USTS Atlanta Race Report
7/26/98 1.5k swim, 40K bike, 10k run
This has been a difficult season for me, especially since I had
expected it to be one of my better seasons. I had a great off-season
and was totally psyched and in shape for the season. Those of you who
read my Digital City report know I was very happy with my
conditioning. From that point on, I have not been able to consistently
train at the level I desired.
With 2+ weeks off while my daughter was in the hospital, 1+ week
vacation at Disney World, and numerous other events that took
prescedence over training, my conditioning deteriorated significantly.
I'm not complaining or making excuses, I just needed to share my
frustrations out loud. It helps me understand and accept that this is
not going to be one of my best seasons.
Even so, I have enjoyed my 10th season of triathlons. I have completed
all of the races I started, I never finished last in my AG (always a
goal), I have found some great new races that I will do again, and I
have met several friends from the rec.sport.triathlon (RST) internet
A week ago Sunday, I completed the U.S. Triathlon Series triathlon in
Georgia. It was my second Olympic Distance Tri (the first was the
Tugaloo race last year). My results were not great, but have inspired
me to write a race report.
The USTS series provided plenty of pre-race info including map,
suggested lodging, and other good information. During the week I made
our hotel reservations and mapped out the drive.
On Saturday, I decided to join my local bike shop for the weekly ride
(25 miles). It had been only two months since I last had a Saturday to
ride with them, so I was very surprised when I pulled up to the shop
-- and it was closed! The owner is a great guy -- even if he is a
roadie ;-) I feel bad that he was unable to keep the shop.
I knew the route well, so I decided to ride by myself. About 5 miles
into the ride, my front tire began to deflate (small rock -- with a
sharp point!). Fortunately, I was close to a police station so I
pulled in and called my wife to come get me. Not wanting to wait, I
decided to walk part way and meet her. Of course, I did not want to
ruin the cleats on my cycling shoes so I walked a mile in my socks.
About half way, I noticed a slight pain on the sole of my foot. After
my wife met me and I was in the van, I pulled off my sock to find a
blister. Oh, great! Just what I needed before a race...
We got home, packed the van and headed for the race site. As we walked
from the parking lot to the race expo and packet pickup, I saw Rob
(Mafuada) and said 'Hi'. The race expo was not that great. The QR road
shows had more selection, but I did get some needed body glide. I
picked up my packet, put my race number on the bike and walked my bike
to the transition area (bikes were left overnight). We then headed for
the hotel, arranged for a late checkout, ate dinner, swam a bit in the
pool, and went to bed.
RING!!! Ooooh, those 5:20am wake up calls are tough! Everyone got up
(quite a surprise that the kids got up so well!), dressed, and out we
We had pre-driven the route the day before after packet pick-up so it
was no problem finding our way in the dark. We arrived at the parking
lot at 6:10 where shuttles were supposed to transport spectators and
athletes to the race site. There was already a loooong line :-o After
the two busses had come and gone twice it was 6:40 and we were still
in line. There was no way we were going to make the 6:45 start! The
line of worried faces relaxed a bit in the early dawn when a race
volunteer announced that the start would be delayed so that all
participants could race.
A few minutes later I was on the bus; tri-spouse, tri-kids and the
other tri-families and spectators were asked to take later busses. We
arrived in time for me to arrange my towel, bucket, clothes and helmet
in the transition area, then hurry over to the swim start.
I don't even remember what time it was when I arrived at the swim
start. The relay wave and one age group (I think) had already started
the swim (I guess the director and the volunteer at the bus lot had
different sources for their information). The announcer was
introducing the pro triathletes as I walked up. One of the coolest
things about the sport of triathlon is that the average participant
(like myself) is able to compete with the professional athletes.
I missed the men's intros, and did not recognize any of the ladies, so
I jumped into the water for a quick warm-up. The pros started a few
minutes later, after which, they announced my wave would start. I did
not know this at the time, but my wave followed the pros and Mike
Pigg, a long-time pro who had won the USTS 10 years ago. That is so
cool!!! I can honestly say that I was right behind Mike Pigg (after a
3 minute wave stagger) in the swim -- he finished in under 19 minutes,
but I was close behind in 35 ;-)
The swim start was in the water in between piers. Participants had to
tread water for a few minutes until we were sent on our way. There
were almost 80 men in the 30-34 age group in which I started. It was
not too crowded. We headed out towards a large yellow buoy marking the
first left turn. Somewhere between that first turn and the first
orange buoy the lead swimmers of the next wave began to pass me. At
the buoy just before the bridge, the water exploded around me as a
large number of very fast swimmers swam past (and over) me. They were
a mix of men and women. As we passed under the bridge I swam over --
or rather another competitor swam under me. I was just swimming my
pace when the woman crossed in front of me and I had to pause to let
her swim by.
