Saturday, July 18, 2015

Race Report: Chopped Oak Sprint Triathlon

Today was my last triathlon of this season. It's time to focus on my fall marathons, but I'm so glad I was able to compete in 2 sprint triathlons this season. I am so pleased with my performance in each triathlon and I'm very glad I did them! I'm especially glad that I got to share today's triathlon with my friend, BJ!

She and I met at the crazy hour of 5:30 AM at the gas station! The plan was to caravan the 70 miles to the race start. But to my surprise, BJ had her bike rack on the back of her car (and her own bike inside her car) and offered to drive us both up there together! Since I have driven 1400 miles in the last 2 weeks (now do you see why I haven't posted? LOL), I was thrilled to be relieved of driving duties. And the time always passes by so quickly when you're catching up with a friend! The hardest part about this year has been missing my long rides with my friends and all the talking that we would do along the way! I truly, truly miss the hours and hours on the bike with my buddies! 

We arrived with plenty of time to get set up and check out the area. This Sprint triathlon was held in conjunction with a Super Sprint and some Kid triathlons but it was a small turnout so we could set up wherever we wanted. We picked up our race numbers and got our bodies marked. I set up transition next to BJ right outside the door where we would leave the pool. I think our transition area was in the perfect location! 

Mike (on the right) enjoyed seeing his buddy, BJs nameless bike. Mike is envious of the new aero bars that his friend has now!
We checked out the race course as best we could. This company is small and their races are laid-back. That's not a bad thing at all! And this is my 3rd triathlon with this company and they are improving each and every time! We took our obligatory pre-race selfie and then went inside. 

The pool was an 8 lane, 25 yard pool, which explains the fact that the Sprint swim was 400 yards when the Super Sprint was 250 yards. The lanes were wide and the water felt good. This entire facility was top-notch! I was impressed since it wasn't a YMCA but is owned by Habersham County! 

Swim 500 yards - 9:49 (2:27/100 yards avg)
Since this was a pool swim, we lined up in order of anticipated swim time. This is especially important because a swimmer takes off when the previous swimmer makes it to the end of the lane. If everyone is honest about their time, then nobody bumps into each other. But not everyone is honest about their time - they either under or over estimate and then it gets a little dicey. And in this pool, we had to go from left to right which is pretty much opposite of how most pools work. So we would go down a lane on the left side, turn around and come back the same lane on the left side, and then at the end of that lane you duck under the rope and go down the left of the next lane! I saw one collision when a person was swimming on the right side. I'm sure she was just falling into the pattern of how she normally swims in her home pool. She was OK, and kept on swimming! 

As for me, my swim went very well. I had timed a practice swim last week in the pool near the dance studio which is set up in yards. I did one set pushing very hard and finished in 9:30, then I did a second set taking it very easy and finished in 10:30. So I estimated my time as 10:00. I finished in 9:49 according to my Garmin and that was pretty close, I think! And, I actually passed someone in the last lap! That probably wasn't very nice, but I didn't want to hang behind him. I hope it didn't ruin his day. 

T1 - 2:26
I was determined not to sit down this time. And I didn't! I did dry off my feet a little because we had run through grass and I didn't want to have grass in my shoes. Transition was a small area so I didn't have too far to run. 

Bike 16.59 miles - 1:03:41 (15.6 mph avg)
This bike route was a double loop. When I took off on my first loop, the officer wasn't yet directing the traffic so I had to pretty much stop coming out of the aquatic center grounds. That was annoying. We were on a 2 lane highway with a 55 mph speed limit, which made me nervous but the traffic wasn't heavy and the cars were, for the most part, careful. The course was small rolling hills which was good considering we were close to the mountains. In fact, when we made the one and only turn I could see the beautiful mountains in the distance. I didn't get to enjoy them for long because the turn-around point was at the bottom of the hill. Yes, turning around at the bottom of a hill to go back up said hill. That was the only part of the course that I did not like at all. When I got back to the aquatic center, I was directed to turn around in the parking lot and head back out for my 2nd lap. I definitely didn't feel as strong on the 2nd lap but my cycling has been lacking recently so I wasn't surprised. And I probably went out a little too fast on the 1st lap. But that's the beauty of a sprint - you can screw up and it won't ruin your race! I have to check but I think my average speed may be close to a record in a race! 

T2 - 1:13
I was going to rock this transition. Kept it simple! Shoes off, shoes on, grab visor and bottle of Nuun and take off! 

Run 2.04 miles (supposed to be 5K) - 19:59 (9:49/mile avg)
This route was also a double loop, and a little bit different from the loop the Super Sprint had to do. I'm not exactly sure what happened but it was nowhere close to the 3.1 miles we were supposed to do. I'm not sure if the volunteers were calling out wrong directions for us or what exactly happened, but I did what I was told to do and ran the same distance as everyone else. My only complaint was that I was pacing myself for a 5K, and if I had known it was going to be so short I would have adjusted accordingly! LOL In the end, it's really OK. I felt strong. I had fun. That's all that matters! 

Overall time - 1:37:09 (Garmin)

Since it was such a small race, BJ and I decided to wait around for the awards. I figured we would each pick up an age group award. Well, imagine my surprise when BJ's name is called for 1st place OVERALL Master's female and my name is called for 2nd place OVERALL Master's female! That was such a shock and very unexpected! What a way to end my triathlon season for 2015! And apparently I qualified for the Five Star triathlon championships in October, but it's the same weekend as my 20 miler for MCM so I will have to miss it! I guess this means I will have to qualify again next year then! ;) 

In my cute race shirt and sporting my 2nd place OVERALL Master's female award! I couldn't be more thrilled! 
Overall, I would recommend this race but I do hope they are able to figure out what happened on the run course and get that straightened out! Five Star NTP is a small company and I'm not sure they are triathletes so they may not understand the importance of these small details. But they are nice folks and they are constantly working to improve - this year there are even chip timers for the triathlons and I know that had to be an expensive investment! I like supporting small race companies as long as they are working to improve the experience for their athletes. So for this race, they need to fix the run mileage for the Sprint and make sure there is more/better food post race. Not a deal breaker for me as I always bring my own food since I'm so picky! LOL I will keep this race on my radar for next season!

This seems to be a pretty busy weekend for races. If you've raced this weekend, please comment and share your race report! I love reading other people's stories!

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