Chattanooga DAM Triathlon 2000
Distances: 1.5KM[.93mi] swim/48KM[29.8mi]
Location: Chickamauga Dam, TN
Date: Sunday, June 25, 2000
USAT sanctioned race
This is the second USAT sanctioned Olympic distance I have planned for this year 2000. I've done Memphis in May [05/21/00], which I wrote the report on previously and had set my performance levels in the three events. Frankly, the pressure to do well was on. I didn't want to be slower than the top ten in my age group was my goal. At this point all I will say is that it never turned out as planned.
Had four weeks of training to prepare for this Triathlon. Added Friday morning swimming to my already rigorous training schedule through the week, since Memphis proved I was not comfortable in the water. My mind was set to get a time of no less than 24 minutes for the 1.5KM swim. Average distance per week for swimming = +/- 3.5miles, biking = +/- 75miles and running = +/- 30miles.
Arrived at the race location at 6:45AM believing it was enough time before the 7:30AM start. It would have worked out OK, if the trouble at the pre-registered package pickup was not so slow and disorganized. The problem was multiplied by the an insistent registration person wanting proof of the USAT registration number forcing me to dash back to the car parked a mile away.
To my surprise no bike racks were provided in the first transition area. There were bikes laid on their side, strewn all over the parking lot. I needed to have my bike upright or ride without the water in the air-bar bottle. All the curbs were occupied and I resorted to a plastic bucket to prop up the bike. A balancing act and any gust of wind would have disturbed the equilibrium. Time was running out and panic struck as I heard the start of the first wave of swimmers.
Tried to stay calm. The scenario broke out into desperation to get to the start on time. The transition area was empty except for a few volunteers looking on and probably shaking their heads. Placed my running shoes into a pre-marked bag and asked a volunteer to point out the truck that took the bags to the second transition area. Getting into the water was soothing. Felt the relief of having made it this far. I was in the last wave at the back of the pack and the count down began. This was the other extreme of race preparedness. Operating on reaction mode!
This is the run down of the race.
Get set GO……started the watch. Slapped the water with swinging arms and kicked vigorously like everyone around. Oh I ha……wham the foot hits my right cheek. The right eye is blinded as water floods the goggle. Cannot stop in fear of getting run over. A few yards out I stop to clear the water from the goggle and get orientated. Already out of breath, anxiety, my worst enemy shows up. Start to breathe only to one side as the demand for more air increases. An indication of inefficiency in the water. "What is it about open water swims that freak me out like this!", I think to myself. Look up to get orientation. Happy to be going straight but need to breaststroke to catch my breath. Alternated the strokes [Freestyle / Breast], to the turn around point. The mechanics of the freestyle swim feel comfortable again, all the way back in. At the exit point, I look behind to see roughly 30 athletes still in the water. Look at the time on my watch. Swim time 27+ minutes .
From the water’s edge to the bike is about a half mile run up a steep hill. It is the same as the Hephzibah Triathlon transition except on May 29th, the swim was half the distance. I am drained from the swim and the uphill to the transition area is tough. The transition area has only a few bikes and mine has stayed upright. Leap across the possessions scattered and left behind by the other athletes. Putting on the bike shoes and helmet goes smoothly. It’s not easy running in bike shoes to exit out of the transition as per the organizers rules.
After a 4:20 transition I'm crunching the pedals.
An unusual feeling comes over me. It is hard to explain where my enthusiasm came from. I was approaching this in a different perspective. Time was my enemy before but now it had set me free to enjoy the ride. Bike route started with moderate hills. Got into a high cadence and gave the first hills a strong run. The route was hilly for the first and last five miles of the race. After the turn around point I caught up with Brian Burke pull up along his side. We exchanged words of encouragement and both pick up the pace. A third cyclist joins after being passed on a long straight. Never got passed, indicating we were doing a great job. One by one riders try to keep up, only to get left behind. The last hills did make the quads sting but never was out of breath as in the water. Approached the transition and watched as Brian almost lost his balance as he tried to get his feet out of the shoes without unclipping. Loosened the Velcro straps to my cycle shoes as we all freewheeled and dismounted into the transition. Walked over the timing mat as required and spotted the location of my running gear.
Bike time 74 minutes.
39 seconds. Nice going I think to myself. Brian and I left the transition and he complained that his huge frame was not easy to propel against the force of gravity.
It’s uphill all the way to the first turnaround. The course description said fast and flat. That is relative to your condition. The sun was baking and hydration was very important. Fortunate that I planned for this and carried water with. The second half of the run was scenic and inside the Tennessee River park.
44 Minutes for the run.
1.5KM[0.93mile] SWIM – 27:45 minutes – Did not go well!
[ no wet suit – the hectic before start and kick in face, was a factor ]
T1 – 4:20 minute – Good considering the location!
[ spent mostly running up a hill to the transition area ]
48KM [29.8mile] BIKE – 74:55 minutes – Awesome!
[ hilly first and last 5 miles but a great flat ride for the rest ]
T2 – 0:39 minute
[ no socks ]
10KM [6.2mile] RUN – 43:40 minutes – Good effort!
[ met my goal - Note: carried own water ]
TIME - 2:31:19
[ 1st in age 40-44 ]
Hey what can I say I got lucky for once. And I did get top ten spot in my age group as planned! Overall 40/500. Trophy – 4 x Engraved Beer Glasses.