Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 Try Charleston 70.3 Race Report

The Try Charleston 70.3 and Sprint triathlon was on Saturday, April 20th.  I had registered for the race many months ago and race day was finally here.  I worked Thursday night until almost mid-night.  Susan had packed our clothes and it was up to me to get my gear together.  We woke up around 8am on Friday morning and got right to the job at hand.  I packed the car while Susan got our dog Max's stuff ready.  Max would be spending some quality with his aunt Susan and uncle Jim, our friends and neighbors, while we were gone.

Driving to Charleston - (green shirt and jeans -day 1)
The drive to Charleston was uneventful though punctuated by the occasional Emergency Alert Message on the radio warning of the thunderstorms to come.  We searched the radio dial for Boston Marathon suspect search coverage from Watertown, Massachusetts.  Susan and I drove directly to the Trek bike shop in Mount Pleasant for packet pickup.  We arrived just after 5pm.  There was a short line inside the store and a few tables set up outside.  My number was 99.  Along with me, Isabel, Shelly, William, and Phil were competing in the 70.3 race.  Neal, another Southern Crescent Cycling club member, pulled out of the 70.3 just before the start due to the weather.  He had also forgotten to fill his water bottles.  So much water and not a drop to drink!  Carlos, Rob and Kevi competed in the sprint race.  This was Isabel, Shelly, William, and Phil's first 70.3 race.  In fact, for William and Phil, it was their first ever triathlon.  It was also Rob's first Sprint triathlon.  I'm not sure if it was Shelly's first tri.  I know Carlos, Kevi and I had raced before.  Since the expected weather was so bad I decided to wait until the morning to put my bike in the transition area.  A lot of the other racers made the same decision.

After packet pickup Susan and I headed to our hotel.  We were staying at a Hamtpon Inn in Mount Pleasant.  The hotel was about 8.5 miles from the race start at the KOA campground.  We arrived at our hotel at around 6pm and checked in.  That's when the $hit hit the fan!  It was 6:15pm and I realized I didn't have a suitcase in the car.  Susan had packed it up nicely but it was laying on the bed at home in Atlanta and we were not in Atlanta.  I had all my bike stuff, shoes, helmet, bike, pump, and water bottles.  What I didn't have were clothes.  I was wearing jeans, a green Tri The Parks race shirt, and dress shoes.  I had no tri shorts, tri jersey, socks, or running shoes.  It was late on a Friday afternoon and I needed clothes fast.  We cancelled any dinner plans we might have been thinking about and with the help of our friends Isabel and Trey we were able to find a local tri shop nearby.  We got there just before they closed at 7pm.  Trey had warned the two sales people that I was on my way and needed everything.  We walked in the door and made our intentions known.  "I have a race tomorrow and I need everything" I said.  I was able to get shorts, a cycling jersey, and socks.  I still needed running shoes.  All the tri shop had were "D" width shoes.  Danged Hobbit feet!  The salesman recommended a nearby Shoe Carnival store.  They were open until 9pm so we still had time.  On the drive over Susan called the Trek shop to see if they might have my shoe size.  Nope, they don't sell shoes.  So, Shoe Carnival it was.  Of the thousands of pairs of shoes in the store they had one pair that fit me, a pair of 8 1/2 wide Asics Cumulus 14 shoes.  I had a pair of older Cumulus' back home so I knew they'd fit.  In fact, they're the most comfortable running shoes I have albeit heavy.  We took a brief stop at the Walmart for some boat shoes, a Duck Dynasty t-shirt, and a 3-pack of Faded Glory striped underwear.  I could breathe again.

