Last race of the year. This was good good good and sad sad sad. Rev3 Anderson was going to be my last race of the 2012 season and my last official triathlon as an Age Group athlete/amateur. That feeling was kind of sad because so much about racing will change for me next year, but so totally super awesome because I’m making the jump next year to something I’ve looked toward for 4 years now. Onward and upward!
Lets take a flight and wake up really early and be up all day and run after the flight and be on my feet too much and not eat enough and yeah. Who thinks this before a race?!?! NO ONE. But, poor Christa and I had one doozie of a pre-race prep period. Not only was I sick as a dog for most of the 3 weeks leading up to this race but the few days before the race were not exactly stress-free. But honestly, who has a stress free life? AND before a race!
Hotel room silliness…
After a few weeks of being sick with a terrible cold/virus/stupid stinky bug I started to come around the week of the race. Awesomesauce. A few days before, Friday to be exact, Christa and I woke up at the butt crack of the middle of the night and hopped on a Southwest plane to Greenville, SC. Man I really love Southwest. The flight went well. Rental car and surprise upgrade to some behemoth cross-over was fun. The drive into Anderson even went swell.
Here is the deal I learned about the South though. Perhaps this was just a South Carolina or Anderson, SC thing but it was damn impossible to find food we could eat. We did have a dinner at this fantastic BBQ place on Friday night but finding ANY gluten-free food was impossible. And we tried, a lot. So it was rice and veggies and popcorn and chips all weekend. Now the question becomes; did Nick get enough calories before the race? HELL NO! But what can you do? We thought we brought enough food but we didn’t. Live and learn!
Aside from food, a super creepy hotel stay, and minor bike-putting-together stress things went well. The race site (with TWO different transitions) was easy to find and set up at. Packet pickup was smooth as always with Rev3, and I even got in a run, ride and swim on the course. Score!
Morning of the race….
This is how it’s done in Anderson for the Rev3 race. Drive to T2. Put shoes and bib and stuff in T2. Take shuttle with pump and wetsuit and bottles to T1. Prep your bike and put on your wetsuit. You get two bags in the morning; one bag for dry clothes and another for your wetsuit/cap/goggles when you transition. Rev3 has this wonderful thing were they take everything you leave in T1 and bring it to T2 for you at the end of the race. I’ve never been interested in a race with two transitions but this was damn easy to deal with. Rev3 has started to convert me to being OK with two transitions….only at their races for now. And only because they had a shuttle to get people back to T2.
Got a good warm up in. Drank and ate a boat load. I felt good race morning. I felt loose. After a quick chat with pro Terenzo Bozzone I was, dare I say, slightly relaxed.
Swim and swim
That beach is just clay!
The water for this race was awesome. You couldn’t see a darn thing from all the clay around but everything was silky smooth. No wind, no waves, no ripples! I had my best feeling swim at this race in a long time. My overall time was pretty fantastic too, around 27 minutes, but the course was a bit short.
You start the swim on the right side of transition and essentially swim this giant arch around the ‘transition peninsula’ and run in the on the left side. The entire swim is marked very well, even for a right side breathing guy like me, and the sun was mostly behind you for the swim so you never had to worry about a terrible glare or anything. This race didn’t have a crazy amount of people in it either so the waves were relatively tame. I started out in front of my wave and had one or two fellows shoot out ahead of me after the first 500 yards and I was in no-mans land for the rest of the swim then. I really need to work on holding my starting speed much longer in the swim in order to hold the feet of these faster swimmers for longer. I have no trouble with the first buoy sprint everyone does but once I settle in it’s just a touch too slow. I never feel like I’m dying in the water too, I still need to push that envelope more.
I’ve never ran into a transition where I would need to stuff things into a bag. This was a little difficult for me. I was probably 20 seconds slower than I wanted to be because I just had trouble shoving my wetsuit in my transition bag. Not a huge deal, it didn’t mean anything for my race, but it’s something I’d considering doing a few times before I race this way again. Running out of T1 with my bike felt good though. I was ready to rock.
Bike the winding hills.
HOLY HILLS AND TURNS BATMAN! This was the most difficult course I’ve ever ridden, I’ll repeat the most difficult course I’ve ever ridden. There was no big climbs, no gusting wind, no problem with drafting, nothing you would see and think about being life-draining. What this course did have; rolling hills and an insane amount of turns. Looking at the course map beforehand I was thinking there were a ton of turns and that might bode well for me. I consider myself a decent bike handler and like turns on course to help give me 5-10 seconds each time. I can always hit them just good enough to extend myself a little more. Ummm… yeah, no.
