Katie Dotson

Black Bear Sprint 

I've never met a perfect race.  Yet, some weekends... all the things came together for a not-so-perfect, pretty-darn good triathlon race.  

The biggest factors in order of importance that win out are - #1. surrounding yourself with awesome people, #1. prioritizing quality recovery and sleep, #1. good day-in and day-out nutrition, #1. strength training, #1. diversified exercise, #1. excellent medical support and #1. (it warrants a second mention) people that encourage you to be the best version of yourself.

All the things that went pretty well during the Black Bear Sprint Triathlon:

  • I remembered all my gear after not pre-packing the night before
  • My husband pumped up my tires perfectly, he's pretty great in general
  • All the pre-race (and post-race) high fives, hugs, smiles and love
  • Swimming came back naturally 
  • My bike shifted like a dream
  • Took in, what seemed to be, the right amount of water during the bike
  • Nailed the flying dismount (still love this!)
  • After the first mile of the run, I finally found my run legs! I felt smoother, my heart calmed down, my head found some peace, and I knew I could finish well
  • I pushed hard throughout the race, and particularly during the final portion of the run
  • My belly cooperated for the majority of the race
  • Smiling faces and cheering was everywhere!!  I heard you and felt all the love!  It always helps =)

All the things that were "not quite so awesome" during the Black Bear Sprint Triathlon:

  • I forgot to set an alarm
  • Breakfast was a bit different than usual because of said no-alarm
  • There were a few places on the bike where my brain told me to keep pushing, but my body just didn't respond.  I took a few deep breaths, eased up on the gears, allowed my body to settle in... then asked it to push.  Seemed to work!
  • Can we take a moment to pause about the first run-mile off the bike?  Yall, it's not pretty.  Your body says, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME," your brain says... all the mean things / I can'ts / I don't wanna / and more, and, your heart... well mine wants to explode out of my chest.  Some days you listen to one part or the other. 
  • For the first mile, there was quite a tug-of-war between good and darkness in my brain.  Ultimately, I chose to speak truth into my head and heart... "it may be slow, it may suck, and yet, just keep putting one foot in front of the other"
  • I forgot to smile on the run =(

And, with all that combined (good, awesome, bad and ugly), I placed first overall female.

Big thanks again to Podium Sports Medicine, Dr. Kevin Sprouse, Bike N' Tri, William Norris, my husband, fabulous friends and teammates, and all around awesome people for making days like this a reality.  Yall are all first place in my heart.

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Jeff Snyder

CROWDERS RIDGELINE RUCKUS 25K

This trail race was one that I had looked at doing for weeks because it was new and also offered a 10k distance for Stacy to run. I had put off signing up as per my usual method and finally we decided to give it a go. I passed up a 20 mile 8,000 elevation day in Frozen Head for a 15 mile 3,000 elevation race. 

I went to bed early on Friday night because we planned to leave at 4:00 am to make the trip over to Kings Mountain, NC. The 3:50 alarm wasn’t too bad. I never seem to sleep soundly because I always worry about over sleeping. We were off at 4:05 and the trip over the mountain went smoothly. Race site was easy to find and parking was not a problem. This was a new event and a new race director. Both myself and Stacy felt like it was a great event and the RD did a fantastic job. I’m never worried about new race directors because I’m there to run.  This wasn’t a big event so I was excited to try and be up front which is not my normal MO. I took off with the lead group and passed 4 people in the first mile. I knew I was solidly in the top 10 but wasn’t for sure exactly where yet. The course was well marked and rolly with hard packed clay. A course that was easily runnable the whole length which can often times wear me out.  As I got closer to the turnaround I counted runners in front of me and at the mid-point aid station I was in 5th place with 4 runners hot on my heels. At around mile 9 where the hills came back in to play a runner got up behind me but I left him in the dust on the climb to the peak. Coming down I hit it hard to put space in between so they wouldn’t be able to see me and make a push of their own. I had held 5th place since mile 2 and didn’t want to relinquish it. I got to the last aid station and new I had 3 miles to go. I dug deep and ran up the long gravel access road, once I hit the trail section again I pushed the thought of tired legs away. Within a quarter of a mile to go I saw a runner coming downhill as I was going up a switchback. I kicked it in and took it to the finish line a minute ahead of him. 5th place was mine! 

Overall Finish 5th place out of 38 runners.  First place masters. Overall time was 2:49

Derek Tingle

Three Rivers Rumble 

It’s been a while since I’ve had to write one of these!  I took a little bit of mid season break (somewhat unplanned thanks to pulling out of a couple of XTERRA’s due to weather) but it has given me a chance to really put in some serious work on the bike.  I capped off this bike block with my second go at a road race.  It’s always fun lining up on these things since I’m known more around here as a triathlete rather than a pure cyclist.  I enjoy the change of pace at a pure cycling event, though.  It’s nice to not have to think about saving any legs for a run off the bike.  It’s just about putting everything you have into the bike effort.  I had no real expectations for today’s race since the only other road race I have done was the Oak Ridge Velo earlier this season.  I had a pretty successful day finishing on the podium out of a successful 5 man break-away.  If you want to hear how the day unfolded, just read on Dear Children!

I arrived at the race around 11am, a little under 2 hours before my race went off at 12:50.  I found a good parking spot with some room and deployed my new CVT awning for some shade/rain cover during my warmup.  It worked perfectly!  I set my trainer up and, after getting my numbers and pinning them on my jersey (the correct way this time.. Thanks Michaela!), hopped on the bike to warmup.  I had a prescribed 35 minute warmup from Coach Lana which did a great job of getting my legs ready.  This race has no neutral roll out so it’s go time on the whistle.  The course also kicks up straight away so the legs need to be ready to go.  

Warmup complete, it was time to go line up.  The race plan was to stay near the front, do as little work as possible and try to hit a break-away if it formed.  On the whistle we rolled out and the pace started quite managable.  I sized up several guys pretty quick who looked like they knew what they were doing and started trying to recruit them into trying to break.  After several unsuccessful attempts I had almost given up hope on a break but I gave it one more shot off of a left hander heading toward the climb.  I got a good gap and could see there was one guy coming across to me.  I let him catch in hopes we could make a go of it.  He didn’t have the strength to pull once he caught me though and I shut it down.  Luckily, we hit the climb soon after and we managed to get a group of 5 guys away on the descent.  It was a bit of a shock but I looked back and there was no one there!!  I yelled to the other guys that we had a gap and we needed to work.  We worked very well together rotating through and sharing the work until the penultimate climb of the day.  It was there than on a little roller one guy put in a small attack.  Another guy went with him and, since I was already deep in the hurt locker, I decided to let them go and just try to reel them back slowly.  It was all I could do anyway.  With only one more turn to go onto the highway they had somewhere around 10 seconds on the other three of us.  We tried to pull them back but the legs just weren’t there.  After dropping the third of our trio, the other two of us sprinted for third.  It was very close but I barely got him at the line for the final podium spot.  

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I really enjoyed this race.  It was fun to actually get a break-away to succeed.  I also feel like I was one of the main contributors to that group’s success. I do consider myself more a “super domestique” than a podium contender in most situations but it was fun being on the pointy end of the classification and getting to stand on the steps (even though I wasn’t eligible for a medal since I don’t have a yearly USA Cycling membership).  Maybe next year I’ll put a little more effort into bike racing, who knows?!  For now, it’s just fun to be the triathlete in a cyclist party.

Doug Slater

2018 Tour de Rocky Top - Doug Slater

I have an allegory for race day from the director's perspective. It's like playing Lemmings. 

  Figure 1: Lemmings leaping to their doom

Figure 1: Lemmings leaping to their doom

What is Lemmings? It's an old DOS video game in which bipedals walk inexhorably in the direction they're told, usually toward a hazardous cliff edge. The player must build structures, dig holes, and remove obstacles before the lemmings arrive, often by mere seconds. If the player fails, the poor things tumble to their death.

I did not ride this event. Instead, I volunteered. I played Lemmings. I only had one job: to stand ahead of a dangerous curve at mile 6 on Neubert Springs, wave an orange flag, and bellow, "Be careful! Go slow! Don't crash!” RaceDayEvents also placed warning signs at this spot. Last year there had been two crashes. Thanks to these preemptive measures, this year there were none. We gave each other a high-five.

After Neubert Springs, I spent the rest of the morning riding around and chatting with the race director. I gained insight into the business and logistics of running a race.

 

  Figure 2: Hanging out with RaceDayEvents

Figure 2: Hanging out with RaceDayEvents

Why didn't I ride the 85-mile route as planned? On Sunday, July 1, I crashed my bike, and badly. After an ambulance ride and three CT scans, I was informed that I had achieved a "minorly displaced clavicular fracture". Believe me: the pain, discomfort, and disappointment have not been "minor". 

From my previous experiences as a runner, such as failing to qualify for Boston twice, I am well prepared to handle disappointment. I will be out of training for an undefined number of weeks. As soon as it is safe, I will do my best to maintain fitness. I've developed some ideas with my coach and already executed on some. I'm also taking a boatload of supplements.

