Saturday, September 15, 2012

White Lake International Race Report

Last weekend saw me racing White Lake International, which is an Olympic distance event put on by Set-Up Events.  For the uninitiated, Olympic distance races are 1,500 M swim;   45 km bike (~28 miles) and 10 km run (~6.2 miles).   This would be my first official Olympic distance race.

The race was (surprise, surprise) held in White Lake, NC, which is about 110 miles from home, so given the early start time on Saturday I decided to join other TriStacey athletes Jenn Mayfield and Beth Grimes (plus The Puppeteer herself) and stay at Langston's Motel on Friday night. 

I was able to cut out a little early and enjoyed cranking tunes with the car window open on the ride south.  I had pre-paid for my room and was soon checked-in at the Langston's reception, where the nice lady directed me up the road a little to "unit 16"...  

I was quite surprised to find that "unit 16" was actually a little self-contained cabin (hut?) with bed, small kitchen area and bathroom.   Even a small screened porch!   It was atually quite clean and comfortable.....

Living the Dream!   The stylish brick base is actually plastic!

Soon texts were flying as everyone started to arrive and we convened for a swim warm-up in the lake with The Puppeteer.   Beth "conveniently" got lost on the way and was too late to join us!

Before getting-in I had the chance to meet Jenn's husband Grant for the first time - nice guy! - and we spent some time chatting about bikes.   He would be riding the bike in a relay team the following morning.

The warm-up swim was, well....   not good!   The water was too warm and "soupy" and I just didn't feel as if I "had it".  I got the impression that The Puppeteer and Jenn felt the same way, so we just swam a few hundred yards before heading back.   After a quick shower I went back to the beach to join everyone for a cookout and a few beers.  Jenn, The Puppeteer and their other halves were staying over on Saturday night and clearly intended to party after the race based on the copious quantities of beer, wine and liquor in their motel "suite".......

Grant working the grill
Jenn being a goof ball.  Not sure what the guy is thinking!

Beth trying to look Glam, which isn't easy to do after you've slammed 17 Trader Joe's salmon burgers!

After watching the sun set, we chatted for a while and discussed race strategy [Question:  who wears chamois butter in their tri shorts before the swim and leaves an oil slick as she passes?  Answers on a postcard please.....] before everyone turned in for an early night.

At this point I'll take a break as I seem to have added two new faces to the cast of characters that appear on this blog, and it only seems fair that Jenn and Beth are annointed with nicknames by which they will be known from this point forward....

I already had a name in mind for Jenn, as shes' fond of drinking these things and posting the recipes on line....
Actual picture from Jenn's facebook page......

.......and the ingredients!

Ladies and Gentlemen....   this one is easy....   I give you "The Rabbit"!

"The Rabbit" sporting essential triathlon equipment in her right hand.
Beth is not so easy and I'm not sure that I'm ready to make a decision yet. She seems to be under the sad misapprehension that she gets to choose her own nickname, but I can assure her that "Fashionstar" is not it!   She's a coffee hound, but "La Barista" is also way too kind...      How about "Oil Slick"?    Oh damn, I gave it away!   :-)    I'm pretty sure that she will do something stupid soon and that this will be the basis of a good name, but until then I'll have to be content with "Beth".  Watch this space!

OK, back to the race report......

My alarm went off at 05:15 am and I was soon attacking my now standard race day breakfast of Breuger's bagel (garlic, with honey walnut cream cheese!); bananna; bottle of Ensure and a couple oflarge coffees with cream and sugar.   Nutrition was going to be important today as the temperatures were forecast to be high and the humidity to be 100% at race time!   I stuck with my usual scoop and a half of Accelerade in each of my three water bottles, but added the contents of a Lava Salt capsule to each and also took one capsule with breakfast.  Important to get lots of electrolytes on a hot and humid day!

I like to get to races early and I had no problem getting a primo parking spot and was soon setting-up my transition area and getting ready to warm-up.   I collected my race chip and went to body marking to have someone write my race number and age all over me in large black letters and everything was going well untl....  CRAP!  I realised that I had left my beautifully prepared nutrition bottles in the fridge in Unit 16!   Damn, damn, damn!   At this point it would have been difficult to go back for them, so there was nothing to do but to put Plab B into operation.   Inside Out Sports were set-up in the race registration area, so I dashed over there and purchased a couple of water bottles and some EFS Energy Drink (the only brand they were carrying).   As it happens, I had been meaning to try this stuff for a long time.  Not good to try something new on race day, but you have to do what you have to do!   I soon had bottles made up and added a capsule of Lava Salts to each.  [Note:  this worked absolutely fine during the race and it is sooo much nicer to drink than the Accelerade I have been using!].

