Showman Shooter Triathlon

I did this race like 2 months ago, but hey, better a late review than never, right?

Showman Shooter Triathlon

The first thing that really stood out about this race were the weather conditions. I don’t know about where you guys were, but in Memphis, we had a Fall weekend, which is pretty crazy considering its early August. The temp at the start of the swim was 65 and never got above 80 for the entirety of the race. I actually was looking forward to starting the swim because I was cold waiting around for it to start and I knew the water would be warmer than the air temps, and it was.

The Swim:

I was worried about the swim because all my gyms(plural) pools have been closed the entire month of August, so I had only swam 1200 total meters since the Music City Triathlon on July 24. And it turned out I had good reason to worry. I am way past the point where swimming a sprint distance is a challenge for me cardiovascularly, but taking basically a month off is definitely a bad idea from the muscle fitness standpoint. My shoulders were burning terribly from about the 150 meter to 400 meter marks. After 400 meters I guess I burned off all the rust(scientific term) and felt ok. Only discomfort from that point on was that the sun was right in my eyes every time I turned my head to the right, so I basically swam the last 200 meters blind and just hoping the people right in front of me were swimming to the swim exit. They were. Swim Time: 21:40


I was slow here. This offseason I am going to make a concerted effort to learn how to do the shoes mounted on bike thing. I waste entirely too much time getting my shoes on and off. T1 Time: 1:47

The Bike:

This was unlike any triathlon bike course I have done, with the exception of the time I did it before. It’s a 2 loop, 11-mile course. What makes it unusual is that it’s not an interstate type course, the 1st half (6.5 miles) is basically 2 long straight roads with a couple of rolling hills. But the last half (4.5 miles) is back roads with lots of curves and some serious steep climbs that can bring you to a complete stop if you are not in the right gear when you hit them.  There is specifically one hill (I’m sure anyone who participated will remember) that requires you to stand and pedal for a good 3 -4 minutes even if you are in your easiest gear.

The first loop I started slow, as I always do after the swim. Got passed by a couple of guys in the 1st half mile. By about the 3rd mile I was up to speed and passing lots of people that had probably tried to kick me as they passed me on the swim. Right as we got to the hilly portion I came upon a group of 5 guys all riding together and all wearing the uniform of a well-known Memphis triathlon team. I took great pride in blowing them all away as we made away our way through the hills. Unfortunately, they were just about the last people I would catch on the bike course, as on the 2nd loop I was pretty much riding by myself much of the time. With about 5 miles to go, I did catch up with one of the guys who had passed me in the that first half mile and passed him. Then we went into a steep downhill and he passed me back(he was on a fancy bike) and then we went back and forth for the next couple of miles until my legs decided they were really not enjoying all this hill stuff and I had a mini-bonk where he got way ahead. I slowed down for about a minute, took some deep breathes and recovered enough so that I was able to catch up and be right behind him as we climbed  that last, giant hill before coming to the end of the bike leg. He still got to the top before I did and got to T2 first, but I was happy that I was able to close that gap. Bike Time: 1:07:00


I would have been faster here, but I ran the wrong way  coming out of transition, so I lost about 15 seconds. The only thing of note about this transition was that I decided to try running without socks again, so I probably saved more than the 15 seconds I lost being lost. T2 Time: 1:24

The Run:

This is where the weather really made a difference. Last time I did this race, we ran over the levee and the sun was just beating down on us and just begging you to stop and walk. Today, while the sun was out, there was a nice breeze and no humidity, so it actually felt refreshing to run. Not to say that it was easy. As always, that 1st half mile after the bike was a challenge, but that also coincided with the run over the levee and I just kept telling myself, just make it across the levee and you can walk in the woods where no one can see (fear of public scorn is always my greatest motivator). But by the time I got to the woods my legs were feeling good again and the trails were all under deep shade, so it felt great. I passed about 15 people in the woods, and was never passed. And then on the way back across the levee I was able to sprint the last 200 yards and caught and passed a couple of guys right at the end. Run Time: 29:11


This was probably my favorite triathlon I’ve ever done. That may be because it was in such stark contrast to the Music City, which I hate everything about. But the back roads bike course is just so much more interesting than the interstate courses I usually ride and running through the woods rather than pavement is a lot less boring.  And of course none of those things would have been fun at all if the weather had not been spectacular. So my closing thought, as is often the case after almost any occurrence in my life, “I really need to move to San Diego where the (weather, food, night life, fill in the blank) is always like this”.

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Race Recap: Nashvegas Sprint Triathlon

This past weekend I participated in the Nashvegas Sprint Triathlon in Ashland City, Tenn., with fellow Triskraper (and husband) David Anthony. This was my fourth triathlon ever, and my last of the 2012 season. Of all the races I’ve done, this was definitely my least favorite, but in Ashland City’s defense, it had a lot to do with the weather conditions (chilly, which was good, but rainy, which was bad).

