Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Race Report: Rev3 Knoxville Olympic

I suppose you could also title this "Sometimes you have it, and sometimes you don't"


IMG_0794Before leaving home, I took Bella to the kennel, I think she was sad we were leaving, but she always has such a good time there!
I started off on Thursday night from home and headed to my parents place in Iowa with my wife.
She and my mom were flying to Knoxville while my dad and I drove.  We got to their place later than expected, making for a short night before getting up at 5AM, only got about 5.5 hours of sleep.  This could be an interesting drive!  Google maps said something like 13.x hours.  I figured it would be something around 12 with stops since it was almost exactly 750 miles.
We headed out of Iowa and over the bridge into Illinois.
Even with gas prices where they are, also note that this is the first time I have had to pay over $4 a gallon, it was cheaper to drive than fly, not including the bike.  Illinois has some steep gas taxes!


After some time through Peoria then Bloomington.  I missed the sign going into Indiana due to being so excited that the speed limit went back up to 70 degrees.  It is 2011 people... 70 MPH on interstates please!  After skirting around Indianapolis, we headed south with only a slight slow down from construction.  We snagged some McDonalds, note I only had the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad to keep my body on the right track before the race.


I think this next picture was snapped while in Kentucky, a bit odd with some construction, but it was divided into 2 lanes going the same direction, except divided by a long line of concrete barriers!  After rounding about Lexington and a quick stop for gas, bathroom, and some Starbucks, we were off into the hills/mountains.  It was cloudy, so we often felt like were were hanging out in the clouds.  There were some breathtaking views, especially a few where you were going up, and then it turned and went downhill.  It looked like you were driving off the edge of the Earth!


Before we knew it, we were in good old Tennessee!  It was super easy to get to the hotel, so we unloaded and went in search of some food.  Boy did it feel good to stretch the legs out!  I tried to find IMG_0805my Trakkers teammates, but was not very successful, although I am convinced I walked right past them.  We settled on The Tomato Head.  It was tasty!  I had hummus with some veggies/pita and a Greek Feta Salad with one of the best dressings I have ever had!  The extra $3.25 for about 4 ounces of chicken was so not worth it!

I snagged a pic of this guy boating and hoped it was not an omen for my swim as it looked like he was sinking! After we got back to the hotel I busted out my RecoveryPump to help flush out my legs from the 12 hours in the car!  It packed so nicely into my bag, a great travel companion to say the least!


Saturday morning the plan was to meet up with Team Trakkers for the practice swim.  I was a bit quiet at first as normal when I meet new people.  I am not great with names, and meeting a bunch of new people at once makes it all the more difficult.  Luckily this team was put together so well that it made it super easy for all of us to mesh.  We hit up the practice swim and I wore my Garmin 310xt on my wrist for the first time to try it out rather than in my cap... probably because I forgot a cap!  We did about a third of a mile.  The water was a bit colder than expected, but I have been in worse in Minnesota! 


The rest of the day Saturday was spent at the expo, dodging rain, getting my bike to transition, and my personal things in order for the next day!  Rev3 did some pretty cool things with race numbers this year.  First rather than using markers which always seem to wear off, they were temporary tattoos!


Two for your arms to be seen from the side that include the Rev3 Logo and Pilot/Flying J Sponsor Logos.  These were one big tattoo, where the age/race distance were individual stickers for the right calf.


Now here is going to be a small word of advise based on observation.  Standardize and communicate.  It may be due to the fact I hear these 2 words all of the time at work, it may be because I am a bit OCD or a perfectionist, or it may be due to people just looking goofy (No offense Anthony if you are reading this! Although I didn't see it, your other half told me the story of hearing "Oh Shit!")

They give you two with your race number that is supposed to be seen from the side.  Maybe there were 2 in order to provide an extra if someone had issues with the first, but I took it as, well you may not know where the photographer/official will be, so put one on each arm facing the outside.  I saw people that had these on their forearms, their calf, or the outside of their leg!  A bit more detail about what was expected may be beneficial.

The second piece I saw more times than I could count.  The age/race distance label.  Take me for example a 28 year old doing the Olympic Distance.  They did clarify to put these on your RIGHT calf.  Do people read instructions included with packet pickup?  It may be beneficial to put it on there for those that wonder.

