Another year is underway and I was
fast lucky enough to qualify for the Rev3 Age Group Championship race in Knoxville, TN. This race is new to Rev3 and competitors alike. It is a hybrid distance and the result of the 2013 Rev3 race standings. The distances are as follows 1.2 mile swim, 40 mile bike, and 9.8 mile run.
I got in on Friday and toured the city, dodging rain droplets here and there and catching up with a number of teammates. It is great to kick off the year with a burst of energy from all these amazing people! I decided to get my packet Friday night, which turned out to be a great choice as Saturday prooved to be a busy day at the Expo! I opted to do the 5k Glow Run and had a blast. There was a crowd of about 800 people. Everyone was out for a different reason, I wanted to stretch my legs out, others were there with friends, some their first 5k. It was a great way to get the weekend going.
Saturday included a sprint tri… in the sense I rode about 15 miles, did another 3 mile run, and hit up the practice swim for a half mile. Not too bad, and no wonder I was ready to bag it early that night. Sure they were not hard efforts, but it was a busy day, probably busier than I should have made it.
Saturday night I posted this picture with my goals. Why not put them out there for all to see. To be clear, I really wanted to go sub 4, but these were my exceedes expectations, great day goals.
Swim: 37 minutes
T1: 1.5 minutes
Bike: 115 minutes
T2: 1 minute
Run: 75 minutes
Total: 229.5 minutes or 3 hours 49 minutes 30 seconds.
The good old half swim, 1.2 miles. I have been swimming on a regular basis, but not high volumes. All in all I have been steady, not gaining a ton of speed. I hopped in the water and was off before I knew it. I think I tend to start races too fast and fall off, so I spent the first 100m focusing on moving forward, but not fighting for position. It was a busy start, but I managed to not get a foot to the face. My sighting was a little rough (that is what I get living in MN, and my first OWS was the day before.) I was maybe 1/4 mile in before I noticed I was lonely. A good 100m to the group ahead of me and not many people around. Welcome to the story of my day. I felt like my pacing was good. I did not burn out and did not hold too much back. On the way back I ended up swimming next to someone in a sleeveless suit with some tatoos on their arm. My first through was that it was Josh from Team Rev3 or Edwin, someone I had met a few years ago at Knoxville.
Hey look its me!
Or wait is that a dying seal on the dock?
Sure enough as we got to the swim exit, I found out it was Edwin. As I climbed out of the water, my garmin hit the dock and stopped the timer, as I peeled my wetsuit off, I started it back up on the run to T1. When I got out of the water, I saw 36 minutes. Not bad (especially when post-race people were talking that it felt long)
I managed to come out of the swim 7/16 in my AG and 36/88 in my wave.
Nothing exciting here. I got my gear and got out. I opted to just wear my tri kit which was by far the best decision I made or I could have been in deep trouble later in the day.
As I get settled in and try to advance the Garmin to Bike, it was frozen, not taking time, not doing anything, FROZEN! I about let it go… I went back and forth trying to get settled in (while not over biking) and get the stupid thing working. I eventually got it powered off and back on and cleared out. Lets just leave this as a giant cluster that messed with my day. That was about mile 10 where I actually got things back working and giving me some useful information.
During this period of trials, I also managed to hit a bump or some rail road tracks that launched my 1 bottle of nutrition (thanks Delta for busting my other cage.) Isn’t this just fun, now I am at mile 3 or 4, without nutrition, Garmin not working, thinking to myself, today is going to just not go my way. I knew there was a hand up aid-station at mile 9, so I plugged along (still not aware of my power) and snagged a bottle of Gatoraid because I knew I needed something or I would likely bonk/fall apart on the run.
This is why I say leaving my jacket in T1 was the best thing I did. If I would have had it on, I would have been sweatting even more. I would have been significantly less hydrated and more in need of nutrition. Once I got the Garmin back online and recording, I plugged away. This is an absolutely beautiful course, and I would know. I got to see a lot of it on my own. I had a small pack of 4 guys that were somewhat stuck together. From what I could see, they were riding legally, but I was not about to blow up my legs to catch up and hang in the group, so I eventually lost them.
