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Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon 2015 Race Report

Created: Saturday, 27 June 2015

2015 Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon2015 Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon0.9 mi swim, 26 mi bike, and a 6 mi run. This was my second Olympic distance triathlon, and it was a breakout race for me!  It was definitely a basis for me to improve upon with confidence.  I impressed myself by achieving what I couldn't imagine myself having the ability to do: Swim a mile non-stop without a wetsuit in a race. Even though I was the second slowest in age group, I successfully completed the swim within eyesight of my competitors, allowing my bike and run to produce a strong race performance.

Pre-Race

 

Pre-RacePre-RaceI arrived a day before the race with an hour-by-hour plan to get a pre-race bike ride in to ensure everything is in great shape, an easy run to keep my legs loose, and a quick swim to get acclimated to this foreign body of water. I biked to the race start and checked in, then the heavy rain changed the rest of my plans.  I covered up my bike seat with finisher gift I received at Challenge Knoxville and covered up the handle bars with a trash bag.  After Knoxville last month, I learned to be prepared for the rain. Since I cancelled the run and swim, I drove the bike course to strategize and see if it was as bad as everyone claimed. I made note of 3 long climbs going out, and Bike is rackedBike is rackedlots of long fast downhills on the return. I crashed a dinner with the Atlanta Tri Club, and ate with several other Black triathletes. At the hotel, I filled up 2 insulated Hammer water bottles and 2 regular Hammer water bottles with Heed, by Hammer of course. I filled a flask with gel so that it would be easier and faster to consume than opening up gel packets. I wanted to ensure I stayed very hydrated and properly fueled.

I packed up all my gear in my Zoot bag, ensure I had everything.  Zoot kit, Zoot Ultra Race shoes, Zoot post-race shirt... I was all set. 

 

Race Day

BTA ready to race!BTA ready to race!I never really go to sleep before a race.  I just watch the clock tick by.  I woke up at 5 AM. At some fruit, started hydrating, and fueling myself with Hammer Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue capsules. I saved the Heed to drink after I arrived to the race start.  This had to be the longest pre-race event!  I arrived at 5:45, but the race didn't start until 7:30, and my wave didn't start until 8:00. After I set up my area, I caught a bus to the swim start at 6:40. 

 

I was feeling nervous thinking about the swim, but confident that my training had prepared me complete it without stopping. I kept thinking about my last Olympic race at Knoxville, where it took me forever to complete and I grabbed a kayak 3 times to compose my mind.

 

Swim

 

Bathroom lines!Bathroom lines!At the swim start, there were near 1,000 racers just standing around waiting for the 7:30 start time. The port-a-potty lines had at least 30 folks in each line. I chatted it up with several racers until it was time for me to line up.  The swim start was by bib number, and I was number 816.  I thought it would take forever, but it didn't at all. Only 30 minutes from the 1st racer to my time.

 

This was my first time trial start. It was supposed to be 3 seconds between each swimmer starting.  The announcer said the race official will tap your shoulder and tell you to "Go" when it's your turn, but that wasn't the case. It was pretty get in, and go in bib order. As I approach, the official is basically telling everyone to go, and not wait for the person in front of you. I racer I just met at the transition area started panicking and hugging the wall instead of swimming. This rattles me, now I'm confused and don't want to start myself. The official yells "Get in and swim!"  so I go. A few strokes in, I realize that I forgot to start my brand new Garmin 920xt GPS watch! I think, well, swim without it. Anyone that knows me that any workout that's not tracked by GPS doesn't count!  So while I'm swimming, I wake my watch from sleep mode, switch to tri mode, and hit start. Yeah, I lost about 5 seconds, so what!

 

I had learned that the current is faster near the center of the river. When I looked up, I realize I was drifting near the shore. So I make my way to the towards the center, and whoa!!!!! This was the first time I have ever felt a current. It was like I was swimming with flippers!! As one swimmer passed me, he kicked my hand.  I went to check my watch, and it was loose!! Arghh!!! I have a quick release strap so that I can quickly transfer the watch from my wrist to my bike and back without missing a beat. I lock my watch back into the strap, and remain paranoid for the rest of swim whenvever any swimmer came near me. That was a close call.