Most people got this right, although some did inevitably have it on their left calf.  I saw a number of ways people applied them though.  Some did O28 others did 28O all on one line.  Others ran them up and down their leg vertically.  As I type this, I hear a voice in my head telling me "You think your way is the only way or the best way" which is why I am typing this.  To me... it is the easiest to read and comprehend.  List your Age on the top line: 28 Under that include the H/O for the distance.  That way you can differentiate and quickly tell, but just as some people choose to wear calf sleeves to cover their numbers up, maybe the confusion is what they are looking to accomplish.

Enough about standardization... Let's talk about application.  We were given these numbers at packet pickup a day or two early, while I waited to put mine on until race morning, I know some people put them on Saturday evening.  Having worn mine for a few days following the race, because they were a challenge to get off, they did collect lint from shirts.  I was afraid even walking to transition with my warm-up on that it would rub off, but fear not it did not!  I would maybe suggest applying these at packet pickup for the following reason.

Do you remember ever trying to fog up a window on a bus and then write something so people from the outside can read it?  This is very similar.  Since the tattoos have to be applied a certain way, and typically triathletes are doers, I guess a lot of people tried to apply them on their own.  This is from the result of a 3 looking like an E because it was applied incorrectly!  Having someone help stick the numbers on in the right orientation would make them work a bit better!  This was a VERY common sight to see a number upside down or backwards, anything but easily readable!

(Stepping off my soap box) I just wanted to provide some feedback about how the race numbers went.  I loved them though!  I wish more races would do this, you would not have to worry about them fading nearly as much as marker does at times.

There was a mandatory bike check in on Saturday, so I dropped off the bike in my slot, just in the case I forgot my number, they even had my name there!

What a sweet personal touch!  I love the racking system and having a clearly defined place for my gear.

I got the bike settled in, and eventually covered it up to protect from any rain overnight.  Thanks to the Geico ponchos from the expo, a lot of people used these to cover them up.  You can see it in the background of the Kestrel Airfoil all ready to ride!



I only got fair sleep, far from good, but not really due to nerves/anxiousness.  5AM rolled around quite early and  I had some oatmeal for breakfast along with my First Endurance Optygen.  Before long I was out the door and headed down to transition.  It was still quite dark at that point.  After inflating my tires, I got into my routine and my dad carried the pump back to the room.  I am now in a routine of watching the 2011 Versus Trailer. This video is bad-ass and gets me motivated.

I warmed up on the run and got to run by Matty Reed for a while, only in his warm-up could I be running with him!   After getting all lubed up by the Trakker lube crew, I headed towards the swim start.  I carried my bottle of EFS Orange and Pre-Race with to the start before finishing it off and handing it off to my wife.  It was chilly out in the morning, so I was glad she had along another track jacket of mine to keep me warm from the wind on the river.  Before I knew it my wave was called on deck.  No swim warm-up today, just get in, christen the TYR Category 5 wetsuit, and start swimming!

My nerves were about as low as they have ever been before a race.  This was my first Olympic race, was I not excited or was I just well prepared?  My goal time of 2:20 was ambitious and would push my limits, so much that on the Yakima bike rack contest, I put my estimated finish around 2:25:31.  So much for positive self-talk...



1.5k or something like .9 miles.  I wanted to do the swim in 25 minutes.  This would come close to doubling any other race I have done to the day.  My swim workouts have all been shorter efforts at higher intensity.  Sure it has gotten me speed, but I was not sure how it would translate to endurance over the distance, so I was a bit nervous.  The sound went off, and we were off.  I was right on the front when it started, a tap to the Garmin, and away I went.  I have been working on sighting in a pool here and there, but it is nothing like swimming in open water regardless how you  cut it.  Having said that, my muscles were used to the motion of looking up every so often which made it seem more natural.  This swim went upstream for about 1/3 of a mile.  Luckily I did not ever notice the current and it was at the start, normally where I tend to go a bit harder.  I got passed by some people right away that went out really fast.  I am sure some of them were really fast swimmers, but I know that I also passed a lot of swimmers in blue caps which tells me many went out too hard.

