Clemson Triathlon 2013

Do you guys enjoy reading these race recaps? I write them mainly so that I will be able to go back and remember the race details later, but I am just not sure if others really like them.  Leave me a comment below letting me know…

clemson-triathlon-beachAs you read before, I am now in the running to rank in the South Carolina Triathlon Series for 2013. Isn’t it crazy what a little motivation can do in someone’s life? So in order to STAY in the running…I have to keep racing.  And this led me to Clemson, home of the not-LSU-or-Auburn tigers.

I headed up to the land of spittin and cussin with my Chucktown Triathletes teammate, Jason. You may also know him as the guy who talked me into my first triathlon. On the way up, we studied the top guys in our division and looked at their other times from this season and last season. We knew who we were out to beat.

We arrived at the check in at the Clemson Beach and Recreation on Friday afternoon and scoped the scene. Lake Hartwell was where the swim was and it looked beautiful. I was pretty stoked about that. It was wetsuit legal and that means a fast swim for me.  Only issue I had was that the run from the beach to T1 was long! I’m guessing it was 400 yards or so and most of it was straight uphill and then onto pavement. Oh well. Such is the life of a triathlete. We then decided to go check out the bike course.  Hmmm. Hills. Not just one or two. Many. Up and down. Hmmm. I don’t really know how to ride hills seeing as how the most hills I climb on my bike here in Charleston are the two feet over one mile up hill battles to reach sea level. I started to get a little nervous.

In the interest of keeping your attention and keeping this post to a minimum I will skip to the next morning…

Woke up quick, at about noon, just thought that I had to be in Clemson soon… five. Got to the transition setup around 6:15. The forecast had called for a 30% chance of rain, but things were starting to look beautiful. We unloaded our gear and headed over to transition. While getting setup, we also scoped the other Clyde competition and knew what we were up against. Funny how in an individual sport, both Jason and I were sizing up the other competitors. Here is the cool thing though…We met the other two Clydes that are in the top of the state standings a bit later. And they are both WAY COOL guys. Shout out Jason McLees and Justin Ferren!

Transition times have been a weak spot for me so I decided to really try and improve in this race.  I made a one BIG decision this time around that I had never done before.  I decided NOT to wear a cycle jersey in the race. I would ONLY be wearing my tri suit.  This was a huge deal because the cycle jersey gave me some sort of comfort, almost like hugging a pillow. I wore them in other races because I felt like it hid the weird fat apron that I am still carrying. Truth is it didn’t hide anything. But it made me feel better.  But this race was more about doing better, and that meant shedding unwanted time wasting.  This was the first race in which I felt like I KNEW what I needed to do to improve my transition times and I came prepared…

clemson-triathlon-transition

And now for the goods.

Swim – 750 meters – Open swim in Lake Hartwell
The water temp at race time was 70 degrees.  Wetsuit legal! I love that. I went down to the beach at about 7:45 and got in the water to try and warm up. Warm up for sure because the water felt cold. Also I was sporting some new goggles (Aqua Sphere Kayennes) that I got recently and I made sure that my swim cap WAS NOT tucked under them. That is what caused them to leak in the Try Charleston Half. I swam about half way to the first turn buoy and then turned and headed back.  Not much of a warm up but by the time I got back to the beach they were calling for everyone to leave the water and start lining up for the 8:00 am start.  Jason and I lined up with our wave, which was second from last.  I predicted that I would be the first Clyde out of the water on the other side. They called our wave and we all headed into the water.  The horn sounded and I bolted out. I am not sure how to explain exactly what happened other than I started TOO hard. I was sputtering and gasping and realized that I was not doing myself any good so I backed down a bit and settled in.  I knew for sure that THAT was going to be my downfall, but I decided that it didn’t matter and I just kept swimming.  I found my rhythm at about the 400 meter mark. I was sighting really well and was cutting through the water.  When I rounded the last buoy, I figured I was NOT going to be the first Clyde out of the water, but I knew that I had put forth a good effort.  I dug in the last 75 yards and made a big push towards the beach.  I felt the sand and stood up and started running out.  As I was running towards T1 Jason passed me and I realized that I had beat him out of the water.  He beat me into transition by 3 seconds but I had beaten him out of the water! My confidence was restored and I knew that I was going to do well in this race!

