Tri the Parks - John Tanner Race Report

First race of the season! I was so excited to do this race... perhaps excited isn't the right word more like "let's just do this already!" I really wanted to see if all the work I'd put in over the winter was going to payoff... well, did it?!?

but first, I'll start with some info about the race...

John Tanner Sprint is part of the Tri the Parks races series in GA. It is a great series of races, Chuck and Kristen, the race directors, do an amazing job and the races are always top notch! It's a great "first of the season" local race and a lot of folks show up. If you are planning to race a full season, you live in atlanta, and you aren't racing St. Anthony's, then you'll probably be racing at John Tanner. The atmosphere is almost like a reunion as you see folks you haven't seen since the last race of last season, you catch up... try to remember how to set up transition, etc.

The other very cool thing about the tri the parks series, is that it attracts a lot of first timers. I love talking to first timers before a race. They are excited, nervous, etc. and I really enjoy hearing their stories about why they decided to do triathlon, answering questions and helping to set up transition areas, etc. Congrats to the two ladies that shared my rack in transition that completed their FIRST triathlon on Saturday!!

so now onto my race...

I had a goal. A goal that, I felt, based on numbers in training was very achievable; if everything went right. I've been working hard and I've been seeing positive things in training.

and, let's just say this goal was 1:06. and I thought about it all week, breaking down likely swim time, bike splits, transition times based on past experience, etc. and like I said, I was ready to race...

Race morning arrives, thunder and lightning all over the atlanta area... driving to the race I'm in torrential downpour and I'm thinking, there is no way we are having this race. Once I arrive at the race start, it's slowed to a drizzle. I've got some things from all3sports to drop off with Kristen so I get a chance to ask her about the weather forecast (chuck and the USAT official are hovering over the computer looking at the forecast). News from Kristen is that they expect a clearing between 8:00 and 10:00 enough time to get us out for the swim.

Cool. Now to set up transition... as I mentioned before I had a great time talking with some first timers and I was feeling relaxed... maybe a bit too relaxed. Seriously, I had no nerves, completely not normal for me.

Get my wetsuit and swim stuff together and head down to the water. I'm not so good with the open water swimming, so I require a really long swim warmup. Saw my new friend (and fellow trimasterscoach client) Casey lakeside. Always nice to have some help with the wetsuit zipper. Swim warmup goes well... I'm out there long enough to get rid of the panic feeling and put in to some solid swim "pick ups".

Time to line up... People are too serious waiting for our wave to go so I start whooping it up and some other folks join in... checking my watch out and then...


Swim, swim, swim... kick in face, goggles fill with water, head out of water, flip up goggles, back on face, swim, swim, swim.... and then hyperventilate, panic starts to build.... slow down, get in a rhythm, breathe, swim, breathe, swim, breathe... I get in a rhythm, but I know it's slow, the positive? I didn't have to stop in the middle of the lake to catch my breath. By the time I feel like I can swim, I turn the last buoy and head to the finish. oh well, how bad can it be?

Look at my watch at swim exit: 11:30... alright not great but not the end of the world... heading up to T1... can't get this wetsuit off my arms... argh! WTF!! this is ridiculous! I'm struggling with my wetsuit all the way into T1... I had a plan for getting the wetsuit off... it just wasn't working correctly.

After completing my impression of an orangutan stuck to giant flypaper, I get my helmet, shoes, etc. Just as I'm about to grab my bike off the rack, I look up to see my coach, Laura. She says "that's not my bike!". Too funny, she had stopped at the wrong rack.

My next thought... holy crap I'm slow, she started in the wave 3:00 behind me!! Oh well, can't worry about it now, let's ride!

(later watch analysis shows my T2 to be 3:00 long, 1:30 min longer than expected)

So I get on my bike and I'm flying, feeling great, passing people one after the other (the best part about being a slow swimmer, lots of little rabbits to keep you motivated). At one point I'm aware the rain is sheeting down again and I can barely see... but to be honest, I didn't really notice the rain. I tried to be a bit more careful than normal in corners, but I didn't think it was slowing me down. Of course, I didn't really know how fast/slow I was going... my lovely Garmin decided that morning to go fritzy on me again, so all I had was power (the numbers looked good) and time. I was trying to do calculations in my head at each mile marker and things seemed to be going well. There is a rolling hill section that I must have lost time on... maybe not working the hills hard enough, because I was flying down the downhills. Or at least felt like it...

