Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2017 Tri Ballantyne Relay Race Report

I've heard of Tri! Ballantyne before. It's been going as long as I've been doing triathlons. Honestly though, pool swim tri's don't really interest me much.  However, when my friend Paul, the head of EPT racing asked me about doing a relay, I had to say yes. And this was only about 5 days before the race. Evidently their original runner had injured himself in a freak spatula incident.

Paul told me to pick up my packet on Friday. So I stopped by on my way home from work and got to the Morrison YMCA about 6pm.  They had packet pickup in the back and I had to walk all the way through the Y to get there.  Jones Racing had everything setup and organized, so it went pretty quickly.
Saturday morning
I got there around 6am.  I parked in the school parking lot next door as there was a path through the treeline.  Good parking spot, close to where you want to be, but seems like not everyone had figured that out.  The first (front) lot at the school had filled up and that back lot had not yet.
EPT and Me!
Epoch Performance Therapy Racing had a really nice setup there.  Paul does a great job with EPT for this race.  They had signups for people to bring different food and drink.  So I just hung out and talked to a bunch of people.

Our team consisted of Tall Jennifer on the swim. Paul and Chester riding the tandem on the bike and then me on the run. You could say that we kinda stacked the deck a little bit.  The tandem bike is a bit of an unfair advantage. But hey, Life Ain't Fair.
Tall Jennifer
Jennifer started the swim at 7:14am.  There were ten EPT relay teams racing. I think we were the last to start.  Everyone was together in T1 as all the teams started and were numbered in succession.  Jennifer came out after most everyone else.
 It was my job to transfer the chip on the chip strap from Jennifer to Paul.  I think I did pretty good. I wrapped it around Paul's ankle, gave it a slap and was like, Go Go Go! So they were off running through T1 to the exit.  So now I figured I had 25 to 30 minutes.  I went for a warmup and ran some with Keith, Joe, and Laura.  I did some pickups and then went back to transition for the transfer.
Land Ho!

Jennifer transferred chip from Paul to Me.  And I took off.  I started out a little fast. But in my defense, it is a little downhill.  And the adrenaline is pumping, starting there by myself in front of a bunch of my friends.
Map with Mile Markers

Once I made it out of the Y complex and made that first left, there was a lot of sidewalk.  Coming down Community House road, I saw tons of EPT bikers coming in as I was going out.  I pushed down the sidewalk and came through the first mile in 5:34, but didn't feel too bad.

We hit a little turnaround and the entrance of this neighborhood.  I slowed a bit on the uphill coming back out of the neighborhood.  I tried to push back out on the main road.  I tried to give a "medium high" five to as many EPT runners as I saw coming down the road.   I tried to lean forward and keep the pace.  I felt OK at two miles and came through it at 11:37, for a 6:02 second mile split.

After that you kinda get out into no man's land, as  you go back by the baseball fields (slight uphill) and then just turn around at the end of the parking lot.  I did kinda lose focus a little bit there before the turnaround.  When I made the turn I just tried to push for home.  After I cleared the trees and could see the finish, I pushed.  I split 6:03 for mile 3, so not too bad.
Cadence and Pace
I felt pretty spent at the finish and drank a lot of water.  I walked over and talked to some of the fellow tri guys from Fort Mill.  Then I walked back near the finish line with some of the other EPT folks.  We hung out there for a bit and then headed up to the EPT tent near transition.

I ate some food and drank some mimosas (they were actually pretty good).  Then we just hung out for a bit and ate and drank.  Some people did the body slide, but I passed. I decided to hang out for the awards.  I ran into some more Fort Mill people, which was cool.

So obviously we won the Relay and had the fastest overall time of the day.  Officially, I split a 18:01 for the 5K. Full Results HERE.  So then I thought it would be a good idea to go for a bike ride in the afternoon. But not just a stroll.  Because of the CMS TT I did on Thursday, I wanted to get in an interval ride. Yeah. Not such a good idea. It was an epic fail. I guess the TT and the 5K took it out of me.  Anyways, super glad I did both. It's always good to get some short fast stuff in to get your legs moving.