Panic over - now it was time to warm-up.   A few miles on the bike made it very obvious that it was extremely humid out (actually 100% humidity according to and a short run confirmed this!   This was not going to be a comfortable race once the sun came up and started beating down!

I found The Rabbit, Grant and Beth in transition and also ran into Kari Obermeyer, Darlene Noyce and a few others that I know.

The usual chaos of transition...
Race time was approaching at this point, so I grabbed my goggles and cap (royal blue for this race) and headed down to the lake for a swim warm-up.   Finally 8 am rolled around and the first waves started.  One thing that I really don't like about Set-Up events is that they always seem to start the ...ahem...."older" age groups last.   This absolutely sucks for two reasons:  firstly you have to stand and watch wave after wave of athletes going off before you at five minute intervals, building nervousness and messing with your adrenalin levels; but perhaps worse is knowing that you are going to be among the later finishers and that it is going to be much hotter on the run than it is for those who started earlier.   I need to write a letter!  :-)

I watched The Rabbit start 10 mins before me and Beth in the wave directly ahead of me and finally it was 8:40 am and my turn!

Swim:  1500 M clockwise triangular course.  Water pretty flat - just a slight wind.  Waist deep start.

Because the sighting buoys appeared to be a little to the left relative to the first turn buoy I elected to start outside and to the right.  This seemed fine and I soon found open water and, other that a few of the usual bumps and nudges, I didn't get into any "physical combat" at the start!   It seemed to take me about 150 M to start to find my rhythm, but I was soon feeling pretty comfortable and concentrating on The Puppeteer's mantra of keeping it loooong in the water. 

I think that I sighted pretty well to the first turn buoy, but I could see a couple of guys from my start wave who had swum waaay too far to the right.  Much to my astonishment, rather than correcting to their left to round the turn buoy, they simply kept swimming futher right and completely cut the corner!!!  I would estimate that the worst offended cut about 100 yards!   I freakin' hate cheats!   You can't tell who it is when all you can see is royal blue caps (and if they were swimming back with me they presumably weren't in contention for a podium spot!), but I hope they can live with themselves!

Anyway, back to my swim...    it was basically pretty uneventful from there on in.  I did pick it up pretty well for the last 200 M, which makes me wonder whether I should have gone harder earlier.  Perhaps by concentrating so much on "long and smooth" I let my stroke rate slow too much?   Lots to work on.  Anyway, given that this was my first competitive open water race at this distance, I was reasonably happy.

41:18 (includes the run down the pier towards transition).   Certainly not fast, but given that this time last year I was strugglng to complete this distance, I'll take it!

T1:   Yet again I showed that (unfortunately) transition is my best discipline!   01:45 and uneventful.

Bike  45 km:  A largely flat triangular course.  A bit breezy in places.

I was pretty pleased with my bike leg.  I had left my Garmin at home and so was going on feel.  Felt pretty strong throughout and stayed in the aero position except to drink.  I think that I was only passed by three guys and two of them from relay teams starting in the wave behind me.  I certainly enjoyed chasing down and passing plenty of people!   I tried to "keep the pedal down" without going too crazy as The Puppeteer and I had discussed what I might be capable of on the run over coffee earlier in the week.  I was determined to put in a good run split and so saved a little on the bike.  Turns out that I shouldn't have bothered!!  :-)  (see below). 

01:29:25.  Roughly 19 mph average. 

T2:   Again uneventful.  01:27

Run  10k:    Flat out and back course.

This is where things started to get ugly (and not just for me!).   The NC sun was now high in the sky and there is absolutely no shade on this course.  Humidity was forecast to have dropped to "only" 90% by this time of day.  I don't know what the temperature was as I was running, but I do know that it was 91 F not long after I had finished.   I felt pretty good for the first mile or so and concentrated on high turnover, but things got ugly pretty quickly and, like many, many others, I was soon down to slogging it out and just trying to get to the finish.   I saw several people just sitting on the side of the course, which I haven't seen before. 

I basically just ran from aid station to aid station (1 mile apart) and kept looking forward to the ice cold wet towels that they were handing out!  I did manage to run the whole thing apart from two of the aid stations where I deliberately stopped to walk to make sure that I could get sufficient fluids inside me.   Not much more to say - it was basically an ugly slog!   I know that everyone felt the same way and I'm not going to beat myself up over it, as most people seemed to be complaining of being 10 mins or so outside their target time,  Brutal!


Overall:  03:15:55     Significantly slower than my target time, but then again, so was everyone else!

So - my first Olympic race in the books and, despite the run conditions, I really enjoyed it.  A nice stepping stone towards my first 70.3 mile race in October...

Dreaming of Rev.3 Anderson SC

1 comment:

  1. way to go Roger!!! The run conditions were terrible, great job getting through. I really like "28&Holding". Feel free to discuss.