Driving to Knoxville in May has become a family tradition. This is the fifth year in a row that we’ve piled the family into the Tahoe and made the journey from Louisville to Knoxville. The first year we went, we just had an almost 3 year old and a 16 month old. This year we have a 6 year old, a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and one on the way! Our family has grown, but the kids always look forward to our annual trip to Knoxville. I’ve done the Olympic Distance race each of the last four years, but decided to give the Half Distance a try thing year. Based on the fact that Rev3 does such a great job of making their races family friendly and the race venue is perfect, I can’t imagine us not continuing this trip each year.
After driving down Saturday morning-afternoon, we checked into the hotel. I then walked down, got my race packet and got my bike checked in to transition. The long day ended with a great dinner at Blue Coast Grill & Bar in Market Square.
Race day started at 4:15AM for me. The half distance race start time was 6:50AM, so I knew that I needed to be down at transition as close to 5:30AM as possible. I got changed, put on my race number tattoos and even ate my pre-race meal in the hotel bathroom while everyone else slept (it’s clean in there, right?). I made it down to transition and had plenty of time to get everything set up and walk the half mile down to the swim start.
The swim takes place in the Tennessee River. The 1.2 mile course consists of going upstream 0.5 miles and then turning to swim downstream 0.7 miles. In addition to swimming with the current to start the race, the sun is coming up right in the direction you are swimming. Even with tinted goggles, the reflection off of the water makes it VERY difficult to sight. I never saw a buoy until I was literally passing it. I just kept looking to make sure that other swimmers were up ahead of me, assuming that they were following a decent line. Even after the turn-around, I found it difficult to sight the buoys. I think that they could really benefit from throwing a few more out there. Based on my Garmin file, I swam 2200 meters (taking off the run to transition). A 1.2 mile swim is only 1931 meters…so I obviously wasn’t following the fastest line! My swim time was about 5-7 minutes slower than I had hoped for, but you get out what you put in. Due to life happening, I haven’t been able to get in the pool very much this year. Last year I was consistently swimming with a Masters Team twice a week. Now, I’m lucky if I get in the water once every 10 days or so for a solo workout. My times have dropped significantly in the water, but it is what it is at this point. Now that school is out, I’m hoping to get back into the Masters swims again.
1.2 mile swim
2:05 / 100m
12th out of 25 in Age Group
Transition was pretty clean. I got my wetsuit off, helmet on and ran my bike out. I rode without socks and had my shoes already clipped in my pedals, so there wasn’t much to do other than grab and go!
4th out of 25 in Age Group
I knew coming in that the Rev3 Knoxville bike course was challenging, and it lived up to the hype. I had a few goals for the 56 mile bike. One was to ride with a Nominal Power (NP) of 220 Watts. The other was to keep my power from spiking above my FTP (291W) on the hills. I knew that letting my power get out of control on some of those climbs would bite me at the end of the bike and even more so on the run. The bike profile below tells a pretty good story. There are lots of big hills in the first 18 miles (1016 ft of elevation gain). Steep climbs early in a race are an easy way to blow-up. My NP for the first 18 miles was 217W and my Variability Index (VI) was 1.05, which is good. However, I spiked above my FTP several (at least 6) times with a max power of 403W. From mile 18 through 36, the course consists of what would be classified as rolling hills (453 ft of elevation gain). For this segment, my NP was only 205W with a VI still at 1.05. I did a better job keeping my power from spiking, but I clearly needed to push it harder on this middle portion of the race to get my NP up closer to my 220W goal. The final 20 miles takes you back into some big climbs (997 ft of elevation gain). My nutrition was good (see details at the bottom of the report), and I still felt strong heading into the final stretch. I was caught off guard by a sharp left hand turn coming off of a big decent into a steep climb. As I frantically tried to down-shift, I dropped my chain. Getting off the bike and getting it threaded back wasn’t too hard, but trying to clip in and get moving up a hill was tough! The course was very technical and I never took chances, but not knowing the course becomes obvious when things like this happen. There was also some confusion regarding turn markings as a future bike race used the same colors and had their markings on the road already. I only went off course briefly by following the wrong arrows, but some other riders added several miles to their race based on wrong turns! My NP for the final 20 miles was 208W and my VI was still acceptable at 1.06. However, I let my power spike WAY too often. The steep climbs make it hard, but I need to do a better job of keeping an eye on my watch during these climbs. I count at least 10 times where by power output crept up above 300W.
I’ve made some big gains on the bike since last year and I really wanted to have a bike split that reflected what I’m capable of now. The 220W average power goal is well within my abilities now and I’m disappointed that I didn’t hold it. The good news is that there’s always another race. I’ll come back and go after these goals again next time!
