Into the Pit of Pain at the American Triple-T (Part 1 of 2)

Training for Ironman is often gruelling. It requires a dedication of time, resources and lots of energy. I have found myself many times with aching, tired legs and feet that would prefer being raised onto my coffee table and left alone. But this past weekend, was a whole new kind of tired. 

I had the enviable opportunity to be persuaded into participating and racing the American Triple T. It is promoted as 4 triathlons, 3 days, 1 epic event and it surely lived up to the hype. Held in Shawnee State Park in south Ohio, it was a nine hour drive from K/W, but having a nice group of seven racers together, it was a fun weekend of hard training.

Here’s a bit of a race review.

Race #1: Super Sprint

Swim: 250m Bike: 6km Run: 1.6km

Run

Having arrived earlier in the day, the super sprint was an opportunity to get the legs out of the luggage and get a taste of the race environment. While standing around chatting with my fellow racers, I overheard many times, this weekend is going to be great training for Ironman. Coach Warr told me throughout the weekend I might not be happy with her on Sunday but in August I’d be thanking her.

For the super sprint, I chose not to use my wetsuit. The water was quite warm and the hassle of squeezing into and out of the wetsuit, just wasn’t worth it for the 8 or so minutes I’d be in the water. The swim itself was great, although in the finishing stretch, with every breathe I kept getting this whiff of sewage and it sent my mind racing as to what exactly it was I was swimming in.

The ride was a tough little go, a good climb past the lodge where we were staying had the legs pumping, but the joy and speed of flying back downhill was the perfect taste of what the rest of the weekend would be.

The run was short, sweet, nothing too bad at all. It did reveal just the tip of what would be the sword that would slay me; a gravel fire road.

Swim 6:33  Bike: 13:33  Run: 8:15  Total Time: 28:21

Race #2: Olympic 1

Swim: 1.5km Bike: 40km Run: 10km

The next morning, I was pumped. I had a great sleep, ate well, and was ready for a big day of back to back Olympic distance triathlon racing.

The swim was a time trial start, with two people being let go and sprinting down the beach into a nice calm, warm swim. As I was bib number 352, I got to watch many people take off and even the first few guys finish the swim. The course was a two lap swim with a little beach run in between laps, so I felt primed.  When I hit the water I knew I was strong. I quickly overtook the guy who left at the same time and continued the swim passing the people in front.  I knew my swim time would be strong.

On to the bike, I was focused on not pushing my legs too hard. In the back of my mind was to keep something in reserve it was going to be a long weekend. The ride itself was a challenge. A few real big, steep climbs. Definitely some technical descents where riding the brakes was necessary. Some highlights were hitting Thomson Hill which comes right after a hard left turn, thus killing all momentum. They say that it gets as steep as 17 – 19%. Also, flying over the little bridge just outside a little trailer park to see a pile of water bottles that didn’t finish the trip. Thinking of these poor people who were now one water bottle shorter lasted only a short time as when I was flying downhill a very steep pitch, my back water bottle went flying. Being in the middle of a 55km/h descent, I decided to let it go.

As I transitioned onto the run, I was feeling good. I had pushed my legs on the bike, but never felt I went to the red line. But my first fatal flaw happened here. Thinking speed in the transition mattered, although my transitions are slow anyway, I decided to go on the run without socks. I’ve done it for every other Olympic distance race before, but this time I’d pay. My old Nikes with the holes in the sides would quickly become a welcome place for many little pebbles. Blisters resulted.

The run itself was tough. Very tough. As it was on a gravel fire road, it felt like you were either climbing up or rolling down. The hills were at times steep and altogether, relentless. That said, I ran strong. I was trying to never push to that point of pain, but I did run too quick. I’d learn that later in the day.

This race was great. I set a PB for this distance and I never really hurt. Good signs. It wouldn’t last. 🙂

No splits available.

Total Time: 2:47:57

I should mention that after each race Coach Warr insisted that we bike back up to the lodge where we rested. A nice 2 kilometre climb that would remind the legs just how tired they might be.  More racing was on tap for the day…

Part Two (Races 3 and 4 to come)…