Sunday, August 28, 2011

Race Report: Toccoa Tri Olympic Distance

1,500 meter open water - 40k bike - 10k run

Results (based on chip time):

Swim 16m 56s (swim was way short) OA 9/48 GR 3/15 AG 1/3
T1 4m 10s
Bike 1h 17m 39s (speed 19.3 mph) OA 27/48 GR 3/15 AG 1/3
T2 1m 00s
Run 1h 05m 47s (pace 10:37 min/mile) OA 40/48 GR 9/15 AG 2/3

TOTAL 2h 45m 35s OA 35/48 GR 8/15 AG 1/3

OR= overall GR= gender rank AG= age group

I got up around 4am, had a banana and some crackers and we were on the road to Toccoa. It's an around 1.5 hour drive and I napped on and off, I was just so exhausted. Normally, the race nerves kick in and I am wide awake, but last week was stressful and I was just tired. Terry was a trooper and got us to Toccoa with plenty of time to spare. If we end up doing this race next year, I think we'll stay at the Baptist Conference Center over night and get some extra sleep, since the center is also so location for the tri.

Package pickup was fast and efficient, so I had plenty time for several bath room runs. Real bathrooms... no porta potties... me likey. Also, it was a pretty good swag bag: Zorrel technical shirts (unfortunately, no women's cut), water bottle, a Hammer Gel and a electrolyte FIZZ tablet tester... and then of course the obligatory coupons and a note pad. Pretty good really.

We set-up transition and then tried to find the soccer field, where the pre-race meeting was supposed to be. We then ended up on at the sprint swim start only to find out, that the soccer field is the transition are. Tip for next year: Just tell the people, that the pre-race meeting is going to be around the transition area. There we found out, that we are going to be bussed to the oly swim start and that it'll be a point to point. Fair enough. I didn't care either way.... Until we actually got to the swim start and got the course explained... No way in the world, that this course was close to a mile.

We were divided up in two waves (all men, all women) with the men getting a four minute head start. Once there were only the women left, I checked out who else was in my age group and found three other women in the 30 to 34 age group.

I started out behind another woman, but quickly passed her. The first turn buoy was around 200 meters (if that) in the course and once I turned, I didn't see many people after that until I caught up with the men wave and the stranglers from the sprint distance. While the start was different for the sprint and oly, we had the same finish area. The lake was some of the prettiest clearest water I swam in so far, so two thumbs up for that. I had the Garmin in my swim cap and when I walked on the timing mat at the swim finish, it showed a distance of 0.49 miles. To be honest, I felt a little cheated, because I need the swim, to put as much distance as possible between me and everybody else.

This is a long transition time, because it included a 0.25 mile run to the actual transition area. I hike the steep portion at the beginning, but the jogged the rest of the way. Other than that, the transition was pretty uneventful. I ran out of transition with one women right ahead of me.

I passed the other woman right away and she passed me back around mile 1 and that's the last I saw of her. It was also the only woman that passed me on the bike course. Right at the beginning of the course, were a couple of smaller climbs, but once we hit the gradual downhill sections, I started eating like a madwomen and had a whole lot of water.

The oly athletes shared most of the bike course with the sprint athletes, but we had an out and back section added to our course. Even though we shared the first 10 (??) miles with the sprint, the bike course never felt crowded. For the most part, I was able to just go at my pace and go as hard as I can with very little spinning. Especially, because most of the descents were fairly gradual. In the out and back section, I saw the woman in the lead and saw that she was way ahead of me and that she was in my age group. A while after that, I saw the second woman and when I reached the turnaround in the out and back section, I knew that I was in 3rd currently... Right then and there, I decided to be the 3rd woman getting off the bike and that was what I was working towards for the rest of the bike leg and I did it.

The two worst climbs of the bike course were in the last three miles of the bike leg. The first one was shorter and I already felt tired hitting that climb and at the second one, my legs just started to feel like they could blow up any second. Fortunately, the last little bit to transition was downhill again, so you could recover a little.

My bike rack was the first one coming in from the bike and heading out for the run, so my transition time is pretty fast, even though I struggled some with my left calf cramping up, when I tried to put on my running shoe. I was pretty surprised by it, because I never cramp. After wrestling with that a little, I grabbed my handheld water bottle and hit the wall road.

The run was a double out and back. The sprint athletes had to do it once and we had to do it twice. I never had a double out and back and first thought I would hate it, but I actually turned out kind of enjoying it, because you had a lot of company on the course, even after the sprint athletes were done. I was able to see Terry four times on the course (once when I headed out on my first loop and he came in on the bike and the rest while running) and I was able to have an eye on my immediate competition. I saw the lead lady, which was still the same one and she was way ahead of everyone else. She was clearly on track to win overall, which would take her out of my age group ranking, so I knew I "just" had to hold the other two ladies in my age group off long enough.

I struggled on the run right away and there was a lot of walking on a lot of the uphills and there were a lot of uphills on the course. There were waves off nausea running through my body for most of the run and I just tried to not throw up. Even though I didn't feel good, I still drank throughout the run and even refilled my bottle once at the aid station. I also dumped ice water down my back whenever I reached the turn around.

At mile one of the run course, I got passed by another woman and from then on, there was this constant stream of women passing me. While I am not a fast runner, this wasn't my usual 10K run either, but it still sucks when you can hold your ground swimming and biking and then get passed like crazy on the run. I noticed the second place woman in my age group coming closer and closer each time I saw her on the course and just tried to keep it together until the finish.... and it worked.

Grabbed an ice cold water out of one of the coolers and chatted a little with my competition. Terry came in minutes after I crossed the finish line and we started packing up transition and then waited around for awards. After I got my medal (wahoooo!), we packed up the car and headed back home with a food stop.

Race Review:
This is a nice race in general. The location is good and the courses are pretty. The swag was outstanding compared to all the other tri's I have done so far this year. I know it's sad, that a nice technical shirt (lately there have been a ton of not so nice tech shirts in the bags) and a water bottle is all it takes to win best swag bag of the season, but that's what it is. The course was marshaled well and the volunteers enthusiastic and there were many of them.
What I didn't like too much: The confusion about the pre-race meeting, the delayed start time and the short swim just really annoyed me.


  1. woo hoo! congrats on the ag win!! i can imagine how hard you were fighting to hang on to it.

  2. Congrats! Sounds like you had some grit on the run to fend that other lady off. :)