I went with my TYR Nest Pro goggles since they have tinted lenses, and fit so well.  I was rocking and rolling up the river and swimming in what seemed to be a pretty straight line.  I caught glimpse of my red turn buoys and rounded them without any issues.  I was a bit thrown off, but followed the caps ahead.  When they said you will see 2 red buoys together, I thought they meant tied together, not 2 single buoys that would indicate your two turn points.  Nothing lost though.  The first leg, I was starting to swim up on some different colored caps, cool the wave ahead of us was 4 minutes before.  Not too shabby.  As I headed back down river, I started passing a bunch of colors, only seeing a few blue caps here and there and not really losing ground on anyone ahead of me that I could see.

imageI did start to get a bit bored?, maybe that isn't the correct word, but I began to question when the swim would be over.  I was not tired, just ready to be done swimming. I knew I still had 2 yellow buoys to go past before merging to the dock, so I set my sights on a blue cap and swam to pass him.  Mission accomplished.  I made the dock, put my hands on it and pushed up to plop my buns on it.  As soon as I got on the dock my head took one little spin of lightheadedness before I stood up and headed up the ramp.  My first race in the TYR Category 5 suit was a huge success, no shoulder soreness!  Even towards the end of the swim (normally when my form goes out the door) I was still in good body position and pulling strong.

I looked at my watch, not knowing what to expect, and was thrilled to see 24:xx!  Holy crap, I hit my swim time, not too bad for being my longest race swim and first second OWS this year if you count my practice.  Looking at the Garmin map, I will continue using the unit in my swim cap going forward, this is goofy as all get out!

Garmin: 24:44 (It auto-paused a couple of times under the bridges)
Chip: 25:29 (1:46/100m)
Goal: Met - Calling this met, although the chip time says otherwise.  I was climbing out of the water under 25 minutes!

Transition 1:

Time to gripe comment about how transition was setup.  I cannot think of a race to this day that I have been at where a transition area was laid out that I really was upset about, Chicago sucked because you had to run so far, but everyone had to deal with it.  This one was somewhat unfair depending where you were located.
First I setup a generic scenario.  We will call the distance you run from transition in timing mat to your bike location X, and the distance from your bike to the bike out timing mat Y.  Most transitions are setup where Swim Enter and Bike Exit are on opposite sides.  This normally makes your total distance traveled one length of the transition zone(X+Y). If you look at percentages, this should come out to 100% of the length of transition.  Nerd! Yes I know, math minor is my excuse... shut it!
The swim came up and across the road where we headed into transition on the south side.  Well in this case, the Bike Exit was the same place the Swim Enter was.  Thus I had X to my bike, and Y from my bike to the mat, but in this case my Y=X because I had to run backwards the way I came.  This means my total distance was X+X or 2X.  This is all fine and dandy if your bike is 5 feet into transition because you do all of 10 feet of running in and out, I was not so lucky.  My bike was in the third from the last row on the North end of transition.  Thus I nearly ran the entire length of transition two times, where some people will only run 1/10th of the distance before getting on the bike.

So Joe's distance may be X+Y = 20 feet and mine may have been X+Y = 200 feet.  Sure it isn't a lot of time, but it could matter.  So I tried to be fair, well maybe they put the age group people all in the same range of numbers 110-160 are the 25-29 Males.  Well that was not the case, I did see some late registrations that had 1000+ numbers, thus were right by the swim in/bike out.  Sure I am splitting hairs, but not quite a level playing field. That would have made it more even across the Age Group, but what about the overall AG winner?  Someone with a low number would have longer to run compared to a higher number, what if seconds were the difference in the podium?  I know I am splitting hairs, but remember... perfectionist? Yeah it is sometimes a curse.

Now that I am done bitching providing feedback, my transition went pretty well, nothing eventful, just in and out.  The mount line was a big of a cluster something, but that is to be expected

Garmin: – Who knows, thought it said 1:45ish but whatever.
Chip: 2:00 – See above for why this was a bit high.
Goal: Close enough.


Time to bust out the Kestrel Airfoil Pro SL again.  I stuck with the HED Stinger 9s and disc cover because the wind was only light on the river. I do not remember many of the specifics about the bike outside of it being an absolutely amazing course.  Had I ridden it or even driven it before hand, I would have had a bit more knowledge of the technical aspects, downhill into a turn, immediately into an uphill, etc.  This is the first race I have seen officials on the course.  They seemed to stick around forever as well!  I made sure to leave plenty of room so I did not get dinged with a drafting penalty.  Unfortunately they were not around when Orange accent outfit, 24 year old Male, Olympic racer was hugging wheels and passing people on the right non stop.  Oh well, what do you do.

