The first race of the year is always a good litmus test to see were your body (and mind) is at. As I mentioned in my pre-race report, coming into my taper for Chattanooga 70.3 I was feeling a bit off and sluggish.
Cliff notes version:
- Swim: PR swim – swam alone for most of the race – 25:20
- Bike: Lost power 10 minutes in – solid ride – 2:21:32
- Run: Not as fast as I was hoping for, had some GI issues – 1:25:10
- Overall: 1st AG (25-29), 2nd amateur, 20th overall
Pre-Race: I woke up at 3:00am race morning to get the transition area when it opened at 4:30am. There were shuttle buses taking athletes from transition to the swim start also beginning at 4:30am.
Breakfast consisted of a large bowl of oatmeal, a banana and a bottle of my Custom INFINIT blend.
I wanted to get to the swim start as early as possible to secure a spot in line, but I didn’t want to rush my pre-race preparation. After setting up my transition area, I met up with some fellow teammates and friends to head to the shuttle bus. Being surrounded by friends took some of the nerves away from a tense morning.
Once we arrived at the swim start, there was already a line of at least 100-200 people. We found our spot in line and camped out, it was still 1.5 hours till the race officially started. After a few bathroom breaks and some pre-race conversation, the national anthem started and it was time to go!
Swim: The cannon sounded and the pros were off! I took note of the line that the pros swam after they rounded the first turn buoy. As I expected they made a diagonal towards the 2nd or 3rd buoy downstream. After 5 minutes, the pro women’s cannon sounded. Another 5 minutes and it was our turn.
The way the rolling start was supposed to work was 3 athletes into the water every 5 seconds. In reality, it was just a continuous line of jumping off the dock into the scrum. I watched one lady ahead of me jump in and lose her goggles immediately.
I made it to the dock and hopped feet first into the water (they didn’t allow diving in). As planned, I started out strong. There was 300m of upstream swimming. The current wasn’t very strong, but the hard part was trying to weave my way through the swimmers scattered throughout the course already.
I made it to the turn buoy amidst a good amount of traffic and immediately spotted the 3rd buoy down river diagonal from the turn. At this point, people were swimming all sorts of lines down the river. I settled into my rthym and hung just to the right of the buoy line the rest of the way.
I’d have to dodge a slower swimmer every 50 yds or so, but for the most part I had clear water. My intention going into the race was to find some fast feet in front of me to stay on, but I never found any feet to stay on.
I kept up my pace and made the last turn to the swim exit.
Swim goal – 26 minutes
Actual time – 25:20 (PR by over 3 minutes)
5th fastest swim (Mens 25-29)
T1: We had to run up a set of stairs exiting the water. I pulled off my goggles and cap and stripped my wetsuit down halfway. I took advantage of the wetsuit strippers and headed up to the transition area. I ran the few hundred years to the transition area, having to deal with a lot of athlete traffic along the way. Found my bike, strapped on my shoes and helmet, and I was off!
T2 Goal – 3 minutes
Actual T2 – 2:52
Bike: I knew there was a pretty strong northerly wind that morning so we would deal with some headwind the last 20 miles or so. I felt great leaving transition. We rode the city of Chattanooga, having to hop over a few train tracks on the way. I made sure to be careful about not losing my bottles on the tracks.
I settled in on my race wattage of 270-280w and started making my way through the bike traffic. I was picking off athletes pretty quickly in the first couple of miles.
About 10 minutes into the race, I looked down and my power meter was ready 40 watts. I was obviously pushing much more than 40w so I knew there was an issue. Did the battery come loose on the train tracks? Did I forgot to charge the battery? I couldn’t figure out what was causing the issue.
I decided to just ride off of feel. Before having a power meter, I was very comfortable riding off feel for races. I continued to ride up closer to the front of the race. Athletes began to thin out and become more sparse. I did pass large groups of athletes (5-10), riding in packs and drafting. It’s frustrating, but there’s really nothing you can do about it.
I had my bike timer set at 10 minute alerts, every 10 minutes I would take a swig of my INFINIT custom blend. I had 2 bottles, 500 calories each. Besides that, I grabbed 1 bottle of water at aid station.
