||White Lake Sprint Tri
||Sunday, May 8, 2005
||White Lake, NC
||Triathlon - Sprint
||Male 35 - 39
||4 / 607
|Age Group Place:
||1 / 39
||It must have been the new race jersey
WHITE LAKE (NC) SPRINT TRIATHLON
May 8, 2005 / Sunny with receding clouds – 70F – Calm winds
SWIM – 750m clockwise loop, freshwater lake, 67F
BIKE – 14 miles, two loops around the lake, flat
RUN – 5k out-and-back with morning shade
Costs: Entry Fee $45. Dirt-cheap one-way Airtran fare DCA-ATL $59 + taxes. Airport shuttle to Macon $23. Taxi fare from shuttle drop-off to auto repair dealer $0. (There is no taxi service in Macon. Aagghh!) Repair bill $1,250. Lodging in Lumberton NC $59 + taxes. Wasted time in the I-95 parking lot between Richmond and Fredericksburg $priceless.
Benefits [participation]: Non-white race t-shirt, standard post-race juice and fruit fare, Brad Rex at the announcer’s mic.
Benefits [awards]: A small transition bag and (now this is nice) a transition mat to clean your feet and set your gear in future races, as well as intimidating other competitors with the embossed race logo and “AWARD WINNER” verbiage.
Charity Tie-In: Proceeds benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Bladen County (NC) chapter of the American Business Women's Association, the East Bladen County High School Key Club, and the youth program at the Wrightsville Beach United Methodist Church.
396...evenly divisible by 3.
White Lake is a good venue for a triathlon event, or should I say, events. The FFA Center grounds are spacious with ample parking (if you're early), showers/restrooms, and shade or air conditioned buildings. The sprint race on Sunday follow the co-located half-ironman event from the previous day. Although one would think that the sprint race would be the undercard for the larger half-ironman, this year it sort of held its own with a registration sell-out of 800 entries, the initial event of the USA Triathlon Mid-Atlantic Grand Prix Triathlon series, and designation as North Carolina's qualifier for the Best of The U.S. Triathletes program.
The only warning that I would give to this race, or any similar event at the end of a weekend series of events, is to bring your own toilet paper. The half-ironman event uses up most of the supply, and the honey bucket tenders don't work weekends.
It was by a series of interesting events that brought me alone and perhaps a little afraid to Bladen County and the resort community of White Lake, dubbed as "America's Safest Beach". I was physically slow to recover from St. Anthony's two weeks earlier, and had backed off a bit from training in order to get back on track.
I was, however, upbeat upon learning earlier in the week that, after a five-month courtship, I had been accepted for sponsorship by Crank Sports (www.cranksports.com) for the season. It's a good deal and they've got a great looking race singlet that I was eager to try for the first time in a race here.
The waters of White Lake are what, above anything else, have made the triathlons here attractive to many. The water is clean and clear, the bottom is soft sand and in most years it is comfortably warm in the low-mid 70s. This year, it was 67F.
I don't mind cool water much...especially compared to many of the vocal locals racing. I was well warmed up for the race, but still needed a few shakedown sprints to get used to the cool water while wearing my sleeveless wetsuit. At 67F, I'm still happy wearing a sleeveless, but it's getting close to my limit.
The race begins with an in-water start from depths where one can stand. The swim ends at the end of a pier at a similar depth. One must climb out of the water onto the pier using a vertical ladder. In between are two right-hand turns marked by buoys that, in the estimation of race director Bill Scott, had been set a bit too close to each other. He only noticed this with less than 10 minutes until race start, which was not enough time to make a correction.
My start went pretty well, after a little bit more bumping that I was expecting. I thought I had a pretty good starting position and angle to the first turn until a swimmer alongside on my left got close enough for contact. It turned out that more than a few participants were getting sucked off on swimming towards the second turn buoy instead of the first. After getting clear of the group, I was able to thrash my cold limbs with enough control to be the first one in my wave (#3 for M 35-39, behind elite competitors eight minutes ahead and M 30-34 four minutes ahead).
The swim always seems to set the tone for me...great swim equals great race to come. This swim was feeling pretty good, and I had quite a bit of energy climbing out of the water and running down the pier towards T1. (The timing mat is nearly 100 yards of running from the water exit.)
