Race Priority: C
Race Execution: A-
- Hammer bar + two Roctane GU packs, 2 hours before the race.
- 1 Roctane GU 15 minutes prior to the start of the race.
- No water or nutrition used during the bike leg.
- What went well: A really enjoyable event… great to have my daughter on my team, really fun racing with my friends, and I enjoyed the hype/smack talk prior to the race within my Tri group (TriRacers).
- What could have gone better: I really sucked getting on and clipping in, and almost dumped my bike 100 yards into the course.
Race Report Commentary:
Hickory Grove is one of my favorite triathlons and is where I did my first triathlon in 2007. I’ve always enjoyed the technical aspects of the bike course (around twenty 90 degree turns, three U-turns, and a few hills) as well as the varying surfaces on the run course. With a knee injury in April preventing me from running, and surgery scheduled for May, Hickory Grove gave me the opportunity to get one last race in this season.
Since I wasn’t able to run, I recruited my daughter to handle the running sections and we participated as a team in the duathlon. The course is just shy of a mile cross country run, a 15.5 mile bike ride, and then a 5k that is composed of cross country, pavement and gravel running surfaces. Participating in the duathlon also gave me a chance to race my friend and fellow TriRacer member, Sarah Cooper, who is an extremely talented Ironman & endurance biking athlete. This sparked some debate / discussion in our Tri group… and a bit of smack talk… that was both fun to participate in and funny to watch.
When the race started, my daughter took off quickly, to clear the crowd as she would in a cross country race. I walked over to transition and put on my gear, knowing it wouldn’t take her very long to get back to transition. She really held her own on the first run, running 6:41 for the 0.97 miles (per her Garmin), and came in to transition in 7th place, among the 39 duathlon participants.
I walked quickly (my knee wouldn’t permit me to run) through transition and on to the street to start. Normally I have my shoes clipped in and I simply slip my shoes on as I ride away from transition. With this being a duathlon, I had opted to wear my shoes and clip in when I got on the bike, as this also allowed me to ride with shoe covers to maximize aerodynamics. Unfortunately, it didn’t go well, as I had trouble getting my right foot clipped in. Even when I thought I was clipped in I wasn’t… and nearly fell when my right foot slipped out about 100 yards into the ride. I finally got my foot clipped in, but it felt like I lost a lot of time.
Once I was securely clipped in, I started aggressively pushing the pace. I believe one of the keys to having a good ride at Hickory Grove is being willing to be aggressive going into the first 90 degree turn after leaving the park, which is at the bottom of a hill. This gives you speed and momentum that really helps you to climb the next hill. The strategy worked and I was able to pass the first place bicyclist on the climb, and then followed the pacing motorcycle… a first for me… very cool!
I continued to focus on staying in a good aero position, maintaing good power output, and taking the corners as quickly as I could. On lap 2, I got passed around half way through the lap, but couldn’t tell if the guy was on the same lap as I was. He pulled away for a while, but I caught him at the U turn, and then passed him again a little later. When he passed me again half way through lap 3, I realized we were on the same lap as he hadn’t faded at all. He pulled quite a bit ahead of me, and I thought my time with the pacing motorcycle was over. Once again I caught up to him around the U turn, and was able to pass him again heading back to the park. Since I was not running later, there was no reason to hold back. As I followed the motorcycle back into the park, it was really neat hearing the announcers telling the crowd that lead cyclists were finishing up their rides.
Once again, I fumbled a bit getting off my bike. I was able to jog/hobble over to my daughter and pass off the timing chip (the adrenaline overcoming common sense as I shouldn’t have even jogged with my knee injuries). She had a good second run of 25:03, on what I believe is a challenging 5k course due to the hills and multiple running surfaces. We ended up in first place in the team duathlon, with a total time of 1:12:05.
For the people who like numbers, my stats from the 2014, 2013, and 2011 are shown in the table below. Note that in 2013 I was doing the entire triathlon, in 2011 I did the entire duathlon, and in 2011 the transitions were slightly closer to the entrance of the park, which is why the distances are different. The times/speeds are broken down into the park entrance/exit, and each lap, the best I could break them down in TrainingPeaks (for comparison purposes, I only included ride time, not getting on/off my bike). Also included are my minimum speed shown in the first corner of each lap (tagged C1,C2,C3). My lap times were very consistent this year (within 1 second per lap), much better than I’ve done in the past. That being said, the incremental 1 minute of savings in ride time from 2013 to 2014 cost me around 20 extra watts of power… which likely would have impacted a run afterwards. My TrainingPeaks data for the ride are here: http://tpks.ws/54LT