Saturday, June 15, 2013

Race Report: Marble Dragon Super Sprint Triathlon

This morning I completed the Marble Dragon Super Sprint Triathlon. I'm glad that I waited a couple of hours to write this Race Report because I think time has given me a little perspective to today's race. It wasn't BAD, per se, but it was a little frustrating. Now a few hours later, I'm not feeling nearly so frustrated.

I won this entry courtesy of Active Advantage, and I don't think I otherwise would have made the 90 minute drive for such a short distance race. Not saying that the race wasn't worth it, because it most definitely was, but it would have been a very expensive transition practice if I'd had to pay the $45 entry fee as well.

Leaving at 5:30 AM and still managing a smile! :)
I left the house before sunrise and made my way to Jasper, Georgia, which felt like the middle of nowhere! The directions I got took me straight to the park and I wasn't the first person there! I got my bib and got marked. This race put your race number on your arms and your predicted swim time on your hand. I'm not sure I like this better than having my age on my leg. It seems that the world of triathlon is determined to make sure that the everyone knows I'm old or slow.

Unlike the triathlons I've done at Lake Lanier, there was no long walk to transition, and transition was set up a few feet from the pool. I wish I had taken a picture, but I was thinking of other things.

Transition area all ready to go... cycling shoes for the first time!

Mike's first race! He did very well, and I'm very proud of him!
After I set up my transition I went to check out the pool. It was smaller than the smallest of the public pools at home. I think this ended up being a good thing, though, because the water was warmer than the public pool I swam in yesterday. I actually got in and did a couple of warm-up laps and to acclimate to the water. I was surprised that I wasn't as cold I was fearing I would be. Even when I got out of the water, I wasn't too cold. It was a pleasant surprise for this cold-natured woman! The swim was an out and back down each lane, and then under the lane divider... do that on each of the 5 lanes and then lift yourself up at the wall out of the water.

We got in line for the start in order of our estimated finish time (conveniently marked on our hand). I was surprised to find there were many people behind me with a longer time. I'm a pretty slow swimmer. One person took off about every 30 seconds, or when the swimmer coming back moved into the 2nd lane. By the time I got in, the first swimmer had already gotten out and the pool was full of moving bodies. The lanes were quite narrow, but overall it went well. People seemed to be pretty reasonable with their swim times and I only saw one person who passed another. I heard in the later wave that it was a bigger problem.

I was expecting a pool swim to be easier but I was mistaken. It has its own share of challenges. For me, it wasn't sharing the narrow lanes or even the exceptionally choppy water that caused me the most trouble - it was the stupid lane changes under the dividers. The first time, I actually hit my head on the thing. How embarrassing! I lost a lot of time and momentum due to that - plus it frustrated me and interfered with my ability to keep good form. If I do another tri with a pool swim, I definitely need to practice changing lanes.

Lifting myself out of the pool in a hurry was a surprising struggle as well. I ended up scraping up my leg on the way out.

Post-race picture of my bloody knee - not sure where the grease came from!
I need to take another picture of my knee now that it's had time to really show up - there is a scrape about 4 inches long along the side of my knee! It's lovely!

Transition was close by, and it went smoothly. I dried off my feet and put on my socks and cycling shoes. Then I put on my race belt (SPI Belt with race number togs on it) since I wasn't wearing a skirt in this race. Helmet and cycling gloves on, then I unracked my bike and ran it out of transition. Today, for some reason, I had trouble getting clipped in. I really have never had as much trouble as I did today, and I'm not sure why. Maybe I was trying too fast? Or I was just nervous? Whatever the reason, it was annoying. But I'm glad that it happened today so I can practice faster clipping in, and if that doesn't work, practice taking my time getting clipped in and then I can make up that time on the ride.

As for the ride, the race director claimed that it was "mostly flat" and that may be true considering that we were in the more mountainous area of Georgia. But flat it was not. It was an "out and back" which we had to do twice.  The 4 turn-arounds slowed me down because I am just not good at u-turns. The road was open to traffic, but the traffic was light and the cars that did pass by were courteous. I got chased by a dog at one point, which was a bit scary, but I had been warned about the dog from a lady who was coming the other way on her bike. That allowed me to prepare for him. He followed along and barked a bit and I did my reverse psychology on him and said, "Good dog! Go on home!" (He's just trying to protect his territory so I don't get mad at him and aggravate him - that's my new philosophy anyway and it seemed to work). There were 2 hills that slowed me down. I have been reading about how to handle hills and tried some new techniques and it didn't really help (though I don't have my Garmin anymore so I don't know my cadence or speed, but I know I was slow). I also tried shifting into a low gear so I could continue to pedal on the downhills to see if that would help coming up the other side. As near as I could tell, I was still my same slow self. As near as I can tell from my stopwatch, I averaged about 12 mph. (Insert a big frustrated sigh here)

