Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rewind: Triple T

If you haven't heard of The American Triple T Ohio... it's a real treat of a race. Early in the season (May 21-23rd ish), it covers an Iron-distance triathlon over the course of three days, 4 races. Doesn't sound too bad, but the the course is absolutely brutal. You can expect chilly water, relentless hills of all kinds (short, long, longer, steep, steeper...), some equally crazy downhills (make sure your brakes are in working order!) and to top it off, a beautiful, but demanding trail run, with many many hills as well.

Since it's been a month and half since I did the race, I will pretty much copy and paste the emails I sent out to close family friends after each race, and include some pictures. Here are some highlights I should mention first:

  • It takes place in Shawnee State Park near Portsmouth, OH. Beautiful, Beautiful, but very hilly.
  • We stayed in the cabins...reserve them EARLY! They usually are rented out a year in advance. It doesn't hurt to keep checking prior to the race if there was a cancellation. That's how I got one last year (my first year doing the race).
  • The cabins are AWESOME! Usually 2 bedrooms, with bunk beds. You could easily sleep 5-8 (or more...) per cabin. You have a kitchen, TV, utensils, a grill outside, etc. Stop at a grocery store before you go to the race site, as there is nothing close by.
We got a hot tub cabin!!

The race format

Friday - RACE 1: Super-Sprint

description from website:

SWIM: The 250 meter swim is a counter clockwise loop course in Turkey Creek Lake with participants starting in a time trial start every 3-5 seconds. Swim start is a dry land running start. Wetsuits allowed....GOOD BECAUSE THE WATER IS CHILLY.

BIKE: The 5 mile bike course is a challenging loop course to the top of the resort and back. Bring your climbing gears....YES. HIGHLIGHT OF THIS COURSE IS UP AND DOWN A BIG HILL. This section always scares me a little since there are so many people flying down the hill...but I stayed upright :)

RUN: The 1 mile run course is an out and back course on Lamp Black Run trail. IIICCCK!!! The grassy area you run on to get to the trail was swamp-like. everyone's shoes were ruined :(

One cool thing about this race is that you get to know the people you are racing with very well! I was fortunate enough to travel with some awesome people in my tri-club - Chris Sweet, who was racing as a team with brother Andy Sweet, and Mike Donahue was racing solo (as was I). I also met up with my Trakkers teammate Kati D. who was racing as a team with her husband Paul. Finally, I also chatted with Kathy K. and a few others I met at this race last year! We keep coming back for more!

Kathy and I!
Kati and I!

After each race we took our recovery very seriously...

I found it very advantageous to travel with 3 athletes... no shortage of food, that's for sure!! Here's Chris about to dig in...

Mike and Andy grilling our steak dinner!
Saturday - Race 2 Olympic (7:30 AM) Swim 1500yds, Bike 25mi, Run 6.2mi

It had stormed the night before, and there was flooding on the original bike course they had planned for the morning. Fortunately, the "afternoon" bike course was good to go, so they made a smart last-minute race decision and switched. The swim was in the same place (just longer), and the run was in the same trail, just a longer out- and back (more hills). They also decided to bypass the grassy area and have us run on pavement to the trail (lengthened the run course a bit, but smart decision).

Here's the "recap" email that I sent to my mom and my husband:

2nd race (normal olympic) is done! Whew!

Water was cold! But here’s the weird part – I liked it! It reminded me of fresh cold drinking water....strange. Swim was fine, but I’m retarded and forgot to put on my chip! When I got to transition I saw it on the ground – yikes! I told a couple volunteers and talking to the timing guy when I finished and it was all good, I started with bib # 210 (I’m 207) so we just used his start time.

Bike was FUN!! Cara Sweet (Chris's wife) let me use her powertap (Chris set it up). That put a whole new spin on biking for me. I’m guessing my “threshold” power is 200 (based on test a couple year ago) So I planned on staying around 175-185 the whole time, so I’m putting the same amount of effort into the flats and the hills. I would have raced completely different if I didn’t have the powertap, I would have gone WAAAYY too hard, especially on the hills. The powertap also tells you your cadence, speed, distance, etc. and it definitely verified that my cadence is super low, like 80-85, when I should be saving my muscles and pedaling 90-95. The whole “fast” anything is just not cool for my slow twitch muscles I guess

I kept spiking up to 200-250W, which definitely FELT hard, so I knew I had to back off! I passed lots of people on the rollers and flats going 180W, but on the hills the same people SMOKED themselves...I knew I was working as hard as I should, 180-190W, and they were passing me. Suckers. Save it for Sunday.

I also feel SO much better that both of my wheels have spokes! I felt way more confident on the descents. I honestly wasn’t “scared” at any point, and I didn’t use brakes as much as I usually do. :) Getting there! Dan – we did the “afternoon” course in the morning, because the course we were supposed to do was really wet and they wanted to give it some time to dry up!