Off the bike onto the run... felt totally fine! Just started running as fast as I could, or at least as fast as I thought I could for 3 miles. The first part is a paved loop around the lake, then a super steep hill leads into the wooded, dirt (well, by this time mud) section. The rain is pouring again at the this point but I don't really notice. I'm slipping a bit in the mud but I'm just trying to stay focused on forward. There is an out and back section, so I start looking for the leading ladies... I knew there were a bunch of folks in front of me and I hadn't caught enough of them on the bike, but I wasn't so concerned with placing today (I knew there were a ton of fast ladies there) I just really wanted that 1:06 and I didn't know how far I was away from it.

(when I was trying to get my watch to work prior to race start I reset it, and all of my data field settings were replaced, meaning, when I was on the run portion, I could only see how my run way going, not total time).

I hit mile 1 at 7:05, no cramping problems, legs felt good... the steep hills of mile 2 were starting to take their toll, but I just kept pushing... when I saw mile 2 marker, I tried to race it home... with about .25 miles left to go, my stomach was getting sloshy and I was really starting to loose fight, but I knew the course and knew I was close so I just kept pushing it. The finish line is uphill, gave it all I had and crossed the line...

Heading to the finish From Racing and Training 2010

leaning over the bucket holding the disposable water bottles I thought I might puke into it, but I was okay, just not ready to walk again yet. Took my chip off, accepted my water and started walking.

I felt great... really. I was certain I'd done well, certain I was close to my goal time, after all I had given it my all out there. Look at the watch...



How could that be? Nothing went wrong! no cramping, no swim panic, what happened?!?! It wasn't lack of effort, the HR number show that was working hard the entire race... I had a tough time with my wetsuit, but that wasn't 3+ min!

That day I was just slower than expected, I put out the effort, but I didn't make the times... Swim was :30 slower than expected; T1 was 1:30 min slower than expected; bike was 2:00 slower than expected, run was, well, the run was almost exactly what I expected, so that was good. and T2 was a good at 1:00 or so...

so it was my bike, my bike, of all things, that let me down. My bike used to be my bread and butter... did I get cocky? did I stop pushing as hard during my workouts without realizing it? Or was it the rain that slowed my down, and if so, why didn't it feel like it out there?

Not the best place to be, heading into the season,

doubting my bike... that's just so not me...

So, I'm going to start working hard, really focus on the bike and hope the extra effort brings it back to me...

The positives from this race? Dude, I can finally run off the bike! I'm no longer running scared out there... I'm running with confidence and that's a nice change.

As usual, its not just me out there... thanks to Alex for being a rockstar husband! and my coach for turning me into a runner again! Thanks Laura! It was great racing with you!! Thanks to all my friends that were out there cheering on Saturday and hanging out after the race. It was great racing with you all!! Thanks to the first timers for reminding me of the joy in just finishing the race. Thanks to Sarah H. for asking me after the race "did you have fun?" because, yes, yes, I did have fun!

A Note on the Garmin: A couple of weeks ago my Garmin stopped picking up satellites. a call into Garmin support seemed to fix the problem. Called them up again, monday after race and told them about the issue on race day. They are replacing my unit with a new, hopefully functioning, one. Thanks Garmin! That is great customer service!!


  1. Wow. 1:09 is an amazing time even if you didn't quite make your goal! good job, I'm sure the rain would have slowed me down a lot more than that! :)

  2. Ug, I had the same race on Sat. - felt great, was spot on, then the times were just not there. It was the bike that betrayed me too!

  3. Thanks Colleen!

    Kati - I had the same though when I read your post today! Oh no we had identi-race again! Hopefully we've some good ones coming our way.


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