56 mile bike
2:57:45 (18.9 mph)
NP = 210W
6th out of 25 in Age Group
Coming off the bike, I really had to pee. I wasn’t able to find a time to evacuate during the last 10 miles, so I had to make a decision. Should I run into the port-o-pot in transition and lose some time or try to pee while on the run (not easy)? I didn’t like either of these options, so I thought of a third. Sit down in T2 and pee while putting my socks and running shoes on…genius! My bike was racked near the edge, so my puddle didn’t encroach on anyone else’s area. The one mistake I made was that when I went to stand up, I put my hand right into my puddle of urine. This might gross most people out, but at this point in the race, I’m basically just peeing water out anyway. And yes, I did grab a cup of water on the way out of T2 and rinse my hand off.
10th out of 25 in Age Group
The 13.1 mile run course consists of two loops. So it’s basically 3.25 miles out, 3.25 miles back and then do it all again. My goal was to keep my heart rate in my aerobic zone (nothing above 150 bpm) for the first 10 miles and then go all-out to the finish. I set my watch to just show me my heart rate and my cadence. I know that if I can keep my cadence in the high 80’s, my pace will take care of itself. I set the auto-lap for 1 mile, so at each mile, I get a beep and my time for that previous mile comes up on the screen.
I wanted to see how consistent I was over the half-marathon, so I’ve gone back and looked at my stats for each of the four ~3.25 mile segments.
- Miles 0 thru 3.25 – Time: 26:21 (8:12/mile) / 137 bpm average / Cadence average: 89
- Miles 3.25 thru 6.55 – Time: 27:58 (8:35/mile) / 139 bpm average / Cadence average: 88
- Miles 6.55 thru 9.80 – Time: 28:42 (8:50/mile) / 138 bpm average / Cadence average: 87
- Miles 9.80 thru 13.1 – Time: 28:06 (8:31/mile) / 144 bpm average / Cadence average: 88
In looking at these segments, it’s clear that I was hurting miles 6 through 10. My heart rate and cadence matched what I put out the first time I ran this part of the course, but my legs just couldn’t stride as far and my pace slowed. The run had some steady climbs, but nothing too steep until the last half mile or so (yeah, it’s not a fun way to end). I focused on my cadence and just kept running, even through the aid stations. I had my nutrition belt on and took a drink of my mix every 15 minutes or so to sustain my energy levels. I was passed by a guy in my age group with about a mile and a half to go. As I look back now at the results, I started the run 8 minutes and 10 seconds ahead of this guy and he ran me down and beat me by 16 seconds. I kept him within my sights, but just didn’t have enough to catch him at the end. Our age group was pretty tight the whole day. There was less than 10 minutes between 3rd place and 6th place in the Men’s 35-39 Age Group. I came out of the water in 12th, moved up to 10th out of T1, then made my way up to 4th off of the bike. I was passed by one guy in T2 while I peed on the ground and then was passed again at the end of the run to finish 6th.
13.1 mile run
1:50:49 (8:28 / mile)
10th out of 25 in Age Group
This was a half-distance triathlon run split PR for me by 56 seconds. All courses are different, but this one was by no means flat – so it was nice to see my run off of the bike is improving (which really means that my bike is improving)!
6th out of 25 in my Age Group
32nd out of 213 Overall
One of my favorite things about the Rev3 races is that your kids can run the finish shoot with you. We started this tradition with my three little ones last year and they were very excited to do it again this time around. They patiently waited for me to get done and thanks to the Quarq GPS tracker that I rented for the race, Jessica was able to see when I was getting close. You can see video of our finish line run below (jump ahead to the 3:17:00 mark to see us).
Here are a few still shots if you don’t want to watch the video (although it’s worth the time).
Part of our tradition has become to take a family picture after the race. These are fun to look back on each year!
2XU C:2 wetsuit
Aqua Sphere Kayenne goggles
De Soto Forza Trisuit
Argon 18 E-112 Triathlon bike with Zipp wheel set (404 front, 808 back)
Bike Javelin aero helmet
Adidas adiZero adios running shoes
Nutrition used (once again a sugar-free race!):
Pre-Race – (1) Small Sweet Potato with Almond Butter 3 hours prior to race
Bike – (2) 24oz. bottles mixed with 3 scoops of Plain Generation UCAN with 375 mL of Vita Coconut water w/ Pineapple; (2) Packages of Justin’s Almond Butter; Water a aid stations
Run – (2) 8oz. bottles each mixed with 1 scoop of Plain Generation UCAN with 250 mL of Vita Coconut water w/ Pineapple; water at every aid station
It was a fun trip and a great race. I’m now only four weeks away from the Mohican Endurance Festival Half distance triathlon. I’ve got some challenging workouts on the calendar for the next few weeks to top off my fitness. I’m hoping for a great race up there in Ohio!
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