I rounded the last turn buoy and headed for the shore. I was hoping
for about a 30 minute swim (I had swam a full mile in that time in
training early in the season), but came out of the water in just over
35 minutes. That is more like my pool times the past two weeks -- not
as good as I had been.
My swim to bike transition went well. I pulled on my bike shorts over
my speedos, slipped on my singlet, secured my helmet and ran my bike
to the mount/dismount line. T1 was just under 3 minutes -- about
average for me.
There are only two words needed to describe the bike course: Up Hill.
The hills were not too steep, but they never seemed to end! My average
for the first few miles was barely 16mph.
However, a nice stretch of steep downhills was next. I hit 43.2mph
down one hill -- boy was that fun :-) As I progressed along the
course, I began to enjoy the scenery. The bike route went passed many
farms, fields and beautiful country settings. Scattered along the
course were a few locals who sat on front porches wondering who all
these people on funny bikes were...
It was a wonderfully peaceful morning. I took deep breaths to enjoy
the fresh morning -- ARGH!!! What was that smell?!? Oh, another cow
farm. Whew! What a smell! Of course, the cows didn't notice as they
kept getting whiffs of sweaty triathletes zooming by.
The course was well-marked and staffed with volunteers. Roger Partee
and Tri-Atlanta did an excellent job in that area. I remembered to
thank all the volunteers at the turns and water stop. Their cheers and
words of encouragement are great inspiration for us BOPpers (striving
to be MOPpers).
Then came mile 18. It was very similar to that nice long stretch of
downhill that I enjoyed so much earlier -- except that it was all UP
hill. And it seemed soooo much longer!!! Where I had flown down at
43mph, I crawled up struggling to maintain 4-6mph. My 18+mph average
(yes, I had done well to pick up the pace on the rolling hills)
dropped to under 17. Oh, no. Only 4 miles to get my average up to my
goal of over 19. I wanted to give it my all, but I couldn't because I
needed my legs for the 10K run. As I made the turn into the transition
area my average was 17.69mph. It was lower than I had wanted, but not
too bad for me, considering the hills.
I took my time in T2 to rinse the sweat off my face and change into
running shorts. A few swipes of Body Glide on my legs, a drink of
water, grab my GU -- Oh, no! Where did I put it?! I spent too much
time looking, then gave up. Ugh! Well, I knew that GU was a sponsor so
I hoped they had chocolate. My T2 time was just over 4 minutes.
That's a bit slow for me, but a little extra rest was nice.
The run was just like the bike: Up Hill. Especially one small, but
VERY steep hill into a subdivision. The return must have had a
downhill (as others have mentioned), but I sure did not notice.
The course had a short mile or so loop in the subdivision, after that
steep hill. I was happy to maintain a run/walk pace through that
subdivision. At the first GU stop I was disappointed that they only
had the plain flavor. I asked for chocolate and a very kind volunteer
reached into his volunteer goody bag and produced another chocolate
energy gel. Wow! What great volunteers!!! It tasted bad compared to
GU, but my body needed the energy. I ate about half washed down with
swishes of water. I wasn't feeling too bad at this point, but
definitely tiring. Alas, as I exited onto the main road a long slow
uphill stared me in the eye. My body screamed to stop, but I had to
I walked most of the way to the turnaround, with a few short jogs
mixed in (had to run when some spectators or volunteers were
cheering). By now the hot Georgia sun was baking me. I wish I had
remembered to put sunscreen on before the race. Now, I have a tan line
where my race numbers marked my arms ;-) I continued to take on water.
I watched my per mile pace keep an even 13 minute pace -- slow even
for me. I had been training at 9-10 minute miles. But as I approached
the turnaround, my pace had slowed even more. Now, the last two+ miles
were supposed to be downhill. As I looked ahead it appeared to be ...
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