Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rev3 South Carolina Race Report

It was finally here: The Last Race of the Year!  I decided to do this race partly because it served as the USA Triathlon Long Course National Championships.  The choice was made easier as I got a free entry to any 2013 Rev3 race by winning my age group at the 2012 Rev3 Florida Race.  In 2011, the inaugural year for this race, I did the Olympic distance (and won my age group with the fastest oly bike split of the day).  Because of that I was a little familiar with the course.  The swim is obviously similar and the first 10 miles or so on the bike is the same.  The run course has changed somewhat since 2 years ago, but luckily, it changed for the better.

Hot Air Balloon Time
The boys and I drove down in the morning.  We ate lunch across from the convention center at Subway, and then headed over to the expo to get my Packet.  One nice thing about this race is the huge parking lot that the convention center has, so there was plenty of room to park the Explorer with the popup camper.
Entrance to the Expo

We cruised around the expo and there were not a lot of people there.  This was about 12:30pm or so.  I went to the packet tent and they had the bib numbers posted, so you knew which line to get in to get your packet.  Got my wristband and all the numbers and headed over to the timing chip station.  There they took your picture for the finish line jumbotron.  Then it was over to the Rev3 merchandise tent to pick up the free Rev3 visor.  Just a generic one this time, not the race specific ones I got for Rev3 FL last year or for this race 2 years ago.
The Rev3 Expo

Finish Line
Awards Stage
We checked out the bouncy obstacle course for a little bit.  Then checked out transition.  Then we headed out to the campground.
Bouncy Stuff!
Entrance to T1

My Spot

We stayed at Sadler's Creek State Park 2 years ago when I did this race.  There is a KOA that is closer, but I kinda like the scenery of this park nestled into Lake Hartwell on the Georgia border.

Scenic Campsite

So after we setup camp, I checked out all the stuff in the bag.  I put my stickers on the helmet and the bike (they did not have a stem sticker as most big races do).
All the stuff in the bag.

Ready to Rock

Custom Cut Bike Sticker

Then I had to put on the Rev3 temporary tattoos.  Rev3 doesn't do race morning body marking.  You put on these temp tats that go on pretty easy and look very cool.  The only downside is that they are a major PITA to get off.  Washing and scrubbing with soap will not do it.  You need to scrub with alcohol.  Even then, it takes longer than a scrubbing off a regular marker.

Right Hand with wristband

Branded as an Old Man.

Shoulder Tat (and GL with the photobomb!)
After I got everything ready to check the bike, we loaded up Green Lightning and headed over to the pavilion and play area of the State Park.  The boys played on the playground for a while with some other kids, and then played down by the water for a while.  Soon it was time to head over to T1 to check in GL.

Set in my Spot

Not too big.  Only 567 people in all the races
It was much nicer this year in that they allowed us to drive into Darwin Wright Park and park your car.  Last time they made everyone park on the road and walk your bike (quite a ways) to T1.  So it was the normal chaotic T1 bike check with cars and peoples and bikes, some trying to get in while others trying to get out.

Is this enough "culture"? #ironman #boston #betterthanyou
So then I did a little scoping on the swim venue.  I checked out the finish and up into T1.  It looked a little different on the map online, but in reality it was the same.

Swim Finish (My Fav)

Far Turn Buoy (With Balloon)

Beach Start
We then headed over to Fatz for dinner.  I had the Calabash Chicken Salad.  Ransom had all-you-can eat ribs, and Reece had popcorn shrimp.  It worked out pretty well.  We got back to camp and I got the rest of my gear ready for in the morning.  I put everything into my morning clothes bag and my swim-to-bike gear bag.  With a 2 transition race (T1 at Darwin Wright Park on Lake Hartwell, and T2 at the convention center) you are given a bag to stuff your morning clothes into, and another bag to stuff all your crap after the swim into.  Both are transported back to T2/Finish to pick up after the race.

Sunday (Race Day)
I woke up at 5am and threw my clothes on.  My wife had driven down Saturday night, so we had two cars.  I grabbed my water bottle and headed down to the convention center.  Its about a 20 minute drive at that time of day.  I parked near the end of transition close to the shuttle buses.  I put my shoes, socks, visor, and number band into my spot in T2 and covered it with a plastic bag.  It was supposed to be nice all day, but you never know.