Even though I am not faster on my new bike and with my new shoes/pedals, I am infinitely more comfortable. My hands no longer get tingly, and my wrists don't hurt. My knees don't hurt, either. The only thing I am having trouble with are my girl parts on the saddle, so I think that will be my next upgrade. Also, I have noticed on the run that, while I still have that strange feeling running off the bike, it doesn't hurt like it used to for the first 15 minutes or so. It just feels a little odd, not the pain in my left shin that used to happen all the time after a ride. As for the lack of power that I expected to get from my clipless pedals, I will just continue to pout. And try to get down to Stone Mountain to ride some more hills. And I'm doing lunges and squats now for leg strength. 

Back to the race: I unclipped, dismounted, and ran my bike back to transition. Tried to rack my back the wrong way - nice learning experience: remember to put the seat in first! @@ Took off the cycling shoes and put on the running shoes. Took off the helmet and cycling gloves, put on the visor on, and turned my race belt around so the number was at the front. I don't think I lost a ton of time with the shoe change.

I took off with a pretty big group of runners and we followed the small red arrows for the run course. We all took off through a soccer field, and I commented to another runner, "We're trail running now!" It didn't dawn on me until the second lap when I saw lots of people seemingly cutting the course that maybe we weren't supposed to do the soccer field. I went ahead and did it the second time, though, and when I finished 4 minutes later than I expected I asked the race director and he said we were supposed to stay on the paved track and he placed a sign out there for others since a big group of us had gone the wrong way. At my pace, I figure I ran close to an extra 4/10 of mile!

I did have a bit more trouble on the run than I expected. It was warm, but not humid today (perfect tri weather today!). But I felt really drained and I even got a side stitch towards the end of the first lap. I don't think I ate or drank enough before the start, and I definitely didn't drink enough on the bike. I will need to work on my nutrition and hydration plan for this August triathlon. The second lap was better, even though I missed seeing the water stop. I think a bit of water would have helped even more. Just knowing that I was almost done lifted my spirits, and of course I didn't realize at the time that I had run long.

I ran through the cute little Finish line and collected my bling. Yes, a medal for my triathlon - take note race directors: we like bling, even if it's little bitty like this one! :)

Cute little finish line!
Selfie with my medal... my arms were shaking! I decided to eat my banana right then and there! That was my first clue that my nutrition was OFF today.
Since it was such a small race, I decided to wait around for the awards. I gathered up my stuff and took it and my bike back to the car. While I was there, one of the other ladies asked if I would take her picture. I said that I would as long as she would take mine!

My first chance to represent Team Tough Chik at a race!

I also changed out of my wet clothes because, well, eww! It took about another hour before the awards because we had to wait for the 2nd wave of adults to finish. In the end, I took 4th place in my age group by about 5 minutes. I'm not sure if I would have been fast enough for the 3rd place time without the extra run mileage, but the race director offered to call it a tie for 3rd place. I declined. It wasn't his fault, or the third place winner's fault, that I didn't pay enough attention to the course map. I will count it as a lesson learned. 4th isn't shabby, even in a small race! (I reserve the right to change that sentiment if there were only 4 of us! LOL Nah, I'm just kidding... getting up and competing/participating is always a good thing!).

I think when I first got home, I was aggravated about lots of the little details but I'm not so aggravated now. It was a good, short race and I learned a lot - and that was the entire purpose of participating! I think this Super Sprint distance is great for beginners, and very doable for just about anyone who would like to try a tri! I do recommend Five Star NTP for their smaller race atmosphere which can be a little overwhelming because there aren't a lot of details, but can also be good because the courses are not at all crowded! (This is the same company that did the Running Scared 13K that I ran last Halloween - and won my age group, because I was the only one in it! LOL).

I've got lots of training between now and my August sprint tri! I hope to make the best of it by focusing on hills on the bike, nutrition and hydration, and smoothing out my transitions!


  1. Congrats! Awesome way to practice! Love the TTC kit! I think I will be getting one next year!

    1. Thanks, Megan! She sells shorts to match the kit, too, but I couldn't get them this past year! I think she still had a few pieces of the kit from this year left on sale. The email came out a week ago, I think!