Tri! Ballantyne is a great event.  A lot of people do their first tri there.  They even have a kids' tri in the afternoon.  Fun for the whole family. Maybe I'll get something organized for next year! It would be a good time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

2017 Charlotte Motor Speedway Time Trial (July)

It's been a long time since I did the Charlotte Motor Speedway Time Trial. You have to go way back to 2011. Back when I was a newbie really.  I've always wanted to make it back up here but, I don't know, just never seemed to work out. Obviously wasn't a priority.

So this year I made it one.  I did the Rock Hill Time Trial back in April, and that got me wanting to come up to CMS.  They are usually on Wednesday nights, but for some reason (unkown to me) this one was on a Thursday.  I decided to just put it in my training schedule, and not alter anything else.
Easy Thursday Morning Run
Thursdays are usually long run in the morning and then interval ride that evening. I just switched my usual interval ride to the weekend and used this as my tempo ride.

I left straight from work, since I work north of downtown anyways. Little bit of traffic getting to 85, but wasn't bad after that. I stopped at the Subway there in front of the Great Wolf Lodge and grabbed a footlong.  Then I drove to the speedway.  You have to go all the way around the back to go through the tunnel under the track. I just followed some people in front of me.
The Garage
I parked on the far side of the garage on the end away from the track.  I did remember from before that this end was where the bathrooms were.  I ate the sub in the car, then headed over to get my number and chip.  That was at the other end of the garage.

As I was walking back I saw Paul, and he said to setup with them.  I changed into my trisuit, grabbed my stuff and walked over to their area in the garage.  Paul was getting the tandem ready to ride with Chester.  Other EPT racers Christa and Shannon were there as well.

I pumped my tires up and got ready to do a warmup.  By this time, they had already started people  on the track, so it was closed.  I rode on the warmup track inside the main track. That's when I first noticed the wind.  There was a really good headwind as you went in the direction of the front stretch of the track.

I started putting my bib number on.  I had a little trouble and had Paul help me put on the last two pins.  Sufficed, I went to lineup at the start line.  I adjusted one of the pins to try and pull the bib number tighter (as in more aero).
Practice Track
They list start times on the website.  These are based on what speed you think you will ride. When you register, you select under 24mph, 24-26 mph and over 26 mph. I selected over 26. Then they have all those riders just listed alphabetically, so my start time was 3rd from last.

But it's more of a guideline. You can just go up and get in line to start.  They aren't calling out anyone's name or anything.  They take your number when you get up there and write it down.  And everyone has a timing chip as well.

They form two lines, and start 1 person every 15 seconds.  Each line has a "holder" so you can clip in before you start. So each holder is sending people off every 30 seconds.  There were about 4 or 5 people in front of me in the inside line. A couple of guys were chatting about The Tour, as we waited our turn.

Finally I got to the front.  The "holder" held my bike.  They gave me a 10 second warning, then 5, then GO.  I started a little hard, but you feel good and you have a lot of adrenaline pumping.

The first minute I averaged 403 watts, and even through the first 5 minutes I was at a 331 watt average.  The first mile felt pretty good. Then I hit that frontstretch for the first time.  That wind was pretty stiff.

Plus the track is not flat. You would think that it is, but it is not. As you come around the 4th turn back onto the frontstretch, there is a slight uphill.  I had some pretty wide variances in speed.  Basically I was hitting 32 to 34 mph on the backstretch going downhill with the wind.  Then on the front I was at 23 to 24 mph against the wind.
Speed and Cadence
This race is a little harder mentally than the road course in Rock Hill.  For 7 laps you really have to keep your concentration.  Through the halfway point I was averaging 308 watts and 28.4 mph on my Garmin. I was really cranking the pedals as well with a cadence of 99 at that point.