I hit the port-o-let and then jumped on the first shuttle bus out to T1.  The ride isn't very far, but they went pretty slow.  We go dropped off at the Huddle House and then had about a 1/2 mile walk to transition (I should have turned on my Garmin to record it).  So priority one in any race that you have to check your bike the day before is getting your tires pumped up.  They had several pumps at bike tech, so as soon as I got to my bike I dropped my stuff and took the bike to get it pumped up.  I only had to wait in line behind one person, so I got it done rather quickly.  I'm glad I did, because the rest of the morning, the line just kept getting longer and longer.  I usually get to transition on race morning early.  Not because I need the time, but to beat the crowds.

They announced the water temp as 76.7 degrees.  That's perfect for me: warm but still wetsuit legal.  After I finished my bagel with peanut butter, (2) bananas, and (4) fig newtons, I headed out of transition.  I found a picnic table and got on my wetsuit.  Dropped my morning clothes bag off, and headed for the beach.

Multisport Ministries did a quick prayer that I participated in.   Then I did a short warmup swim.  Then came the national anthem, then it was time to corral.

40:33, 27th of 45 Age Group, 171st of 277 Overall Men
My Garmin had 40:03 as I stopped when I first got out of the water and 1.30 miles.  That distance is pretty typical to most half races, so I don't think the course was long.  This is the only race that I've done with a beach start.  The gun goes off and you run into the water.  It's not really as crazy as you might think.  In fact it was pretty calm, as only a few guys were running.  I went off to the right and dove in.

My ranking wasn't horrible (60th percentile) just bad.  Better than the bottom 5% in Vegas!  I tried to push, and it seemed like I was going hard, but in reality when you average 1:54 per hundred yards in a wetsuit, you're really not going very fast.  I honestly don't know why I'm so slow.  Most of the swim was pretty clean as far as contact.  The dark red turn buoys were pretty difficult to see with an overcast sky and blue tinted goggles.  When I saw the 2nd to last red buoy, I thought it was the last one, so that bummed me out some.
Mapping shows the beach start

When I did get past that last turn buoy and I was 200 yards from the finish, all of a sudden the swim got super crowded and there were people everywhere.  Some were from the wave that started ahead of me (I know, it doesn't seem possible but it's true).  It was crazy.  I got bumped around more that last 100 yards than the start of any race I've done.  I got kicked in the face really hard, and I have a nice upper lip bruise to prove it.  That knocked my goggles off.  So I went onto my back and had a heck of a time getting them back on without being full of water.  After that I literally couldn't take a stroke without hitting or kicking someone.  I was glad (once again) to get my feet back on solid ground.

2:16 Officially
I had a little trouble getting the wetsuit off my second foot.  I hadn't worn the thing in 5 months.  Other than that I was pretty smooth.  Got everything stuffed in my bag and I was off.

2:28:04, 4th of 45 Age Group, 19th of 277 Overall Men
My Garmin had a 22.3 average.  I had wanted to average 23, but I really didn't push it in a few spots. In the back of my mind I didn't want to blow up like I did in Vegas.  I had heard this course was hilly and had a lot of turns.  It did not disapoint.  I had 3,566 feet of elevation gain, which is pretty good.  It's definitely more than what I typically train on.  The big difference here is that there were plenty of rollers.  You didn't have to totally exert yourself on every hill.

What I didn't expect as much was all the rough and bumpy roads.  Doesn't make for a lot of fun.  It played havoc with my Torpedo mount.  I had to constantly reattach the velcro straps that kept coming off.  Dear X-Lab: The straps you provide are not long enough.  It gets a little interesting when you hit a bump at 40 mph and end up holding your BTA bottle because 3 of the 4 straps came off.
Yeah, Turns.

