by BlueHost Reviews

Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon 2016 Race Report

Created: Sunday, 03 July 2016
This is my second time racing this event. It is fun, and well organized. My goal was to beat last year’s time of 3:0027. It was much cooler last year, since it stormed the night before. The temperature had been in the mid 90s, and heat remained on race day. This made it very tough to beat my times, and I finished at 3:02:02. My second goal was not to be the slowest swimmer in my age group. I was the 2nd slowest last year. I improved with 11 folks slower than me this year. I still have a ways to go, but I’m making great progress. The bike and the run went well, but the sun and heat slowed me down, so I missed those goals. Overall, I am happy with my race.


I arrived in Chattanooga the afternoon before the race. Check in was a breeze. 30 seconds at one table to get my numbers and shirt, and 15 seconds at another to get my timing chip, and I was all set. I went for a short bike ride to ensure everything was working properly. In 90+ degree heat, I was soaked in sweat and got a tan even though I was only on the bike for 10 minutes. I decided to wait until race morning to check-in my bike. Security did not look tight, and I didn’t want to be worrying about my bike all night. I had dinner with several athletes, then relaxed in the hotel for rest of night. I read my race report from last year, and came up with my strategy for race day:
  • Swim: Beat last year’s time and not be the slowest in my age group. I was 2nd slowest last year
  • Bike: With a new bike, I should average 19.5 mph. Last year was 18.5
  • Run: Average less than 9:30. Last year was 9:17.

Race Morning

Staying relaxed with Team Zoot teammate Katrina pre-race
I followed my typical race routine. I woke up at 5 am, at oatmeal and fruit, and started hydrating. I could have walked to the race start, but I opted to drive to avoid having to walk afterwards. I set up my race area neatly, and caught the shuttle bus to the race start.


It was a time trial start, so everyone enters the water one at time, and the swimmer starts about every 3 seconds. The order is based on your bib number, which was determined based on the times submitted during registration. I learned, don’t enter a slow time, else you will be starting in the back and racing during the hottest time of the day. So my artificially fast time had me start in the middle of the line. There was a very long wait, which allowed plenty of time to socialize and stay relaxed. I had 2 Hammer energy bars, Hammer Gels, and Hammer Heed in my water bottle to keep me fueled. I’m glad I did this, as I had no nutrition issues all race.
Eventually, it was time for me to line up, and I stayed relaxed as I approached the swim start by singing my favorite songs. The organizers ensured there were always at least 3 swimmers in the water ready to go that there would be no delay. I was only in the water for about 10 seconds until I was told to start. I started my Garmin 920xt, and off I went. The current is faster in the middle of the river, so my goal was to swim there. I kept finding myself closer to the shore on the left side. I realized why after the race when I saw that the river curves to the right. *Ugh* I should have known that from studying the course, but I missed it. Swimming straight leads you straight to the shore. You have to swim to the right to stay in the middle of the river. This would explain why I swam over 1862 yds in a 1600 yd course. The current was definitely moving, because I swam at 1:45/100 yd pace. Much faster than my lake swims. This was my first time racing in a speedsuit. I wore the Zoot Speedzoot to help me be more hydrodynamic. I’m seeking any aid I can get to survive the swim.
Swimming straight (into shore) is the long way!
A couple of times, negative thoughts came into head. I am known to panic in open water, and felt fears of being in bottomless pit starting to overtake me. Both times, I was able to return to my calm state, and slow down my heartrate by singing my songs even louder, and remembering that I’ve done this countless times before. Trust my training, keep swimming no matter what, and I’ll be fine. I was right. There was the big orange triangle buoy marking the end of the river route, and head towards the stairs. The volunteers were waiting eagerly to help me out the water. That was much appreciated.
Goal: Not be the slowest in my AG. Last year: 32:59, but river current is a big factor Actual: 31:50 Rank: 55/66 Progress!!


The transition route changed this year to avoid bumping into the newly added Sprint distance race that started earlier. That was fine, more people to pass as they walked to their bikes. I unzipped my Speedzoot down to my waist, and jogged over to my bike, which I knew was 9 rows down. Apparently, I dropped my goggles somewhere, because I couldn’t find them afterwards. Ugh! Glasses on, helmet on, helmet strapped, shoes on, and I was off!
Time: 3:21 Rank: 19/66 Fast!!!


End of the bike course
The bike course is a hilly out and back down Highway 27. It’s pretty cool riding on the highway. It seems that you’re always either going up hill, or downhill. I started off maintaining a 20 mph average, but then the sun came out blazing. I was still moving well, but my pace was slowly dropping. I would laugh at the folks that would try to pass me, usually on the up hills. Every time, I stayed steady, and I would catch them. On the flat and downhill, I would try to drop them. Only a couple of riders were able to stay ahead of me.
The only near incident was when I approached a lady that was drifting in the left side of the road. I nicely yelled, “On Your Left”. No response. As I quickly approached, I yelled louder, more sternly. Nothing. Now I’m about to pass, and I just screamed her ear off! She apologized, but she had pushed me across the double yellow line. I was pissed, there was little room for error at that point. I took my anger out by passing even more cyclists! LOL
I felt good as I finished the bike course. To speed up my transition time, I removed my shoes while I was on my bike, but I did not do a flying dismount.
Goal: Beat last year’s time of 1:25:25 Time: 1:23:46 Considering temperatures were 15 degrees hotter, I’m happy with this! Rank: 26/66


Shoes off prior to dismounting!
I ran barefoot to my transition area, but somehow my count was wrong to identify which row my bike is in. I knew it was after the 4th row. I was wrong, and had to back track after running down the 5th row. I never did confirm, but I suspect from the Bike In point, there is a half of a row of bikes that I didn’t count the other end of the row. Oh well, lesson learned. There was only one bike already racked. A lady next to me taking her time getting her run gear on. I figure I’ll show her how it’s done. I put on my Zoot Laguna shoes, and grabbed my run belt and visor and ran out. While I was running, I put the belt and visor on.
Time: 1:47 Rank: 16/66 If I didn’t get lost, I would’ve been smokin!


Running strong
The sun tried to slow my run
The sun is really out and blazing now! I was missing the breeze I felt on the bike. Big time! It was clear quickly, I was not going to reach my run pace from last year, nor be able to maintain my target pace. I settled in a 10 min/mile pace, stayed hydrated, and used 1 Hammer Gel to stay fueled. The steady pace worked well for me, as I tried to pick it up for a final sprint. I finished strong! It was an enjoyable race. I was feeling overheated, so I sat in front of a cooling fan for a while, then cheered in my other training partners.
Goal: With the heat, just maintain a fast pace. Last year’s cool run was 57:44 Time: 1:01:16 Run Rank: 35/66
Final Time: 3:02:02 AG Rank: 33/66 Overall: 55/691 (Not counting the DNFs)


Post Race
Always, finish stroing
I was very pleased with my performance. I treated it as a training day, as I prepare for my first full Ironman race. After a tough Half IM, this race was a breeze. My nutrition and hydration is on point following Hammer Nutrition’s plan. My swim felt great wearing the Zoot Speedzoot. As you see, it hardly slowed me down at T1. My new bike, ¡Rayo!, a QR PRsix TT bike was very fast, despite the stifling heat. I wore the same shoes I’ve been training and racing in, the Zoot Laguna. I’ll be visiting my favorite tri shop, for new goggles soon! This race will definitely keep me motivated until my next race in August, the half iron distance Lake Logan Tri in North Carolina.
Enjoying the comraderie from the Black Triathlete Association
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