On Friday, October 7th I picked up a load in Atlanta, Ga which I had to deliver in Norfolk, VA on October 10th. This gave me enough time to stop in Anderson, SC for the REV3 Series Finale. I found out about this race in a full page advertisement in one of the triathlete magazines. I noticed that it was sponsored by Pilot/Flying J, which is a major truck stop franchise, so I thought this would be a perfect event since I am, after all, a truckdriver. I got in contact with executives at Pilot/Flying J and explained to them about Fitness Trucking and they wanted to do a profile feature on my participation in this race for their Challenge Magazine. So it was with great excitement, especially after winning the Powerman Muncie Sprint Triathlon last week, that I arrived in Anderson Friday night.
For those of you who, like me, have never done a Rev3 race before, the first thing that you notice is that their races are more than just a race. This year the Rev3 Series featured eight events from March through October. The race distances vary from Olympic, Half Ironman, and Full Ironman and the professionals race for points and prize money with the top point-getter winning the series championship and extra prize money. The race in Anderson this year was the series finale. Rev3 does lots of media promotion before, during, and after the race. But it is the fun, family atmosphere that these races are known for. When I pulled in to the Anderson Civic Center parking lot Friday evening, they were still doing hot air balloon rides! I checked in, picked up my race packet, and just walked around the expo a little. Their were vendors, but there was also a kids area with those big air-baloon jumping thingys . . . .I was able to park my rig right there in the parking lot and spent the night there.
Saturday morning I woke up and rode my bike to the swim start which was about 3 miles away and went for an pre race swim. Then I had to ride back for the mandatory athlete meeting, then drive the truck back over to the swim area to check in my bike at the T1 area. When this was done, I drove over to the Holiday Inn, parked the truck, went in to their business center, and pulled up Universal Sports and Ironman.live, kicked up my feet and watched the Ironman World Championships! Ah, what a day! There was a restaurant right next door so I called ahead, order a grilled salmon salad, a sweat potato, and a vegetable soup for dinner and finished watching the Ironman. When it was over, I drove back to the Anderson Civic Center and parked the truck for the night.
Since T1 was so far from T2/Finish line, the Rev3 organizers had arranged for those super comfy buses to run shuttles back and forth all day starting at 4:45 am. All athletes were given two large plastic bags - one for your morning clothes and one for the swim-to-bike transition in which you put everything you needed for the bike. In the morning, you had to bring both bags with you on the shuttle as well as your wetsuit and swim gear. At the swim site, once you change in to your wetsuit, you put all your morning clothes in their bag. Then, during the transition after the swim, you had to put your wetsuit and cap and goggles and everything you wanted to keep into the other swim-to-bike bag and the race organizers bring both bags to the finish area. So it was a little complicated. I had to really think hard when packing my bags Saturday nite.
The professionals and some of the age groupers were doing a half-ironman so their race started at 7:30 am. My wave of the Olympic distance didn't start unitl about 9:40 am, so I was able to sleep in until about 6:30 am. When I got up, I still had toput my running gear in T2! (Told you it was complicated). My truck was barked about 50 yards from T2 so this was no big deal. Breakfast was a Genesis Today Wake Me Up juice, a plain greek yogurt with blueberries, and a cliff bar. At 7:15 I grabbed all my bags and got on the shuttle. 10 minutes later I was at the swim start and was able to catch the start of the professionals doing the half-ironman.
While they were swimming I finished setting up my T1 (bike was already there but no gear). I was expecting a sunny, warm day as was forecasted, but at 7:30 am it was overcast and still chilly at about 55 degrees. I didnt bring any cold weather stuff so I was a little worried. By 9:30 it had warmed up to about 62 degrees.