IMG_1367The course was fun.  Very well marked (despite a few stories of people going off course) I was very impressed with the clarity of the course route.  I barely knew what my route looked like!  The volunteers were exceptionally nice and offered encouraging words.  I did not take anything at the aid station, my single bottle of EFS Orange mixed with 2 scoops was a bit strong, but I managed and learned for next time.  1.5 is plenty for an Olympic distance without having a separate water source.

My goal was to stick right around 240 watts, and with the elevation expected on this course, I thought that was a good goal.  I was quickly 6-8 miles into the ride before I even knew it.  There was a section of climbing that took me by surprise.  I was expecting some shorter steep climbs, but we hit a grade and I saw a pace line of nearly 30 riders all moving about the same pace.  That pace was something to the tune of 4-5 MPH.  I was shocked, it did not look that steep, but sure was slow moving.  I shifted all around before getting into my easiest gear and still chugging along.  My wattage was high, I was out of gears, and going almost nothing flat. This came as a huge shock to me.  I took a bit of recovery, but then quickly got back on the pedals.

Like the old saying goes, "What goes up must come down." While that does not hold true for age, I was lucky enough to ride back down these hills.  There were multiple peaks of mid to high 30s around some winding corners.  The roads were nice and clear, not congested, so I was moving and loving every minute of it.  I did almost take the life of a chipmunk at 35 MPH, or maybe it was the other way around.  Regardless, we both live another day.  I did manage to bump at the bottom of descent around 34 MPH that sure felt like I went airborne!  Where is the photographer when you need them?!?  BMX racing on a TT bike!

I worked my way back and had a good dismount as I entered transition. I am a bit disappointed with my average wattage as it was significantly lower than expected, but my time was much better than I could have imagined!  Overall an amazing ride, great course, good time, let's move to the run.

Note the above pictures were taken as I went to rack my bike on Saturday, thus no race numbers yet.  Hopefully the event photographer got some good race shots!

Garmin:  1:08:55 Overall, 21.0 MPH,  219 Watts
Chip: 1:08:01, 21.87 MPH
Goal: Exceeded!  I said 1:10 and went under that!  My wattage was significantly under what I was shooting for, and for 1500 feet of elevation, I was shocked that I hit the time on lower wattage. 

Transition 2:

Well the good thing about this is that run out was on the opposite side of bike in, so I cannot say much about that.  It was pretty easy, run in rack the back wheel, helmet off, Avia Bolt IIs on, grab the number and visor and out.  Simple enough.

As I came into transition, I heard my name called over the loud speaker.  One nice little touch of the race (for motivation, and for spectators)

Garmin: 0:40 seconds
Chip: 0:43 seconds
Goal: Overall transitions gained me 2:20 or so!  I will take it!


I headed out, immediately up some steps where I ran into my fellow Trakker, Laura Mount, who offered some kind words of encouragement as I went trotting by.  I snagged some water to pour on my head and take a small sip at the first aid station and settled into a 6:40 pace.  My left quad was screaming already, but I decided to push through it and see if it would loosen up at all.  As I made my way down the road, I spotted another teammate and set a steady pace to move up.  Offering some words of encouragement, we both kept moving.  There was nothing spectacular about the run.  I was doing my thing, my pace was slowly slipping into just about a 7 minute mile pace.  I tried not to focus too much on pace, but rather go on feel.  Maybe I should have focused on pace a bit more because I did let off a bit more than I would have liked.  My stomach was starting to feel hot, you know that feeling... right before you are going to lose it?  Yeah that one.

I kept it managed, taking a sip of water and dumping the rest over my head as we went past stations.  I hit the turn around and knew I was in for a treat heading back.  Again nothing terribly noteworthy, but I did have some random racers comment that I looked good, maybe they were just being nice (looking to see the official photos as well to judge this) but it offered some good support.  I knew my goal of a 40 minute run was long gone.  I knew 41 was a joke, and 42 was going to be a stretch, so I kept plugging away.  On the way back on the highway there was a intersection that cops were directing traffic through.  They waved one guy to make a right turn, he turned right, right into the runners lane and was headed straight for me.  A quick whistle and the cop yelled at him to get over in the driving lane as I motioned my arms to get over a lane.

