Saturday, June 15, 2013

Monster in Pulaski - Tri Race Report

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. 

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