Monday, June 24, 2013

Huntsville Sprint Tri Race Report by Mark Hudnall

Huntsville Sprint Triathlon, June 22nd, 2013. 400m Swim, 7 mile bike, 3.1 mile run.  Early start helping with set up and then bodymarking.  Volunteering definitely takes the mind off worrying about all the details on race day, but it didn’t allow for a warm-up run or swim, oh well, minor detail.  Transition setup was pretty simple, since it was such a short course there wasn’t much concern with how much water to carry on the bike or any nutrition during the bike course.  I dropped 2 Hammer Endurolytes Fizz in my aero bottle and I’m ready to go.

I was bib number 57 and hoped I would avoid most of the congestion (and maybe edge Ricky Bobby by a few seconds J).  By 150 meters I had passed 5 or 6 people and was stuck in the pile up at the end of the lane.  I managed to avoid the “pileups” on the next few turns by getting under the lane early, and working to the inside of the turn direction each length.  Passed a few more in the last 200 meters and off to T1.  

Quickest transition to the bike in my limited experience and time to pour it all out on the bike course.  Objective for the day was leave it out on the road and hope that I could still muster a half-way decent run.  Started off strong and enjoyed passing a handful of cyclists, before Dennis Mix came blazing by me at the turn onto Triana.  No chance I could keep up with him…he was on fire!  Uneventful course otherwise.  Managed to have a moving avg speed of 21 MPH, which is pretty fast for me.  “Process Improvement” from Monster Tri - I successfully extracted both feet from my shoes before the dismount line, waved to the camera, and headed into T2. 

Almost forgot I was on the first rack and tried to run down row 2.  Otherwise another quick transition and out for the run.  Remember, I planned to leave it all out on the road.  Checked the Garmin at the run start and the HRM showed 180bpm.  Picked up the number 19 swimmer and ran with her for the first half mile.  She said she was planning to run a 7:30 pace, so off she went.  I know my limits.  Nathan Graves and Tim Pitt came cruising by on my first lap.  Yes, they entered the pool way later than me and finished well ahead.  As I finished the first lap, Josh Pierson was cheering on the runners…I offered him cash to carry me on the second lap – he declined.  Caught back up with “Number 19” and passed her about the 2 mile mark and paced it out to the finish line with Jess Ahrens at just under 8:00 min mile (according to my Garmin).  Any run course that makes me run multiple circles is mentally defeating, but my pace turned out okay.  Great to get the chance to see lots of the Fleet Feet Triathlon Team out on the course.  Finish time 53:45 and 7/22 in my AG.

Great race weather and a very well oiled machine by the race director and all the volunteers.  Looking forward to cheering on my daughter at the Pesky Piranha Youth Triathlon and a little off-roading at Tri for Ole Glory.  C’mon out and get your tires muddy at the Space Rocket Center on Independence Day (unless you’re in my age group and fast, in which case they need volunteers out on the course). 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Monster in Pulaski - Mark Hudnall

Monster Tri 2013, Pulaski, TN.  200 yd pool swim, 16.3 mile bike and 2.9 mile run.  My last race report somehow had numerous superhero references.  Not to continue that trend, but I must divulge a small token of my pre-race routine to all aspiring triathletes out there.  I started off the pre-race mental prep by seeing Man of Steel at the Friday afternoon matinee…coupled with the Ultimate Chicken Nachos to ensure a “balanced” carb and protein loaded nutrition plan.  No I did not race like Superman, but it’s the thought that counts.
 Race day started with a 3:30 wake-up.  Downed the standard leaded coffee (it’s a treat on race day since I usually go decaf), peanut butter toast, oatmeal and banana.  On the road at 4 am and arrived uneventfully in Pulaski at 5:00.  Apparently, this is not early enough as Carrie Wilson and Rick Greif were already there and staking out their tactical spots in transition.  However, I did get there before the race staff had cordoned off the upper parking lot and got “rock-star” parking right next to transition.  I chose to set-up nearest the bike in/out despite not getting the end cap position.  After this I joined Rick and Carrie around   the “campfire” as they enjoyed their hot coffee and waited for the sun to rise. While admiring the sunrise I pondered the irony in having the finish line right next to a cemetery.  Oh how mortal we are, despite our perceived achievements in this sport where the crown jewel is called IRONMAN.  
View from the FINISH LINE