It got pretty tough in the middle, mentally and physically. Laps 4 and 5 were my slowest ones. I could see the power start dropping off. I tried to push, but I'm sure some of it had to do with the 15 mile run I did that morning.
Mo Power
Once I got on the 6th lap I was able to push a little more. I just kept telling myself, this was it. Push hard now, the last lap will take care of itself.  Once I hit that last lap, I just went for all I was worth.  I steadily increased the power on that last lap.  I got to turn and just cranked home at 490 watts from there.

Lap (1) 2:55  MPH Avg: 29.39

Lap (2) 2:58  MPH Avg: 28.89

Lap (3) 3:01  MPH Avg: 28.41

Lap (4) 3:05  MPH Avg: 27.80

Lap (5) 3:05  MPH Avg: 27.80 

Lap (6) 3:02  MPH Avg: 28.26

Lap (7) 2:54  MPH Avg: 29.56

I was d-e-a-d at the finish.  I layed my bike on the grass and walked around some.  I went back to the garage, got so more water and walked around some more.  I changed, and then went over to the finish area to get a printout.  The timing and results are much improved now that they have Start2Finish running everything. Very organized and very smooth.

The results say I averaged 28.5 mph which I was pretty happy with. It would have been nice to break 21, just 3 seconds off.  My garmin only said 9.96 miles, and I couldn't quite hit the stop button as I was coasting at the end, so it had a 28.3 average.  I was glad to have averaged 300 watts. I did more at Rock Hill, but I'll take it after running 15 miles.

That put me 5th overall, and the first 'recreation' race. Meaning other than tandem or CAT rated riders. Times were pretty slow across the board with the headwind compared to early races here. Full Results HERE.
Number and 'Ownway Apparel' Suit
We ended up going to Texas Roadhouse after with Paul, Shannon, Chester, and Chester's wife.  I really wasn't that hungry, but the beer sounded good. I ordered a burger, ate the side and pickle, and took the burger to work the next day for lunch.

Got home after 11pm, pretty late for me. Put everything up. Set the alarm for 4:30am so I could work on my true passion: swimming.
Me, Paul, and Chester

Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017 Tri The Midlands Race Report

After Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 I really didn't have anything on the schedule. But I didn't want to go 12 weeks without racing a tri. So I modified my training schedule to jump into Tri the Midlands Sprint. It's only an hour from my house and only has a 500M swim compared to the usual 750M sprint swim. This is the 10th year of this race.  Although I believe that over the years it has had several different courses.

I got everything ready Friday night. It didn't seem like as much stuff as my normal races, I guess as I wasn't spending the whole weekend at the race venue. I was up at 4:30. I pumped my tires up, toasted a bagel, and packed everything in the car. I left by 5, and the 1 hour drive got me parked around 6am.  I had googled the parking area, and it looked like there was a parking lot, but when I got there, I didn't see it. People were just parking on the street, so that's what I did.

I got all my stuff out of the car, and put my BTA bottle on my bike. I decided to walk down to the transition. In hindsight I probably should have hopped on bike instead of walking. The website said it was a half mile walk, but it was more like 3/4 miles. Anyways, I figured it was a good warmup.

I knew I was bib 16, so I went straight into transition and racked my bike and put my stuff down.  I then walked over to checkin.  Showed my driver's license and USAT card, and I had my stuff. They said I needed to check back later because I signed up too late to be guaranteed a t-shirt. I went over and got my chip and then headed back to transition. Nice thing is that all that is like 10 steps from transition.
I'm setting my transition spot up and this guy walks up to me. Are you Rick? I'm like yeah. He goes Hey, cool, I recognized your bike! Green Lightning's reputation precedes him.  So I talk with Javier for a little bit about what races we are doing this year. Cool guy.

Then I decide I need visit the port-o-let. I don't see one at transition. The guy on the PA says there is one at swim start. But I decide to hike back up to the finish to use those.  Again, a good little warmup. Prolly the right call as there was no one there.

I get back to transition, put my swimskin on to my waist, take one last look and I head down to the swim start.  As I'm walking down, I figure it's time to turn my Garmin on. It's then I realize that I forgot my garmin. It's back at home charging up for the race. Oh well I think, it's only a sprint. I don't need it for the swim, I have my 820 for the bike, it's just a 5K run.

