Rev3 Quassy 70.3 Triathlon – Race Report (Plus 10 Triathlon Tips)
Columbia – Columbia, MD (5/19/13)
Quassy 70.3 was slated to be my “A” race and I had done Columbia (olympic distance) two weeks prior. But for that race, I tried a few new things out as a test for Quassy.
Attempt #1: Try to race without a watch. It’s a crutch at times and since a fellow triathlete Dawn (Hey Dawn!) did it successfully and felt great, I decided “why not” and go naked. Noooo, not naked as in “naked” but without a watch, lol. (successful)
Attempt #2: Try to start the swim with everyone in my age group and hold on to dear life. This was a fear that I needed to get over, so bumping and fighting with age groupers was exactly what I needed in order to put that fear to bed. They eventually broke away from me, but I felt good to have at least tried and see what it was all about. Just for the record, drafting, relaxing and stretching helps tremendously. (successful)
Attempt #3: Try using Powerbar products (gels and fruit blend products) to see if they would agree with my stomach. On the Rev3 site, they clearly stated that Powerbar was their sponsored product and outlined that it would be on the course. So why fight it and carry a suitcase of gels around my waste. Many of us have seen the overpacked triathlete. So I tried them all during Columbia and it went well. (successful)
Attempt #4: Really wasn’t an attempt, but it was to maintain a 90+ RPM on the hills. This was tough. But this was a real-time training opportunity as it accompanied the Columbia Triathlon adrenaline pumping rush. (successful)
Overall, Columbia was “ok”. They put me in the wrong wave to start with and when I got home to see my swim time, it said “60 minutes”. That was an insta-WTF. I know I didn’t take that long and I let it fester in my head for 24 hours until I couldn’t take it anymore. I called up the timing company and they realized I was in the wrong wave and took off 30 minutes. That was a relief. Again, this was a training race to see what would work and what would not.
Quassy 70.3 – Middlebury, CT (6/3/13)
Team Chevalier drove up to Connecticut on Friday night. This was not only a 5-6 hour drive, but it was a weekend of events that Rev3 had outlined for participants. This is a family-friendly event and I highly recommend Rev3 races for people who bring their family along for support and sherpadom training:) Look out for the upcoming Rev3 Half Full (olympic and half distances) in Maryland by visiting www.halffulltri.com. Quassy had a glow run 5k, family 1-mile run and an adventure race that was an obstacle course around the entire amusement park. The kids received a medal and we all had a blast as a family, plus it relieved that pre-race day tension (if you’re reading this, you know that tension). It also helped that I got a pre-race swim in Lake Quassipaug. It made the world of a difference. The water was clear, beautiful, 70 degrees, lots of people doing the course and I was bareback and frozen! lol
Fast forward to the night before. All packets picked up seamlessly, bike racked, heavier carb dinner actually eaten on Friday (never the night before) and just a small meal with the family the night before to ease the nerves and settle everyone from a fun day of activities.
Race morning – 5:00am (Transition)
BOOOOOOWWWW!!!! I don’t know any other way to write out the sound for an explosion, but it was the sound of someone’s tire exploding in transition. Not once, but twice we heard it (2 separate bikes). Note to everyone, never pump up your tires the night before and let it sit there overnight. Heat expands rubber and tires explode. Simple! When you rack your bike the night before, let out some air and you’ll come back to your bike…the way you left it. I bet everyone made a conscious decision to NOT pump to the recommended PSI on their tire and leave a little wiggle room for additional expansion since it was already warm at 5am. We forecasted to reach over 90+ degrees with lots of humidity. My wave started at 7:10am and about 30 minutes prior, I took in my Powerbar gel (caffeine 1x) to start along with a quarter bottle of water and started heading over to the beach swim start. I chose the caffeinated over the non-caffeinated Hammer because it gave me that “kick” I needed and that I wanted to maintain.
Swim Start – 7:10am
It was a beach start as mentioned above. The pro field was stacked and they looked strong. When the whistle blew, we were off. So I followed the pack as I knew I could hang from my Columbia experience and I did all the way until the first turn buoy (approx. .25 – .45 mile). All of the buoys stayed to the right side of each swimmer in a triangle shape in a clock-wise direction. There was pulling, elbowing and drafting. It was fun. The only downside was when you made that first right turn, the sun was shining bright like a diamond. It was tough to site in the brightness and I relied on my neighbor who I believed was heading to the same place I was heading, lol. After the last right turn, it was a straight line back to the beach.