 

I had a few funny moments.  Twice, I looked up and saw the next buoy far away but I made sure I was swimming straight. Next thing I know, I was swimming into the buoy!! The current was so fast, I approach the buoys faster than expected, and actually passed it on the wrong side. I was hoping I wouldn't get a penalty. And thought, how the official know my race number?   The other moment came as I was passing under a bridge. I was aiming towards a clearing, but the current was pushing me into the massive bridge support!! There was one swimmer next to me that was in a worse position than I was. We were both swimming sideways to avoid getting pushed into the bridge. Somehow, I avoided swimming into him, and I cleared the bridge. 

 

Stairs from the swimStairs from the swimNow my thoughts were about completing the swim without stopping. My mind kept wanting to take stop and take a break, but I just kept on swimming.  The safety kayaks were frequent, but far out of the swimmers way.  That was a good thing.  If they were close by, I would want to grab one. But staying at a distance, the only reasonable option was to keep swimming forward. Then there was the finish line. I Knoxville, I had to pull my tired, weary body up onto a platform by myself by rolling onto it. Exhausting. I was so relieved here that the volunteers helped by pulling me up onto the stairs. I made it!!!  Completed the swim without stopping. I couldn't swim in the deep end of a pool a year and a half ago, and could have never imagined being able to swim this far unassisted.

 

Swim Time: 32:59    Swim Pace: 1:54/100yds  (I'm typically a 2:40 pace)

Place: 88/89    (Yeah, second from last, but I achieved my goal)

 

T1

After staying horizontal for a long swim, it takes a moment to adjust to being vertical again. I climb several stairs one by one allowing me to adjust, then I run to my bike. Everyone around me is walking. Weird, I was on a mission to start my favorite part of the race.

 

Time: 2:36

Rank: 17/89  (That's right, I was faster than most everyone!!!)

 

 

Bike

End of the bike rideEnd of the bike rideI knew what to expect on the 26 mile bike ride from the preview drive. The course was a down and back in the left lane of a highway that was still open to traffic. I executed my plan perfectly.  There were 3 climbs going out, and paced and conquered all of them, passing everyone in eye sight. There was a lady that I kept leap frogging.  We chatted a bit, and enjoyed the competition. I was clearly a stronger cyclist, as I would blow her away on every climb.  But on flats and downhills, her expensive and very aerodynamic tri-bike had a clear edge. She kept passing me like clockwork. This continued for about 20 miles. After the last climb, I picked it up and never saw her again.  I was worried I would get a penalty for either drafting or blocking, but I didn't.  I was not drafting intentionally, but on up hills, it gets congested. When I was talking with the aero girl, I could have been penalized for riding on the left side of the lane without passing. I coasted to the end of the ride to get my legs ready to run

 

Time: 1:25:27     Pace: 18.2 mph      Max: 38.2 mph

Rank: 59/89   (I need a tri bike!)

 

T2

 

I quickly found put on my Zoot Race Ultra shoes, and TriSports.com visor. My running belt was pre-filled with 2 Hammer gel packs. I was off to begin the run, but forgot where the "Run Out" exit was. A volunteer pointed me in the right direction, and the final leg began.

 

Time: 1:39

Rank: 26/89  (Another fast transition time)

 

 

Run

This 6.2 mi course had the worst obstacle one could have after a long bike ride: STAIRS!!! I always climb stairs by 2 steps, and out of habit, I did the same and whoa did it hurt!  The rest of the run was scenic along the riverbank with lots of twists, creating a variety of scenery. This is important, as my mind never got bored. As the temperatures warmed, this was the test of my hydration and nutrition. Both were on point.  I stayed properly fueled throughout the race. There was only one problem, and that was I never really had my running legs back after the bike. They improved with each mile, and my splits were also getting faster as I approached the finish line.  When I made the final turn to the finish chute, there was lots of cheering and support from the spectators! I felt extremely accomplished.

 

Time: 57:44  Pace: 9:22/mi

Rank: 67/89

Strong finish!Strong finish!

Final Results:

Time: 3:00:27

Age Group: 68/89

Overall: 487/789

 

Special Thanks to my sponsors: Zoot, Hammer Nutrition, and TriSports.com

For more info and photos, visit my website at http://DerrickB.com

 

Earned this finisher medal!Earned this finisher medal!

BTA crewBTA crew

 
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