There are a few implications from my wreck other than not riding TdRT. I will probably forfeit Storm the Fort. Most significantly, I will not participate in my season target race, IRONMAN Chattanooga. However, thanks to the transfer program, instead of forfeiting my $800 registration, I was able to transfer to November 3's IRONMAN Florida. This buys me four and a half weeks.

Please allow me to recommend to you the following improvements over my disastrous ride:

    1. Maintain excellent grip on the handlebars. My crash was caused by my hands slipping forward on the handlebars while braking. I reflexively gripped tighter, unintentionally slamming on the brakes. The rear wheel lifted, and I was dumped over the handlebars. I did not wear gloves on this ride, and if I had I might not have crashed. 

    2. Remember that triathlon bikes are extremely twitchy. If that had been on my mind, I would have not braked as aggressively. My weight was already forward, and I was easy to dump.

 

Jeff Snyder

Summer Solstice Olympic 

Buster Poindexter’s famous song “Hot Hot Hot” sums this one up fairly well. Most of the week I was worried about the water temperature. You see, I haven’t invested in a wet suit yet and well I don’t care for cold water. Forget that I hadn’t swam in 2 weeks due to work and family constraints or that I had only practiced open water swimming twice. Nope, the temperature was all that worried me. Well a couple days before the race, I did a pre-ride and went and checked the water which felt really good. That eased my mind some. But I was checking the water temp in the afternoon and along the edge only. We all know that water temps are much different in the morning and get colder as you go deeper into the water so I knew it was going to be a wait and see kind of deal until race day morning to know how warm the water may be.

Race morning went much smoother than any other race in quite a while. I arrived in plenty of time to check in, set up shop, and still had almost an hour until start time. I stayed away from the water until race time got closer. I heard the RD say the water temp was 77.5 which meant it had gone up in 3 days since his last notice. Good news for me! Stacy took a picture of me walking around the water smiling really big. She said it was her favorite because I looked happy. I told her it was because the water felt great! This being only my second tri and first open water, I tried to watch and learn from others.  I also noticed that there were more athletes at this race with the same body build as myself. I’m more on the muscular side and it was nice seeing other athletes more my type compared to the usual stick thinned athletes that no doubt keep me in the rear of the competition.  haha

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5,4,3,2,1 and we were over the yellow tube. It was a long swim but I never really tired. Just tried to find a good flow. Super thankful it wasn’t choppy. The only waves were from the boat watching us swim. I finally made it to the beach and started my way to the bike. This transition went much better than my first at trideltathon. I went sockless for the bicycle part and finally having a kit helped me as well to not change. The bike was as expected. I’m getting better the more I ride and kept what I felt was a good pace. The cars on Tellico Parkway don’t mess around. They seemed to have a sense of entitlement and didn’t want to give any space to us. I survived and had what I thought was a decent time. I passed others the first half and only got passed by two ladies (who finished first and second). The run was quickly approaching and I jumped off my bike and again felt like I had a good transition. Not crazy fast like people who have been doing it for years but it was efficient and I got out quickly. Early on the run was ok but slower than I wanted. The blacktop sucks the life out of me. It was HOT HOT HOT. The concrete levy was also hot and long. My times got progressively worse as the 6 miles passed. Something that I try to not let happen, happened way too often over the last 3 miles. I got passed by at least 6 runners. Dang, I was not doing well but I kept pushing. Finally the end was in site and I finished my first real triathlon of any solid distance. 

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I crossed at the 3 hour mark and was disappointed in that. Later realizing the clock started 15 minutes before, I felt better about my time. Racing against people who have been doing this for years isn’t easy but I’m mentally tough and taking this in stride and improving. My second triathlon, first Olympic distance and third open water swim was fun and I enjoyed it. I learned a lesson not to do 2 bricks with days of the race. I did a 24/3 and 13/2 on Thursday and Saturday. Next year I won’t do that but this year is all training, learning and improving. I like these things and look forward to Chattanooga Waterfront soon. Hopefully I can have a little better time/performance in my hometown.

Ashley Powell

Springbrook Sprint 

      Springbrook Sprint Triathlon was one great way to start off my triathlon season while celebrating Memorial Day with great friends. I have had several weeks of great training leading up to starting my triathlon season, and Springbrook is always a great race to test the fitness and find what needs to be focused on throughout the next training blocks. As race day approached, I was ready to get back into racing but was unsure of how the race would play out. The swim was super short, and I felt great going into the bike. The bike portion was great overall, while my run was decent for the start of the season. Overall, I was excited to finish with the top female spot. I am glad to have the first race behind me, and I am ready to see what this triathlon season has in store for me over the next few months. I could not be more thankful to all those that directed the race, volunteered, or spent the morning racing; you all are awesome. A big thank you to Dr. Sprouse, Podium Racing, our team sponsors, and all that continue to support me in my efforts; I am truly blessed. 

- Ashley 

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Derek Tingle - Xterra Knoxville

As I sit here on my couch in my recovery boots watching YouTube videos and eating chips and hummus it’s easy to look back on the muddy, nasty mess that was XTERRA Knoxville and think about how I should have just not lined up to start.  The reality is never that easy though.  It’s just not in me to commit to something and not see it through.  So, against my better judgement, I took on a completely saturated trail system and it did not go well.  

The day started as normally as any race day does.  I went through my, as now famous, pre-race routine and loaded up to head to the race.  Being a local race, I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to arrive.  Transition opened at 6:30 and I arrived soon after that.  I got a spot on the front rack and set up my gear.  I knew going in that it was going to be muddy.  We’ve gotten a LOT of rain in the last 10 days or so and the South Knoxville trail system doesn’t drain well.  Still, though, for some reason the thoughts like “it can’t be THAT bad” still run through your mind when you are setting up in a beautiful morning.  

After some mingling and roaming around it was time to head to the water.  Water temp was mid 70’s which meant wetsuit.  Being the 3rd (?) wetsuit race I’ve done this year it’s getting easier to fight my way into the suit now.  I also managed to put it on the right way the first time so that’s a plus.  Anyway, I got in the quarry lake and did about 5 - 10 minutes of swim warmup.  Some easy strokes first, then a few hard efforts and a light tempo back to shore.  Quick aside, After Oak Mountain and my calorie bonk I took a Gel to top off the tank about 20 minutes before getting into the water.    Warmup done, all that was left was to wait for the cannon.  

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On the cannon, I went and I went hard.  I knew the bike was going to be slow going so I wanted to put as much time in as I could in the water.  I knew the wetsuit would give me some extra speed, so I took advantage of all that I could.  The swim went really well and, according to Garmin, I averaged 1:33’s which I’m very happy with.  

 

Coming out of the water, I ran up the rocky hill to T1 while stripping off the wetsuit.  T1 went a bit slow since I was using MTB shoes with BOA closures and my hands were slippy but still not bad.  I did a sweet flying mount too which gave me some cool points in front of the crowd.  I, of course, immediately lost them when I nearly ate it crossing the railroad tracks out of the parking lot (but maybe no one saw that)...  I’d love to go into a great detail about the bike course but I’m really struggling to remember the finer points as,  for the majority of the ride, I was just trying not to die.  Here are some things I remember, hopefully somewhat in order.

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  1. Sweet flying mount
  2. Almost ate it at the railroad tracks
  3. Caleb passed me on the gravel
  4. Turned on to the single track and immediately started hating life
  5. Luke came up behind me and remarked something like “Great day for some mountain biking!”
  6. Fell down on a slick root or rock or something
  7. Said vulgarities.
  8. Attempted to brake and found my lever loose.
  9. Chased my rear brake lever around my handlebar the rest of the day.
  10. Fell down on the slippery bridge.  
  11. Got passed by 2 dudes in my Age Group
  12. Walked a lot of the technical bits.
  13. Got super muddy
  14. Did sweet flying dismount.

So there, in a nutshell was the bike.  Now, for the run… 

I came off the bike knowing there were at least 2 guys in front of me but luckily just up the trail I came up to my buddy Jake.  I settled in with him for the first 3 miles.  We were cruising along in the 10’s which was about all I could expect for the day.  I could tell that the fine muscular usage I had put in trying to stay upright had fatigued my legs more that expected.  Coming back through the transition area I had my second run in with railroad tracks for the day.  As I came across them, I took a bad step and my hamstring locked up.  I said a very bad word and was brought to a complete stop.  I did what I could to release  and eventually I could walk again.  Further on I started to jog.  Then came the big hill.  Tharp Trace trail is tough even when it’s dry.  Wet, it was a nightmare.  I hiked it.  There was no running that thing today.  Happily, my new Inov-8 trail shoes gave me AMAZING grip and I was able to keep my footing throughout the entire run.  As I crested the hill and started down the other side my legs were functioning again so I picked up the run when I could (read: when it was safe).  At the bottom of the hill I hear footsteps and look back to see Sue Finney barrelling down on me.  I tried to pick up the pace but the legs just didn’t respond and she made the pass just before the finish chute.  