I run into fellow Fort Mill'an Peter. We met a loooong time ago when both our kids were playing t-ball. He's starting doing tri's and we've kinda reconnected.  We talked for quite a bit, til I decided I wanted to get my swimskin all the way on and do a little warmup.

I had just gotten this Kiwami Aquarush full sleeved swimskin about 10 days ago.  I needed a new swimskin and used Father's Day as the excuse to lay out the cash.  I really wanted a sleeved one, since my tri suit is sleeved, and there aren't many options out there.

When I got the suit, my wife couldn't get it on me. I had debated even bringing it to the race, since it was only a 500m swim. But I thought it would be a good test before Boulder and Worlds. And as the saying goes, always try something new on race day.  I pulled it up and found a lady near the swim start to help me zip it.  It zips down from the top like the Blueseventy stuff does.  I warned her that it was a little hard. She didn't seem to have any trouble at all.

The fit is good, very tight. I waded in and did a very very short warmup. Prolly only 100 yards.  Then they had a few instructions, the national anthem, and then announced that the open wave would be in 3 minutes.  The 13 of us in the open wave stood waist deep or so.
"Tri The Midlands" the T-shirt
I really hate starting in the open wave. I mean I realize that I need to race open, and not age group in these local races, so that's what I signed up for here.  But I'm just such a terrible swimmer that it's embarrassing how far behind I am coming out of the water.  Luckily in this race, the next wave was only 3 min behind us, and you really can't see the finish from the start. Not like my 'run of shame' last year at the Jimmie Johnson where 200 people watched me get  out of the water in DFL place.

Anyways, I digress. I told the guys around me good luck.  They gave us the countdown, and we were off.
Venue Overview
SWIM Video of the swim start I'm the slow one off to the right.
11:55 Officially 8 / 9 Open Males   29 / 98 Overall Men
Most everyone zoomed out ahead of me quickly so it wasn't too congested. Just a little bit in the first 100 yards or so.  The main group kinda went way off to the left. I just kept sighting on the buoy and kept a straight line to it. We got out to the first turn buoy pretty quickly.  I felt fast in my suit, and was still with a couple of open people at the turn.

On the backstretch, I actually thought the water was pretty rough. I was kinda surprised, and looked around one time to see if there were boats going back and forth. The lake isn't really that wide, so I'm not sure where the waves were coming from. So my normal swim: people pulling away, me flailing away.

Finally made the second buoy and the turn for home. Just tried to push, but it seemed to take a while to get to the shore.  My hand finally touched land and then I stood up to run out of the water.  So I only beat 1 person in the open wave, which was pretty much what I figured. I also go passed by 3 guys from the male wave as well with a 3 min stagger. Yeah. Thinking about contacting Kiwami and see if they will sponsor me. The deal would be that I not tell anyone I swim so slow in their suit. Cash money, baby!

0:50 Officially 8 / 9 Open Males 25 / 98 Overall Men
I tried not to sprint up the hill for all I was worth.  At the Jimmie Johnson last year, I did that, and it put my heart rate up so high, I couldn't push any watts on the bike.
Video of my run up T1 I'm the guy in front.

My T1 was kinda slow as I put on my shoes.  But going out is a slight uphill and I didn't want to have to fart around with getting my feet in my shoes.

35:09 Officially 2nd Overall
24.7 MPH average
Once I got going on the the bike, I passed people pretty quickly.  I looked down at my Garmin and got the (unfortunately) familiar "---" watt reading.  Damn you Batteries! So after forgetting my Garmin watch, and now dead Power Meter Batteries, I figured I was destined to race "Old School".

No biggie, it's a sprint. I mean really, there's no pacing, just pain.  Go hard, Redline the entire race.  So I got in a groove and just tried to crank them pedals hard.  I kept passing people pretty regularly.  This course has a few rough roads, when you are cutting across from one more major road and back.  There are also a couple of hills, but not too bad. Especially when you are just trying to hammer the whole time. I only averaged 23.6 the first 5M split as it had some uphill out of transition and a few turns.

