Friday, May 13, 2016

Lake Guntersville Tri

When I write a race report I try to include some pointer that may help someone out there at their next race. Most of the time I hide them in the body copy. Maybe there will be one stuck in this post somewhere. Right now I can't think of anything to share.

This is my race report for the Lake Guntersville Tri that I did last Saturday. There were some really good things about this race, and unfortunately some unorganized things as well.

I think that the longer I race, and the pickier I become. There are some amazing races out there, races that run like clockwork. River Cities, Crawfishman, Indian Creek, Disco, the Ironhead Race Productions, and the SetUp Events to name a few. What makes a great race compared to a good or average race? Venue? Absolutely plays a part, a big part at that. Having a beautiful site and race course is really important, it is part of what will convince me to return to a race year after year. But more so than that is the race organization. Nothing will keep me away from a beautiful venue for a second year quicker than poor race organization. The poor race director at Guntersville said that a group of his volunteers didn't show up on race morning. 20 volunteers no showed - nice.

We have moved a lot over the past few years, and every season it's kind of like starting a new school where no one knows you. Now there is good and bad with this, yeah... no one knows who you are so there isn't any performance pressure, but then you also have to go to races where you don't know anyone. Wander around alone. Bill had to work so he couldn't make the trip with me for my first race of the season, it was the day before Mother's Day and the store had a big day.

I drove up late afternoon before to Guntersville, went straight to my hotel - a Microtel - the smallest hotel rooms... I was going to say in the world, but I guess that there are smaller ones, like in Japan where you can reserve a drawer. It's a good thing Bill didn't go with me because there wouldn't have been room for him and my bags.

Couldn't get my race packet because for some weird reason packet pick up for this race on Friday was only from 11-1. Really?? Who does that? Why even bother?

Got up early and drove out to the address listed on the website for the race. It took me to a lodge way up above the lake. I had no idea how to get down to the water. Luckily as I was turning around in the parking lot I saw a truck with bikes on the back and followed it. Followed it for 2 seconds, then the road was turning back and forth and I just drove along hoping I was going the right way, the truck no longer to be seen.

AND then the low tire light came on... so now my blood pressure was going up. I could just see myself on this twisting turning road with a flat. Luckily I made it to the beach area and parked, decided I would worry about the tire after the race. Whew!
2016 Cobb Mobb !!

Did all the typical race prep. No numbers for helmets or bike frames, just a running bib - so that was easy. Bikes racks were first come, first serve, so I got my bike set up by the "Bike Out". And of course with 30 minutes before the start of the race here comes some dude...squeezes his bike in on the same rack, even though there are tons of other open places. Ugh.. so irritating. (this happens to be irritation #1 of the day). Ran, swam, checked my transition again and then proceeded to wait for the race start.

There were a lot of events going on at the same time at this race. An Olympic distance tri, a Sprint tri, an Aquabike, an Aquathhon, and a Duathon. Makes me wonder why the t-shirts and the awards all said "Olympic Triathlon"...... maybe they planned all the other events after the artwork had been done??? I really like the shirts and awards, but I didn't do an Olympic Triathlon.

The swim for the Olympic was two loops of a 750m course. On the second loop they would come back by the start. So they set off the waves of the Olympic race first, and then got the first wave of the Sprint in the water and low and behold.... swimmers coming through on their second loop had to swim through the people treading water waiting for their start. "Look out, swimmers coming through". (irritation #2). My wave was last and so even more people were trying to make their way through. It was INSANE, a cluster.  I had a pretty non eventful swim, a minor wetsuit freak out, stopped and unzipped it about 5 inches or so. I'm not really sure how this could have been made simpler with less congestion - I guess they didn't want to put buoys farther out for the 1.5K?

I checked the participant list before the race and saw that one girl put 1:05 for her predicted finish time. I put down a 1:30. As we were waiting for the swim start, I was pretty sure I saw her lined up by me in the water. Didn't see her again after that - she beat me by over 2 minutes on the swim! Yiy!

Out of the water into transition and out onto the bike course. Pretty tough bike course, and of course there is the guy who has to play leapfrog on the bike when you pass him because he doesn't like being passed by a girl. On the way to the turnaround I caught this guy on every hill, only to have him pass me back. One time he even came around me then stood up and coasted, I guess it took so much out of him that he needed to rest. At the turnaround for the sprint course he kept going - thank you! But speaking of the turn around... it was marked in red spray paint on the road. I almost missed it, as did the two guys behind me who all said the same thing. How about a cone? A sign? A volunteer?
Made the turn and headed back toward transition, another leapfrog guy to deal with on the way back.

Back into transition and onto the run. I think I drank too much on the bike, my stomach was full and it made it uncomfortable to run. Skipped the first aid station. The run was out and back and hilly! All I kept thinking was what Bill told me when I was with him while he was playing golf - "downhill to the water". I saw the women's leader on the run course, there was another woman ahead of me but I kept thinking she was a relay, she was running pretty easy and waved both hands at me as we crossed paths and shouted some encouragement. I was thinking I was 2nd, but you can never be sure.

The run finished into the transition area. Really?? Wow, I can't remember when the last time I did a race that allowed participants into the transition area until the last cyclist was out on the run. I felt bad for the people I saw going out on the run after I finished. So many of them had no idea where "run out" was. I helped send people in the right direction. At the post race someone even said to me, "weren't you working in the transition area after you raced?" There was no announcer at the finish, no one to take your timing strap off (there was a bucket over to the side), no water. I guess this is where the missed volunteers were supposed to be. Mike Gerrity (my friend Denise's dad) was in charge of transition, he was the ONLY one there. He was body marking in the morning (no body markers showed up), directing at the mount/dismount line, directing racers... doing everything! His wife who also raced was working packet pick up before the race started (no volunteers). If Mike hadn't been there I don't know what the RD would have done.

Okay so here is my race pointer of the post - PLEASE acquaint yourself with the in's and out's of the transition area! Walk through it before the race starts. "SWIM IN", "BIKE OUT", "BIKE IN", "RUN OUT", "FINISH". And make a mental note of where the Mount/Dismount line is! I saw way too many people looking really frustrated as they ran out the wrong direction.

So all that rant was the not so good part of the race.. now for some good stuff!

The Post Race was AWESOME! Perfect weather helped, but there was cold beer, and good beer! Corona, Blue Moon, Dos Equis... food, sodas, and live music! It made waiting for the awards a little better. But the timing got all messed up somehow and awards took FOREVER. I don't want to go on about it anymore. I finally found out that I was 2nd overall female. They were calling out names so fast because they knew people were frustrated from waiting. The race started at 8:00 am. I finally got in the car to come home at about 2:30. That was a long day. Still some work to do.

Swim 1:30/100 yds
T1  :43
Bike 20.4 avg.
T2  :34
Run 8:00 avg
2nd Overall Female / 8th Overall M&W

The guy in blue did this cool art piece during the race!
Cute little dog named Peanut that I met.
Took this because it had Phoenix's name! 
Cheers! See you at the next race!

*Oh.. I didn't have a flat tire, just needed some air. Pulled my trusty little compressor out of the trunk and topped off all 4 tires. Voila, no more check tire light!