2012 marked my 7th trip to Shawnee State Park in Portsmouth, Ohio for the American Triple-T. After having done the last 5 iterations of this race as member of a team, I was back to the solo division this year. Early on in the season planning, I established 3 goals for myself this season, one of which was to finish in the top 3 overall in the solo division.
My training and race performances as the year developed suggested that this was a definite possibility, and I felt I was prepared to go all-in for this event and race; willingly to risk a meltdown in order to achieve my goal. Even with the added stress of bringing Ethan home and the training adjustments that required things were looking great until about 10 days out of the race when both Mary and Ethan came down with a pretty nasty cold. I did my best to prevent catching it: lots of vitamin C, rest, hand washing, etc. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts on Thursday (one week out), I started seeing the signs of myself getting sick: sneezing, runny nose, body aches.
Fast forward a week later to Friday morning as we are leaving for the race, and I have managed to weather the cold pretty well. I’m feeling well enough that there will be no excuse making about my performance for the upcoming weekend.
I’ve always played it pretty conservative on Friday night “ always harboring a fear of tweaking something for a œsilly race at the beginning of the long weekend. This year, I had no intentions of holding back “ given that there were some mighty fast people at the race, and I didn’t know who was solo and who was a team – gaining 5 seconds here, or only losing 5 seconds there might mean the difference between Mission: Accomplished, and 3rd loser.
I finished up the race a little disappointed in my run (~6:03), but happy with my bike “ which left my dry mouthed and with my second highest 3 minute power of the year “ significant for it being in the midst of a race, rather than a œtest effort “ and an overall time faster than any previous Friday evening race + a top 10 finish to boot!
Saturday morning was a frustrating race. Each leg of the race has its own highlight to make the race memorable. Somehow, I failed to digest the instructions for the swim course properly; as a result as I came into the beach at the half way point, I failed to keep a yellow buoy on my left, so when I got to shore I was told I need to go back out and around it. Miffed at my own stupidity I zipped back out and around said buoy and onto the second lap. In truth “ this probably made the course a legit 1500 meters for me, but caused me to swim an extra 100 meters relative to the rest of the field.
The remainder of the swim was uneventful, and I got out onto the bike course. Immediately, I wasn’t happy with how things felt on my bike. My saddle height left me feeling that I just couldn’t apply any gas to the pedals. I tried several times to stomp the gas, but every time I upped the power output I just couldn’t sustain it “ despite not feeling that I was really at a limit “I just felt constrained and uncomfortable. The only time I really felt comfy and strong was standing¦
Needless to say how I felt on the bike left me a little crabby as I started the run, which gave me a lot of motivation to run hard. I ran my fastest time on the course by about 2 minutes “ which left me feeling pretty pleased.
After I downloaded everything and saw that my overall time was my best by several minutes and both the bike and run were quicker “ my crabbiness dissipated a bit. Another top 10 finish didn’t hurt J
While I warmed up for the Bike-Swim-Run race, I made a few adjustments to my saddle position, and felt a bit better about that. As a whole this race was pretty uneventful “ I managed to ride as fast solo as Matt and I had as a team previously “ which I found made the ride a fair bit harder. The swim and run were pretty boring “ the run wasn’t the fastest thing ever “ I felt pretty horrible the first 3 miles “ but it was an exact tie for my best time for this race “ which had me able to draft with Mr. Amman.
While the main goal for the weekend was Top 3 Solo “ which I had no clue where I stood at this point, I had a secondary goal of running 1:3X for the half. I figured that with how my run has been developing the past few months, it would be pretty disappointing to not run that fast, I even secretly hopeful for something as quick as 1:31 or 1:32.
The swim was rather uneventful “ after Saturday morning’s mishap “ I made sure to keep the buoy right. I exited the water in 22:XX “ which meant that the swim was [unsurprisingly] short. While I used to get *real* bent out of shape when the swim (or run) course is not the right length “ now I only get slightly annoyed “ because it isn’t overly difficult to dial the course in, and particularly on the swim since every meter helps me out! That said “ everyone swims the same course “ so whatever.
I’ve always approached pacing for the half at the Triple T with the exact same targets I would for an Ironman “ perhaps a little higher, but not much. After getting out of the park and onto Highway 125, I immediately pegged it to the target wattage “ and immediately noticed that despite raising my saddle yesterday, and that morning, it still felt incredibly low. I briefly considered returning to transition and finding a multi-tool and making an adjustment, but I decided that the time cost was not worth it; plus I’ve been riding like this for months “ so whatever.
I spent the first part of the ride alone, until I was caught by Adam Zucco and Scott Iott around mile 8 at the top of the first climb. From there I spent the remainder of the first loop alone “ aside from a bit of company from the team of Colin Riley and Adam Brown.
I pulled back into the park and swapped out my fluids (3 bottles, 9 gels mixed in) “ tracked down a multi-tool and jacked up my seat. The extra 90 seconds I spent, was definitely worth it. I felt stronger and more comfortable on the second half of the bike “ finding an extra 10 watts, and riding 2 minutes faster. While the official split is probably pretty similar to what Matt and I rode last year “ it was easily 90 seconds faster “ given the stop “ so I was very happy as I pulled into T2 “ particularly since I felt pretty good.
I charged out of T2 “ eager to reach the first turn around and see where I stood, as I was headed into the turnaround I was pleasantly surprised to see myself in 7th place with Adam and Scott only a few hundred meters in front of me “ with a fast looking guy about the same behind me. I managed to close the gap by the half-way point, and was a bit surprised to see a half way split of 44:40, I was even more surprised to see the guy behind me closer than he was at the far turnaround “ he was running REALLY fast. A couple miles later I hit a rough patch, and slowed a bit “ particularly on the uphills and was repassed by Scott and Adam, but was still holding œfast guy off.
I kept telling myself that if I could make it to mile 10 “ I would be able to ride the downhill in and things would get much better. By the far turn-around œfast guy was breathing down my back “ and he passed me on the last hill of the run “ not much I could do. My spirits were buoyed by the fact that I was slowly closing the gap back down to Scott and Adam. I kept things moving and the wheels on as best I could, and with a distance I can’t remember left “ I repassed Adam and Scott “ and pressed on to the finish.
I stopped the watch with a 1:33:27 run split and a time of 4:51:20 “ not a bad time. If you add a couple minutes for the swim “ a still respectable 4:54 or 4:55.
Overall “ I managed to bag 3rd overall in the solo division “ œfast guy Darryl Austin out raced me by 5 minutes in the half, but I banked enough time in the previous races to beat him out.