The second 5M was mostly straight and slightly downhill, so I cruised through there with a 27.3 average on ?? watts. I hit that 10M mark, my garmin beeped the split. I looked down to see the time.  When I looked up, all I saw was SQUIRREL! But just as fast as I saw him directly in front of me, he was gone.

Remember when you were in school and you would lean back in your chair, kinda balancing on the back two legs?  Sometimes you would lean back a little too far, and it felt like you were going to fall over backwards, but then you would grab the desk and catch yourself at the very last instant. That feeling is what the squirrel encounter was like. I spent the next couple of minutes just trying to calm myself down.

Once we made the turn back into Carolina Lakes I basically soft pedaled.  There was a guy in front of me and cars parked on both sides, so we just came into transition together.

0:41 Officially 7 / 9 Open Males 19 / 98 Overall Men
I had my usual good dismount.  My spot was right next to the guy I came into transition with. I got my shoes on quickly. No socks for a sprint.  I used the Jen Keith baby powder trick in the shoes.  I looked over and saw there were 3 bikes already racked. So we were in 4th and 5th place.

19:35 Officially 3rd Overall
I came out of transition about 2 steps behind the 3T guy.  As I passed him, I patted him on the back and told him nice job.  He offered me some of his water, but I said I was good.  Then I went to work.

I tried to get a pretty quick turnover at the beginning. There was a slight uphill coming out of transition.  I think the first mile was pretty quick. Obviously I really have no idea.  I felt ok until I started up the big hill sometime in the 2nd mile, after the bridge.

It's a pretty long hill.  As I was struggling up, I could see the top 3 guys coming down. Fast. You really feel slow when you are going up a hill and you see guys coming back down flying.  I kinda died near the end of the hill and was glad to finally come around the bend and see the turnaround.

As I made the turn and came back around on the sidewalk I could see everyone right behind me.  There were 3-4 guys that were quite hot on my tail.  But then I thought, I really need to crush this downhill and do what I do.  I think the last mile was pretty fast as well. I ran with my hair on fire all the way back down to the turn back onto the main road. I gave a look back as I made the turn, and didn't see anyone.  Then I just pushed for home and felt good at the finish.
Finish Area
So if the course truly was a 5K, then I averaged 6:19 per mile. Which kinda makes sense.  The first mile could have been 6:00 to 6:05 pace, then the second mile probably near 7 flat. then the last mile could have been 5:55 to 6 flat.  That would all average out.

1:08:09 Officially 4th Overall 1st Masters
Came through the finish and grabbed some water. It started to get a little warmer, but still not too hot. I went over and talked to the top guys at the finish, and some of the 3T guys. I got more got water, and soda.  Peter was over by the soda, so we talked for a bit again. Full Results Here.
Scrolling Results

I saw one of the canopies had t-shirts. I went over and asked for a shirt. I got a Large, as they only had a handful left. Then I jogged back down to transition to pack all my stuff up. I saw some other 3T guys as I was leaving transition.  They were asking me about the 70.3 World Champs course, and how tough it is gonna be. I rode my bike back to the car, threw it in and then drove back down to the finish.

I changed and put on my Podium shirt.  I got some food and then hung around for the awards.  I hung out with EPT Racer Christa.  She was super pumped to get 2nd in her AG as she outsprinted 3rd and beat her by 2 seconds.  I was pretty pleased to nab 4th Overall and finish as the first overall masters. As they went through the awards, they jumped around all the different AGs. No real order after the open awards.  So Christa's AG, F40-44 was last.  She got her award, and I took some pics.

I then hopped in the car for the drive home. I took the afternoon off, but Sunday morning I did an interval ride and a 8 mile run at sub 7 pace.  I kinda like these sprints. I should do more. I just rested for a few days and felt fine for the race.  Then they just don't wipe you out like a half and you can literally jump right back into training the next day.  I'll have to find some to do next year.  For now, back to the Half at Ironman Boulder 70.3 in August.  That will be fun!
First Place in ..... ? Anything you want.