FS Series puts on some of my favorite races! This was my second time racing in Clinton, NC with FS. It is a small town with big charm and friendly faces. Our race packets included handmade drawings from local children. Nice touch! Thankfully, this was an indoor pool swim because the air temperature was around 39 degrees that morning. It was just a tad chilly coming out of the pool to the transition area. I was glad that I took the time to throw on a jacket before heading out on the bike course. Despite the cold temperatures, I had a blast racing and getting to cheer on fellow teammates and friends. Thanks again for a fun race FS Series!
I recently received the weekly email from Inside Out Sports where Cid Cardoso recommended Specialized Turbo Cotton tires. I have a full ironman coming up in 3 weeks, so I decided to go ahead and give them a try. Yesterday, I did my last long ride on the new tires, and I agree with Cid. These are indeed “special” tires. They provide a smooth ride with very little rolling resistance. Thanks for the tip Cid. And thanks to Cory at IOS for installing them for me. Thanks to Specialized for making them! Now I’m ready to rock and roll at Ironman Texas!
You may be wondering whats with the title but believe me you’ll understand by the time you get done reading this race report! Kory Gray and I (along with a group of others) decided to enter into a sport thats hit the U.S. and caught on very quickly, its called SwimRun and it may be one of the toughest races I’ve done in awhile.
We had this bright idea last fall and at the time sounded like a great one! SwimRun Lake James is a combination of 14 run segments and 13 swim segments totaling about 3.5 miles of swimming and just over 13 miles of trail running (done is teams of two where you stay together the entire race). This doesn’t sound too bad until you hear more about the details…
We all woke up bright and early Saturday morning with the usual pre race jitters except this feeling was a little more intense (something didn’t seem right with Kory but you’ll find out more about this as the story continues…). A combination of both excitement but also extreme fear of the unknown as this was something completely new to us all, oh and the water was 55 degrees Fahrenheit which didn’t help! We got to the race site about an hour before the start as there’s really no setup and its a matter of just getting dressed and warming up. SwimRun attire consists of an outfit that resembles that of a not-so-cool superhero with accessories to aid in the race. You’re allowed to use paddles, wetsuits, swim buoy, and fins if you really want but the kicker is you have to finish with whatever you started with. We opted for the paddle/buoy combo along with neoprene caps and calf guards to protect the legs and head from the cold. After suiting up, documenting this momentous occasion with a couple pictures and a short warm up run, me and my partner were ready to head to the start.
The race started promptly at 8am with a total of 52 teams consisting of all men, all women, and mixed gender teams. The gun went off and there we went. Two teams took the early lead on the first 2 mile run but Kory and I knew we needed to pace ourselves for what was to come. After about a mile or so of being in a pack of 2-3 teams we decided to break away to have to space getting into the water. As we neared the water we started preparing ourselves for what was sure to be a major physiological shock to the body, jumping into 55 degree water and hitting that first swim segment. It was somewhat of a relief as the 2 mile run in the wetsuit and cap warmed us up quite a bit. The first swim went well and we quickly closed the gap on the first two teams. We hopped out for the first short run and then straight back into the water. Thats when Mr. Gray’s stomach finally woke up and said STOP!
Once we hit the third run segment Kory’s HR shot up and his stomach turned upside down. We stopped for him to gain his composure and then started at it again. We got through that run segment with a couple teams passing us. However we hit that next longer swim and passed them all and even passed the 2nd place team in the water! We were now onto the 7.7 mile long run of the race. Again we hopped out and Kory started having stomach issues. We took it slow and steady through the long run doing a combo of jogging/walking and it seemed liked he was good to go. We got some nutrition in and kept chugging along. We had been passed by several teams at this point but knew we would make the time back up in the water.
We neared the waters edge and caught up to a team who had removed the top half of their wetsuit and were struggling to get them on. We threw our goggles on and off we went. Crushing the longest swim of 1600 meters we made all the time back that we lost in the run and were back in 3rd place. Everything seemed to be going our way and we were making time back quickly until the stomach struck again. We had a short run straight back into an 800 meter swim and this put the body into shock as it was extremely cold and the HR fluctuated quite a bit. It was from this point that stomach issues continued and Kory’s body temps seemed to be affected. I should have maybe mentioned this earlier but he was wearing a borrowed wetsuit that was much thinner than mine, was not designed for these cold temps, and he wasn’t wearing the calf guards like me which made a big difference. Okay back to the story…
After a series of short swims and island hops we were back onto a longer run where we could warm up some but it wasn’t enough and at this point Kory had almost no nutrition in his system. We knew we only had a few more run and swim segments to go which is what kept us going. We neared the last run and could hear the sweet sounds of people cheering and finish line music but it was a trick. As if the amount of cold and short swim segments wasn’t enough already the race directors added one final 100 meter swim to the boat dock which would take us up the the finish line. Kory came to a sudden stop and said “give me a minute!” I could hear a team coming behind us so I reach up, slapped his goggles on for him and said “get your ass in the water, we’re almost there!” (said with the utmost respect and love 😉
We got through the final swim, ran up the hill, and took our last few steps to get across the finish line. We. Were. Done! I have to say I’m very impressed with my partner Kory for persevering through what was already a tough race without having any issues. We ended up 7th overall male team in a time of just under 4 hours. Congrats to Marcus Barton and his team for absolutely crushing the course. We’re motivated and ready to come back for redemption so you better watch out Marcus 😉
Anyone’s who’s not tried one of these races should give it a go. Hope to see you all out there soon!