Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Camp Courageous Tri

This was the first year for the Camp Courageous Triathlon located just outside of Monticello, IA.  I grew up about 30 minutes from there and was excited to do a race out of state and close to "home" so my parents could easily watch.  I was a little nervous going into the event because there was not a whole heck of a lot of information on the web and I do not always deal with uncertainty the greatest.  The logistics of the race perplexed me since there would be two transition areas, and questions quickly filled my head. After a call the week before with the race director, my nerves were eased as I found out more about the race.

The race would start in Central Park and then travel 16.7ish miles to Camp Courageous via bike, where the run would be an out and back.  Sounds simple, but the little things such as "What happens to my goggles and swim cap/towel from T1?" get in your head.

I woke up before my alarm... 3:56 AM and immediately thought to myself "Your wife is correct, you are crazy..."  I snuck out of bed and shut off my alarm to start getting ready.  Race morning consisted of a flat-bread with pb and honey, and a mug of coffee before heading out the door at 4:30.  It was still very much dark, very much humid, and very much foggy.  The drive through rural Iowa took me between many corn fields and bean fields, patches of fog, and even a city or two.  I arrived at Camp Courageous and parked the car.  Logistic step 1... park the car where you will finish the race.  Since I left my bike at the park over night (while under security) I had to go setup my T2 area.  I dropped my shoes and race number on a good rack spot and hopped on the shuttle bus that would haul me and the other type A's who arrived super-early to the park where our bikes were hopefully located.  Sure enough when we arrived, they were there, covered in a heavy coat of dew... actually looked like heavy rain because it was so sticky. 

I dried off my handlebars and aerobars, some of the components, the seat, and some brake track as best as possible and started to settle into my spot.  I chatted it up with a bunch of people, handed out some Marathon Bar samples, and even helped a lady who was having some tire issues.  Some how she tore out the entire valve core on the rear tire and it went flat instantly.  It was a very easy tire to remove and was done in short order. 

As time got closer, I hopped on the bike and took it out for a spin, up and out of the park, out the first road and onto the country road we would ride for a few miles.  The park had a nice climb starting about 100 yards away from transition.  It traveled much easier than it looked, and I was feeling good on the bike despite my seat feeling a bit off the day before.  I have to do some checking, but either the seatpost slid down, or more likely the seat angle got bumped, as when I measured on Saturday with my phone, it was -7 degrees or so.  Much lower than I have ever set it.  That being said, I felt comfortable riding and not like I was falling off.  This week will be some analysis of what the heck happened to it and where it needs to be. 

Outside of feeling like I was not getting full (proper) extension on the bike, I got back and racked the bike to do a warm-up run.  Again I headed out of the park up the hill and was holding a good pace, but I started to sweat instantly due to the heat.  Some stretches at the top and a nice descent into the park and I found my family had arrived on a bus that I ran past on my way out. 

We talked and I handed off some of my extra stuff for them to take back for me, and then it was time for a swim warm-up.  Nothing exciting here.  Race announcements, the Star Spangled Banner, and then chaos of trying to have 200+ people line up according to swim times by their estimated completion time.

The Swim:
The water was a warm 84 degrees, but it broke some of the humidity, so I was ready to go.  I lined up behind 15 people, so I was number 16 to go in.  In the first 100-200 yards, I made good effort passing people, despite losing my line slightly and doing some additional swimming.  The course was not the normal square with right angle turns, they were much different as seen by my GPS route below.

swim route

So you can see where I went off track a few times, but these turns were a bit more of a challenge, we all know what right angle turns feel like, but making a turn that is only a few degrees or almost a 180 is quite different to get used to.  On the final stretch, I got a glimpse of a swim cap about 10 yards ahead of me and pushed to swim up on them.  Once I caught up we were neck foot the whole time in. 

I don't know what position I came out of the water, but I saw a sub 8 on my watch as I took it out of my cap, right on target.  By the time I hit the transition mat, it was just over 8. Take a look at these phenomenal swim pics.  This photographer was amazing, more to come on that later.
swim3swim4 swim2  swim1

Transition 1:
Nothing terribly eventful here, my bike was about in an ideal spot as close as possible to the exit, outside of this layout making multiple people to rack on the same side of the rack, I got out and left my cap/goggles/foot towel in the bag to be picked up (hopefully!)


DSC03026 DSC03027
I got on the road and straddled the bike, tried to pedal backwards to get clipped in and my chain dropped.  I quickly try to fix that and get on the bike to get moving.  I climbed out of the park pretty easily, got on the first road and was having some issues getting my HR to settle, so I backed off the pace so I could focus.... Well that focus came with a price, I was focusing on breathing and getting regulated, not the rumble strips that rapidly approached.  Ouch!  I rolled over the three sets and took a right hand turn, time to hammer. 

I saw some people ahead of me, but could not get a good view on how many were there, so I pushed, and pushed, and could not get my wattage to where it needed to be, despite flying down the road.  I got on a main stretch that looked into a longer climb, and I could see a ways ahead of me.  Count them, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  people in a string, and 1 guy way up there.  I About half way through the course, I hit my peak speed of 33 MPH.  I did what I could to close the gap on the string of people ahead of me, passing some, and then I found my match.  A guy in my age group, I passed him while passing another person, and then it became a leap frog fest.  He would pass me on some up hill climbs, but blow up towards the top, so I would crest and power through the flat making good headway, but a few minutes later he would pass again.  This happened I don't even know how many times. 