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Considering the conditions, I will say I’m happy to just come across the finish line unhurt.  There was definitely a lot on the mental side that held me back today and the best I could muster was a 4th place Age Group finish.  After my first crash on the bike I had a little conversation with myself about where we were heading this year and what our goals were.  With Age Group Nationals the big goal race this year and not XTERRA it didn’t make any sense to take unnecessary risks and chance a season ending injury.  So, today became about just managing risks and coming in safe.  In that aspect, I had a successful day.  I have a few weeks off from racing which will be nice to reset and get some solid training efforts in before my season picks back up with XTERRA Tsali and Secret City Sprint.  Thanks, as always to my coach, team, sponsors and family for your continued love and support.  You guys mean the world to me. 

Kelsey Wyrosdick

Ironman 70.3  Chattanooga 

Two days before my 24th birthday, I completed the Chattanooga 70.3. This was my first half distance race and I had been training specifically for this race for about 4 months. 

Going into this race I had three goals: to finish the race, not feel like I was dying, and to enjoy the race. I’m so happy to say that I accomplished all three of those! Before the race, I was not as nervous as I expected. I kept myself in the mindset that this was just a really long training day and I think that helped calm my nerves. It also helped working with an awesome coach like Lana Burl (LB Endurance), so I knew I was as prepared as I could’ve been. 

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Jumping right off the dock and into the water was a new experience for me at the swim start. I’ve only raced with a beach start before. I felt a little restricted by my wetsuit at first, but I settled into my pace and felt great as it loosened up. I was chafed by my wetsuit, but didn’t realize it until I felt the stinging during the run. I was wondering where that nice downstream current was, but I didn’t feel too crowded during the swim and felt that I swam a consistent pace.  My average swim pace of 1:47/100 was right on track with what I have been swimming to finish with a swim time of 34:28. 

The bike course was fairly easy on climbing and the views were stunning. The bike is still my weakest area and I knew this going into the race. I would say this race taught me a lot about the areas I can improve. I felt good overall on the bike and ended up averaging 16.09 mph. I started out stronger than I finished on the bike. Starting at about mile 40, the outside of my feet were in a lot of pain. My bike shoes are either too small or I had them too tight. It made it difficult to push through those last miles on the bike, so I was looking forward to the run. I am still not as comfortable eating and drinking on the bike as I hope to be, so wearing a camelbak was essential in making sure I stayed hydrated. I ended up drinking all 70 oz. of water in the camelbak during the bike. I think that played a huge part in how good I felt on the run. I finished the bike in 3:28:51 and was ready to get the run started. 

Going into the run, my armpit was killing me from wetsuit chafing but my legs felt great. Two weeks before Chatt, at the Hammer Olympic Tri, I had tripped (correction…face planted) running out of T2 when I got my foot caught on a timing mat. I’m sure it was an amusing sight to anyone near transition, but my hip and knee had been bothering me off and on since then. I’ve had ACL surgery on both knees, so I’m always hyper aware of any knee pain. The Monday before the race, I couldn’t even run all 3 miles of my workout. I had to stop and walk for the last mile. After that workout I was extremely worried about the run. It is my favorite leg of the race and I wanted to enjoy it and do well. I hadn’t ran the rest of the week leading up to the race, so I had no idea how my knee would feel. Running out of transition, I had no pain (thank you Lord!) and was ready to start the run. The run was extremely hot and hilly, but I felt strong during the run. It felt good to be able to keep running up the hills and I was able to keep my stops to the aid stations. Thanks to sponges and ice, the heat was more manageable. I was thrilled to get 4th in my age group for the run with a time of 2:15. 

Throughout the race, one of my favorites parts was seeing teammates, friends, and family. I got to see my family (including fellow teammate and dad – Mike Wyrosdick) during T1, T2, and the run. I also got to see Ryan Hargis and family, Derek and Amanda Tingle, Lloyd Jones, and Renee Black throughout the run. It really gave me that extra encouragement to keep smiling and keep pushing forward. 

Overall, I finished the race with a time of 6:30:19 and finished 10th in my AG. I was so excited when I finally crossed that finish line! Months of hard work had all paid off and I loved -- almost ;) -- every minute of it. As an extremely competitive person, I knew it would be a challenge to keep from placing unrealistic goals on myself for the race. To help combat those unrealistic thoughts from creeping in, I focused as much as possible on taking it all in during the race. I wanted to enjoy it and I think everyone that saw me said I smiled the whole time. 

This was all around such an amazing experience. Being around so many other athletes throughout the race, having friends and family cheering me on, having strangers cheer you on, enjoying an absolutely beautiful course, and the countless volunteers made this race one of my favorite race experiences.

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Huge thank you to coach Lana Burl for getting me ready for this race and helping me meet and exceed my goals! Huge thank you to Katie Dotson as well! Katie helped me with nutrition and I was able to find what works for me before and during races and it has made a world of difference for GI distress.

Looking forward to the rest of the race season!

Derek Tingle

Part 1 

Xterra Southeast Championship - Oak Mountain 

One year ago I left XTERRA Oak Mountain completely dejected.  I made several costly mistakes that ended up causing me to fall from a solid 2nd place in the 30-34 year old age group to 5th in the last meters of the run.  It was gut wrenching.  It also drove me to race smarter the rest of the season and, in the end, I stood on the top step of the age group podiums for pretty much every XTERRA race I entered for the rest of the season.  Now, with a new coach, a new outlook on training and more racing experience it was time to take on Oak Mountain again.  Things went, well, better this time around.

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I woke up on race morning feeling good.  I had done a short opener brick the day before and the legs were feeling good.  I had commandeered the Podium Team Camper for the weekend which was SUPER nice.  I had a 5 minute drive around the park to transition so I didn’t have to rush at all.  I went through the morning routine of Cherry Pop Tarts and, after finishing up the pre race paperwork, I headed to transition.  

It was a beautiful morning, slightly overcast and very comfortable ambient temperature.  I got a good rack spot next to my pal Caleb.  As I was setting my gear out, it was like a family reunion.  It was great catching up with all my XTERRA family but soon it was time to move down to the water.

The sprint race went off first, followed by the Pro women and men, then it was my wave. On the cannon we were off on the two lap swim.  I felt like the swim went pretty well.  I didn’t get lost and pace was ok for first non-wetsuit swim of the year.  I came out of the water in a pretty solid 3rd place AG with a 29:32.  

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I had a good run up to T1 and, after a quick transition I headed out on the bike.  Now, last year I had a great bike but I made a couple of mistakes.  I definitely over cooked the bike last year so first things first, I wanted to make sure that I kept my effort in check.  Secondly, I didn’t get enough nutrition last year so my other goal was to get 2 full bottles of Inifinit in while on the bike.  As the bike progressed I felt very strong.  The long climb on the back side of the park went well, I didn’t crash and I got all my nutrition in.  Goals: accomplished!  As I came back into T2 I had a beautiful flying dismount before racking the bike, installing shoes, grabbing my handful of run gear and heading out.  Bike time: 1:44:11.

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The name of the game on the run was to not cramp.  I was keeping my pace manageable in the mid 8’s right where I wanted.  I could feel that I was in pretty decent shape but my gut was a bit sloshy.  I think a little less liquid and a stronger mix would have been a little better plan on the bike.  The sloshy gut made me not want to gel up like I planned at the start of lap 2.  I paid the price for that around 4.5ish miles into the run.  By mile 5 I was reduced to a jog but I was still running.  I held off the cramps save for one little twinge in my left hammie but I was able to run it out and finished pretty strong.  Run time was 57:41.

I was afraid to look at the results.  I knew I had managed my race much better than previously but I knew I had been passed by one guy in my age group on the run.  I cautiously looked at my finish card.  3rd place AG with a total time of 3:11:24.  I cut around 5 minutes off my bike from last year and around 12 minutes off my run.  I had a great race and even though I made a slight mistake on the run nutrition I made HUGE improvements from last year and earned a podium spot.  With the podium, I also punched my ticket to the World Championships in Maui for the second time.  Huge shoutouts, as always, to my team, coach Lana, sponsors and (of course) my wife!  Next up: Springbrook Sprint, then XTERRA Knoxville!  

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I know this isn’t my most entertaining report but hey, they can’t all be masterpieces. 

Part 2 

The Battle of Springbrook 

I was not ready for Springbrook.  I was not ready in several key ways.  Number one, I had two pretty intense workouts on Saturday and Sunday leading up to the race on Monday.  Number two, I was just not in the mindset for a hard race.  I guess, for some reason, I had discounted the caliber of athlete that would show up to this race.  I was, mistakenly, expecting a small to medium sized field of mainly first timers and weekend warriors.  While there was a large number of those athletes there, there was also a large contingent of VERY fast athletes there also.  I knew from the moment I walked into transition that it was going to be a fast, painful day.