Distance: 400 yards | Location: Cumberland River | Start type: Wave by age group

This was my first wave start, and I was nervous going into it. I didn’t want to be a part of the chaos and the kick fest, so I hung out toward the back of my group and, I believe, ended up being the last woman under age 34 in the water. I think this strategic move cost me about 45 seconds, but having my own space in the water was worth it to me. There was a strong current that morning (did I mention it rained?) and from the sounds of all the distress calls, that made it really difficult for a lot of swimmers. Trying to focus on swimming while also hearing cries of “Help!” was distracting to say the least. Are they OK? Should I help? These were things going through my mind. Swim time: 12:23

It wasn’t raining when I ran out of the water, but it might as well have been, because everything I had left at transition was soaked. I saw some people had brought towels or buckets to cover their stuff, but I’m not sure if this would have been enough to keep things dry. Needless to say, my first transition was slow, as I spent some of it wringing out my socks and drying my sunglasses.

Distance: 14 miles | Course: Rolling hills

I took the bike a little slow because I was freaked out about the rain. I have never ridden my bike in the rain, and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do the race because of the prospect of riding in the rain. Things felt a little slippery underneath my tires, but it went fine. It was an out-and-back course that was mostly on a four-lane highway. We biked on the inside lane on the way out, and the outside lane on the opposite side on the way back. Cars used the other lanes, which was scary at times. There was only one mile marker (plus the turnaround), so I never had a good idea of where I was or how I was doing. Bike time: 53:02

Distance: 3.37 miles | Course: Mostly flat, but crowded

The run was an out-and-back course that looked nothing like the wooded trail shown on the race website. The course didn’t have much shade, but that wasn’t really a problem since the temperature was in the 60s or low 70s (the one benefit of the rain). One thing I didn’t like about the course was how much space we were given. The road was open to traffic, so runners (coming and going) basically had to run on the shoulder. This was frustrating at times, especially since participants in all three races (Half Ironman, Olympic and Sprint) were sharing the space. Since I’m a slower runner (and took a few walk breaks) I felt like I was annoying the other, more competitive racers. If we had been given more room, this would have been less of an issue. Run time: 36:12

Race organization

This was my first triathlon organized by Start2Finish (the others had all been TeamMagic races), and I think I prefer TeamMagic races. It was really crowded and chaotic in the transition area, since by the time the Sprint started there were three races happening concurrently. There was a lot of yelling by officials — “Move over for racers.” Maybe they should have staggered the starts more so there wasn’t a lot of overlap. I also would like to complain about the lack of hydration immediately available at the finish line. I don’t know about you, but when I finish a race, I want someone to hand me something to drink. But on Saturday, after crossing the finish line, they handed me an empty cup with a finisher’s medal inside. It took me about 10 seconds to spot the giant water barrel up ahead (and uphill). It wasn’t clear where the food was either, so we just packed up and got the heck out of there. One thing Start2Finish does right is the speed at which results are posted. After showering at home, I scanned the QR code on my race bib and it took me to my results page. In contrast, TeamMagic results usually take several hours to post.

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Race Report: Mountain Lakes Triathlon in Guntersville, Alabama

On August 11, 2012, Triskrapers David, Lena, and Jessica competed in the Mountain Lakes Triathlon in Guntersville, Alabama. This was a modified Sprint race, with the following distances: 600 yd swim / 16.2 mi bike / 3 mi run.

Lodging: We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Guntersville, which is a short drive (or bike ride) to the race site (maybe 2 miles).  We strongly recommend this hotel for future triathletes on race weekend.

The hotel staff woke up early on race day to prepare pre-race goodie bags ready for the racers. The hotel was accommodating for late check-outs, and, most important, it was very clean and updated. If you do this race, stay here. Lots of racers stayed here.

Note: The race website says that the Best Western is the closest to race site, but it is only about 1,000 feet closer. And the Best Western was a little rough around the edges.

Karaoke:  The Best Western apparently has karaoke 4 nights a week, but, on the weekend, they have live entertainment. The bar is smoking friendly, and you could smell the smoke oozing out of the ceiling tiles. This race weekend, unfortunately, involved no karaoke. My shirt still smells like smoke from the 30 seconds it took me to ask if they had karaoke.

Race-Day: Team Magic ran the event, with packet pick-up the night before. Everything went smooth. ACME Multi-Sports traveled down from Nashville to have a booth and support the racers.

Swim: The course is a classic out-and-back rectangle course. The swim started at the lake’s edge, with a sandy area (covered also with a rug) as swimmers started. The swim is in a cove, with the first (and final) 50 yards in water that was only 3 to 4 feet deep. For weak swimmers, this provided some time to get comfortable in the water (or be lazy).