I ended up hitting transition first, but first a moment about the photographer.  As I came in on the final stretch into the camp, they had a section for no pedaling.  I used that as opportunity to get out of my shoes, as I see a race photographer.  My first thought, great another horrible picture with me hunched over trying to get out of my shoes.  COME ON!  Well I will take that back.  The race pics were amazing... again more on that at the end.

Transition 2:
Well if you want to see a classic example of what not to do, watch me.  I fumbled into transition, racked my bike, got my shoes on, helmet off, and headed out.  Wait you may say, that sounds good, but I forgot my race belt.  I realized it half way out of the area, but went back for it.  I love Garmin showing this, and with a little work, I see from the point I stopped and turned around, until when I got back there, was no less than 10 seconds, sure not a lot, but I wanted every second. 

On my way out, I saw the green guy, AG'r that was near me on the bike.  I exited transition first, but was distraught from the race number.

I tried to settle into a pace, but was not feeling like things clicked.  Sure enough only a few minutes in, he comes zipping past.  Ugh, I am not feeling it, knowing the run is not an area I typically make up time, but rather hope to lose as little as possible to some of the faster guys.  I was pushing to hit a 20 minute 5k since it was USAT sanctioned, but quickly realized when my 7:00 pace felt like I was running 6 flat, that was going to be a stretch.  I held on to what I could as I saw the guy in green slip away.  The run was an out and back, so I got to watch people (and count) as they came back past me.  The leader was flying with ease, and ended up dominating the competition.  At the turn around, I was the 9th person, but quickly saw that there was someone on my tail, and I was hurting. 

My goal for the race was to be uncomfortable, well I got my wish.  The heat beating down on me was uncomfortable along with the humidity.  After the turn around, it was ugly.  I managed to pass one person, and then get passed, so net nothing.  I was able to dig down the last 6 minutes and keep building my pace, but it was not enough to make up for the rest of the run.

run1 run2 run3

Overall I hit a 7:13 average, not bad for the heat/humidity, but a ways from my goal still.

Overall: Not too bad of a day. 
I finished with a breakdown as follows:
Swim: 8:06 (1:38/100 yd) 13th Place
Transition 1: 0:39
Bike: 43:45 (22.9 MPH) 205 Watts 8th Place
Transition 2: 0:49
Run:  22:21 (7:13 pace) 18th Place

Overall:  1:15:38 (11th Overall, third AG, but 1st took first overall, so I got 2nd)

Considering I predicted a 1:15 goal time, I am pretty happy with the results.  The weather made it tough.  By far my favorite bike course this far.  It was challenging, but fun.

As for the race photos.  I was thinking bad things about the pictures as all the times I saw them, they were in bad spots, but after seeing the results (must have missed a lot of them out there) I am shocked.  I never get good pictures.  The swim pics are amazing, wish my bike photo was more in focus/brighter, but I wont argue.  The run pics, wow, I do not look like I am going to die. 

Overall it was a good race, with good results.  There are a lot of take-aways from this race, but a solid effort all around.


Nick August 18, 2010 at 8:37 AM  

Great summary of the race....THANK YOU! I am the Race Director...Nick Gearhart. The dream and vision we shared for this race in July, 2008 became reality on August 1, 2010!

Another participant was warned by his friends NOT to do this race because "all first year races are disorganized, logistical nightmares!! Give them a few years!" He ignored their "advice" and told me it could not have been more perfect!

Our first year success can be traced back to 1) Camp Courageous and the CAUSE, 2) Camp Director, Charlie Becker and the respect and love he receives from thousands of loyal Camp Courageous supporters, 3) our Title Sponsor, AEGON, who helped make our dream a reality, 4) Jones County....ALL of their services - ambulance, law enforcement, DOT, DNR, County Engineer, Parks, etc......were donated FREE to this event because of Charlie Becker and Camp Courageous! If this would have been in Linn County, it would have easily cost $20,000 - $30,000 (!!) and 5) our INCREDIBLE, 16 person organizing committee....I have directed dozens of events and have been on dozens more event committees. THIS committee is by far the most talented, passionate and committed event committee that I have ever been a part of!

August 7, 2011...spread the word, this event will ONLY get bigger and better! There will come a time in the not-so-distant-future that we will be "capping" this event at 500(?), 800(?), 1,000(?) participants!

BTW...our PHOTOGRAPHERS were two "amateurs" from AEGON's photography club and they leapfrogged all over the course to bring you these INCREDIBLE photos!

Thanks foryour race summary, see you next year!

MWX Tri Club August 23, 2010 at 9:29 AM  


Great blog and photos!!!

I was also on the Camp Courageous Race Committee and also wanted to say THANK YOU for your great recap of the race! You have no idea how awesome it is to know that you were happy with your experience!! We were all very proud of how everything went and look forward to making it only better going forward!!! Thank you for coming out to race!!

Rosie Lee
MWX Tri Club President

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