Sunday, August 2, 2009

Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series #3 – 8/2/09

Shortish version is below, the long version follows. I recommend only reading the short one:

Pre-race: Arrived around 6:10 for a 7:15 start. Helped change a girl's tire in the parking lot. Racked bike and went to the swim start.

Swim: Asked the lifeguards about alligators. Was assured there weren’t any but I didn’t believe them. Couldn’t swim straight. Arms hurt after the first buoy. Seventh out in my wave (open/elite), 10thoverall swim. Slow transition since I couldn’t get my shoes on.

Bike: Passed a few people early. In second around the half-way point. Came in with three other people in fourth place (2nd – 4th). Had the second fastest bike split. Transition was better, second out on to start the run.

Run: Tried to stay smooth. Ended up running like Stevie Wonder (head back and bobbing side to side). In third place with half a mile to go. Finished in fifth when two real runners dusted me. I had the 16th best run and finished fifth out of 340 total.

Post-race: Watermelon, cookies, brownies, more cookies, diet Coke (needed diet after the cookies), trip to IHOP (breakfast sampler with 2 strips of bacon, 2 sausage links, 2 pieces of ham, 2 eggs, and 2 pancakes). Ate significantly more calories than I burned.

Long version

This was my first race since the Wilmington YMCA sprint last September so I was looking forward to getting back into the action. After taking about a year off from any serious triathlon training, I was able to get in a few decent workouts over the past month. Jessie reminded me that just because I’ve been training for four weeks doesn’t mean I’m in great shape, I’m just in one month’s worth of shape. She was stating the obvious, but it needed to be stated.

Charleston has a great local triathlon race scene. There is a spring race, four summer sprints, and an international distance event towards the end of September. The races are listed here: As someone who puts a premium on racing close to home I’m looking forward to doing most of them next year. All of the summer sprints are on the same course and attract many of the same participants so you can see who’s doing what over the months of July and August. The bulk of the event is in the James Island County Park, with the bike venturing a few miles towards Folly Beach. As this was the third race of the season and however many years of the event, they had their act together.

Pre-race: Jessie’s sister’s husband, Kevin, was doing the race with me. We arrived at about 6:15 for a 7:15 start and were able to park close to the transition area. As we were taking our stuff out of the car a woman was having trouble changing a flat tire. Feeling like I could use all of the good vibes I could get, I helped her out and then we were all on our way. Other than the flat, nothing really of interest before the swim. I did a pretend run warm up in order to find a secluded spot to pee in the woods and I did a similar pretend swim warm up in order to have an excuse to pee in the lake. This lake was pretty nasty so I don’t think my addition to the water level did any harm.

Swim: There were 19 in the open wave. I started off to the left and took out the first 100 meters pretty hard. By the time I reached the second 100 meters my arms were screaming in pain and my stroke was rapidly deteriorating. I was kicked a few times, swam off course repetitively but I eventually made it out the lake. I was a bit off the lead and only one woman beat me.

T1: This wasn’t my best effort getting onto the bike. My shoes didn’t want to go on my feet and my helmet didn’t want to strap around my chin. Next time I think I’ll leave my shoes on the bike and try to figure out how to get my feet in them while at least making forward progress.

Bike: The course took us around the lake, out of the park, towards Folly Beach, and then back. I passed the woman who swam faster while we were still in the park, temporarily satisfying my male ego. One guy came flying by me and I picked up the pace to stay in contact with him. Just to clarify to any reading USAT officials, by “in contact” I mean the legal 3+ bike lengths behind him. Using him as a pacer we picked up all but one person in front of us. I passed him a few times but as soon as he got a wheel or half a bike length behind me he picked it up and came around. One of the guys we passed stayed with us in a group of three, finishing in places 2 – 4 at the end of the bike. I felt okay on the bike, but not great. It feels vastly different to race hard and to try to sustain that pace without letting up than while doing hard efforts in training. When I get tired while training I tend to slow down and not worry about it. Looking back, I think I could have pushed it a bit more consistently.

T2: This is my favorite part of the race since I think I look pretty smooth taking my feet out of my shoes and dismounting from the bike. Realize that this is smooth for me, so it’s still fairly clunky.

Run: I was dreading heading out in the heat and humidity for the run. I tried to relax and run steady (I feel like I’ve heard that saying before…) and to stay within myself. If I went too hard too early I think I would have blown up in a big way. I went through the first mile in 6:20 and felt pretty good. I thought I picked it up for the second mile but it was 10 seconds slower. By this point I was in third place, about 30 seconds out of first. I tried to pick it up again, but I don’t think anything was really working. The final section of the run is an out and back, with less than half a mile back to the finish. I was in third at the turnaround and then I was passed rather quickly by two people before finishing in fifth. My 5k split was 19:52 and my worst placing of the morning, so there is definitely room for improvement. Overall I finished in fifth place, only 35 seconds out of first. Results are posted here:

Post-race: I was able to meet a few local triathloners and we cheered on Kevin as he finished. Once we were packed up we tried to hit a local place for breakfast but they were closed so we ended up at IHOP. Full details are reported in the short version.

Overall I’m satisfied with my placing. As usual, I feel like I could have pushed it harder at points and that might have gotten me a few places higher in the standings. I lost a bit of time to a couple of people in transition and I know I can run faster. Of course I also could have easily blown up with two miles to go and then been forced to walk to the finish. I’m doing the fourth event of the series in two weeks so I’ll have time to get in more training. With a bit of sandbagging in mind, I’ll likely have tired legs for the event since I’m looking towards two other races later in the season.

If you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed. Next time I write one of these I’m thinking it will be in verse. Stay tuned and start getting excited!


  1. I am glad that moving to SC is such a momentous part of your life as to occasion a blog.

    Glad the race went well. I have done a couple of those at JI and they were pretty fun.

  2. oh and i recommend Iambic Tetrameter for the next version in verse..

  3. Adam, this was fun to read! Sounds like all in all, on four weeks of training, you had a pretty good race... and didn't bonk! Kudos to you! Next time can you please include pictures? I like pictures. Thanks! d

  4. I'm very impressed by the "Post Race" bit of that report. I mean, the IHOP sampler after "Watermelon, cookies, brownies, more cookies, diet Coke (needed diet after the cookies)" requires tenacity, dedication, and a complete lack of concern for the GI tract.

  5. I think there might have been banana bread in there somewhere as well...I enjoyed reading and racing, thanks for having us!