SWIM - I learned a lesson at Age Group Nationals: Go out too hard in the swim and I will bonk before the swim is over! Since I have a swimming background, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the fastest swimmer. At Age Group Nationals, my ego got in the way and this backfired on me and I had my worst swim of the season. So this time I determined that I would hold back the first 200 meters and pace myself comfortably. I was the third Olympic wave to go off - all men all ages - and we started at the waters edge. I ran into the water and started stroking and I could see about four or five guys out in front with me. I didn't overdue it though and by about 200 meters I was comfortably in third place. It was 700 meters to the first buoy and a left turn and I was right on the feet of the 2nd place swimmer. He did a few breaststrokes to see where he was going and then about 20 seconds later he started swimming backstroke! I figured he went out too fast and was getting tired so I made a move and passed him still swimming in a controlled manner. I was now in 2nd place about 20 meters behind the lead swimmer. The water was 71 degrees which was just about perfect and the neat thing about this swim course is that you start on one side of a peninsula and swim around it to the other side counter-clockwise, all left turns. It seemed like an eternity getting to the 2nd buoy, but once you get around that its maybe 150 meters in to the shore. I definitely paced it well, swimming strong all the way to the end, no issues with sighting or traffic with other swimmers. I just swam straight, kept long strokes, and steady breathing. I exited the water in 20:30, a good swim, 2nd in my wave, first in my age group, and 5th overall.
T1 - Nevertheless, I continue to struggle with my T1. I was breathing very hard running out of the water and I just couldn't run and my heartrate was skyrocketing. I got out of the top half of my wetsuit ok but when I reached my bike I struggled to get out the legs. Bending over to pull off the ankles, I got light-headed and staggered a little. I still where socks (?) and I struggled to get them on, too, still feeling light-headed. I then got my helmet and sunglasses on. Thanks to the Endurance Films "Mastering the 4th Discipkine: Triathlon Transitions" DVD which i recently received in the mail, I learned how to rubber band my shoes to the bike so I can run out of transition faster and slip my feet in my shoes while riding. So, for the first time I did this. It seemed to be working cuz after I got my socks on I grabbed my bike and started the long, long run out of T1. With no practice at all I did a perfect running mount. It was only when I started to set my feet on my shoes when I swerved, wobled, and rode straight into the Rev3 barricade! Ooops! Bike was ok, though. The DVD also said not to try anything new in a race that you haven't practiced but - ummm - I didn't heed that warning. My T1 time was an abysmal 2:22....ouch! Nevertheless, I was 5th overall heading out onto the bike.
BIKE - Once I finally got my feet into my shoes, I made the first turn and discovered that the first two miles were uphill! What the @(#(&*&?! I still had not recovered from the swim so I suffered for about 4 miles before I started to feel good again. By now the sun came out and It was in the 60's so I didn't feel cold. At mile 3 a guy in my age group passed me but I passed him a mile later. Over the next few miles I was catching a lot of riders from the two waves before me which felt good and energized me. Every now and then I would get passed by someone, but each time I looked at their leg and none of them was in my age group. Half way through the bike I knew I was winning my age group so I got motivated and started to push it a little harder. The course had 11 climbs and 1,096 feet of elevation so it was challenging but I felt like I was riding well. I came into transition in 18th place overall, so my 19.7 on a hilly, windy course wasn't so bad.
T2 - My T2 is typically a lot faster and today was no exception except I forgot to put on my race belt and had to run back about 30 meters to get thanks to a fan who screamed "You forgot your race belt!"
RUN - Like the swim, I told myself to hold back a little and I didn't feel like I was running well. My first split was 6:52. I found my legs and ran 6:45 on the next mile. By this time we were crossing streets, running on paths around ponds, it was a crazy course. I was passing a lot of people, some of them who were doing the half-ironman. I slowed some in the middle, though, as we hit some hills, running 7:07 and 7:01 but then I came back done to 6:50. Two guys in the 50+ age groups passed me ...lol...but no one in my age group. I finished the last mile and ran 43:13 for 6.2 miles. Not great, no bad, but good enough to win my age group and place 16th overall.
Post-Race - The post race was awesome. There was a huge crowd at the finish line and a big "jumbotron" screen. In addition to the race T-shirt you get at check in, when you cross the finish line they give you another "Finisher" t-shirt and a medal, and gatorade, and Muscle Milk, and water, and a Panera Turkey Sandwich! Fortunately for me, I also got to spend 20 mintes in the vaccum boots! That was totally awesome!. I got a chance to talk to Dave Parmly of Pilot/Flying J who sponsored the race and I hung around for the awards ceremony which was a good thing since they gave the age group winners a nice glass plaque, a fuel belt, and a subscription to Inside Triathlon magazine. It was great to be in an awards ceremony with Professional triathletes like Kate Majors, Lauren Goss, Meredith Kessler, Magali Tisseyre, and Chris McDonald. And this was a great way to finish my season.