The lake has an insane amount of some kind of seaweed, called milfoil. The stuff would get on your arms and face during the swim. This was pretty distracting and gross. It was difficult to get off your feet in T1.

The water had no current, with the winds at your back as you made your last straight line. Glare was an issue on the return to shore, and I ended up following a pack of fellow swimmers back to the shore.

Novice swimmers really felt that extra 200 yards: the water around the last turn’s buoy looked like Vietnam, with distressed swimmers splashing.

Out of the swim, you take a 200 yard or so run in grass up to T1.

Bike Course: Everybody talked about how flat the bike course was. Don’t be fooled: it had its share of hills, just nothing steep. The down-side of a (relatively) flat course, however, is that there aren’t any downhills to make up time on. Still, it was a pretty fast course.

It was a scenic ride, with shade coverage for about 40% of it. The course was only partially closed, so Saturday morning traffic was a concern for the final 5 or 6 miles. There were a few cows and roaming dogs, so the time passed pretty quick.

The final leg into T2 was a fairly straight shot.

Run: The run was an out-and-back loop, on a paved walking/jogging trail in the park. The lanes were fairly tight, since coming and going traffic shared the same trail. It was nice and shady and flat. There were lots of water stations, but don’t be fooled by the strangely placed station at the end–it was only about 200 yards from the finish line.

Overall: This was a really nice race. The course was a nice departure from the concrete nightmare that is the Music City Triathlon (the last one we did). Guntersville is a quaint little town, and the locals seemed appreciative of the influx of spandexed athletes.  It was about 3 hours from Nashville.

Assorted Notes:

  • Order of Finish: Jessica; Lena; and David.
  • No team member vomited during or after the race.
  • Fastest Swim: Lena
  • Fastest Bike: David
  • Fastest Run: Jessica
  • You would be shocked at how ugly the tie-dyed race shirts were.
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Bookmark and Never Miss any Future Races

I spent all day kicking myself in the rear for missing out on the 2011 Dickson Endurance Triathlon and the Iron Nugget Sprint Triathlon, which were on Saturday, August 6, 2011.

Despite being on the look-out for new races (especially with the warm weather season ending soon), I somehow missed those races, and spent my Saturday morning chilling on the couch.

Lo and behold, both races were listed on TriFind, the American Triathlon Calendar.  TriFind is a great resource and, looking back, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a tri-event that they don’t have listed. The site lists events by date, state, and length of race.

So, long story short, book-mark tri-find, and you won’t miss a race, ever. Unless you forget to look.

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More Open Water Swimming Tips for Triathletes (Links)

As a first year triathlete, my biggest obstacle has been open water competitive swimming is. Looking at all the information online that discusses this issue, I see I’m not alone.  But, you should stay far away from this New York Times article, which discusses the rise in 2008 deaths during the swim portion of triathlons. Yikes.

Here are some good discussions:

This list isn’t exhaustive–and it can’t be, since this is an issue that every new triathlete faces and, as a result, new articles, blog posts, and tweets are posted daily. These are great resources, though, and the message appears to be the same: keep swimming, as more practice in open water and in the pool leads to better results.

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Upcoming Event: RACE Rome Sprint Triathlon (Rome, Georgia) on October 2, 2011

The founding three members of the Triskrapers will convene on October 2, 2011, to compete in and, probably, dominate the R.A.C.E. Rome Sprint Triathlon. This was formerly known as the “Navigator Triathlon,” but the name was changed to eliminate any suggestion of geocaching. To be clear, all reports are that the path of this race will be clearly designated.

This race involves a 500-yard lake swim, a 14.5 mile bike and 5K run, with proceeds of the race benefiting Open Door Home, a charity helping abused kids in Northwest Georgia.

As of today, there are only 3 registered participants, so don’t wait until the last minute to sign up. The Triskrapers await your challenge.

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Best of Triskraper Triathlon Twitter: July

If you’re not already following us on twitter, we’re at @triskrapers. Here is a sampling of what you missed:

Royal sister Pippa Middleton ran the relay portion in the GE Blenheim Triathlon. Pippa ran the 5k in 25 minutes, 30 seconds!  Proof that triathletics leads to a fit figure.

The Triskrapers have submitted an inquiry about hosting a water and/or karaoke spirit station for @womenshalf in Nashville at Mile 5! Sign up for the 2011 Nashville Women’s Half Marathon today!

Here’s a photo of the 1896 Olympic marathon: Apparently, runners back then lacked colorful spandex.

Attn: Triathletes: Don’t buy the Nike Chrome Jr. goggles. The plastic connecting the lenses breaks after minimal pressure.

Best spectator t-shirt from the Music City Triathlon: “I don’t do triathlons. I do a triathlete.”

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