Yeah, Hills.
I definitely biked 'within' myself.  I didn't push extremely hard, but I was passing people constantly.  And no one passed me, so I felt good about that.  As you can see, the course is pretty much constant turns and constant hills.
Definitely didn't kill myself

I took a gel at the 15M and the 45M aid stations.  The volunteers were great.  At 45M, I yelled 'Gel!' as I came up to them and they communicated it down the line to the gel table.  Then the lady kinda ran along with me for a good handoff.  The first 15 miles seemed to take a while, but then it seemed all of a sudden I had less than 10 miles to go.

1:00 Officially
My dismount was flawless and I even got a "Wow" from one of the spectators on that.  Pretty happy with my time given that I had to put my socks on.

Relatively small transition

1:26:07, 2nd of 45 Age Group, 10th of 277 Overall Men
I kept telling myself to slow down that first mile. I usually feel so good coming out of T2 that I blast that first mile and kinda kill myself.  I kept looking at the pace on my Garmin and slowing down as much as I could.  Even then I ran a 6:28 first mile.  But I felt good.  2nd mile was 6:35 and I felt like I could run that all day long.

2 Lap Out and Back Course
 I just kept telling myself to focus and crank some miles out.  I took a gel around the 3 mile mark, and threw my shot bloks in the trash.  The gels just seemed to be working for me.  Plus playing Gel Flavor roulette is kinda fun.  What's it gonna be this time?  Vanilla? Berry Blast?  Please, not the Chocolate!  I came back through the finish line area on the first loop feeling and looking strong.  Through 8 miles I was averaging 6:34.6's per mile.

The course was pretty much constant hills.  I had 904 feet of elevation gain.  Actually less than what I usually run on.  They were shorter hills (not 2M long like Vegas).  You could get some speed on the downhills and attack some of the uphills.  Even so, as I approached the 9 mile mark, I really started to feel terrible.  I has halfway through an uphill, and I could feel my pace falling off.  I hit the mile split and it was 6:55.  I thought, oh crap.  I had flashbacks to Vegas where I averaged 8:28 miles for the last 4 miles there.  So a 1/3 of a mile later I was at the crest of a hill.  I told myself: I not going out like this.  You can hold this pace.  Last race of the year, don't blow it here. 
Just a hill every mile or so

So I took off on that downhill.  I concentrated on picking my legs up and having long strides. Just before the 10M mark I grabbed another gel and stuffed it in my pants.  My next mile split was 6:42 and I thought man, I can do this!  I struggled a little to get to the turnaround (highest point in the course), took the gel just before the 11M mark and split 6:50.  But then I just had 2 miles to go and I just pushed and pushed.  I closed with a 6:35 and 6:40, to average 6:42's for the last 4 miles.  
That last hill by the hot air balloon field was excruciatingly painful.  I was happy to finish with a 1:26 run and average 6:38's.  This may have been my best run in a Half Iron tri yet.  Yeah, I was 7 seconds per mile slower than Augusta, but Augusta was pancake flat.  My HR graph shows I was able to steadily push the whole race.

4:37:59, 4th of 45 Age Group, 17th of 277 Overall Men
I was pretty happy with my time.  Even happier when I found out that the overall winner was age 42.  So that bumped me up to the 3rd place age group award! Full Results here.

Free Stuff !!

So that netted me an AG award medal (in addition to the finisher's medal), some Blue Seventy goggles, a Fuel Belt hand bottle, a box of protein bars, and a box of recovery gels.  The finisher shirt is pretty snazzy as well.

As I live in South Carolina, I think the SC on the arm is pretty cool.  After the race we kept our tradition of eating the post-race meal at a local (non-chain) restaurant.  Here we ventured into Patron's Mexican Restaurant near MLK and Main Street.  The Pollo Fundido was excellent and the Coronas were even better.

So I feel good to close out the year this way.  Vegas left a pretty bad taste in my mouth, so I was happy to redeem myself.  Hopefully someday I will swim faster.  I think I could have biked faster on the day as well.  The guys in my age group ahead of me all biked much faster than me.  The two guys immediately ahead of me both biked right around 2:23.  (The overall winner just killed everyone as he finished the race in 4:12!!).  So those two guys were 5 minutes faster than me on the bike.  But looking at the run, I beat one of them by 9 minutes and the other by 12 minutes.  So between the bike and the run I beat them by 4 minutes and 7 minutes respectively. 

