Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bama Triathlon - Relay Time!

It's early season for triathlon. I have a lot of friends who are already racing this season. My first race is still 3 weeks away. But last weekend I decided to compete in the inaugural Bama a relay!!

A few months ago I talked to a couple of the good people that I've met since moving to Tuscaloosa, asked them if there is ever a triathlon that is close by if they would be interested in doing a relay with me! Charlie Wolbach rides with the Druid City Bike Club - he is a great cyclist. He has pulled me back up to the group on many rides when I've been dropped off the back. I have to work to stay on his wheel when he is riding hard. I thought he would be perfect for the relay.

Ann Besanceney and I worked together at Wagner's RunWalk. Ann is an amazing runner - an All American from Michigan State in Steeplechase. When Ann runs, think gazelle! She is also the first friend that I made in Tuscaloosa, she has a good heart, a kind heart.

This is a super sprint race, actually I would consider it a runner's race. Short 400 yard swim, 11 mile bike, and the run ended up being 3.6 miles. It's a pool swim.... ahem, if you've ever read any of my other posts about pool swim triathlons you'll know that I'm really not a fan. Sunday, we were really lucky that the timer sent us off at way more than the 10 seconds that was advertised. She let the person get to the end of the lane (25 yards) before she sent the next person off. If not the swim would have been a hot mess. 

On the registration they asked us to submit a 100 meter swim time. Initially, the race was going to be held in the 50 meter pool, but a swim meet was scheduled for the same weekend, bad race planning. Typically people submit a very "optimistic" swim time. I used a swim calculator conversion since I swim in a short course yard pool. Entered a 1:27 per 100 meter time. Now, I can swim one 100 meter freestyle way faster than that, but I was basing it on what I believed I would hold for the entire 400. Obviously I was one of the only ones who did this. Long story short, I was about the 15-16th person in line and had the 5th fastest swim split. The guy in front of me, Blake caught and passed the person in front of him, and I caught her about 10 yards from the swim finish. My friend Margaret caught two people who were seeded in front of her. She had the 3rd fastest overall swim! What did I tell you, hot mess!

My recommendation for next year for the race director - have people submit a 400 yard (or meter) time. 

T1 - Usually when there are relays they have them rack together. There are going to be two other people in transition, and having the relays somewhere so that we're not in the other athletes way is a good idea. There was a tiny rack, that would hold 4 bikes, and I asked the RD if that is where he wanted us to rack, but he said just to rack the bike anywhere. 

My recommendation for next year - if the racks are not assigned, still have the relays rack together out of the way of the other athletes, so they don't get in the way.

Before the race started we were given a piece of velcro to stick to our disposable neoprene ankle chip. It wouldn't stick. So I stapled one end of the velcro to the end of the neoprene, you could still get it off but the whole thing came apart when we tried to take it off to put on Charlie's ankle. We ended up just stuffing it in his back jersey pocket. I saw Dani (a friend doing another relay) running to her team carrying her timing strap, I think it had come off completely in the water - they duct taped it from then on. There has to be a better way for the timing chips for the relays.

There is a fast triathlete in Tuscaloosa named Wilson. When I told Wilson that I was doing a relay, he said "I won't catch you on the swim, but I'll just have to catch Charlie on the bike". Of course we couldn't let that happen! And Charlie delivered! Wilson out split him, but never caught him! Oh... and Charlie was on his road bike, not a time trial bike. He had a fantastic ride! 

My recommendation about the bike course - Move the Mount/Dismount line to the road as opposed to the edge of the parking lot so the athletes can see it. We saw one girl endo on her bike as she came in to T2 because she didn't see the line. A MOUNT/ DISMOUNT sign would be a good idea, and more volunteers on the bike course, too. Charlie missed a turn because no one was directing people at a corner.

We handed Ann the timing chip, and she headed out onto the run course. I was excited to see her run, so I'd told her I was going to try and head out onto the course to cheer her on to the finish. I saw her coming down Hackberry, the last long stretch before the turn to the finish. She was flying! I cut across a big parking lot diagonal to see her finish (think Pythagorean Theorem) and had to sprint as hard as I could and barely made it to see her go by! Man that woman can run!

We had a great day! Both Charlie and Ann were amazing! Would I do another relay? With friends like that, you bet! 

Oh... and yes, we beat Wilson. 

Next up for me, Lake Guntersville Tri! See you at the races!!