Swim: A new and improved swim course this year as FS Series changed the swim start to a new location, making the swim a rectangle instead of a V. The climb from the swim exit to T1 is always a killer. It would be a challenging climb on its own, but after 750 meters of swimming the legs resist any forward motion.
Bike: This course is fun as it has a mix of flats and hills. Knowing that Thys Wind and teammate Robert would have minutes on me from the swim, I just focused on getting myself in position for a 3rd place finish. I was able to ride by all the other faster swimmers with the exception of Evan Hill. I could see him ahead of me but I couldn’t see any reduction in the gap between us.
Run: The run is a challenging trail run. Lots of turns, rocks, tree roots, a couple steep hills…this doesn’t make for a fast run. I figured I was about 30-45 seconds down from 3rd place, so definitely achievable in pulling that time back. There is really only one spot where you can gauge how far back you are from runners ahead of you if they are not visible within the trails, as the course opens up to a grassy area roughly halfway into run. However, when I got to this section Evan still had the same gap on me, so I wasn’t gaining any time and finished in 4th place. This is a fun race, and it was good that for the first time in several years we did not have any rain before/during the race and kept the trails dry and less treacherous.
The water was calm which made sighting the buoy’s much easier. With it being a group start with 100+ people, I couldn’t break free from the congestion until past the first turn buoy. Off to the bike, I was slowly able to catch up and pass the handful of athletes that had come out ahead of me on the swim. For the last half of the bike course it felt like I was riding solo as I couldn’t see anybody ahead of me. As I was arriving to the bike finish, I could see my teammate Dave Williams already ½ mile or so into the run. With another teammate also out on the run course, the best I would be doing today was 3rd place. My calves threatened to cramp up early in the run, but loosened up by the first water station. This is a fun race with rolling hills on the bike and gradual elevation gains on the run.
Swim: This was not a wetsuit legal swim as the water was somewhere around 180°. Well, maybe not that hot, but it was still warm. Between the warm water temperatures and my lack of swim fitness, I did not try to keep up with the lead pack as I normally would have. I ended up swimming about a minute slower than usual, so not too bad.
Bike: I ride this course frequently on my training rides, so I have a good sense on how I should feel and what my pace should be on various sections of the course. On this day, I felt as if I wasn’t at my full potential until the uphill section on Hwy 55 before Avent Ferry Rd. Maybe it took that long to recover from the swim and wake my legs up for the bike, but things got easier once I got to that hill.
Run: Heading down New Hill-Holleman rode I could see 2 riders ahead of me, and those were my targets to catch going into the run. In the first mile I was able to run down Duncan. At the turn around, I checked the gap to the next runner, my teammate Robert, but it was too large for me to bridge with only 1-1.5 miles remaining.
Going into this race I knew I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to take home a win against Thys Wind, top amateur at the 2013 Ironman Raleigh Half. The venue was awesome especially if you enjoy rough trails. The swim was very calm and the sight buoys were perfect. I continued to struggle with my swim going to the right, however I seamed to pull away from the field well with the excellent conditions. Exiting the water there was a good climb to the transition, this didn’t feel well on legs after the swim, I had to pull back in the T1 run. The bike was enjoyable, nice up and down hills with two fairly tough up hills. I was able to manage a decent pace for the entire bike. Heading into T2 I did have a fumble running the bike in, after getting onto the grassy area, my bike bounce out of my hand and ended up hitting my arm while falling (the bike). Able to grab it the bike quickly and place onto my shoulder, I ran it into transition with minimal negative affects. Off on the run I saw Thys and realized that I hadn’t gained what would be needed to hold him off on the run. This run was a tough match for me, if you weren’t turning, dodging a tree, climbing, going down hill you were jumping roots. Lesson learned was to race with my watch, I was trying something new and I certainly missed the data on the run. What felt to be mile 2.5, actually mile 1.5 as Thys cruised past me, from this point it only felt longer to the finish, my legs were beat and I wasn’t enjoying the trails, finishing second was quite acceptable. Overall the the race was great with a Very Difficult run. It was an great racing with Thys Wind and getting to know him following the race.
Off to the mountains of NC. This race included a 500 meter swim, 13.5 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. It was difficult getting my mind around the shorter swim, even the race morning I was looking at the buoys and saying this looks short. The mountains were beautiful and I was looking forward to taking them on with the bike.
The swim was very calm and a rare wetsuit legal event for August, low 70’s. The course was out for 100 meters, 90 degree turn, another 100 meters and the final turn at 90 degrees with a 300 meter swim into the Pegeon River. The clear river waters were evident as you approach the mouth of the river at a lower, shocking 60 degree water temperature. The last 100 meters was quite cold and it was nice to hit the ground for a long run to transition.
On the bike you hit a nice climb in the first mile, then to be rewarded with your fastest speed down hill as you carve the curvy mountain roads for mile two. The first half of the bike continued with a downward grade which we then had to ride it in the reverse direction as an upward grade and one monster hill toward the end of the course. In all, a very fun course with beautiful water views of the lake and river.
The run is a gradual climb for 1.5 miles to the turn around and a fast down grade for the last 1.5 miles. It was extremely pleasant with the cooler air temperature. In addition to the Sprint Triathlon, there was an Aquathon going on at the same time. It was enjoyable sharing the course with all these athletes.