I was not looking forward to the run, since it POURED last night and the course was already swampy! But I was pleased to find out they took the run back on the street and avoided the swamp grass :) We still went to the trail, which was a little muddy, but it was fine. I took it really easy on the run, but felt good. Mom, this course is on a dirt trail and it’s REALLY hilly. I could talk the whole time, and actually for 3-4 miles of it I jogged and talked with this 48yr old guy from New Jersey. The run was very enjoyable and I felt good! My hamstring/butt pain is starting to get sore, but the soft trail and heel inserts are keeping my foot issue at bay :)

I’m having a great weekend! The temp was mid-60’s and overcast – PERFECT. It will definitely be more challenging when it gets hotter. For the 2nd race it’s going to be 75-77 with some sun, and tomorrow is supposed to be 60 at the start, and 82 when I finish...

a recovery nap, post-race massage, and a few hours later...

RACE 3: Olympic 3:00 PM... non-traditional format Bike 25mi, Swim 1500yd, Run 6.2mi

Here's the recap email:

I am aaaaaacccchhhhyyyyy.... No muscles are screaming at me, but I am achy and tired all over!

Weather was good – low-mid seventies, mostly overcast. The “other” bike course still had a lot of water on it, so we rode the same course as this morning!

Time trial start... I did well on the bike. Actually, less than a minute slower than this morning! So, time was pretty identical! Felt even more confident on downhills and stuff, but I was definitely starting to feel some tired legs...

Next, put on the wetsuit and did the swim. The water was coooooolllldd, but it felt good after a minutes. Hey Dan, remember the cramping from last year? YEAH. I stood up after the first loop and my left quad SEIZED on me.... I just stood there for a minute like OH CRAP. So I just “fell” back into the water for the 2nd loop...and when I got out I stood up way early so I had water helping the weight on my legs....took baby steps... And when I got out no cramps. Sweet.

Run was good! Probably a little faster than this morning. I think I love the compression sleeves...I wore them this morning and afternoon, and NO soreness in the calves whatsoever. I’m pretty much running on my toes up the hills :) Thank you husband for the awesome Christmas present :) Still running VERY slow, but no walking and I feel good. I really did love every minute of the run. The last 3 miles I met another old guy who looooved talking and telling me about his races, so I was occupied and running easy the whole way back. Felt great!

As soon as I finished I went to “creek” with the cold water where everybody takes an “ice bath”....socialized there and got a massage. The lady was awesome!! I achy, but not totally sore, so I should be able to hold out tomorrow :)

Mike has been racing really well, but Andy and Chris had a fun time this afternoon lol. Chris was pulling, and kept checking to make sure Andy was on his wheel, so he would look back, see a person, then keep trucking. Well, right before the HUGE descent (like 2-3 miles?) he sat up to tell Andy something...and realized it wasn’t Andy! Some jerk was on his wheel!! So he started descending/braking waiting for Andy, some people passed him, then he eventually stopped to wait for Andy.....minutes go by....and Chris had ALL the flat/repair stuff, so we thought Andy must have gotten a flat and had nothing to fix it! So he turned around and went back UP the monster hill....kept going a couple miles until a point where he KNEW he and Andy were together...yikes. So then he turned around and went back to the hill....

Andy had actually PASSED him while he was braking on the downhill, and this whole time Andy was waiting at the bottom! Andy figured Chris must have he starting biking back UP the hill...til Chris came flying down. LOL!!

Oy off to bed... We are pretty much leaving right after I finish (I’ll probably finish around 2-3PM, so leave by 4?) unless they make me go to the lodge and shower lol . We have to check out of the cabin in the morning before we start.

More on recovery... I pre-booked a 15-min massage after each race, which definitely helped! The "creek" was also like a natural ice bath - lots of people took advantage of that too!

SUNDAY: RACE 4 HALF-IRON... 1.2mi swim, 56 mi. bike, 13.1 mi run

Here's the recap...

Ahhhh Triple T…success. The 4th and final race took place on Sunday.

5:30AM wakeup call was really rough. I started feeling a cold coming on before the weekend…and it definitely acted up a little bit on Saturday (lots of snot), but Sunday morning….uuugggh. Snot, congestion, and feeling like a got hit by a truck from the previous 3 races…yowza. Didn’t complain about it though- I don’t like training/racing around people that complain (it brings ME down, so I don’t do that to other people :)

We had packed most of the stuff in the car the night before, but we still had to eat, throw our final stuff in the car, get all our race stuff ready, clean and put away dishes, take out the garbage, etc…and head over to the lodge to check out before getting to transition at 6:30AM for the 7AM race start. Everything went pretty smoothly…

Until I get down to the race start at 6:40 and realize I left ALL my nutrition bottles in the fridge in the cabin! And we had already checked out!! Race started at 7 and I had to get m transition ready. Crap. Chris let me use some of his sports drink, and I planned on using the stuff on the course. Bummer, since my First Endurance EFS was totally working for me the whole weekend! At least I still had my First Endurance Liquid Shot flask!