Goal swim time: 40 minutes
Actual swim time: 46 minutes
Transition was quick and the goal was a stay fueled up as I kept hearing about the hills. I had a gel, salt pill and a good swig of water. To start off, it was a nice decent followed by a climb to get started. It didn’t let up. It rolled, we flew downhill, we went uphill, we went back down, I hit over 40 mph and then hit these hills that literally stopped me to 10 mph. It was that kind of course. But then “it” came. It was a 7 mile climb that was relentless and talked about. Every person that passed at crazy speeds prior to this hill was having a reunion party on that hill. It was humbling and everyone was enduring the same struggle. It burned and it was very hot. I kept drinking and refueling every 10 miles (or 30 minutes). Paying attention to you nutrition is even more critical if you’re exerting much much more energy on hills, so my average intake was about 300+ calories/hour which entailed a gel, Powerbar chomp like chews and concentrated Gatorade along with interchanging with water to keep it moving.
While on the bike, my cage on the back of the seat was getting loose. After a few times of removing and putting the water bottles back in, on mile 27….the entire 2-cage water bottle holder came off. That’s like going in your pocket, removing your hand, but your entire pocket comes off in your hand. I kind of wanted to look back at my seat post and say, “is this really happening?” So what do you do? I attempted to hold it on my aero bars for a few miles, but after this one particular decent and a few bumps, it would have become a hazard not only to me, but to anyone who would have ridden over it if it fell. So at the next water station, I asked a volunteer to take it. You will be missed water bottle cage. I took cold water bottles from volunteers and tucked it into my tri-top. It kept me cool, but it wasn’t about looks right? I bet if pictures were taken, it’ll look like I had a nice belly or enlarged man boobs, lol. The goal was to remain hydrated at all costs.
Toward the end of the 56 miles, I didn’t want to exert all my energy as I experienced failed legs on the run. For the record, never go balls to the wall on your bike without saving a little for your run. My first Eagleman was a walkfest because of the heat exhaustion and trying to pound the bike. My second Eagleman was better, but it was still HOT then. So you have to basically put your plan in the forefront of your head, put the ego aside and spin those legs out (90+ RPMs) to get the blood flowing and get mentally prepared for the 13.1 mile run. In total, I consumed about 4 Powerbar gels, chomps, 2.5 bottles of water/1 bottle of gatorade and a banana. Did I say it was HOT? But coming in to the family screaming to the top of their lungs was the charge I needed.
Goal bike time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Actual bike time: 3 hours 36 minutes
Before I came off the bike, I took my last gel about 5 miles from entering T2. This is critical to having a quicker transition for sure. These reports can serve as a tip-sheet on things to do, things to avoid or just a reminder of what to be conscious of during a race. So in order to be a little faster, handle your refueling while on the bike. When you come in, you get your shoes on, hat, spray some sunscreen on (if necessary) and GO!!!!! So I did. Huge shoutout to Michael from the Ulman Cancer Fund (Team Fight) on the encouragement as I exited and entered transition. That dude fired me up as you can see from the pictures:)
This is the final stretch. It was on-road and off-road. Regardless, it was not a joke. There were a few mountains (haha) that needed to be climbed and there were ALOT of people walking. I felt strong as I passed several people. I was going to run from water station to water station. But first….I. must. use. the. bathroom. All that water…Done!! So I make it to mile 3 and you can feel the heat. Fortunately, I wore a visor and I was going to run to every water station to rehydrate, take a salt pill, and remember not to drink too much because the salt pill can make you feel bloated, and drench myself with water (not Gatorade), which happened at my first Eagleman (don’t ask:) I stuck to the plan and each mile was a milestone. I caught up to Jim (from Team Fight), we chatted for a little and he encouraged me to go on. Jennifer (from MMTC) was chasing me down as we encouraged one another. The race came to a screeching halt at mile 10-11. I started feeling the fatigue with more walking. Then I turn this one bend at mile 12 and there was Michael cheering me. He walked about a mile down to cheer us in. I started running, we talked and I tried to keep running. All in all, he pushed me up this stupid misplaced hill. Why Rev3? Whyyyyyyy? It’s all good. I came around a final corner and there they were; Chad, Gabrielle and Nadia waiting, cheering and screaming. I grabbed the kids hands, slowed down for Gabrielle and they ran me in through the chute. It was definitely great to run with them across the finish line. Thank you Rev3 for making this event even more special with my family.