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I lined up somewhere around 5th or 6th ish for the time trial swim start.  It was a 200 yd swim so I was expecting around a 3 minute swim.  After a quick race briefing, the line started moving.  I stepped up and on the word, I jumped in and started swimming.  I felt good for most of the swim but, as always, I was slow on the turns.  I can’t manage to flip turn and get under the ropes.   In fact, my turns in a pool race are usually quite a mess.  On the turn at 150 I popped up and there was someone right there.  I let him go.  He was a younger kid and, in my head, I figured I would catch him and make short work of him on the bike.  As I neared the last wall, I felt someone right beside me.  Getting out of the pool I realized it was (Podium Racing’s Own) Ashley Powell.  We jogged into T1.  The kid from the swim was racked next to me and was just grabbing his bike as I ran in.  I had a pretty good T1 and headed out.  Swim time: 3:02 (pretty much dead to plan).

The bike course was quite technical with several turns and hills right out of transition.  This made catching him much more difficult than I anticipated.  That, and he was a hell of a cyclist!  I was impressed by how well this kid was riding.  He was powering up the climbs and riding comfortably on his clip on aero bars on the flats.  Finally, once the road opened up to a bit of a rolling straight, I made the pass and stuck it.  Earlier in the bike he and I had gotten passed by two other racers (one of whom had just come 2nd in a 70.3 the previous day).  Not going to lie, this sort of got in my head.  I knew, however, that these guys were not only super fast on the bike but that even if I held them off on the bike they are faster than me on the run right now so it wasn’t a big deal.  Still, I don’t like being passed on the bike.  Anyway, back to the narrative.  After making the pass on the kid I focused on keeping the other two dudes in sight.  Bike Split: 23:23 with avg speed around 22mph (felt like I should have been faster here but just wasn’t there.)

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I came back into T2 about 30 seconds back from those guys.  T2 was quick.  I opted for a hat since it was raining and I didn’t want water in my face.  I hit the run at around a 6:15 pace.  That didn’t last.  Before too long, we turned onto the greenway and the course went immediately uphill.  I knew the younger dude was hot on my heels so I just tried to keep the pressure on as the course climbed and then get the speed where I could on the downs.  Eventually he dropped off a bit.  I still tried to keep pressure on because with the TT start I knew he started at least 5 or 10 seconds back so I would need that much in the bank to keep my spot.  At one point though, the course made a very confusing turn and it took me by surprise.  I couldn’t tell whether to go left or right.  I wasted a few precious seconds trying to figure it out.  Eventually I saw Ashley coming up on me and managed to yell “which way”.  She pointed left.  I ran left.  It wasn’t far to the line now and we made the final turn toward the finish.  I crossed with her just a few seconds back.  Run Split: 20:05, avg pace 7:15 (again, would have liked that to have been a little faster).

After the dust settled I had come in 6th overall.  5 seconds behind Ashley but 20 seconds ahead of my young rival.  I did manage to bring home another age group win but it was a very hard fought day.  There were a LOT of really fast athletes there and I do love to challenge myself by racing against this caliber of competition.  No rest for me though as this will be a short week before I’m back on the XTERRA circuit for XTERRA Knoxville this weekend. 

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Kimberly Hicks

Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga

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I am stunned and excited to report that I completed my Chattanooga 70.3 on Sunday.  It was a major feat for me as I hadn’t been racing in 2 1/2 years, had a few injuries over the last 2 months and a bike wreck 6 weeks ago causing me to stop running for a month total during training. And lastly, I had Bronchitis the week before the race and really thought I wouldn’t be able to do it.  2 days before the race, my lungs began to clear and  I decided to give it a try.

Chattanooga is an absolutely fantastic race though it is far from easy.  I loved having the Podium team cheerleaders : Rene Black, Mike Wyrosdick there for moral support. And another perk was a  photo op with the winner Heather Jackson! 

The swim is perfect with a self seeded rolling start so able to avoid the dreaded swim trampling.  I kept a steady pace and felt confident the entire swim. The current was turned off so we had little to no assistance there and the course was a tad short at 1900 meters.  However, my average swim pace 1:31/100 is by far faster than any previous IM race with an overall swim time of 29:27.

Next up, the bike!  It was a beautiful rolling course with quite a few steep tough hills.  My new Trek Speed concept with a bike fit by Dr. Kevin Sprouse didn’t disappoint.  I was able to maintain a 21mph average with an overall time of 2:40:20.  I felt strong and well prepared for the course and enjoyed powering past as many ladies as possible.  My overall bike was the 4th fastest in my age group.

The run was my nemesis!  I had the potential to place in the top 4 if I could just hang on to my normal training pace.  I began strong with 8:19-8:30 pace the first 3 miles but then sadly the gut attack began.  4 porta-potty stops, lots and lots of heat and humidity at 88 degrees caused a dramatic slowing.  Next came the hills too.  I have confidence that with more run training and no porta-potty stops, I can tough through a run like this in the future.  However, this Sunday, I sadly got one of my slowest half IM splits with a 2:06:07 @ 9:38 min/mile average.  

The end result however was a 6th overall place in my age group, a 5:23:42 my new Personal Record by 12 minutes!! It was so fun to once again be racing with my Hubby.  I am so pumped to race more this season and am grateful for the Podium team support, Dr. Sprouse’s expertise to help guide the way, and my personal coach, Matt Dixon from Purple Patch Fitness. 

2018 Here we come! 

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Katie Dotson

Where do I put my bike? Where do I get that thingy for my ankle? I forgot my run shoes.  Will you help me with my wetsuit? Wait, how did you get those numbers on your arms? 

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These were just a few of the questions I received the morning of Lakeside of the Smokies.  We had multiple team mates and friends taking their first sprint triathlon and Mike (my husband) and I were overseeing many last minute race details for more than just ourselves.  

Race day was a bit more chaotic than normal,  shorter than typical warmup and an unsettled wetsuit.  

And the gun went off,  er well sort of... it malfunctioned for the ladies start 😂

I'm choosing to overlook the swim.  

First transition went well with only a minor cramp getting out of my wetsuit. 

The bike portion of this race is my favorite!! Rolling hills, a few challenging climes, unmatched scenery, views of the lake and mountains, and more. I had fun, stayed on my hydration and rolled into transition ready to run. 

Like a typical run, it took about a mile to get my legs in the run groove. If you come across me that first mile, I'm usually quiet and focused and my face probably says it all (it's a good thing I don't play poker). Then a switch flips and I feel a bit more human. I pushed on keeping the gap between myself and the runner behind me... and I laid out my plan if I heard them closing in on me.  I rounded the last few turns and finished with a smile.  And hands on my knees.  

I was able to cheer in my two friends finishing their first triathlon. The smiles on their faces said it all... "I actually just did that... like a whole triathlon!" Best part of the day. 

Turned out to be a good race for me too.  I didn't realize I took third female overall until they passed my age group with awards and my name wasn't called! 

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You should invite a friend to join you for your next event.  It's worth the investment (and I know my first time friends are already looking for a second chance to chase that finish line feeling).

Derek Tingle - Lakeside Sprint

Welcome back to another episode of Tingle Does a Thing Then Writes About the Thing. This week’s Thing was the Lakeside of the Smokies Sprint Triathlon. It was a good day. When I finished it was warm (I’m not allowed to say “hot” because I complained about the cold all winter). So, it was warm.. And I was glad I hadn’t opted for the Olympic distance race. But I’ll bet you’re reading this because you want to hear about how I did with the swimming and biking and running. If you’re not here for that, then stop reading now. If you are, well here’s how it went:

Again, in the interest of not getting repetitive, we’ll jump in after the Pop-Tarts and talk about the race. I got to the race about 90 minutes prior to start. I racked my bike next to Speed Demon Bill Beecher in hopes that some of his fast would leech into my bike and shoes while they sat next to each other. I chatted with Bill and other friends as we got ready to start the day. It was a wetsuit race so about 20 minutes before go time I got the wetsuit on (correctly the first time today) and headed to the water to get a brief warmup. The sun was peeking over the lake and I knew once we made the first turn we would be swimming directly into the sun. I also knew that most likely there would be at least a few people around me so I hoped that would keep me somewhat headed in the right direction. After a brief race briefing the countdown was on and we were off. I went hard toward the first turn and stayed right with the lead pack. After rounding the first buoy, sure enough, blinding sunlight smashed my eye holes every time I tried to sight. I caught a glimpse of the next yellow turn buoy so I headed that way. I had Mike D next to me along the back straight. When we hit the second buoy I made the turn and headed for the next yellow buoy. It wasn’t there. I was confused but for some reason I thought if I kept swimming it would magically appear. Finally I came to my senses and realized the “turn” wasn’t actually a turn, but more of a “line adjustment”. I blurbled an obscenity into the lake and turned and headed back toward the course. I got back in the mix at the ACTUAL next sighting buoy and turned up my effort in an attempt to get back in the mix. I passed a couple people and finally headed to shore after rounding the last turn buoy. As my hand grazed the bottom I pulled myself up and ran toward transition. I ended up adding about 60m to the 750m swim with my detour but still came out of the water in 13:23 with a 1:31/100yd avg.

