Have you ever raced more than once in a single weekend? How about twice, maybe 3 times?? How does 4 races in one weekend sound?….sounds pretty ridiculous right? Then, let me introduce you to the American Triple-T weekend in Portsmouth, Ohio. The TTT consists of 4 triathlons in 3 days. The breakdown is as follows.
Race 1 Friday pm- super sprint (250m swim, 6k bike, 1M run)
Race 2 Saturday am – 1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run – challenging and hilly
Race 3 Saturday pm – 1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run – less hilly but still difficult
Race 4 Sunday am – 2k swim, 90k bike, 21.1k run….yup a half Iron.
As a side note, the half-iron on Sunday can be done as an individual race, without having to compete in the 3 other races.
Whats interesting here, is that the races are broken up so recovery becomes critical between each one. Also, the intensity factor is high at all times, as a result, therefore pacing and strategy become critically important. Everyday brings something different. Different courses, different weather, different fatigue….very interesting.
Richard Pady of healthy results training and a small group of his athletes were heading down to participate in the race weekend. Rich asked if Taryn and I would be interested in coming down with them and providing support for the gang. As luck would have it, we were free that weekend, and decided to accompany them on the camping extravaganza. We had never been to Shawnee State Park, but had heard good things about it.
Rich and his gang were not messing around. They came fully loaded with some serious equipment. A motor home RV with a build in kitchen and room for 4 people, and a pop up trailer with fridge and 2 double beds. Taryn and I “roughed” it in the old school tent, though we had an air matress and it was quite comfortable….apart from the getting soaked every night from the moisture in the air.
As support staff we wore multiple hats throughout the weekend. Cooks, cleaners, photographers, cheerers, drivers, equipment transporters etc. Taryn, a certified RMT at bedeskyRMT, even provided post race massages with her massage table she had brought. Between all of our tasks, we were on the move at all times doing something for the gang that were competing hard all weekend.
Rich and his gang were kicking butt all weekend. Deb Powell was dominating the womens field, and Rich was just 1-2 minutes down from the overall leader leading into Sunday’s race.
Fast forward to the final stage, the 1/2 Iron on Sunday, a.k.a. the little smokies triathlon. Little Smokies is a very scenic and pretty darn tough course. It has approx 1200m of climbing over the 90k bike, and 550m on the 21k run…at least the swim was flat 🙂 The race format was a time trial start, as it was for all of the American Triple-T races.
The swim was a 2 loop course, it was a beautiful lake swim, calm waters and well marked. I was coming into this race after 3 weeks of 20+ hours of training / week so my legs were still a little tired but I was hanging around the wrong crowd to look for sympathy. After all, they had just finished doing 3 hard races while I spectated. My goal in this race was to test my current fitness and my new bike. Therefore, no tappering was necessary, I simply ended my training block with this race.
The LS athletes had to wait for all the American Triple-T competitors to hit the water before we got to start. As you can see in the picture, there was a fair amount of traffic in the water for us. I decided I would line up at the front of the time trial start and see how I would fare. we had no way of knowing where we were in the ranking during the swim, which made it easy on tactics. Swim steady and don’t stop!
After jumping out of the water I made a quick transition and headed out. The bike course was a 2 loop course as well. 2 days prior, on the Friday, I was able to squeeze in a couple workouts between the AM and PM races while the HR crew was resting, so I did a half half Iron. I did a single loop of the swim, bike and run course to scout them out and see what they were like. I averaged something like 27km/h on the bike and thought wow…this is going to be a tough course. I was chased by a pack of 4 dogs that forced me to go anaerobic up a fairly long hill, and then I was finally stung by a bee or wasp which flew into my shirt on a decent. I also “found” an unmarked pothole that was hidden by shade from the trees during a fast descent. I hit dead center going approx 50km/h, luckily I was going easy and was on the breaks….I smacked this thing and almost got sent flying off my bike. It literally felt like my front fork snapped in half. Luckily it didn’t, my handlebars simply rotated from the force of impact and I stayed on my bike. I took note of where this unsafe hole was, and upon returning to the race site, shared my find with the race crew from HFP who organize the event. Right away they sent someone out on a moped to spray paint it, to avoid potential injury during Sunday’s race. Hats off to HFP for this…they did a great job all weekend.
My bike split was solid and as I entered the transition area, I was in 1st place leading the Half Iron race. I did my usual chugging of a red bull in transition, a tip learnt from Rich, gabbed my nutrition and headed out for the run. As I was exiting, I noticed the 2nd place guy coming in. He looked fresh and focused. We quickly exchanges a glance and then I was off to run. The first 2km of the run were brutal, as I had expected. By this point I had already put in over 40km of running this week alone, and my legs were heavy. I settled into a modest pace, approx 4:45/km as I knew the run was going to be challenging with the hills and the terrain. The entire run is done on a service road which is great, except that it has large rocks on it which really mess with your footing. Sure enough after only 3km, the 2nd place guy was on my tail. As he passed, I had a decision to make. Do I let him go or do I suck up some pain and chase. This guy was small, and moving fast!
I decided to match his pace and stay back approx 10m to see how things played out. By this point it was HOT outside. I noticed the leader was skipping aid stations….YES! I will wait until he tires and overheats I thought. From the 5k mark to the 11k mark we were running mostly sub 4min ks, save for on the uphills where you had to grind out an anaerobic effort to avoid slowing too much. It was hard work and this little guy was a machine. He was not slowing, he was getting faster!…meanwhile I, at every aid station had to grab about 6 cups of water and dump them on my head to avoid overheating as I was approx 50% bigger than captain runner in front of me.
At the 16k mark we hit the final turn around of the race, he circled the cones and saw me approaching. At this point I was 1 min behind him. He did not look pleased to see me on his tail still. I believe he thought he had dropped me already because he looked rather surprised….then he SPED UP AGAIN. I could not believe it. How much faster can we possibly run after all these climbs? Well, I decided to “never give up” and continue to punish myself watching as the leader slowly pulled away. I ran my fastest kms of the day at the end but to no avail. I crossed the finish line in 2nd place 82 seconds after the leader. Hats of to him, and to everyone else out there suffering the wrath of the weather and the course difficulty.
My run split was 1:30:34. Had the little running man not passed me I probably would have run settled for a 1:35 or a 1:40 split.
My lesson learned, your limits are only in your mind!, NEVER GIVE UP!
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about the American Triple-T, feel free to contact me