Goal run time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Actual run time: 2 hours 41 minutes
Official Race time: 7 hours 8 minutes (PR of 2 minutes on a terrain that was absolutely more difficult when compared to Eagleman 70.3 which is pancake flat). At Eagleman last year, I lost a total of 12 pounds of water weight. This year, I lost a total of 8 pounds and I attribute the difference to amount of calories consumed during the race. So take it serious people, it can make or break your race day.
10 Things to do (no particular order)
1. Never over-pump your tire the night before because you want to save time in the morning. If it’s forecasted to be really hot, do not pump to the PSI that’s on your tire. Take into consideration that heat expands and tires can pop. You will be fine if you go 5-10 PSI under the recommended MAX.
2. Get a bike tune-up. It doesn’t matter if it’s a road bike or a mountain bike. They cost between $35-$60. There was a guy who passed me around mile 7 or so. I caught up to him around mile 10. I asked if everything was ok. He said his derailleur broke. #aintnobodygottimefordat. That just doesn’t happen. If it does, that sucks. But some issues can be identified, diagnosed and fixed prior to race day.
3. If you drive with your bike on the top or on a trailer, make sure to bring your allen key to retighten everything on your bike, especially your bike cage(s). Bumps that that bike absorbs can contribute to loosening of bike parts. Lesson learned.
4. Check what will be offered on the course. Try it out and do not try anything new that you never tried before. Having GI issues on the course is not fun and I saw quite a few people bent over and on lawn chairs at water stations.
5. If you are a salty sweater (salt marks over your clothes post-race/run/exercise), consider increasing your sodium intake up until the days to your race. This gives your body enough sodium to retain and sweat while keeping your body’s chemistry balanced. Salt reduces cramp.
6. Have your heavy carb meal two night before the race. Not the night before. You want your body’s glycogen storage tank to be topped off. So try exercising at high intensity for 30 second increments up to 3 minutes. Then you have your carb meal to allow your body to absorb the carbs.
7. Everyone swims differently. But if you start with the pack, determine if you will keep your goggles over your swimcap or underneath. Try it out in the pool or during your lake practice if you have the opportunity.
8. Pack spray sunscreen. If it’s hot and you’re out there for a long time, pack a waterproof sunscreen that will keep you protected.
9. If you run without socks…more power to you. Just don’t try to be a braveheart and try it for the first time on race day. There was someone with more blisters on his feet than he had fingers. It’s not worth it. The heat, the abrasion and the lack of ventilation in your sneaker (if not tri-specific), will make you pay at the end.
10. Try your best to train in the environment that your race will be in. Hot, hilly, flat, rolling, etc. It gives you a boost of confidence on race day and deep down, you will be more prepared and can focus on the minor things.
Thank you everyone for your encouragement, support and kind words. I started this triathlon journey 4 years ago. I’m no expert, but I can share my experience to get someone else off the couch and motivated to doing something bigger and better. I can’t believe it, several sprint distances, olympic distances and Quassy would be my 4th Half Ironman (also known as HIM). I’m taking one race and one year at a time as my priorities stay aligned, keeping God primary and my family as my support system to allow me to do amazing things. These kids have some parents to look up to….not down at.
Yours in Health,
For information on my amazing coaches (Danny and Suzy Serpico) and what got me from A-Z, check out Rip It Coaching at www.ripitevents.com. Tell them Shawn “Chev” sent you and they’ll take care of you. Customized training tailored for your personal needs to strengthen your weaknesses and make your strengths even stronger. I put these goals out there because it’s what fuels me up to keep pushing harder and reaching them. Once reached, I’ll set more and keep aiming high!!!!