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There was a long run up to T1 but that gave me time to get the wetsuit stripped down to my waist. After getting to my rack, I got the suit off easily then installed my headband, glasses and helmet on my head, my shoes on my feet and (after running the short distance to bike mount) my butt on my bike. The bike course climbs steeply out of transition before heading down to the highway where I put the power down. I knew I had made up a few spots with a quick T1 and after making a couple passes on the road I I knew I was in second with Bill ahead of me. On the back side of the bike course there were at least 6 dogs running loose in different spots. I got chased by a couple of Terriorists and barked at by some big grumpy fluffers and befuddled a big brown boxer but we all went our separate ways with no incidents. When I made the turn to head back toward T2 I still hadn’t seen Bill so I knew he was ahead of me I just didn’t know how far and if anyone else was in front of him. I heard My Manda yelling “you caught Bill! You caught Bill!” I knew I had put in a monster bike, 43:29 and a 21mph avg which was good enough for the fastest bike split of the day! I’ll take that!

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I knew Bill wasn’t far ahead and I was fighting for an overall podium spot so I made short work of T2 and headed out on the run. I looked up as I ran out and Bill was probably 400m ahead of me. I knew it was going to be unlikely I would catch him but my legs were feeling good so I decided I would try to match pace and keep him in sight over the first part of the run and then see what I had in the tank for the second half. I held that same distance up through the first turn. We were running 7:20’s. I new I didn’t have much more than that at the moment so I hoped he was hurting too. At the turn he saw me and we exchanged mutual “Good work!” encouragement. It was also at that point he realized I wasn’t far behind. This is the point at which he engaged a running gear that I didn’t have at that particular moment and started to pull away. I tried to close the gap but it just wasn’t going to happen today. I knew I had a good gap on 3rd so I just held my pace around 7:10 and brought it home for a 2nd overall on the day. Run split was a 22:02 with a 7:15/mi average pace. Solid.

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Lakeside was the first race of the year that I could compare data to see how my new training plan with my new coach is going. Sure enough, I made some major gains on this race cutting 3 minutes off my total time from last year coming in with a 1:20:44. I made the most of that in the water (even with my detour) and the run. I’m happy with how things are going but there’s still a LOT of work to do before OLY Nats and Kiawah later this year. Thanks, as always, to all you amazing people that support me: Podium Sports Medicine, LB Endurance, ORR Cycling Carbon Wheels, Stoke Signal, Cedar Bluff Cycles, Healthsource Chiropractic Knoxville, Infinit Nutrition, Harper Auto Square, and my family, friends and teammates. You guys are seriously the best!

Doug Slater - Pistol Ultra & Lakeside Olympic

These were both new experiences. Before Pistol, I'd never set foot beyond 26 miles 385 yards. Before Lakeside, I'd never participated in a triathlon. Now I've run 50 miles and raced one-quarter of an Iron Man.

 On the “podium” at 4:30am after running 50 miles

On the “podium” at 4:30am after running 50 miles

In both events, my expectations were exceeded. In the marathon, I am used to cruising at 6:50min/mi with a heart rate of 155. At Lakeside, I averaged the same HR at 8:00min/mi, and the exertion felt like I was moving 6:00mi/mi at 170. Triathlon is hard. Nevertheless, I finished in 2:36:04, placing second in my age group. Not surprisingly, the run was my strongest leg. I sincerely appreciated the cheering from Mike and Katie Dotson and Caleb Johnson, the pre-race advice and prep from Jack McAfee, and the sweet support of my girlfriend Abby.

At Pistol, I ran 50 miles in 8:31:54, placing first overall. I didn't know I was in first place until I was told after finishing. I told people at the start, I didn't mind if I didn't finish. Dramatically, the next finisher was only a minute behind me. 

Pistol for me represented the end of a long journey, coming right on the heels of three years of training to qualify for Boston. Lakeside, on the other hand, represented the beginning of a journey which should take me at least through Iron Man Chattanooga on September 30.

 

Kimberly Hicks - Hammer Sprint

Back into the Tri Life and loving it!  My first Tri since October 2015!  My absolute favorite part was seeing all my old friends.  I had so much fun and was filled with excitement before the race ever started.  These Co-exercise addicts are just a fun bunch of folks.  Now, onto the race results.  

I was delighted to earn 3rd overall female in the Sprint Triathlon, however It was far from my best performance.  Why??  Because the Swim was an outrageous mass start with men and women in one heat.  In addition to that, the first turn buoy was less than 100 yards away (actually I think it was only 50 yards from the start).  The end results was a mass of people turning around the same buoy at approximately the same time!!  I sadly was in a direct line with the buoy so was unable to swing out wide to avoid the crowd.  I started strong and fast, empowered by my new found swim strength, I was ready to show the Tri world my new found love of swimming.  However, so did every male in the sprint race.  I was quickly hit, kicked and run over by all the huge men!!!  I was so flustered, mad and frankly felt like I would drown so I raised my hand and was rescued by a Kayak.  I then proceeded to wait until the entire mass of swimmers passed then began again.  After another 100 yards, my wet suit felt like a tourniquet around my neck so AGAIN,  I waved down a kayak and hung on while they unzipped my wetsuit which then basically became a DRAG SUIT!  

LOL- what a crazy beginning of a race.  But, I put on my big girl attitude, threw on my helmet and hopped on my new Tri bike and rode like the wind.  My goal was to pass every girl in that darn race.  Boy was I determined. I  Almost succeeded in passing everyone except the top 4 girls.

Next came the run, I saw the leaders as I biked into transition and knew my chances of winning were slim to none.  I started out with great speed but quickly settled into a more manageable pace.  I was able to pass the 3rd place female at about mile 1.5 but the top 2 girls just had too much of a lead.

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My conclusion- I learned that I need to learn the swim waves prior to 50 seconds before race start, then strategically place myself so that I won’t be cornered against the buoy and overtaken by masses of assertive swimmers.  I still have to say that I loved the experience as a whole and am so pumped to do my first 70.3 in 2 years on May 20!!  Chattanooga, here we come.  

Kimberly Hicks

Renee Black - Hammer Olympic

Hammer Time!

I once again decided to open my triathlon race season with the hammer olympic distance triathlon in Lenoir City, Tennessee. Typically the first race of the season is a time to clear away the cobwebs and get back into the flow of racing. But this race had an asterisk. I had ended my 2017 season at Age Group Nationals. I finished mid pack in my age group. That left me with a strong desire to work hard in the out-season and get back there in 2018. But there was a problem, I hadn’t qualified for 2018. Hello asterisk*

Race morning. I woke up before my alarm went off ready to tackle the day. I sat up, looked at my phone, and quickly realized it was 1:05 AM. Oops. Probably should try and go back to sleep for a bit longer. Three hours later then alarm went off and I was ready to go.

I was the first one to arrive at the race site. I’ve never done that before. Can we say anxious much? I got a prime transition spot, checked in, and went through the usual pre-race warm ups without a hitch. I made my way to water’s edge to listen to pre-race announcements while simultaneously preforming the ever so seductive wet suit struggle dance. By this time the hubs was there ready to clap, cheer, snap all the photos and hold all the things. I gave him a big neoprene scented hug and slowly made my way into the 67 degree water. 

I’m a cold water weenie so when I first got in I was not a happy camper. Everyone around me was hanging out in the water, having casual conversations and I’m over here trying to blow bubbles and control my shivering. After a couple of deep breaths I dove in and made my way to the first buoy for a swim warm up. After that, no more shivering! Yay! 

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The race fields for the sprint and the Olympic were small. So, instead of the typical separation of men and women we all went together in one big mass start. The sprinters went off first and I made my way to the yellow boom. Surprisingly, the start was pretty uneventful. I took a few seconds to let the fast dudes go and started my race. The swim to the first buoy felt great. I felt strong and very much in control. No real contact of any kind. Then I started having trouble sighting. I found myself swimming off course. I was losing my rhythm and my focus. By the time I got close to shore I really couldn’t see anyone in front of me. Here I was in very familiar territory. One of the last ones out of the water with a lot of ground to make up.

T1 was smooth and I was more than happy to be on my bike. I am very familiar with this course. Lots of rollers and unpredictable wind. Seven miles into a solid ride I did something I haven’t done since the first time I clipped into a road bike 7 years ago… I dropped my chain. I quickly pulled over, calmly put my chain back on and got going again. On the way back to T2 the wind began to pick up. I backed off my gear a bit and settled into a higher cadence. I pulled into T2 having made up some ground and ready to run. I wouldn’t realize until after the race I had just PR’d that bike by over three and a half minutes.