Official swim time: 15:41

clemson-triathlon-hank-swim

Transition One – Swim to Bike
I had pulled my wetsuit down to my waist while running up to transition and as soon as I got to my area I started the wetsuit removal dance.  I have got it down to a science. Step, step, pull, pull, step. Out. It took me a few moments to ball it up and get my goggles and cap out of the way. I grabbed my sunglasses and threw them on and then pulled on my helmet. I got some new socks that are supposed to be really good for this sport and wick moisture really well, but this race was the first time that I had ever put them on and I was having trouble doing it from a standing position. So I dropped down and sat on the ground to get my socks and shoes one. Took me longer than I wanted but I grabbed my bike off the rack and headed out as quickly as I could. It was my fastest T1 but nothing to be proud of.

Official T1 Time: 2:00

Bike – 11 Miles – A Loop Through Clemson
So this bike course was originally advertised as a relatively flat bike course with a couple of rolling inclines and one monster downhill.  Being from the flats of the Lowcountry, I can tell you that this course was hilly. And that is not something I am used to. Once I got out of transition and on the bike I felt fine. The course took me out of the recreation area and onto a local highway heading towards the Clemson campus.  It was mostly slightly downhill until I turned onto a road in the middle of campus (near the stadium) and that is when the ups and downs started.  Most of the course was like that. A decent ascent and then a really nice downhill descent. When you carry as much mass as I do, the downhill portions are fast! There was one downhill section, near the airport, in which I hit 39+ mph.  That is the fastest I have ever gone on a bike and it was wild.  On most of the uphill parts I just lowered my gears and pedaled hard.  Coach Ian had told me NOT to try and stand to fight the hills because I would only raise my heart rate.  I kept my butt on my new Adamo Prologue saddle and just pumped away.  There were a few sections that I was tearing up a 8 or 9 mph frenzy! I think that the hills were NOT as bad as I had thought they were going to be and the downhills just made it fun.  I came into the gates at the rec center thinking that I had put up a strong effort and I felt pleased.

Official Bike Time: 39:18

clemson-triathlon-hank-bike

Transition Two – Bike to Run
This was the best transition I have ever had.  I came in and threw my bike onto the rack. Stepped on the backs of my bike shoes to get them off. Threw on my new Saucony Kinvara shoes (to which I added some lace locks.) Snapped my race belt with bib on. Grabbed my Chucktown Triathletes visor and my water bottle and headed out. Just like that.

Official T2 Time: 0:57

Run – 3.1 miles – Out to the East Beach Dike and Back
I forgot to mention that I had a bottle of Gu Roctane lemon/lime and a bottle of water with grape Nuun with me on the bike.  I drank about half of the Roctane and half the water while out.  I felt pretty good and well hydrated leaving out of transition for the run.  I started out and about 50 yards out of transition I got passed by one of the Clydes that I know is in the running in the State standings.  This same guy did the same thing to me at Try Charleston.  He is a really great guy, and I have NOTHING against HIM. But I was furious for letting myself get beat on the run by the same guy TWICE! I am really going to work on my run because I DO NOT want that to happen again. JMc, if you happen to read this one day, remember that I think you are awesome, but I am going to out run you one of these days! 🙂 So I basically watched his back most of the way.   Then we round this bend about 1.2 miles out and the hill of all hills is before me.  Ugh. I never stopped running, but I was struggling to get up the hill.  And just about the moment that I didn’t think I could keep it up, it peaked and flattened out. Then the pavement ended and we made our way out onto the East Beach Dike. I hit the turn point about halfway down the dike and grabbed my “now we know you actually made it here” bracelet and turned back.  When I hit the grade that almost killed me running up, I had to do everything in my power to keep from tumbling down it on the return.  I kept hearing the famous Soul Asylum song playing in my head.  What was that song again?  I felt like I was holding a decent pace, but I still could never catch back up to JMc.  When I was about 3/4 of the way through, I saw Coach Ian (second overall) and my Chucktown teammate T3 (first in AG 30-34) on the side of the course. Ian yelled at me to turn it up and I realized that I was not running as hard as I could have been.  I tried to push it for  the rest of the way and I rounded the corner into the rec area and into the finish chute and the race was over.

Official Run Time: 31:59

clemson-triathlon-hank-run

Official Clemson Triathlon Time: 1:29:54

I came in fourth in my division, AND there were more than four in my division this race.  My buddy Jason scored the top of the podium.

clemson-triathlon-results

 

I felt like I had a really great race.  I knew that it was my strongest effort to date and I felt proud of myself at the end.  I know where my weaknesses are and I plan to work on those so that they are no longer weakness. Coach Ian told me earlier this week that I was now an athelte, not just someone who shows up to run a local 5k. He is not going to train me to finish anymore. I have done that and I am past that. He is now going to train me to get better.

I am hoping that at some point in the future this picture will have me in it…

clemson-triathlon-clyde-podium

Chucktown Triathletes represent. Beast Face, out.

clemson-triathlon-hank-run2

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