As I said, I could have biked faster, but would I have blown up like those two guys did and my overall time be slower?  It's not out of the question, and that makes triathlon races interesting.  I ran the last 4 miles here 7 minutes faster than Vegas.  So I know what it feels like to hammer a hilly bike course only to blow up on a hilly run course.  Pacing the bike is something I have to delve deeper into as I embark on my first full Ironman next year. 

Now I'm ready for some time off.  Looking forward to eating a ton of wings and drinking some beers!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

X-Lab Torpedo 100 Hydration System

As regular readers of my blog know (hey, it could happen!  I could have people that regularly read my poignant insights into the world of triathlon . . . or not) I lost my between the arms (BTA) hydration setup at the entrance to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  I saw it on the way out, but decided not to stop and get it.

So when I got Green Lightning back, I just stuck a bottle in the bottle cage between my aero extensions and went for a ride.  Man, having to take the bottle out of the cage to get a drink of water really stunk.  Grabbing a bottle from behind my seat or on the seat tube was even worse.  It's funny how you never did something before, but after you start doing it, you can't imagine not doing it (or using it).  Like my Garmin, Chamois creme, nose plug, etc.

I started looking around to see what my choices were.  I could go back to the Speedfil A2, but there were other offerings.  Profile Design has their Aero HC bottle.  Nathan is coming out with the AP Pro (though they don't have a full release date yet).  Profile and Nathan both have straws that stick straight up all the time, and I liked the way my A2 straw would fold down. One thing I did not like about the A2 was the complexity of the no spill fill valve (read: kind of a pain to wash).
The Box
This year X-Lab came out with their foray into the BTA market with the Torpedo 400 or 100 system.  I liked the simplicity, the bendable straw, and the adjustablility.  I opted for the non-carbon version 100 as it was almost half the price of the 400.  The 100 was the same price as the Aero HC and the AP Pro.

CFD Calcs.  Real or Not?  You Decide.
There was lots of hardware in the package.  I did not use any of the spacers to raise the bottle up, as its already a little high compared to my aero pads.  Everything was pretty straight forward.  I like the velcro straps to mount the base plate on.  That's one of the reasons I got this unit, no more tie wraps.  I mounted the cage on the base plate and set it between my aero pads.  Once I put the bottle on, I found I needed to slide it much further forward.  Once you get the cage mounted, there really isn't much to it.
Lots o' stuff in the box.

Instructions were fairly well written

I did put a couple of washers under the dolphin tail to raise it up a little.  I found it hard to tuck the straw underneath there because the fit was so tight.  Also, that straw is really hard to get through the hole.  On the upside that should help with leakage.
Spacers under the dovetail.

Some leakage on the bigger bumps
On my first ride, it worked quite well.  Basically what I was used to.  I like the way the straw folds down toward me and the dolphin tail is nice to get it tucked away.  I did notice some leakage, just same or less than my A2.  The bottle did slide out a little on some stretches of rough road.  I'm going to use my velcro strap from my A2 to hold the bottle in the cage better.  After that first ride, I did trim the drink straw about 1".

One issue I ran across just has to do with the spacing of the velcro straps on my Devox aerobars.  The back strap needs to hook onto the extensions right underneath the pads, so its hard to get the velcro on.  On my second ride one of the read velcro straps came off.
Trying to affix the strap under the arm pad.

I had one of the guys in the machine shop at work extend the slot back by 5/8" so I could like the velcro strap further behind my arms pads to get a good grip.

Extra Machining
Some pics of the cage mounted between the bars:

Overall I'm quite happy so far. I can tilt the bottle a little further forward to make sure my straw can reach all the liquid inside.  Although, I'm not sure how long the straw will last as it gets a kink in it when folded down under the dolphin tail.  I'm also still working on some cushioning between the plate and the two screws on top of my stem.  They bang pretty hard.  I put some foam in there at first, but then settled on some rubber.
Straw in Drink Position

Straw Tucked, Bottle Tilted forward

Pretty Clean Front End.  Ignore the night light.
 I've increased my aeroness and made my life more simple!  So watch out, Green Lightning just got a little faster.