Today was my first triathlon of the 2008 season! I thought I would put my results/experience in perspective with the previous attempts (2004 and 2005) I had made on this race.
It would be safe to say my "triathlon" engine was running quite hot by the time Latta came around. I began the season in March with the Valdese Sprint Triathlon, which is in the mountains towards Asheville. This was a pool swim (I remember the wait was EXCRUCIATING, although I was amused by watching two (good looking?) twins in the transition area as they slowly put on all their biking gear). The bike ride was 9 miles, definitely the shortest yet, but probably the most punishing. I finished with a measly 15.5 mph average!
The very next week it was the MAP Triathlon. I'm talking old school here folks, back when it was in Charlotte! The previous year at MAP marked my first ever triathlon. This year I was back with a bike that weighed less than 30 pounds, and it showed!
About six weeks later I was then onto the flat coastal plain of NC for my first crack at White Lake. This was for the Sprint version on Sunday. I was there to cheer on my dear triathlon friend Alice, and of course I got suckered into wanting to do a Half! (I would accomplish that goal in September at the Duke Half). On the bike I circuited the lake twice (14 miles) and recorded my fastest ever average in a triathlon, 20.7 miles per hour.
I don't remember too much about Latta in 2004, except that as I mentioned the engine was nice and hot. It definitely showed, I took my Latta PR that day 1:36:05. The swim was quite near by 2008 effort, coming across the mat at 17:29 along with a course-best T1 of 2:31. I took the bike loop in 51:09, for an average of 19.9 mph. The T2 was (probably) a course-best as well with 1:40, but your random location in the area can make or break that. I finished the run with 23:18 (7:29 minute mile), also a best for the series. My overall place was 38.9% (225th out of 579 finishers). Not bad. That summer I would continue to do both the Over The Mountain and Bandits Challenge Olympic distance races before the Duke Half.
Leading up to the 2005 edition I was back at MAP in mid-March (the last year it would be held in downtown Charlotte), but then made the big leap early for the White Lake Half Ironman. Obviously a good deal of training went into that. I recall being very excited about narrowly finishing under six hours!
Latta in 2005 was a set of three "disasters." For starters, right when my wave got into the water my goggles broke, so I had to do my best, coming in at 18:23. Then on the bike I had rounded my way to Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road when I witnessed a bad accident. A car had passed a group of (we weren't drafting, I swear!) us and then darted back in the right lane. The car then hit its brakes and one of the cyclists went straight into the back bumper. I was compelled to stop, the only time I have ever for any sprint. I recall stabilizing him and then going down the road to find a trooper. Still, I think I finished with a 51:45 (assuming a T2 of 1:40, as Setup's mats failed for this split). I also recall hurting my foot (or it being in pain) for the run, but I didn't lose too much coming in with 23:49 (7:39 minute mile). My total time was 1:38:27, placing me at 42.1% (235th out of 558 finishers).
For sundry list of reasons Latta then fell out of my favor for two years. With the move of MAP up north, part of the course was then shared so I felt it wasn't worth the intense scrabble in January to sign up for the race. My training schedules also played in a role in the race falling out of favor.
Obviously there was no racing before Latta this year. I had even lost interest in the MAP, breaking a sizable streak, but nothing like Bob Nixon's Latta streak! I did not do a single brick in preparation for this race. How lazy is that? Sure, I ran a fair amount to prepare for the marathon in May, and wasn't exactly a slouch on the bike (taking in my first 100 mile ride quite early!). Definitely lazy on the swim, barely getting in once a week to swim for thirty minutes.
With the cooler spring season I thought there was a shot of this becoming a wetsuit legal race! But that was not to be, as the thunderous heat took its toll on Charlotte's drinking supply, raising the raceday temperature to 89 degrees. Yuck. Just about everyone swims better with a wetsuit, but a marginal (let's be honest here, folks) swimmer like myself has noticed exceptional gains.
I was most excited the previous week when I actually paid attention to the detail they had moved the start time to 6AM! Awesome! I'd get up at 2AM to beat the heat! Following my ankle injury from Ultimate, it was not until a week later that I attempted my first run. It was less than 4 miles on my normal Thursday night group run.
I certainly came into this event with a cavalier attitude. My main goal was to do a triathlon, and get myself into the mindset for the upcoming 70.3 in Providence. I took a quick warmup in the bathtub, then it wasn't long until my group (M30-34) went into the start area. We were the second group to leave after the elites, this occurred at 6:34. I had positioned myself near the front, which was a little ambitious. I got battered around a fair amount and soon could tell I was behind the average swimmer - in fact I finished 32nd out of the 62 guys in my wave. I was a little surprised in that I only saw 3-4 swimmers from the next wave to catch up with me.
When I got out I wasn't really expecting anyone to cheer me on (by name) but I was quite surprised. I sort of knew a few folks would be out there, but that was quite nice! Thanks! I was excited to glance at my watch over the mat and see 17:14, definitely a PR for the swim section. As I made the long journey up to the transition area Bob Nixon reminded me to smile for the camera! I was a fairly smooth transition, and when I saw it at 2:35 that made sense to me.
The haul out of Latta Plantation seemed to take an eternity, but my smartass bike compute said 7 minutes and 10 seconds. It was really only then that I began to hammer (just like everyone else), but I was having some serious issues staying down in my aero position (the 100 mile ride did take its toll). I then began to play my usual tortoise and hare game with 3-4 people. You pass me, I pass you, watch out for the referees! I definitely was set with some dread about my return on Mt. Holly-Huntersville. After coming out of the Business Park, I really was slowing down. And there it went. No accidents. My goal was take another minute or so on this leg, and for the most part that did happen, clocking in at 50:04. For the 17 miles that put me at 20.4 miles per hour! That average speed was one of my triathlon bests, coming in at second only to White Lake Sprint. It's hard to compare all that, given different terrains and distances. I certainly would not consider that White Lake my best performance - given the higher mileage and tougher terrain, this was better. But still I would not rank this as my best, the nod definitely goes to my Half performance last year in Georgia, where I averaged 19.2 miles per hour over 56 tough miles. Of course, I blew up on the run!
I knew I would lose time on T2 because I no longer cared about snap laces. I am just not into these sprints... 2:04 - not bad though. I dreaded the run, even though most of it was shaded and wasn't too hilly. I just wanted to go home. I was hoping to come in at 1:35:00, but I was just not into keeping up the pace. Sure, I was moving, included my patented spin turn before the end. And by then I knew I was in trouble. When I came out of the trees I could see Cummins and some other egging me on, and it was right before hitting them that I turned on my afterburners and came in with trademark 5:00 minute mile sprint. Just saving face from disaster, folks. Finish time 1:37:33. Yikes. That put me at 43.4% (261st out of 601 finishers).
I definitely had more fun going around and talking with my friends afterwards. I was very excited to wish those off participating in Ironman Coeur d'Alene next weekend!
I finished with a time around 1:37:33. I gained around a minute on the swim and bike (compared to 2005) but lost pretty much all of it on the run. I still finished slightly better than the previous attempt.
Official Setup Results
13 hours ago