 Now back to reality, as there was still pre-race paperwork to do… a new question came to mind, “Why does this race not have a fleet of port-o-lets nearby transition?”.  Race start time was 7 a.m.  Good thing triathletes are type “A”.  Some of those that thought the race started at 8 a.m. still made it, albeit slightly rushed.  The crowd moved into the pool area and I noticed that some of the folks that had finished their warm up laps were now shivering in the cool morning air.  I elected to forego the warmup since the swim was really short anyway, and spare myself the enjoyment of shivering.  I was number 26 this time and felt that with the short pool swim that I could at least stay ahead of Rick Greif (#91), even if he would probably beat my total time.  The swim went pretty smooth, I stayed well ahead of #27 and closed the gap on the #25 swimmer ahead of me.  Conclusion here was - I am not a big fan of pool swims and would take the longer open-water swim any day.  I had relatively fast transition (0:57) and off on the bike. 
This bike course was as advertised, with some nice rollers and few good climbs (Please don’t laugh if you are part mountain-goat and enjoy intense suffering and steep grades).  The good news is that [most of] what goes up must come down.  This was evidenced by the Garmin recording a 47.9 MPH descent just past mile 6.  Coming in at mile 9 was a shallow curving ascent up a narrow road riddled with potholes.
  I couldn’t understand why I was catching up to some of the stronger cyclists, but I passed them nonetheless and enjoyed a fleeting moment of victory.  Shortly thereafter we made the turn out onto HWY 64 and the long, slow climb began.  Most if not all of the cyclists that I had slipped by in that short climb promptly passed me again as my legs were regretting the exertion from earlier.  The course was smooth most of the way in, and the only other excitement came as I was nearing the end of the bike course.  The quaint tree lined section off of Elkton Pike towards the high school had a nice 5-6 inch drop off on the edge of the pavement.  Somehow I decided to bring a little off-road triathlon into the mix and slipped off the side.  Held this position for a 100 yards or so and was able to hop it back onto the road at the next gravel driveway without flatting or crashing.  What is about the edge of the road that just mesmerizes?  It’s like a shiny object you can’t help but be drawn to….
Interesting to note the slight uphill at the bike dismount line --  I only mention this as my fear of stupid human tricks is greatest here when weighed against saving precious seconds by performing the Batman flying bike dismount.   I dutifully un-velcro’d my right foot approaching the finish line and attempted to get the left foot clear but my legs were not cooperating.  The slight up-hill approach to the dismount line wasn’t helping either.  I stopped at the dismount line with my bare right foot and the left still strapped into my shoe and clipped in.  Took a few seconds for my brain to get my leg to unclip and then off to transition.  T2 was slower (1:00) than I would have liked but the HWY 64 climb must of have done a number on my legs as they refused to cooperate. 
I was a bit worried that my run time was going to suffer due to the lost training after Guntersville and the slow run performance at Mach Tenn.  I targeted an 8 min mile and started off through the cemetery.  I suppose any cardiac events at this point in the race would be quite convenient assuming there was an open plot nearby.  The run course had lots of turns but plenty of volunteers.  Where was the water station coming out of transition (whine)? At least the temperature and the clouds were helping.  Kept the pace near 8 minutes and got a couple of high fives on the run course from fellow Fleet Feet Triathlon teammates.  I did let out a sigh of relief that Rick’s bib number had given me the head start I needed.  As we passed on the run, I only had about 1 mile remaining.  He is still the master and edged me by 55 seconds.  My finish time 1:22:32, 60th OA.  Incredible weather and great race day! Great podium representation by the Fleet Feet Triathlon Team and overall big turnout from the Huntsville/Madison triathlon community.  The only downside was not getting my measly 1 point for the Southeast Championship Triathlon Series…11th place in my AG is worth zippo.  Post race checkout revealed the ample amount of Body Glide applied inside the heel of my running shoes took care of any blistering in the Achilles area that I had from the last race. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Beth Barry: Rock 'N RollMan, Macon, GA

This past weekend I made my 5 hour way to Macon, GA for the Rock ‘N RollMan Half, which is a Setup Events event (B2B is another). This was my first race of the season so I was finally able to sport that awesome Fleet Feet kit that is imprinted with two places I have lived – Nashville and Huntsville! My goal race this year is IM Louisville, so to take the guesswork out of training I partnered with a pretty fabulous coach from Endurance Concepts in Atlanta. We chose the race in Macon as a B race to gauge training to this point. I have been missing many local races with the team making sure that most every race I do this year has some purpose towards the IM.

