Knightdale Sprint -by Martin Stam

Knightdale Super Sprint 9/17/17

By Martin Stam

I like events like this because there are lots of first-timers. It is super inspirational to see folks getting into triathlon. Additionally, sprints are great because you get some awesome racing action and can be home by 10:30am! I’ve been trying to convince my friends and family to do one of these, but no success yet.

Now to my race report:

I am thankful that Knightdale is only 30 minutes from my house. This was the first race of the season where I arrived early enough to get set up, checked-in and warmed up, all without feeling rushed. Good time management on race morning is definitely a key to success. Often race sites can seem confusing and chaotic, especially for someone new to the experience, so it is always a great idea to familiarize yourself with all the information and directions.

In transition, I was on the same rack as the NC State triathlon team, but I didn’t let their matching uniforms intimidate me and I got a good spot right at the end.

 

It really does makes a difference in your confidence when you feel prepared and not rushed. I even was able to get a few technique and strategy pointers from my friends Marty and Cari in the pool before the start. The biggest piece of advice, however, came from my other friend Jonathan who told me that the course is actually surprisingly hilly for this area. Thank you for the heads up!

 

Once I got out on the bike, after mostly avoiding hitting my head on the lane lines of the pool swim, I realized that this was not a flat course by any means. But I also knew that it was pretty short, so I just rode as hard as I could and was able to pass a few other competitors.

The bike and run course share the same road going through a neighborhood and you actually pass the run turnaround, so I was glad to be able to see it and visualize running that distance.

The last bit of the bike was a steady uphill (did I mention that the course is not flat?), so I came into T2 huffing and puffing a little bit. The run is basically downhill out and uphill back, which was mentally challenging, but I had already seen the turnaround so I knew what was coming before the finish line.

 

It was a great event and I look forward to going back again!

 

Stay tuned for my blog post about sports psychology and race report from Kona.

 

Getting to the race in the foggy darkness. Sound familiar? -Watauga Lake Triathlon

Watauga Lake Triathlon 9/14/17

By Martin Stam

Sometimes triathlon events can a real adventure. This one is a great example.

I drove up the night before to stay with my cool mountaineer brother creativetreehousedesign.com. He told me that Watauga lake was actually in Tennessee not North Carolina and promptly produced an old dusty map which we studied on a wooden table by the lantern light of his tiny rustic cabin. I had thought it was way closer to Boone.

I slept well in my sleeping bag on the floor and jumped in the car very dark and early. Of course my cell phone had no service, my brother’s hand-drawn map was pretty vague, and the roads were so foggy that I couldn’t exceed 35mhp. Adventure!

On the twisting mountain roads of western North Carolina I quickly loose sense of distance and direction. But that is the fun part about going up there, you’re always lost –unless you’re my brother, who is never lost.

Luckily, I had budgeted a little extra time for getting lost, and I finally made it to the beautiful race site with enough time to get checked in and set up.

I really enjoyed the course, I would have enjoyed it more if I were certain that I was going the right way for the first few miles of the still-foggy bike. Being in the mountains, there were some real mountain climbs –most notably a big one in the first mile, and a huge mountain about three quarters of the way through. There were a few miles of flat, going along the shoreline of Watauga lake, but I didn’t take advantage and hammer because of the fear in my stomach that I had somehow missed a turn.

Anyway, I finally got back (without having missed any turns) and had a smooth transition with my brother and his girlfriend cheering me onward. I stayed in control for the run and finished with a sense that I could have run a bit faster. But I felt good, which is better than the painful scenario of over-doing it and bonking in the middle of the run.

This race was also memorable for me because I got, by far, the best prize ever; a nice backpack!

 

Ebbs and Flows, you know how it goes

The ebbs and flows of a triathlon season…ah, yes.  This is what happens when the season for your sport lasts the better part of 7 months (and really could last all 12 months if you let it consume you).  There are ups and downs.  They come in training, they come in racing, they come in your mental state and they come in the form of injury.  Everyone’s been there.  And for me, this season was filled with ups and downs.  And filled chronologically, with the ups coming first and the downs finishing off my season way too early.

The ups

Starting with a nice build of training in February and March that had me feeling pretty good for an early sprint tri @ the FS Series race of Beaverdam.  It was there that I notched my first win.  Albeit not overly impressive, I felt really good about my swim conditioning and even better about my bike fitness and improvement.  All of this was important to keep my mind up for my “A” race this year, The American Triple-T in Ohio.

The American Triple-T (ATT) in early June was brutal and awesome, all wrapped in one.  The brutal part is the 3 consecutive days of racing.  It taxes you physically, with 4 races over those 3 days culminating in a 70.3 with LOTS of climbing.  It also taxes you mentally, having to wake up each day and get yourself ready to compete, already sore and knowing what’s to come that day ahead.  This was the second straight year of me completing the ATT.  I exceeded the previous year in overall placement.  Each race was improved over the year before.  This made for a massive UP heading into the summer season.  I planned to do many local sprints over July, August and September and I couldn’t wait to continue the season.

The downs

Then, my plans for the summer/fall season changed.  Insertional Achilles tendonitis (or tendinosis) struck on July 5th.  This injury has been my enemy, off and on, for the better part of 5 years.  Each time it flares up bad enough to take a break from running, it’s bad enough that I have to stop running for several months.  This one is no different.  I could still swim, I could still bike, but I couldn’t run.  So, my tri season was done.  Just like that.  It was a physical and mental down that I’m still yet to recover from.  I know the drill, though…give it a few months and I’ll be back.  And I’ll be as ready as ever to improve, learn and have fun.

