once looked at my Garmin to note heart rate or power.  The final climb was the steepest of the day and required a short stretch out of the saddle, but otherwise the climbs weren't too steep and had helpful descents leading into them.  For nutrition, I drank Scratch and took a caffeinated Gu at mile 21.  After uploading data, my normalized power was 221W at a heart rate of 159, which is without a doubt far higher power than I've seen from my race efforts in the past.  Maybe this will finally be the season that I am actually a contender on the bike and not simply hanging on.  5th fastest.

This transition is about as short as they come.  Dropped the bike, changed shoes, grabbed race belt and hat and was out.

From the start, my legs felt surprisingly good for a hard effort on the bike.  I was anticipating a fairly flat run, but that was far from the truth.  It was an out and back stretch, which meant that those downhills I was enjoying on the first stretch were evil climbs on the way back.  The temperature was climbing fast and the stretches in the bright sun were taking their toll.  I wanted to take more to drink, but felt like my stomach was on the verge of cramping so only took a sip of water at mile 3 and a sip of powerade (disgusting!) at mile 5.  My pace kept creeping up each mile and despite visualizing the approximately 1 minute gap to the second place woman, the gap remained unchanged the entire 10k.  That finish line and cold water were finally in sight and I crossed and very quickly found myself lying horizontal and pouring cold water over my head.  Looking back, I probably should have taken the second gel and some more fluid at the start of the run.  3rd fastest.

The town of King's Mountain really supports this race with a ton of enthusiasm.  The Mayor was there to cheer on the finishers, local farmers were slicing fresh cold watermelon and cantaloupe, and a group of guys were grilling up chicken legs.  A friend had told me that the fresh fruit was the best part and she was completely right!  I hung around to visit with several friends who had raced, accepted my award for 2nd open female, and then packed everything up to head home.

Love hanging out with my fast tri friends - Kevin, Laura, and Theoden
As a special surprise, I was able to meet Mom for lunch after the whole family had made a quick trip to Charlotte to pick up a new car.  We dined at Zeitouni Grill in Ballantyne and the crispy falafel, fresh vegetables, and salty baba gnash was exactly what I was craving post-race.

I'm really pleased with my race as a whole.  I haven't raced since Chattanooga (8+ months) and definitely needed to get out there and compete after some solid recent training.  I've been putting in countless hours on the bike and am glad to see that my higher power during training is translating to racing.  I know I am capable of a much better 10k run and need to take more calories and fluid earlier in the hot weather.  

Next up is the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th and then Stumpy Creek International Triathlon on July 11th.  Until then . . . it's back to training.  4+ months until Ironman Louisville!

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