Susan and I finally get into our room 
Of all the times that I needed a race t-shirt this would be the one.  Instead I got a race hat, which I like, but I sure could have used a another shirt.
My new tri kit for the day - Happy, Happy, Happy!
I had to include a picture of my new underwear too.  When I saw that stylist 3-pack of striped drawers on the rack there at the Walmart I knew I had to have them and at only $7.98, how could I go wrong.
New drawers
We had a quick dinner at The Shelter Kitchen and Bar as the storm hit.  We were looking for R.B.'s at Shem Creek.  We later found out that there is an R.B.'s Seafood and a Shem Creek Bar and Grill.  We retreated to our room to watch the weather.
The cable is out
The morning check of the weather - more rain
The rain slowed as the sun came up
The swim start
The lake was much cleaner than I had expected it to be.  I felt relaxed and enjoyed the warmth of my full wetsuit.  Two things went perfectly well on race morning, I got to use a fully equipped port-o-potty and my goggles never fogged up.  The first was probably the result of the lack of participation.  My experience was better than some as several ladies scoured the area for "paper".  The situation with my goggles was the direct result of the time and loving care I took to lick the inside of my lenses.  I licked them once, stopped, waited a few minutes, thought to myself "I wonder if I got enough spit on them?" so, I licked them again.
Carlos heading to T-1 after the swim
Me headed to T-1
I felt great coming out of the water.  I took it easy during the whole swim segment.  With the wave start and just over 500 participants doing the 70.3 and sprint races there was very little touching.  I have made it my race goal to never intentionally kick or elbow someone in the water.  I figure it's a long day for everyone so why ruin it.  The swim segment was 2 loops with the 1.2 mile swimmers rounding a buoy to start the second loop and not exiting the water.  The sprint swimmers completed one shorter loop.
Zipping up Susan's bike jacket
As I ran into T-1 I thought to my self that I might not need the jacket I'd borrowed from Susan.  I wished I had my more aero designed,  Gore jacket.
The bike start
The bike course was great.  There were signs at the turns and it was pancake flat.  There was also a lot of police presence.  The drivers were friendly and courteous.  I saw one course referee and I grew a bit upset at the drafting I saw.  I even yelled out sarcastically "nice paceline" to a group of four triathletes as they passed by only to later realize that they weren't race participants or they could have been the group of lead sprint racers who missed the turn-around and added about 5 miles to the bike segment.  I did see a 70.3 relay rider that was so far up the riders a$$ in front of her that I thought they were riding a tandem.

I didn't get passed on the bike until about 8 miles from the finish.  Two guys passed me.  It was more like one guy and a wheel sucker wearing an FCA kit.  Shame on you!  I dropped back the required distance after they passed.  About a mile later I mustered up the gumption to pass them both, which I did.  At about 2 miles before the finish the wheel sucker passed me.  I let him dangle just beyond reach.  As we enter the parking lot to T-2 the other guy I'd passed yelled out "on your left" not 40 feet from the dis-mount line.  He promptly fell over on top of his bike.  What an idiot!  He's not an idiot for falling over, he's an idiot for passing in the dismount area and then falling over.

My bike time was pretty good averaging just under 22-mph.  I think I could have topped 22-mph had it not been so cold that I wore Susan's slightly less than form fitting jacket.  Stylish yes, aero no!  I was glad I had it though.
Arrival at T-2
(***Warning, TMI, Susan the proofreader***).  My hydration was good at this point.  I had finished two water bottles on the bike and was taking in some fluids on the run.  I'd been nursing a sinus infection for several days and at times my nose was sending out more snot rockets than Cape Canaveral.  I made sure that I was a clear distance from everyone else before launch time.  The first effort went off like Sputnik.  It went off perfectly into orbit.  The second effort crashed on the launch pad dangling there, stretched out and flapping in the wind like a mucus streamer.  Susan's gonna need to wash her jacket.
The run course is half done
(***Again, TMI***)  As I started my second lap of the run course I felt pretty good.  Only about 6.5 miles to go.  I saw some of my teammates on the course which was great.  I had grown used to running through, jumping over, and running around the puddles that dotted the run course.  My feet were completely soaked.  When I reached the 8 mile mark I had to clear my sinuses again - left-side launch - right-side misfire.  We had a snot rocket stuck in the breach.  I ran off the path bent over and started to choke and gag.  Then I dry heaved a few times before Niagara Falls blew its banks.  I threw up the entire muddy brown contents on my stomach in three deep contractions.  The Gatorade, Heed, Coke, Clif Bar, Powerbar, water, and whatever else I had taken in was not securely planted in the grass beside my feet.  I thought to myself that I'd be calling it quits after that.  I had five more miles to go to complete the race.  How far would I have to walk to get back to the finish if I quit.  As I stood there in the grass a few more seconds I was surprised to find that I felt better.  I started to run again.  Before I knew it I'd passed all the people that had just watched me puke up my guts.  I reached the turn around point and was now headed back to the finish.
Finished in 5:10:06
The race was over and I was surprised to find that I wasn't more tired.  The cool weather had made a big difference in how much fluid I needed and how my body reacted to the effort.  My swim time was 40:25 which is a 2:06 100m pace.  My bike time was 2:33:24 which is a 21.9-mph pace.  My run time was 1:51:09 which is a 8:29 minute/mile pace.  T-1 and T-2 were 3:14 and 1:57, respectively.  I found out on Sunday as Susan and I were driving home that the event had finishers medals.  I didn't see anyone wearing one and no one offered one to me at the finish.
I placed 5th in my Age-Group
Susan and I got back to our hotel and waited for the results to be posted.  I'd already heard that Carlos placed 2nd in the Clydesdale division.  Shelly and Isabel both finished strong.  William took a little longer but finished as well.  I'd heard later that Phil DNF'd on the run.  Men's Overall Results  Age Group Results