Until next year!!!!

FS Series 1206 Battle of Buckhorn

FS Series has been a long time sponsor for our Elite Team and it is always fun to race one of their events. Jason and Brent have wonderful courses set up and Dawn Dixon does an excellent job with the many volunteers required to make a race day successful!

I have heard about the infamous Belt Buckle prize of the Battle of Buckhorn race but have never been able to make the timing of the race work for my schedule until this year. Most times when you build something up in your mind, the reality is not as good. This was not true for Battle of Buckhorn. FS Series folks do not disappoint. The swim was well organized from well spaced wave start to the direction of the swim being modified race morning so that we wouldn’t be swimming into the sun on the return leg back to shore, thanks Brent! The bike course was fun. The turns were well marked and well staffed by volunteers (shout out to Whit Hughston!) The elevation on the bike was enough to make sure you are working hard but no crazy climbing. The run had a slight uphill that you run twice but the 2 loop course makes sure that you have plenty of friends to cheer on as you run by each other multiple times.

But the thing that really sets this race apart is the awards ceremony! FS actually gives prize money for the Top 3 Overall and Top 3 Overall Masters. Prize money is rarely seen, so this is always fun for athletes:) And even if you are not speedy enough to manage an overall podium finish, FS still has plenty of awards left to give. There is also prize money for the fastest swim split (male and female), fastest bike split (male and female) and fastest run split (male and female). And to show that FS Series keeps up with the current trends in our sport, there was also a Strava segment on the bike that produced KOM (King of the Mountain) and QOM (Queen of the Mountain) awards from those who had properly prepared their Strava account beforehand.

Thanks again, FS Series for another wonderful event and another year of sponsorship for our team. You guys rock!!

Battle at Buckhorn – a new favorite local race

2017 has been a tough year for my racing/training. A running injury and bike crash in April really slowed down my training this year. I spent most of the summer swimming way more than I ever though I would, and lots of ‘junk’ bike miles. My base was good, but I wouldn’t really say I was in any sort of racing or competitive shape for the majority of this year.

Before Buckhorn, I had just gotten back into racing again, with the Washington Triathlon (er, duathlon?) and doing a draft-legal collegiate triathlon two weeks before (in which I broke my toe running into the water yet completed the whole thing). Both races were pretty mediocre, and felt worse than some of my interval sessions. I could tell progress was being made and I figured Buckhorn would be a good motivator to keep the progress going.

Rather than walking through each leg like all of my other race reports, I’ll keep it simple. I had a decent performance; not as great as I’ve done last year, but I felt like I was getting fitness back.  The water temperature was perfect, with really flat, still water. The bike course is my favorite kind of course – at least hilly enough to cause some separation, but comfortable enough that any ability of rider can enjoy the course. This year there was a good bit of wind, but it wasn’t really enough to bother me, except when the wind swept up the smells from the cow pastures. The run course is a simple, two-loop course, which I actually enjoy. For those who enjoy racing, this allows you to see where your competition is at, which helps with motivation. Even for those who don’t like competing, having a ‘dense’ course full of people makes the race more fun, in my opinion.

All said and done, I was happy with my performance, continued to progress my racing fitness, and had a bit of fun doing so. I plan to make this race a regular occurrence – with the perfect water and air-temperature, it was a fun day to be out with other TMS-IOS teammates and other fast guys and girls! If you find yourself waffling about whether or not to do this race, you can hold me to it when I say you won’t regret it.*

*weather and injuries permitting.

Battle at Buckhorn 2017

BuckhornI have done this race a few times in the past, and it has always been competitive and lots of fun. This year was no different, and since it was at the end of September the weather was perfect! The water temperature was also cooler, so it was wetsuit legal this year.

My swim went well. I started out behind Bri Gaal, and stayed close to her for part of the swim but fell behind a little by the end. I think I was 5th out of the water, but two of the girls ahead of me on the swim must have had slower transitions because I never saw them on the bike or run. My time was 12:30, which I was happy with.

As I ran into transition and found my spot I saw Bri was already heading out on her bike. I quickly got out of my wetsuit and into my bike gear and headed out on the bike right behind Braden Walsh. Once on the bike Braden and I passed each other back and forth a few times before I was able to put a small gap between us. I rode by myself for a while, and this section of the course was a little slower due to the wind. About half way through the bike I heard a familiar voice as one of my teammates, Sara Larson, caught up to me. I was happy to have someone to pace with again and we finished the bike together. Time 49:48, not my best time on the course but still pretty good.

I made good time in T2 and started on the run just ahead of Sara. Unfortunately, Sara is a faster runner than me, so she quickly passed me and put some distance between us. Since the run was out and back I could see that Bri was the only one ahead of Sara and me. I also knew Braden and Millie Barrett were not far behind, so I could not let up on the run. I was happy to be running OK after a pretty bad ankle sprain a few weeks before the race. I managed to hold off the girls behind me to finish in third place overall. Run time 22:56, and total 1:26.50. After the race I enjoyed hanging out with my fellow TMS-IOS teammates and other tri friends while we waited for awards. This year FS Series gave cash prizes in addition to the prized belt buckles, so that was a good way to finish off the last race of the series!