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T2 was quick and I was off on the run. It was a cool and overcast day. Excellent running conditions. Right as I started my run I was greeted with footsteps. A gentlemen pulled up next to me. He had just finished the bike as well and was headed out for the 2 loop course. We seemed to be keeping similar pace and for the next 3 miles we ran together step for step. As we were going out for lap two he picked up his pace. Looking back I should have as well. I didn’t meet my goal of negative splitting the 2 loops, but I still managed to improve my run time from last year! My 2 goals going into this race were to do well enough to requalify and improve my overall time. I am proud to say I was successful on both accounts! 

This is my sixth season of triathlon. I continue to enjoy the process of improving. Even more I enjoy watching others around me improve and gain confidence. I am learning to not get too bogged down by the lows and not too over-inflated with the highs. This out-season has made friendships sweeter and bonds have been strengthened. If you will allow it, triathlon and its awesome community will change you for the better. 

A big thank you to my husband, family, friends, team, coach and sponsors for all their support and encouragement! 

Knocking the Rust Off - XTERRA Ft. Yargo

After a long off season and and a slew of duathlons, it was finally time to get triathlon season underway at XTERRA Fort Yargo. I’ve spent quite a bit more time this winter on the road and, if I’m honest, I’ve neglected my mountain bike. I’ve ridden the mountain bike maybe 3 or 4 times since Christmas. You could say I was a bit... rusty. I was a bit concerned at how I would get on since I rely on my bike leg heavily and, while I knew my bike fitness was coming nicely, there’s a whole other side of mountain bike racing that is just a feeling. There’s a feel for the trail and a feel for the bike. It’s not something that can be taught, but more something you gain over the miles of riding your bike on dirt. It’s knowing how your tires will react to differing soil types and how your suspension feels going over varying roots and rocks. There’s another aspect to riding fast on a mountain bike that is a little less ambiguous that centers around being in touch with the trails. As you ride more and more in the woods, especially at different venues, you begin to develop an understanding of how trails work. You can feel, instinctively, where they are going to go next and what they are going to ride like. After taking some time off the trails, it was these things I knew that I would be lacking so I knew I would need to both swim and run strong to make up some time. So, let’s see how it went down, shall we?

Having camped in the park the night before, race morning was pretty easy. I decided to go ahead and pack up the roof tent and drive to the other side of the park instead of riding. Then, I’d just head home after the race. Transition opened at 6:30 with a race start at 8am. I woke up a little before 5, had my Pop Tarts, got the tent secured and then went to change and do my pre race paperwork. I got to transition around 6:20 and some others were already setting up. I unloaded the bike and found a pretty decent rack spot. The sun was beginning to peek over the lake and it made for an absolutely beautiful sight. There’s just something almost religious about being in nature at sunrise.

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Water temp was announced in the low 60’s so it would DEFINITELY be a wetsuit race. I expected it would be but, even still, I neglected to do any training at all in my wetsuit leading up. Looking back I’m pretty sure it had been over a year since I had been in that wetsuit. With 30 minutes until go time, I got suited up... sort of. I worked the legs of my suit on then as I stood up I realized that it was backward. Like I said, rusty. Second try was a success and happily my suit fit! I made my way to the water and hopped in with the others doing their warm ups. I splashed around for a bit and let the cold water seep into my suit while I put my face in the water to acclimate. I took a deep breath and dove forward into the cold. A few hundred yards later and I was acclimated pretty nicely. My lungs opened up and my breathing relaxed. I turned back and headed to shore. The RD went over the pre race instructions and then it was time. I lined up at the front of the pack and on the horn, tri season was under way.

I went hard off the start, following the toes and bubbles of the guy in front of me. After a few hundred he started to pull away and I settled in to a hard but comfortable pace. Standing on the shore the 1⁄2 mile advertised swim looked REALLY long. In the water, it felt even longer. Stll, my pace was good and I was very comfortable in the wetsuit. Around the final buoy, I was holding just off the lead pack. I could feel the fatigue in my arms and shoulders from the suit but I was still swimming well. I hit the shore and pulled myself up out of the water. According to Garmin, the 1⁄2 mile swim ended up being just under 1300yds. Still I came out in 19:14 with a 1:31/100yd avg pace. Solid. Time for the bike.

T1 was a bit slow as I fumbled a bit with my wetsuit. Wasn’t too bad, although as I rode away from transition I noticed something was a bit... off. I couldn’t really hear. I freaked out briefly until I realized that my ear plugs were still in. Ahem, rusty. I removed them and stuffed them in my kit pocket and pushed on into the woods. The bike was rough. I never got any rhythm and things just felt unnatural. Still, I made up for it somewhat by having a decent level of fitness and just powering through. I got passed a couple times which is, honestly, pretty rare. My buddy and XTERRA regular Caleb passed me a mile or so into the ride. This isn’t new, my swim is better than his but he is crazy strong on the bike and run. I held his wheel for a bit until he broke a spoke and stopped to fix it. A few minutes later, he passed me again... until his chain came off and I passed him. Once again, a little bit further, he passed me... until his derailleur broke and I passed him for the last time. *side note: He ended up finishing the race, and only several minutes behind me and was able to laugh about it showing a great deal of mental toughness and resolve through some terrible luck.* Rolling back into T2, I was actually excited to hit the run. I’ve been working heavily on my run and I’ve put in some good performances in the duathlons. I was very curious to see how that would translate to the trail. Bike time was 47 minutes by Garmin and the 10 mile course registered slightly short. Avg speed 11mph. Again, pretty rusty but not bad. I definitely need to get some more time on the trails before XTERRA Oak Mountain next month.

T2 went a bit more smoothly than T1. I headed out of transition following two other guys. I passed one of them pretty straight away and set my sights on the other. He was holding a strong pace and I knew that I likely wouldn’t be able to pass him but I could try and pace with him. I kept him in sight for the nearly 3 miles of the 4.5mile run. Eventually he pulled away on one of the climbs and I was left to push on my own. My legs were very heavy but I was able to will them to turn over. With a little less than .5 mile to go I heard footsteps and looked back to find Jake hot on my heels. He and I had some great battles last year before he went down with a health issue at XTERRA Whitewater and I was very happy to see him back and racing strong. “Where’d you come from!?”, I yelled. “Dunno, found my feet”, he said. I tried to hold him off but he was too strong for me and I let him go. I held on his heels and I was hoping to catch him on a sprint to the finish but he kicked with a couple hundred meters to go and I lost touch. Props to him on a blazing run! Looking at my stats, though, I am EXTREMELY happy with my run as well. I put in my fastest XTERRA run to date holding a 7:56 pace over what Garmin measured as a 4.15 mile course.

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All in all, everything came together pretty well and I was good enough on the day to come home just out of the top 10 (in 11th) overall with an Age Group win. I will say that I’m both satisfied with the performance and excited with where my fitness is at this point in the season. I feel like I’m running better than I ever have and my bike and run are both coming along nicely.

As always, I’m ever thankful for the support of my family, my team, my coach and my sponsors. You guys are the best! Next up will be Lakeside of the Smokies Sprint on May 12 followed by XTERRA Oak Mountain on the 19th.

Derek Tingle Earth Day Duathlon

It is the athlete’s responsibility to know the course.  We’ve all heard it from race directors and I agree but I also think it’s the directors responsibility to mark the course well enough to be followed.  Why would I start a race report out this way?  Take it from me children, there is not a whole lot more disappointing way to end a race than knowing your physical performance was not the thing that cost you a potential win, but rather a stupid COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE error. Would you like to know more about what I’m on about here?  Good, now put on your learning caps and read on.

I had not planned to race Sunday’s Earth Day Duathlon.  I had planned to show up and run and bike and run but I hadn’t even put it on my schedule or my race plan.  It was just going to be a workout.  When I saw that one of my racing buddies, Daeton was going to be there, well that plan went out the window.  Daeton is a stellar young athlete and on his way to many great things and I was really excited to go head to head with him at this thing.  I don’t like to be THAT GUY but I knew from looking at the extremely small field registered for this one that he and I would be the ones racing for the win.  The tale of the tape was stacked fairly evenly.  Daeton is the better runner but I knew that I had an advantage on the bike (even if that was only because I was on my TT bike and he races on a road bike).   I knew the race would be won on the bike for me.  I had to limit my losses on the first run, put as much time into him on the bike as possible and then hope it was enough to keep him from catching me on run number 2.

The race course was not posted before the event so I had no way to study it before hand and had to rely on the pre race instructions and course markings to get me by.  In the pre race briefing, the directions were given.  I thought I understood the course and figured, also, that the markings would lead me if I had a doubt…. 