I had originally signed up for the complete Half, but due to various running injuries since Pine Mountain 40 trail run in December, I changed to Aquabike. For many of you who have swam with me in open water, I have had some problems with anxiety in the water over the years. I have had a DNF because of open water anxiety, yet the next month do just fine in another race. I practiced an OWS in Guntersville the week before this race and it did not go well. I was a total mess.  The week before the race I practiced some imagery and mantra’ing, and as hokey as it sounds, it worked.

This race is at Lake Tobesofkee, a beautiful lake surrounded by some constantly rolling hills. I was able to get to the race site early the day before, pick up my race packet, listen to the race briefing, and check-in my bike. The next morning, my coach met me at the race site (did I mention she was fabulous!), gave me a sweet pep talk, and warmed up with me in the water. Thankfully, I was feeling little to no anxiety about the swim aside from race day excitement. The water temperature was a balmy 82 degrees, somewhat like bath water. The Aquabike division was with the second wave of swimmers, mixed in with the men. My first mass start ever, so I moved to the outside front, which worked out perfectly. I am happy to report that other than feeling like the swim went on forever, I had no problems with the swim. I took it slow – very slow – and steady thinking of it as a training swim, not a race. There were 12 in the female Aquabike and I came out of the water 7th (44:33).

As in most lake/river swims, there was an uphill run to transition, so I walked once I crossed the mat to calm my HR down for the bike. Transition went smoothly (1:21). The bike is where I am most comfortable and my stronger event, so I was in my happy place for 56 miles. On the bike I had one water bottle, one bottle with EFS, 2 gels, and one Lara bar. There were two aid stations that I grabbed the water bottle as I rode by and used to drink a few sips and cool off with but tossed soon after the aid station. The route was constantly rolling but the time I lost on the hills I was able to make up on the downhill and use some of the momentum on the next uphill. I moved up to 2nd Aquabike on the bike course, finishing in (2:42:31, 19.8mph avg). I was aiming for between 20-21mph, but that was before I really knew the course!

I highly recommend this race if you are willing to travel - great venue, well run event, with some good competition. Next up, IM Louisville!

Mach Tenn Race Report by Kasandra Garner

It wasn't cold, and it didn't rain.  I want to start out with that, because after the first few races of the season, those two conditions alone meant that I was a happy racer.  I don't usually think of myself as a wus, but I have definitely gotten more sensitive to cold wet weather in my "masters" years.  When I was in my twenties, I wanted to race the Iditarod one day.  Yeah, that window has slammed shut and been painted over.

But as usual, I digress.  I was really looking forward to Mach Tenn this year, because it is a swimmer's race.  For a sprint, it has a relatively long swim and long run, which plays to my strengths.  Add in extremely choppy water and I was happier than a river otter in rapids.  The only slight handicap to my having a great race was that I had gotten a nasty bite from a dachshund at work the day before.  The feisty little dog had taken on a coyote and was lucky to be alive, and to show how grateful she was that I had sewn her chest back together, she latched onto my thumb as she was coming out of anesthesia.  Friday night it was swollen to twice the normal size, but by Saturday morning I could almost bend it.  I practiced switching gears using my pointer and middle fingers, and I was good to go.  It was my first transition set up that included antiseptic wipes and band aids, but probably not my last.

As usual it was awesome to see all of my tri peeps pre-race.  The weather was perfect, and packet pickup and body marking were quick and easy.  I racked between Suzanne Erickson and Rick Grief, so I was surrounded by positive triathlon mojo and experience.  Of course, I now know that Rick Grief likes to sling his bike up any old place on the rack when he gets back in to transition to the run, but when I've done as many triathlons as he has, I think I might feel entitled as well.  I finally made it to the pre-race photo, usually I'm wandering up as everyone else is dispersing.  There was quite a showing of Fleet Feet team members, which made it the race even more fun.