About 20 miles into the race, I was passed for the first time. I thought about trying to stick with him, but knew it wasn’t worth the pace. I was more confident in my run this year, so I would let him go.
The field thinned out a lot more, I began to catch a few of the female professionals. With about 20 miles left in the race I stopped pushing and settled into a comfortable pace. I could feel my legs starting to burn and I wanted to make sure I had gas left for the run course.
The headwind definitely put a damper on the bike as we made it back into town. I kept looking at my Garmin the last 5 miles, coming into town about 5 minutes behind where I wanted to be.
Bike Goal – 2:18:00
Actual Bike – 2:21:32
Fastest Bike split (Men’s 25-29)
T2: I unstrapped from my shoes on the last downhill and came into T2 with some speed. I dismounted and ran by back to my rack. I threw on my socks, Newton Distance V’s, grabbed my handheld bottle and headed out on the run. I came off the bike right behind another athlete as well as a fellow INFINIT teammate and female pro, Ashley Clifford.
T2 Goal – 2 minutes
Actual T2 – 1:52
Run: I had been anticipated the run portion of the race for some time now. I had a great marathon earlier in the year and was really curious to see how my run has progressed.
The first half mile was a bit of struggle. I settled in behind Ashley and another age grouper and tried to get my legs underneath me. At the end of the first mile was the first test, a long gradual hill. I ignored my pace and only focused on my effort.
At this point of the race I wasn’t sure where I was relative to the other athletes in my Age Group or amateurs in general.
I kept pushing through miles 2 & 3, picking off a few runners here and there. That’s where my stomach started to turn. Just like in my marathon, nature called. It brought me to a halt at times. I had to clench my fist and come to walk to avoid shitting my pants. During a wooded area along the river, I thought about stopping but realized it was probably a bad idea since there was no toliet paper to be found.
Around mile 4.5, I passed a porta potty. At this point I actually started to feel better so I kept going. I instantly regretted that. The GI issues came back and this time I knew I HAD to stop. I jumped into the next porta potty I saw. It was right next to a timing mat, so could hear every time another athlete was passing me.
After doing my duty, I felt great. I came flying out of the porta potty and caught up to the guys who had put time on me while I was “busy”. I ran across the pedestrian bridge and made my way to the second loop. By this time I was feeling the best I’ve feel all day. Miles 6-8 felt smooth and came easy. Around mile 9, my legs started to drag and feel heavy.
At every turn around, I could see the guys behind me making up time on me. I wasn’t about to quit and let them pass. I made a push up the last big hill with 2.5 miles to go. With less than a mile to go, I heard footsteps behind me. It was Ruth M, a female pro, cruising along with a very strong finish.
After a few glances over my shoulder, I made the turn down the hill and towards the finish line. I had put in a good days work and enjoyed the crowds at the finish line, slapping hive fives with my parents and giving a salute to a lost buddy as I crossed the line. The announcer said I was the 3rd amateur across the line on the day, but I wouldn’t know my place till the rolling start was all worked in to the times.
Run Goal – 1:25:00
Actual Run – 1:25:10
2nd fastest run (Men’s 25-29)
Overall: Although I didn’t win the overall amateur title, I am still happy with my race. I had the best swim to date and even with a less than perfect bike/run I still managed an AG win and 20th overall. The race was an amazing experience and I was glad to share it with friends, family and teammates!
Thanks: First want to thank my parents for making the trip down to Chattanooga with me. Thanks to my coach Blake Becker for getting me ready, physically and mentally this season as well as 30 other BBMC athletes.
Thanks to my wonderful partners and sponsors including Endurance House (Jamie & Tara), Peak Performance (Brianna, Carly, Meghan and Morgan), TYR Sports (Erica), INFINIT Nutrition (Ryan and crew), Cycleops, Newton Running, Superfeet, Cervelo, Rudy Project, Tifosi and ENVE Composites. Special thanks to friends and family as well as Lee Karp and the Endurance House Atlanta crew. Thanks to all the race volunteers and IRONMAN crew for putting on a great race.
What’s next: Next weekend I’ll be racing Lake Mills, followed by the Milkman Half IRONMAN on June 19th!
Thanks for reading!