The course started at Knoxville Center Mall and the runs were both on mall property.  We lined up and on the gun it was GO.  Daeton took off and I tried to stay on his heels.  Looking down after a couple hundred meters my watch showed a 4:55 pace.  WOAH!  Not sustainable for me so I backed it down a bit and let him gap me slightly.  It was only roughly a mile on the first run so I still kept it pinned pretty hard.  It was supposed to be an out and back first run but as we passed .5 mile there was no turn around sign.  We kept running.  A little further, still no sign.  Daeton looked back with a questioning look.   I yelled “keep going” we’ll just do a lap.  He nodded and we kept going.  I glanced back and the rest of the field was following us.  OK, good enough.  We came into T1 at just over a mile on the Garmin.  I yelled over at friend who was helping the race, “there’s no turn?!”.  She nodded.  Daeton was probably 40 seconds or so ahead of me at this point.  Not bad.  First run clocked at 1.14 miles and a 6:15/mile pace.

I had a pretty solid T1 and was out on the bike in no time.  I made my way out of the parking lot to the road and put the hammer down.  Before long I caught and passed Daeton.  Now it was just a matter of keeping the iron to the fire and putting as much time as possible into him.  I had a great bike and rolled back into the parking lot with a good lead.  As I approached transition, a volunteer asked me how many laps I had done (of the parking lot).  I told her 1.  She said go around again.  I KNEW that was not right but race brain took over so I started to pedal off before I hear the race director telling me to come back.  I turned and headed back in.  This cost me a good 10 to 15 seconds.  I was a bit miffed.  As I came into T2 I asked, “2 laps on the this run, right?” I heard a yes as I ran out of T2… the wrong way.  I was supposed to hang a right and do two clockwise laps.  What I did was run out and follow the first run course.  I realized this when about halfway around, I met Daeton… going the other way.  We both looked at each other confused.  Which one of us was right?!  We both kept going and I was almost back to the start of lap two.  The RD ran out and told me I was wrong but to just .5 miles and then turn and go back the way I came.  I did, however, on the way back I was directed back toward finish even though I had only gone 2 miles instead of 3.  I was then corrected again and sent out for another lap.  At this point, I thought about quitting.  Part of me thought, however, that they might just consider scoring by time since there was a very obvious break down in race markings and course direction so I kept going.  I finished my last lap and came in to see Daeton already across the line.  I finished the 2nd run with 3.13 miles at a 6:43 pace.  

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I confirmed with Daeton that I had, in fact, run nearly .2 miles longer than he did.  Obviously, I was (and still am) extremely frustrated with the way things played out considering I had a very solid performance but at the end of the day, it was my own fault for not knowing the course.  As frustrating as things like that are, however, I understand that things happen.  I have done many races put on by this RD and her events are typically VERY well marked and she does a stellar job.  This was just a case of my race brain taking over and there being a breakdown in communication in getting the course set up.  It happens.  The only thing that I can do is learn from this experience and use that knowledge to help me be a better racer in the future.  At the end of the day, I still crossed the line 2nd overall and because my distances were in line, I was allowed to keep my position even though I technically didn’t run the correct course.   

Thanks as always to my team, coach, sponsors and family.  Next up: XTERRA Ft. Yargo! 

Mike Wyrosdick - Road Race, Criterium, Trideltathon

ORV RR and CRIT and TRIDELTATHON

Better late than never . . .  

The ORV Cat 4 RR on Saturday was 50 miles of fun mixed with some pain.  Road racing and Crits are very different from triathlons.  Your efforts are more like bursts of wattage and intense HR spikes throughout the race.  Typically as you get into the higher categories the more organized teams become involved in how the race goes.  In ORV there were two teams that each had at least 4 members apiece in Cat 4.  Each of these teams would send guys on attacks throughout the entire race.  If you as a solo rider think one of these may stick you have to answer the efforts or be forced to sit in and hope the group can work together to reel in the breakaway.  I chose to answer the attacks every time one was made being that I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be in a break.  Which on about mile 20 of lap 1 happened.  Me and one rider from I AM RACING went off the front and were gapping the field by about 15-20 seconds and pulling away.  We were coming to the feed zone and at the main intersection before it he inexplicably turned right.  He would later say the marshall was flagging him that way?  Well it was now me by myself since I stayed straight and I knew I couldn’t hold off the group by myself so I dialed the effort back to settle back in with the group. 

I had just burned a lot of matches during my efforts with him when we were pulling away and as soon as the group got to me about 5-6 riders attacked.  I tried my best to stick to one of their wheels but they pulled away and once we hit Dickey Valley Climb for the second time my lungs and legs were starting to revolt.  I pushed through it and after the climb the damage was done.  Not only had the breakaway dropped me but now me and two others were 45 seconds off the back of the main peloton and 1 minute and a half off the lead group.  Here’s where the fun starts.  I don’t’ ever give up or mail it in so I continued to ride hard.  It was ironic that it was me and a guy from I AM who had blocked me earlier and put a nice elbow into me as I pushed my way past him on an earlier attack I had answered from one of his teammates.  So now it was me, him and a junior who probably weighed 95 lbs (not exaggerating).  We started to work to reel in some folks, only me and I AM were taking turns pulling.  We picked up another rider about a mile up the road.  Then we saw a couple of more guys and proceeded to gather them in as well, my buddy Rodrigo from Harper was in this group.  We now had 6 guys to work with, however they were all gassed and nobody was able to help pull.  It was up to me and I AM cycling guy.  We took the hard over 90 degree right hand turn that turns uphill and it was back to just Me, I AM, Rodrigo and the Jr. everyone else we picked up died on that uphill after the turn.  However, it was at this time that I AM tells me he’s done his legs are toast, as did Rodrigo.  I said OK lets see what you’re made of to myself.  I wasn’t ready to mail it in and said lets go catch these guys, we had cut into their lead and had it down to 30 seconds but time was running out.  I decided to bury myself and around the next turn I got a glimpse of them heading up a hill and around the corner.  That was all the motivation I needed. 

A couple of times the guy from I AM would say he was sorry he couldn’t do anything to help; I just told him to hang on for the ride that we were going to catch that group.  I didn’t realize at the time but the group had all come back together and that was everyone except one rider who stayed off the front.  We came up to the left turn at the main intersection and had about ¼ of a mile left to go to catch them.  We pushed harder and Rodrigo and I AM found the legs to help a little to get that final gap closed.  Right at the final right turn that was the finish we caught them.  As we rocketed up the hill now with the group I was excited to see what would happen the last 500M.  I was now 3rd wheel and set up really nicely for a good finish.  Sometimes you want your body to do things and it doesn’t want to.  I stood up to go and my quads said NO.  They locked up and I could just sit there and watch I AM, Rodrigo and the Junior all have top 10 finishes after being off the back for a good part of  Lap 2.  I’m okay with the finish.  Multiple times a couple of the guys thanked me for pulling us back to them.  As I looked at some of the efforts after the race I noticed one thing very different from most of my fellow racers.  My wattage 278W for the race (50.4) was hi compared to most others.  I AM was at 220W and Rodrigo was at 227W 2nd place was at 236W.  My best guess is that I burned way to much effort at the start answering attacks and getting in the break and then chasing back to the group.  Bottom Line I had fun.

Trideltathon Triathlon

Kelsey came into town for this one from Birmingham for the first race of the season.  I’ll be honest I was very unmotivated after the RR the day before and the weather but I still enjoy racing so I was there.  The morning started as planned, but as soon as we got to campus it started raining harder, arghhh.  We saw a lot of friends and teammates right of the bat; Katie and Mike D. were there and we set up really close to them.  We talked some a we set up.  Everyone was gone and I was grabbing a few last things and realized I had no bike helmet.  Swim was starting in 5 minutes.  I ran to my truck as fast as I could and grabbed it and ran back (that was my warm up).  The swim was starting as I walked through the door.  I ran up to where Mike and Katie and Kelsey were in line and jumped right in almost as soon as I got there.  

The swim was a struggle, lap 1 and 2 were good the middle laps were so so and the last 2 laps were good again.  Kelsey was really close to me on the swim, she’s really improved on it.  Out of the pool and into transition with no troubles.  I grab my helmet (thank goodness I remembered it) and shoes and bike and run to mount it and clip in.  There’s  a small problem, I switched my tri shoes to match my road bike and never switched them back to the tri bike cleats.  So now I get to ride without the ability to clip in on a rainy wet nasty day.  I kept it upright and the rain shortened ride was over before it started.  Rack the bike and start to run and my legs fell like to logs after the 50 mile RR from Saturday.  Mike D and I start the run at the same exact time.  I wasn’t “feeling it” so we run and make a pseudo pact that we will have a good steady run but not go crazy.  We see Katie and Kelsey on the run, Katie looks like a mad grizzly bear.  Kelsey look like she’s having a spry run.  Mike and I basically had a nice conversation for most of the run until he divebombed the last downhill and left me in his wake.  After it was over I ended up with  a 2nd Place in 45-49 and around 25 or so overall.  I had a very average performance overall.  Although I was super stoked that Kelsey finished 2nd Overall in 20-24 and only about 11 places behind me for a great overall finish in the mid 30’s.  Her great coach, Lana and Nutrionist, Katie D have got her geared up for her Half Ironman in May.  

Again I had fun seeing all my friends and enjoyed having Marvin and Brooke and Katie there to watch us and cheer us on in the crappy weather.  Now to go eat and get ready for the ORV crit.