One day I’ll have a non-blurry bike pic
This course is unrelenting. UNRELENTING. It is also AWESOME! I’ve never ridden anything like this course where I am from (Buffalo, NY). We have some hills in our south towns and plenty of smaller climbs but nothing like the hills of Anderson, SC. They just didn’t stop. I am much stronger in a steady-state type of riding environment, these hills and turns made it very difficult to stay even. You were constantly slowing down and speeding up every few minutes. I tried as hard as I could to stay away from the brakes but it was very tight out there with no shoulders and two lanes most of the time. The roads were decent most of the time but we did have a few patches of rough, rough, rough. You would just go up and down and right and up and left and right and down and up and left and right and down….you get the picture.
In all, I was happy with my riding through 1.5-2 hours. I worked really hard to stay even, take in some of the beauty of our country’s South and still ride hard. My power numbers were pretty darn good through 1.5 hours too. I was dead on where I wanted to be. My numbers started to drop about 5-10 watts through 2 hours but there was also some nice downhill and my speed was consistent (per looking back at my data) so I can’t complain much here either. What became troublesome was past the 2 hours mark. I, honestly, can’t explain what happened except that I imploded a bit. I wasn’t sore or hungry or thirsty, I just got tired and my power numbers plummeted. My assumption at this point is that my 3 weeks of being sick caught up with me a bit at this point. I was still maintaining my position in the field but I was slowing down considerably. When I finished the bike I just wanted a nap!
My feet were frozen right here…
I’m not sure I can call this bike course fair but I can certainly call it worth while. This is a challenging course if you don’t ride consistent hills and don’t have a decent W/Kg on short bursts. I’m not saying you have to floor your power but all of the turns make for a ride that favors someone who can routinely slow down and speed up without wasting too much energy. This course is a good one but it is difficult. I like it a lot and really wished I had more like it to ride in my neck of the woods. Be warned though, Rev3 makes you work for this one…as they should. AND it is so totally worth it out there.
Tea Time Two.
Quick and snappy. Bike came in, run shoes came out. I was very happy to be running.
The art of how not to run a race.
*Shakes head* I’m glad this is my number one focus for 2013. My run during this race was just terrible. The course was hilly and windy, very similarly to the bike, but it was extremely fair in terms of the grades and places you could push yourself. This wasn’t a run course you set records on but you could still have a great run if you ran some hills in training.
I ran hills. I did tempo. I was ready. I was excited to run (for probably the first time ever in a race as biking and swimming are my big strengths)!! I ran the first 3 miles right in the ballpark. I was running with a few female pros and we took off at a 6:30 clip and settled in right around there with the up and downhills. I felt like I could run that pace for a solid 10 miles. Then my back started to hurt, like, really badly. My lower back was killing me. My legs felt like dead weight. I was so confused. I thought to myself I need to gut it out through mile 4, when I would get there I would pick a new goal. I was about 1/4 mile from the mile 4 marker. I walked. I caved 4 miles in. Oh brother. After that point it was a blur of running most of a mile and walking for 30 seconds to a minute, and then running again. It wasn’t there for me, the will to push. I wanted to so badly but I kept stopping myself. It was, almost, an automatic reaction to stop and walk. I could run around a 7-7:30 pace but I just needed to walk little bits.
I was actually running here!
I’m chalking it up to too many things right now. Lack of calories over the weekend, being sick for the previous weeks, a bike course that took more out of me than I thought it would, and a season of many emotions ups and downs. I was enjoying myself, I can’t deny that. I was talking with volunteers, high fiving athletes, smiling when Christa made an impromptu cheering section for me, and just loving the day. I wasn’t particularly hungry, I felt my nutrition for race day was solid (I ended up taking in extra calories to try to see if that would get me going too), and I sure as heck was ready for the day (as we drove the courses the day before). It just wasn’t my day. And that’s ok.
I still placed 10th overall on the day for the age group field; not terrible. I could eat some of the post race food, bonus! I got to try NormaTec boots and got a super long massage; double bonus! I was certainly disappointed in my performance but after a long (and late) season for me I know I can’t have em all. So after some food and massage we packed my bike and headed to Greenville for some delicious, gluttonous dinner. Then it was back to Buffalo on some of the best Southwest Airlines flights I’ve ever taken. AND, I didn’t get charged over-sized fees for my bike either!
All of the awesome people in my life: Thank you.
Christa, you are amazing. Your support and patience is something special Mom and Amanda (Superfans) thanks for checking in on me and thinking of me. Alexa, Niki, Stac, and all of my super cool friends, I appreciate the support. Rev3, I love your races. Anderson, SC you need some gluten-free foods but you have some beautiful country-side views. Southwest Airlines, thanks for having awesome flight attendants and getting my bike safely back to me. To everyone who helped with the Rev3 Anderson race, thank you.
Today is a good day.