River Cities Triathlon 2013

July 22 - July 28
S:  12,101 yds - 2hr 48min
B:  197.03 mi - 9hr 27min
R:  28.57 mi - 3hr 37min
Total: 15hr 52min

July 29 - Aug 4
S:  11,827 yds - 2hr 52min
B:  95.50 mi - 4hr 59min
R:  27.04 mi - 3hr 29min
Total: 11hr 20min

It's really hard to not do all the local races around and near Alabama every year, but sometimes that gets old.  When Lori mentioned traveling to Shreveport, LA to do the River Cities Triathlon and to visit her Alma mater (Centenary College of Louisiana), I was pumped!  We headed out on Saturday morning to start the 7 hour trek over to Shreveport.  Local triathlete Jennifer Christy grew up in Shreveport and her parents graciously put 7 of us up in their house.  Jennifer's husband Micah made the trip as well; props to him for snapping a handful of superb pictures during the race.

The next morning we awoke early for our breakfast routine and then made the 40 minute drive to the race site, which was based in some sort of a park.  With the race being a sprint (0.5 mile, 18 mile, 5k), I wanted to make sure I was nice and warmed up.  Lori and I went for a 2 mile run with some striders and it was at that point that I knew it was going to be a brutal day.  It was already getting kind of hot and the humidity was BRUTAL.  Usually this would be no problem, but summer in Alabama has been somewhat mild this year so this was a complete shock to the body.  Anyways, here's how the race went.

Swim - 12:52 (7th)
I lined up with 21 other guys in the elite/invitational wave.  The swim course was a 0.5 mile clockwise triangle so I positioned myself on the right hand side on the 2nd row.  As the gun sounded, we-took off.  The pace was high for the first 100 meters but I found myself still in the pack.  At this point things spread out and I could see 1 guy out front and handful of others in front of me, but it was hard to tell how many.  Everyone else was behind so I just focused on swimming hard and swimming straight.  The rest of the swim was uneventful and I thought it went pretty well, although I didn't have much clue on my position.

swim exit...hurting pretty good

T1 - 1:19 (13th)
T1 went smoothly.  My new helmet takes slightly longer to put on (it's a snug fit) but probably only by 5 seconds or so...nothing substantial.  13th sounds terrible but most of us were in the 1:10 to 1:20 range.

Bike - 43:12 (7th)
The bike was interesting.  This was my first ride with a new helmet that has less venting.  This was also the 2nd ride on my new bike setup, which basically has me in a praying mantis position with extensions rotated up 25 degrees.  It still feels somewhat awkward but I'm getting used to it.  That being said, the first thing that I noticed out on the bike was that it was very hot and my heart rate was very high (and not coming down as quick as I wanted).  As I spent the first few minutes settling into the effort, it became apparent that my wattage was going to be lower than normal.  Oh well, some days are like that.  I managed to pass 1 guy within the first few minutes and 2 others at about the halfway point.  From there on I was completely solo for this 18 mile clockwise loop course so I just focused on a high and steady effort.  I came off the bike in 4th place, but keep in mind that I had absolutely no clue what position I was in.  This would have been nice to know!

new helmet, new setup

finishing the bike

T2 - 1:20 (15th)
I spent about 5-10 seconds fumbling with a shoe but other than that, no issues here.  We had to run a loop in transition before getting out on the course.

Run - 20:07 (7th)
This is where it gets even more interesting.  The run was a semi out-and-back, but on the return trip the course took several "diversions".  This would prove to make it very difficult to gauge what position I was in.  Post-race analysis told me I started the run in 4th but I had no clue and throughout the race I did not see a single person on the return trip.  At that point it was so hot that I was in survival mode anyways, so it probably would not have mattered.  As soon as I came out of T2 I knew it was going to be a suffer fest.  My head was on fire and my ears were slightly "stopped up", which seems to happen to me when I start to overheat.  A couple minutes into the run, two guys came by me running substantially faster than myself.  I was struggling with 6:30 pace and they flew by me.  Crap.  Mile 1 was a 6:30...not going to cut it but it was the best I could do.  I told myself to suck it up and I cranked up the pace a little bit.  Two other guys passed me but I passed two more so I'm sitting in 6th.  Mile 2 was a 6:13 and I was overheating bad!  At about the 14 minute mark, my whole stomach started to cramp up...it was weird...almost like a side stitch...but my whole stomach.  I tried to carry on but the pain was unbearable to I started to walk.  This was such a terrible feeling, especially when I got passed by another guy, moving me into 7th.  After about 30 seconds of walking I gradually started running again and was able to pick the pace up a little bit and finish at a decent clip.

rounding the corner to the finish...

...ready for this thing to be over!

let's play "where did Chad start walking?"

Total: 1:18:52.6 (7th overall)
In the end I didn't have a bad race, but I didn't have a good race either.  I thought I swam well but my bike and run left a little bit to be desired.  Bike watts were at least 30-35 watts lower than normal for a sprint, and my 5k was at least 1.5-2 minutes slower than what I've done earlier this year.  If you shaved 2 to 2.5 minutes off my time I would have been right when 2nd and 3rd place.  It's crazy what a big difference a minute or two can make, it certainly emphasizes the importance of execution on race day!  The big question is how much of this was due to the heat?  All of it?  It was hot, and by hot I mean way hotter and more humid than it's ever been in Alabama this year.  You certainly can't discount that.  At the end of the day, however, I'm happy because I know I went as hard as I could and could not have gone any faster.  It's unexplainable, but some days you have it and some days you don't...and today I did not quite have the top end speed.  Many thanks to Jennifer Christy for putting us up in her parents house.  Jennifer had a solid race herself, finishing 2nd place in the female masters category.  And of course, congrats to Lori who finished 3rd overall female in her 3rd triathlon ever!  What a stud!

post race, Lori got 3rd overall!

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