There's really no bad transition spot in this race, with all of the rows no deeper than three bike racks. Of course, my bike rack was on the outermost of my row. Aside from a little fumbling of the chinstrap clip off of my chilly fingers, it was a clean transition.
Once I got underway and got the feet inside the shoes, I had one mechanical problem. My front derailleur wasn't shifting the chain up to the big ring. I tried moving that lever about a half dozen times from stop to stop, and still I was stuck in the little ring. It was going to be a pretty long bike ride without the big ring, so I was quickly considering my options on how to fix it. I was thinking that I would have to pull over and try to do the adjustment, but thought that I'd try one thing first...I'll attempt to reach down and guide the chain onto the big ring by hand, while still in motion. As I stopped pedaling and began to attempt this, I found that the chain had just barely engaged the big chain by barely one tooth. So, ever so gently, I pedaled forward at about 10 RPM to attempt to let the chain engage and settle on the teeth, and was met with success! Why the chain would engage at 10 RPM and not 90 RPM is beyond me. (I've since have had no problems with the chainwheel shifting, even though I haven't made any adjustments or fixes.)
By now, I was ready to rock.
And rock I did, on one of the smoothest, calmest, flattest courses there is. I was passing anything and everything at ludricrous speed. My HR was holding in the 160s, which was a good sign since it was bleeding down over time at St. Anthony's. I was still leading the wave at T2 and thinking that I just might have a fairly good lead.
My only confusion here was getting out. There is a hard left-turn exiting the transition area immediately after passing under the exit arch. It took me a good 3-5 seconds of attempting to communicate with the volunteer if indeed this hidden back alley was the way I was to go.
The run starts off through a wild series of chicanes to get you out of the FFC and onto the roads. Once spit out of the grounds, I was feeling really strong on my feet. This was when I knew for certain that I, pedometrically challenged that I am, was having a great race. I was remarkably keeping pace with my closest competition about 60 yards in front, instead of the usual circumstance of watching them bolt away.
There's a water stop halfway to the turnaround, where I crossed paths with the elite leaders. I had some young, overly helpful volunteers at this station trying to give me water by attempting to run alongside and pass the cup. All that did was just make the water cup a moving target and, predictably, my aim was off and the cup spilled. But, I was having a great race, and the water wasn't really necessary at this point.
I was still holding my position about 60 yards behind the closest racer when I reached the turnaround at the end of a 250-yard long street. It was here that I beheld the wonder of what I was achieving...only two other people in sight coming at me, and both were at the other end of this street. Now, I knew that I was going to hold my position barring a total collapse. It was time for a new strategy never before tried on a triathlon run...trying to run down those in front of me.
Alas, we were all moving pretty fast and the only person whom I had a chance to overtake was a masters elite competitor who was losing some steam in the final mile. It didn't matter to me, though, since I was still enjoying the feeling of fast feet as I ran out of distance to make a pass. I was welcomed to the finish line by the kind words of Brad Rex, and pretty happy that my day went oh so well.
This was one race to remember. I wish they could all go so well. Although I raced faster than half the elite field, my fourth-place finished justified my decision to race among my age group peers. Had I been from North Carolina, I would have earned a nice award from the Best of The U.S. Triathlete folks. (That'll be a goal for Columbia.) And if I have a compunction to give the USAT Mid-Atlantic Grand Prix series a try, I've got a nice early start.
I had nothing be great things to think about from the race, which I repeated over and over in my mind for hours sitting in my car between Richmond and Fredericksburg stuck in traffic.
BLATENT PROMOTION for CRANK SPORTS products
I'm pleased that the Crank Sports company found enough virtue in me to reward me with a sponsorship. Crank Sports produces e-Gel energy gels and e-Fuel energy drinks. You can get both at Tri-nergy (use your 10% RATS discount). You can get an even better discount (30% or more) by ordering direct from the Crank Sports website (www.cranksports.com) and telling them that I sent you (use referral number 333464).
If you're mildly curious, you can discover more secrets about this e-Gel/e-Fuel-loving RAT by checking out the story on the Team Crank Athletes page.