I thanked the cops, and offered a suggestion "Require an IQ test for drivers license?!?" They both laughed and I kept moving, just with a bit more adrenaline.  I saw none other than Carole Sharpless and although I did not get the "Sharpless Moon" she was yelling like crazy for me by name.  A nice little boost to say the least!  She is a crazy busy woman managing all of her cubs, yet after only 10 minutes of group talking the day before she could identify a guy with a visor and sunglasses trudging along at about mile 5 of the run.


I hit the transition area and went around it, traveling back down the steps I started up.  I made a general exclamation "What no Rocky music?" as I went down the steps and got some people to laugh as I headed up the path to Worlds Fair Park.  Well I still had my guts, so I picked up the pace, and sure enough they heated right back up.  I kept thinking to myself the saying "If you puke before the finish line, you went too hard, if you puke after it, you didn't go hard enough, and if you puke on it, you ran a great race!"  Well I was close, I didn't, but was close!

Garmin: 43:33
Chip: 43:34 (7:01 / mile pace)
Goal: A bit off of my 40 minute 10k, but for my first Olympic, no worries, I was ahead of pace!


Overall Time: 2:19:49
Overall Place: 75th Overall including pros, 59/366 Males
Age Group: 11/48 Age Group

I was thrilled to see my Garmin said I went 2:19:49

Waiting for official results of course is always a bit agonizing, but I was stoked to have beat my goal!  Turns out the times for the day were much different than the year before.  The top 2 age groupers happened to have been in my same group, top spot went 1:57, beating nearly half the pro men! You can never control who shows up on race day, only how you perform.  Today I did exactly that, I raced my race, controlled what I could, and let the rest fall into place.  There was no disappointment in my race that I did not place in my AG, only that I did not get one of the sweet hand made awards!

I was hugely impressed with this Rev3 event.  At about the same cost as Lifetime Fitness, it offers a whole new world of excitement and quality.  Some people could give 2 hoots about "swag" but you received a Rev 3 Knoxville Headsweats visor, a cotton participant t-shirt, a nice finishers medal, and a sweet long sleeved tech finisher shirt.  Normally I am not a big fan of shirts.  In fact I have only ever wear my Twin Cities Marathon 09 finishers tech long sleeve shirt.  The rest are in the closet, one day they will meet their maker, but that is another story.  I will actually wear these shirts!  They are nice looking, comfy, and pretty catchy!

With my involvement in the Miracle Kids Triathlons in Minneapolis, I am a huge proponent of getting kids involved at a young age.  So a HUGE thanks goes to Rev 3 for making this a family event!  We all know families have to sacrifice time for these events and training.  Letting kids run across the finish line (let alone giving them their own medals) is amazing.  My wife and I were talking Sunday evening how one day down the road, we are going to hear a world champion say, I remember when I ran across the finish line at that Rev3 race with my mom or dad, and I have wanted to do triathlons since.  That is something that can never be taken away from them.  Thank you Rev 3 for an amazing event.  Thank you to everyone who put on this race.  I had a blast!


Kiersten May 18, 2011 at 6:20 PM  

I think that was Laura M. hollering to you on the steps (she was volunteering at the run start). Way to go! It was great to meet your family it at the finish line.

Jeff Vanis May 18, 2011 at 6:27 PM  

you would be correct, I didn't proof very well!

Mike May 18, 2011 at 8:09 PM  

Congrats on a great race and RR!

Kristin Deaton May 19, 2011 at 6:36 AM  

Great race Jeff. And to comment on your OCD for the numbers..."you can't sell smart" and some people just arn't as anal retentive as you or I...not even worth the energy telling them because they are the ones that throw their crap on your stuff in transition and don't pay attention during the race to you passing...ect. Anyways congrats

Anonymous May 19, 2011 at 9:21 AM  

Great report and congrats on a great day out there!

Colleen May 19, 2011 at 1:18 PM  

Great job Jeff! It was great getting to meet you too! :)

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