CRIT Masters 35/45+

Way fun race with some heavy hitters; Most of these guys are Pro/1/2 and Cat 3 older guys that are “retired” from it but can still crush it.  I finished with the main sprint and won a little cash in the process.  3rd in the 45+ Catego

Poured down rain and frozen at the end but still had fun.

Crit Cat 4

Was burned out and missed the break in this one and finished half a lap back.  Legs were toast but I still was happy with the Masters Crit finish so it took some of the sting away.

Thanks to Podium Sports Medicine for allowing us to do the stuff we do. 

Thanks,

Mike

 

Chris Morelock - TT

Oak Ridge Velo Time Trial 

It's been a while since I last turned the cranks of my TT bike in anger. Actually, it was the Oak Ridge Velo TT last year that was the last time. As the schedule flipped this year it just so turned out it was the first race of the season this time! While the weather conditions would be vastly different, it would be a pretty good way to measure how I was progressing vs. where I was last year. 

For the nerds out there that are interested in such things, and to add some spice to an otherwise "I rode hard" style race report, here's the difference in the weather at 4p.m. (roughly my race start) between years

7/22/2017 - (16:51) 91° RHO(kg/m3) - 1.1422 with wind ~ 7mph blowing Southwest

4/14/2018 - (16:50) 77° RHO(kg/m3) - 1.1744 with wind ~10mph blowing South

What does that mean? Well, the condensed version is that the day was slower due to the conditions. (I know, I've just opened up a whole new world of excuses for people to use for a bad day now! "Yeah man, I was feeling good, but the Rho was just not in my favor!") While the lower temperatures "feel" better, in general we usually go faster when it's hot. (The caveat being if it's so hot that you are truly overheating) To expand - 

In 2017 I finished the 7.6 miles in 16:51:xx

In 2018 I finished the 7.6 miles in 16:50:xx

What was the difference then? It took me 20 more watts to cover the distance 1 second faster this year. I rode the same bike, same wheels and tyres, with equipment/position that gave me a similar CdA (I looked!)  or at least similar total drag, (total drag being a mix of CdA, rolling resistance and drivetrain efficiency) and paced the race similarly. (Note this doesn't account for traffic draft, changes in road surface over a year, etc etc) If you look at other repeat racers times vs. 2017, pretty much nobody went faster this year.

But enough of the nerdy stuff. This is a race report! 

As a full disclaimer and apology, most of the people racing the ORV TT had already been riding on Saturday before I even got out of bed. Road racing, and especially any going longer than an hour isn't in my wheelhouse any longer, and I don't miss it! Nonetheless it's my new secret strategy to winning Omnium TT's... just don't wear yourself out earlier in the day!

 Abs of steel has been failing me...

Abs of steel has been failing me...

I arrived about an hour and a half before the start. The general plan is to get to race site with plenty of time to fix whatever inevitably breaks on my bike (last year it was a flat!) and sequel into the start tent moments before it's time to start with a sky high heartrate. Somehow the universe mercifully spares me any mechanicals and I get to spend that time socializing. Some may say it's the right time to warmup for such a short event...but what do they know. Eventually I do kit up (In my red kit... which hides the blood from when I'm stuck with safety pins... just like a spandex Deadpool) and figure I probably should at least pretend to warm up. I do some openers, which any the track guys I know would laugh at, but felt like huge starts for me, then ride into the start tent. As usual, once things start moving, it moves fast.

3,2,1 Go

I come out of the gates hot. (For me, again... laughable standing start watts) As soon as I'm up to speed I find my place on the saddle and tuck. For me the race is split into three sections, the first third (up to the highway on ramp) is to get into a good rhythm and settle my heart rate. The second section is all about making power (a long steady incline up the highway to the turn on Bear Creek Rd) and the third section is about maximizing where I spend my energy.

The first third goes by to plan. My heart rate settles in around 180 and my watts are pretty consistent though the slight rollers. As we approach the on ramp I catch my first rider. I split my focus between the road, (a dangerous balancing act as the shoulder is not swept, and the curvy road begs impatient motorists to make dangerous passes... all divided by some gnarly rumble strips) my wattage and relaxing...as much as you can relax at 180bpm at least. I've found giving myself things to think about helps me TT much more consistently. Nothing worse than a blank mind counting seconds. I come up on my second rider but I'm close enough to the edge I can't squeak out an "on your left" I just have to pass and move on. 

Making the turn on Bear Creek it's time to bury myself. At this point the terrain changes pretty significantly, going from a general trend of steady uphill/false flat to true rolling terrain. Unfortunately I'm at my worst at stuff like this, I just can't get comfortable and stay in a gear, and my watts can drop / jump pretty wildly. I focus and just try staying smooth, something that has gotten a bit easier with my increased track time, but still isn't optimal. I pass my third rider and as I cross one of the hills I can just glimpse my fourth one. I figure if I can hold my pace and increase it to the finish I might just catch him. As we make the final sweeping bend before the final straight, I take my first second (too much, a full cadence drop to 0 in an otherwise beautiful power data file) of freewheeling. Once I'm out of it I put my head down (don't try this at home kids) and just follow the white line. I glance up and can see the finish, and realize I sadly won't be catching my fourth rider! I don't have anything left for a sprint, so I just hammer on to the line. Finally, I hop onto the base bar and can gasp air again. 

The primary success for me was hitting my targets (technically I was 1 watt below my goal... but I'll allow it to be rounded!) and feeling "comfortable" doing it. That was a success. It was a happy bonus to also be able to take the top step of the podium at my "home" race as well.  The fact that I was able to add a chunk of watts to my race on less fitness (for those of you who are Trainingpeaks nerds, around -20 CTL to the race last year) should mean my goals for later in the year are going to plan. 

After that, I watched some of my friends start/finish their race, and collected my sweet sweet prize purse. It was great to see so many of my teammates dipping their toes into the world of bike racing.

So that was my ORV TT. I managed to sneak into the top 10 overall (I'm a nerd and looked) finish times, which I'll also take a small amount of pride in. 

Renee Black - ORV Time Trial

There’s a first time for everything…

Hey y’all! 2018 race season is in full swing. This year I decided to open the season with a time trial, or what folks in the cycling world call “the race of truth”. I had never attempted this before, but for several years I have had a strong desire to give it a go. Truth be told, I was scared. Scared of making a complete fool of myself. Cycling is my favorite part of triathlon and I can hold my own. However, I knew I would be racing against some pretty bad ass women. So, I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride and clicked the register button for the Oak Ridge Velo Classic Time Trial. 

As always I was met at the race site with overwhelming support. The hubs was there volunteering. Katie, Ashley, Amanda, Alex, Sharon, Melinda and Lana had all raced hard that morning in the road race and all greeted me with smiles and encouragement. Expert level sherpas JD and Shameka were there to hold and carry all the things. After taking a solid 15 minutes to pin 2 race numbers on my jersey I hopped on the trainer, put my ear buds in and settled into a 30 minute warm up. 

Those 30 minutes flew by and before I knew it Katie and I were off to the start line. 

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I kind of knew how the start procedure worked. Someone holds your saddle while you get clipped in. When it is time to go, that person lets go of your saddle and you take off. Sounds easy enough, right? The race official counts down and says, “Go!” I smash down on the pedals and nothing. He says again, “Go!” And again, I’m still sitting there not moving. Finally someone says, “Let go of your brakes!” Oh!! That’s a good idea! I let go of the brakes, take a good ten strokes out of the saddle and then settled in for my 7.6 miles of pain.

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The plan was simple. Hold back a bit on the first 2 miles which were on a slight incline, then let it rip until the finish line. One thing I am learning is that going fast takes a tremendous amount of focus. No matter how genetically gifted you are or how hard you work going fast hurts. The key for me is not letting my mind wander in an effort to ignore the pain. When my mind wanders, the focus is lost and so is the speed. Looking back, I had two key moments during the race where I lost my focus and it cost me some time. 

First, there was a steady climb on highway 95 leading onto Bear Creek Road. As the incline increased I could feel my cadence lowering and my effort increasing. Instead of dropping into a smaller gear and increasing my cadence I chose to keep mashing away in way too big of a gear. This really took some power out of my legs and cost me some speed on the gentle rollers ahead. Lastly, I totally misjudged the location of the finish line. I rode the course the Sunday before but in my oxygen deprived state I missed the mark and ended up letting off the gas before the finish.  I crossed the finish line 2nd in the cat 5 group and 5th overall in the cat 4/5 group. 

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Overall, I am super pleased with this first TT effort. Afterwards I immediately told the hubs that I wanted to do it again! Once again I cannot say thank you enough to my husband, my friends and family that give me endless encouragement! Thank you to Kevin, my Podium Sports Medicine racing team, and all our sponsors for their support. Lastly, thank you to my coach Robbie Bruce for all his guidance and those winter trainer miles!

Next up… Hammer Olympic Distance Triathlon!