The swim was awesome.  Waves and bodies everywhere.  It was by far the most challenging conditions of any triathlon I've done, with swells bigger than the ocean swim at Gulf Coast a few weeks ago.  I loved it, even though it meant I wasn't going to be laying down a smoking fast time.  A little dizzy on the run up the hill to the bikes, which is to be expected after all that bobbing in the lake.  The bike course was a bit hilly at times, and the one good flat section felt like there was a head wind (but then doesn't it always feel like a head wind?) but I managed a decent bike split.  The wind was refreshing on the run, and cloud cover kept it from being unbearably hot.  Brent Sherman and I played leap frog on both the bike and the run.  My style is to slog it out at a near constant pace, he apparently prefers the sprint-then-coast method.  His method proved to be least on the run :)

After the finish, I enjoyed beans and corn bread and beer while trash talking with the guys I train with in Scottsboro.  Overall, we couldn't have asked for a better day to race.  And I received a beautiful piece of pottery for coming in third masters female, so really, life is good.  I can't wait until the next one!  Train hard and have fun, tri peeps.

1:36:56    swim  15:16    2:15    bike   47:21    1:01   run   31:05

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mach Tenn race report - Mark Hudnall

Saturday June 2, 2013

Mach Tenn at Arnold Air Force Base.  First time racing at Mach Tenn, so if nothing else I set a new PR today!  Superstitious nutrition plan…don’t change it, EVER!  Oatmeal, peanut butter toast, banana and coffee. 

Showed up early to get the pick of bike racks and set my self up on the end of the rack right next to the bike in/out.  Got settled in and took the bike for a spin on the run course to warm up the legs.  I had driven the course the day before but this warm-up reinforced how much fun the rollers would be during the bike and run.  Kudos to the race director and volunteers, the transition area was well organized and body marking was easy to find.  Another nice touch was carpet coming out of the water all the way to your bike rack.  Burning time…headed to the FINISH line for the team picture…the one that was happening 45 minutes before race start.  (Note: Race start was at 8:15.)  Ran into Wes Johnson on the way… yep, picture was already over.  I took a selfie.  I’ll be 15 minutes early next time.  Time to don my neoprene super hero disguise  I really want a wetsuit that looks like Spiderman or Superman.

The swim started and the best part of my race was over 15 minutes 22 seconds later.  Lots of chop for the swim, but I was able to keep a steady pace and minimized the zig-zag.  I passed lots of other swimmers and ultimately only drank a little bit of lake water.  Stumbled out of the water and up the hill to get started on the bike. 

Bike mount line was a little tight with lots of folks jammed up right outside the timing mats.  No place for my Batman flying bike mount (superhero theme…I don’t know why).  Finally got moving and began the rollers.  It felt like crosswinds or headwinds the entire bike course, or it could be my lack of miles on the bike in the last few weeks.  Most importantly, I held off Rick Greif until almost mile 8 on the bike.  So what.. that he’s (almost) old enough to be my dad and that he started 15 swimmers behind me.  He told me to look the other way as he passed me on the bike so as not to hurt my feeling (singular), what a nice guy.  I watched him pass others as he went out of sight singing, “Merry Mach Tenn to all and to all a good ride”.  I thought maybe I’d catch him on the run….Nope.

The run began and I could see that my knee was still recovering from whatever happened at Lake Guntersville.   Not wanting to walk the last mile, I kept the pace a little slow starting off.  This transitioned to just plain slow thanks to the gentle rolling Tennessee terrain.  I was able to add a little go at the end and made better time on my last mile.  Probably should have started off a little faster.  Great support in the final turn by Rick and Dennis Mix as they provided motivation to finish strong.  Either way I finished with no noticeable injuries. 

Post race blackeyed peas and cornbread was outstanding.  Came in 15/30 in my age group and 174/378 overall.  I still enjoy this sport and I’m looking forward to another “PR” at Monster Tri in 2 weeks!!  Great work by the volunteers at all of the intersections today on the bike course.  The water stations on the run course were frequent and very appreciated.