This is the point I am going to gush a little about the course. I come from a pretty flat area. I have to seek out some hills to ride, so the change of scenery is welcome. I am anything but a hill climber though! (Says this 15 extra pounds to race weight) I wish I would have a video of the course, it is awesome. I feel like a majority of it once you get out of town is a giant canopy above you which then opens up to the country side. The climbs are tough. There is no doubt about it. I have said it before and I will say it again. It is another world when you are riding in your easiest gear, still grinding out 300+ watts and barely hitting 6 MPH. Unfortunately the time spent going up the hills does not equal the time it takes to descend. The course is technical without being terrible. I did have a few moments that I had to tap the brakes a little to make myself a little more at ease on some of the switchbacks.
The distance of the course is great. 40 miles, or a couple of hours on the bike, not quite to the time needed for a half, but not something you can just hammer through without paying for it later. I have done Cedar Point half 2 years in a row and ridden them at a certain power, both years my run has suffered. I blame it mostly on lack of bike fitness, not in that I could not bike that hard, but I could not bike then follow it up with a run. This year my longer rides have been held at a higher wattage and I have felt good coming off them, so I decided that I would set my goal wattage about 20 watts higher than I have done the halfs at.
That being said… that got me nowhere near my goal split…. that was something I should have realized before setting that one. I managed to bike within 1 watt (the last 30 miles) of that goal. I think it was probably a bit ambitious as I still cramped some on the run, but I will say this. My goal wattage for Knoxville will get me a lot more speed at Cedar Point this year and I was still able to run faster than any of my half runs. Hopefully this means my fitness is in a better position!
I came off the bike in about 2:02, slow of goals, but still not bad. I was again 7/16 in my AG and 36/88 in my wave. Consistancy!
I knew I was going to end up in a bad place, so I grabbed 2 Kona Punch PowerGels from my spot as well as a Fruit Blend that I took right away, tucking the gels into my kit.
The run is this mysterious part of the race that you just never know what to expect. I was feeling some fatigue as well as a few twinges in my quads, but my pace was feeling strong. I had to make myself back down a little from the 6:30s I started at to around a 7-7:15 pace. I have only raced the Oly here in the past and always heard of this “hill” that was just past the Oly turn around. As I made my way to that point, I was feeling good. My quads were starting to play games. “Should we lock up or are we just playing around?” I decided to push them and see how they would react. I was not stopping on “verge” of cramping unless they siezed up. I passed the Oly turn-around and not much more than around the corner I turn to see a hill leading into the woods.
I think to myself, ‘That is demoralizing I suppose, but it doesnt look that bad.” Plugging along, I get past it and think people may have just over-reacted. And the next thing I know I start heading up the hill… holy heck. The quads said no, and I slowed my pace to try and scale the beast! I get it now! After that we hit a nice neighborhood. Nice as in nice houses… not as nice as it was hilly! I knew going down at first meant I was going to have to run back out of this place. I saw a number of people from the team since it was an out and back. Trying to keep on my pace, but my quads were just screaming on the up-hills. Having to stop a few times to pound/knuckle out a few cramps.
As we got back down to the flats, I just tried to stay steady on the pace. I knew I was not having the run I wanted, but I was still having a good run (compared to my halfs)
I finished (course felt much shorter having the finish line at the new location and not at the other field) and was pleased with my 8:09 pace, compared to > 9 minute miles or worse on my halfs. I again finished at 7/16 in my AG and 36/88 in my wave.
As always, Rev3 Knoxville never fails to amaze me! I love this course and think it may be my favorite race ever, that goes for both venue and distance! The championship race was a challenge that kept you honest, yet had a lot to offer to keep it interesting. I can only hope that I can qualify again and come back to race this course again!