My muddy shoes and socks after the race
After a shower and a brief rest several of us met at Just South of Broad for dinner.  Trey and Isabel made the reservations.  We were fortunate to get a table anywhere for such a large group.  The food was great, as was the service.  It's probably better suited for a special date dinner than a group of worn-out triathletes looking to consume 2000 calories at one sitting.
An after race dinner at Just South of Broad (green shirt and jeans - day 2)

Sunday was beautiful.  The temperature was cool and the skies were clear.  Susan and I stopped off at Hudson's Smokehouse for lunch on the drive home.  It seems like all the places Urban Spoon was sending us to were closed on Sunday.  10 miles from the interstate we happened upon this place. The parking lot was packed.  They had a $9.99 buffet which Susan opted for, I had a BBQ pork sandwich.  After finishing our meal Susan asked the our server for the check.  Her rely was classic "you Tappin' Out Already?".  Apparently, the endless buffet is some sort of an endurance event or martial art in Lexington, SC.  The couple seated beside us were there to get their finishers medal.  They each had two full plates of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and whatever else.
Hudson's Smokehouse in Lexington, SC (green shirt and jeans - day 3)
There's that suitcase
I can think of dozens of thing that went wrong with this race and a few that went right.  I think I'll list them here:

Things that went right: the lake was clear and clean (no mud and no algae), my goggles didn't fog up, the water temperature was perfect, the 56 mile bike course was marked and had a good bit of police presence, Mount Pleasant is a beautiful part of the country, there are restaurants everywhere (good ones), volunteer in the T-2 pointed to my rack, and friendly (accommodating) S.C. drivers.  I decided to not wear my Garmin.  I love it for training but, for me, it's a hindrance on race day.

Things that went wrong: I received no finishers medal, no cloth "Try Charleston" bag at packet pickup and no proper transition bags or proper labels, the bike and helmet labels should be plastic with full adhesive backing and not paper-ish with only strips of adhesive, a friend described T-1 as "chaos" before the race (she was right), the rain caused a muddy, wet mess in T-1, two transition areas is a big downer, no water before the swim, no defined mount line coming out of T-1, I only saw one referee on the bike course (a review of the results shows that they did their job though), I saw several participants drafting, the run course was not well marked coming out of T-2, no volunteer prior to the dismount line into T-2, and not enough timing mats on the run (add one more at the turn-around).  Frankly, the run course should be completely redone to eliminate 2-way traffic on a five foot wide cart path.

I didn't mention my suitcase because that had nothing to do with the race organization.  The weather was also a factor and I'm sure it played a part in the number of volunteers and wreaked havoc on their overall enthusiasm for the event.

Thanks for reading.

Update (5/8/13):  Kudos to the Try Charleston folks for mailing me a finisher's medal and a t-shirt.
"Enjoy - Thanks 4 racing w/us :-) D"
My 2013 Try Charleston medal and t-shirt
Thanks to Hank Hanna ( blog ) and race director Diane Fox for making this happen.  I will wear them proudly!