Cardinal Triathlon Preview

This Saturday I will compete in the Cardinal Triathlon for the third time…yet this will be the first time I’ve done this race. Confused? So am I. 
Every July, Headfirst Performance puts on a Half-Ironman in the Louisville area. For a long time, this race was know as the Cardinal Harbour Triathlon, because it started and ended in Cardinal Harbour subdivision in Prospect, just a few miles northeast of Louisville. This was the venue when I competed in 2010. Because of some conflicts with the residents, the 2011 the race was moved from Cardinal Harbour to Captains Quarters Restaurant. This venue is only about 2 miles down river from Cardinal Harbour, so the bike course remained almost the same – going through Oldham County and covering a lot of the Ironman Louisville course. Then in 2012, there were some last minute issues with the Oldham County Police Department and the race had to once again be moved – this time to Taylorsville Lake. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t planning on doing last years race. With Headfirst already doing a Half Ironman at Taylorsville Lake in May of every year, they needed a completely new venue for the 2013 race…
Enter Otter Creek Outdoor Recreational Area. Otter Creek is now owned and operated by the Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife after being left for dead in 2009 by the Louisville Metro Government. It’s about 40 miles southeast of Louisville and is right on the Ohio River…making it a logical place for a triathlon. Headfirst already does a trail race and an adventure run in Otter Creek every year, so they were familiar with the logistics of putting on a race there.
So this will be my third time doing a Half-Ironman in July that is put on by Headfirst Performance…at my third different location.
The 1.2 mile swim will be in the Ohio River, which thanks to all of the resent rain, is in pretty bad shape. Lots of debris and a strong current should make for an interesting swim. Not to mention all the “overflow” that will still be coming downstream from Louisville! I really have no idea how the swim will be set up, but I imagine if the current is strong, it will be several loops of a short course. The water temperature is in the mid-70’s, so there will be no need for a wetsuit.

56 mile bike course
The 56 mile bike course will take us straight up a hill to get above the river and then once we are out of the park, we will do three loops of 16 mile course. Although I’ve never been on the course, the elevation profile tells me that there are lots of rolling hills and one big (1.2 mile) climb on each loop.

Bike Course Elevation Profile
After my long ride last weekend, I know what I want to do on this course – keep my Nominal Power at 200W and try not to let my cadence dip below 70 – even on the hills. I doubt that I will have a small enough gear to make this happen on the long climb, but I will do my best to keep my watts from getting too high. This is a new riding strategy for me. I’m used to just pushing hard on the bike and dealing with whatever my legs have left once I get to the run. After 6+ months of training with a power meter, I now have a very detailed plan for the bike…we’ll see if I have the patience and discipline to hold back.
13.1 mile run course
 We will finish up the bike in a different location than we started. This will be the first race that I have done where T1 and T2 are in different locations. I’m not sure how we are going to get between the two for set-up before the race…maybe there’s a trail through the woods? 

Run Course Elevation Profile
The 13.1 mile run consists of a double out-and-back that will be done twice. It looks fairly flat with the exception of a 1.1 mile long hill that we’ll have to conquer twice (once at mile 5.2 and then again at mile 10.5). I’m curious to see what my legs feel like after the bike. I pushed the bike pretty hard (NP = 229W) during my Half-Ironman back in May and my run was horrible. It was a true suffer-fest. I’m hoping that even though it’s going to be hot and sunny on Saturday, that I will feel strong on the run. This will tell me a lot about how my Ironman race day will be – which is just 44 days from now! I’m placing my faith in the power meter to keep me from “blowing-up” my legs on the bike. I’ll use my heart rate as a tool on the run, keeping it below 150 bpm for at least the first 6-8 miles. Then, depending on how I feel, I’ll either struggle just to get to the finish line or I’ll have enough juice left to pick up the pace for the remaining 6-7 miles.

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