Again, water was REALLY COLD. But again, strange enough, I kind of liked it? After the first 5 minutes though J I felt good on the swim, but the 2nd loop was rough- some people were swimming “dirty” and being very mean- most people who “Triple-T” are very chill, laid-back, and encouraging! However, you do get some Tri-FREAKS there too. The swim was a little short, which was FINE with me ;)


Since I averaged 175W on the bike yesterday (165W in the afternoon, but that included “soft-pedaling” on descents that I didn’t do in the morning), I roughly figured I could average about 150W, maybe dipping down into 140W. For the first loop (28.5mi), I averaged 146W. Now let me tell you about this course….CRAZY HILLS, like every Triple T course. The first couple miles of the course is a “false flat”….which is later a fast downhill on the way home. This can be discouraging starting off….then you go into the forest, and wow it is beautiful. The temperatures were steadily climbing throughout the day, and this course was almost completely on fire roads within the state park, so not only was it BEAUTIFUL, but it also provided LOTS of shade!

Climb, Climb, Climb….I tried to chug along at my “self-prescribed” watts…but there were quite a few hills that required more power than that just to grind up!! I’m not a big fan of those super-steep hills that you feel like you will fall off if you “forget” a pedal stroke, but I kind of like truckin’ up the long gradual ones… One feature of this half-ironman course are the “switchbacks”…where you go up up up back and forth back and forth for a long time…going 5-6mph, 175W, cadence like 50-60rpm gives you some time to enjoy the scenery!

With every uphill there IS a downhill…and they were FAST on this course. By this point in the weekend, there were only a handful of sharp turns that I had to use my brakes on, and I even felt confident enough to take some of descents in my aero-bars (this is HUGE for me). If climbing and descents are your thing, this is the course for you!

Thing that bugged me on the bike: My flippin’ upper back! Probably from tensing up on the hills and downhills, it was very limiting the 2nd loop. The 2nd loop was about 6 minutes slower than my 1st, and averaged 10W less…my legs were okay, but it was hard to push with my back screaming at me!

I also stopped for a good 3-5min at the turnaround to down 7 oreo cookies and refill bottles… it’s a training weekend right?


Starting the run it was HOT- 75-80 degrees? My goal was to RUN the whole damn thing, so I started my shuffle at the beginning so I would last. I did NOT love every minute of this run, like I did yesterday haha. Now don’t get me wrong – I LOVE sunshine, but not when it’s 80 degrees out and I’m racing! Luckily, there is a LOT of shade on the run course (Lampshade Bridal Trail) since it’s a dirt trail in the forest. But no surprise, SUPER HILLY. I felt terrible starting out, but knew from experience if I took it easy I would come around. Well, I came around and felt “normal”, just worn out and achy. UP and down, up up up, DOWN. Most people that were running were flying by me. I knew that I was running where I needed to be though. The last mile to the turnaround is rough downhill…which means that you have to “run” back UP. Again, most people were shuffling (quicker) than I was. I started getting annoyed by the heat…and the bugs…but then I remembered that everyone else was going what I was going through, and that’s why I’m going to be a badass for finishing Triple T…again! So I kept truckin’ and tried to enjoy my beautiful surroundings.

During the runs yesterday I was lucky enough to ‘buddy up” with a runner to chat with and make the time go by. We chatted about training, races, life, etc. No complaining, remember? Well at the end of the first loop some dude kept trying to talk to me…”MAN it’s hot! This is stupid! And the BUGS!”….I ignored him.

2nd loop I was curious to see which strategy would work better:

My strategy: “Jog” no matter what. Even on the ridiculous hills, I would show some sort of “flight pattern” thus I would be “jogging”. Then I shuffled on the downhills and (few) flats. Other people around me were walking up hills, then running on the downhills and flats. We played this game the entire loop. Going toward the turnaround, I was thinking that maybe they had a better strategy…I would pass them going up (or just catch up) then they would fly ahead. However, the massive 1-mi climb, I passed 8 people. Some caught up and we played “catch-up” on the way back, but I beat them all. And passed 3 other people too. The last 2 miles I picked it up and actually felt like I was holding a good pace vs. just shuffling. I had a really strong finish in the HEAT (82 degrees), then I was DONE!!!!

I immediately went to icy creek to cool off – felt great. Then got my massage (aaaaah) then got my stuff ready to go! Chris and Mike are so awesome for waiting so patiently for me, they are FAST and were finished WAAAYYY before I was…they had already eaten, showered at the lodge, and packed up all their stuff. I checked to see if the cleaning ladies held my bottles – nope. Threw them out. DANG.

But guess what- I reserved a cabin for NEXT YEAR!! WHO’S IN??

1 comment:

Mom said...

Wow you are an amazing woman!! Your Mom here is very proud and impressed at what you can set your mind and body to and do it!!!
It took a long time for me to get here and finally read all this but it sure was worth the time to read it!!! I love who you are a strong beautiful woman!