The T-Gator Series is a series of races that
are put on by the Lake Charles Triathlon club. The race that I
did yesterday is the first of the series with the other two
taking place later this year. The T-Gator Series #1 race is a
sprint tri with a 400m swim, 10 mile bike and a 2 mile run.
Yeah, a breeze in comparison to the Lone Star Quarter Ironman
that I did last weekend. All three of the T-Gator series races
take place within Sam Houston state park in Lake Charles,
A great way to describe the race yesterday
would be uneventful. I didn't panic nor did I receive a
roundhouse kick to the face in the swim and most importantly I
experienced NO gastric distress during the race. Nutrition
wasn't really a factor because the race was so short.
Beth and I left my house at roughly 4:40AM
Sunday morning. Sleep? Not much, but that's typical for me. I
packed up all my gear the night before double checking to make
sure that I wasn't forgetting anything. I did forgot my earplugs
again but what's a little river water in your ears is no big
deal. I snacked on a piece of toast as we made our way to Chris
Boggs house for the 2 hour road trip to Lafayette. Company to
Lake Charles was Chris, Norman, Caroline, Deb, Beth and I. So
basically a bunch of experienced, fast triathletes and slow ole'
me. I spent the ride badgering them all about everything from
advising me about my racing schedule to trying to get some
suggestions for my inefficient swim stroke. I enjoyed the ride
and chatting all the way there (and all the way back) made the
time fly by.
The sun was peeking above the horizon as we
arrived at the park. Fog was rising above each of the little
cypress bayous that we passed on the way to the course and the
transition area. The weather was surprisingly chilly for this
time of the year and I figured the water would reflect that.
stop was packet pickup and body marking. After pumping a bit of
air into my bike's tires, I grabbed my gear bag from the truck
and wheeled my bike into transition to setup my area. T-Gator
was nowhere near the size an event as Lone Star or even Athens
but I liked the idea of a more 'intimate' event. This was the
first free-for-all transition area that I've experienced. There
were no assigned spots and you could setup wherever you wanted.
I chose a spot one row from Deb and right next to Chris. I knew
during the race that my bike would probably be close to the last
one in transition because I'm so painfully slow in the swim.
We walked towards the swim start at around
7:45. I was in the 2nd wave. 8AM rolled around and as the first
wave jumped in the water and edged towards the starting line.
The race director counted down from 10 and the first wave was
off. My wave's turn to get in the water. I slid down the boat
ramp and jumped in. A few moments of an uncomfortable chill and
I was warm and ready to go. I wasn't experiencing any of the
nerves as I did from Lone Star. I'd be so bold to say I was even
somewhat relaxed as the race director shouted the 30 second
warning. I waded to the far right and tried to get towards to
back of the wave as to avoid other swimmers. Well, not so much
the other swimmers but rather the other swimmer's feet. 5 - 4 -
3 - 2 - 1. GO!
guess I was going too fast to start because I immediately ran
ass end into the swimmer in front of me. I lifted my head above
the water, got my bearings and tried to establish a rhythm. I
did at least a couple minutes of freestyle before I switched to
breaststroke. I did 20 or so repetitions of breaststroke and
then switched back to freestyle for a bit. I continued this for
the entire race and I daresay that I did get into a groove. I
was calm and not once did I feel the 'panic' that I felt during
Lone Star. The distance was roughly 1/3 of what Lone Star was
but that doesn't matter. It was open water and open water is
what has concerned me in the past. I'm sure my fear hasn't 100%
subsided but it was definitely a step in the right direction.
With the finish buoy in site and my watch reading 9:30 I pick up
my pace and finish as strong as I can. <Swim time - 10:29.67>
exited the water and franticly yanked at the back of my wetsuit
but I couldn't get the zipper undone. I shuffled through the
kiddie pools to get the crud off my feet and still was wresting
with my zipper as I got to my area. I knew that I couldn't get
Beth to unstick the zipper because I would get penalized with
outside assistance so I ran to the first volunteer I could find
to get them to give my zipper a tug. Wetsuit exiting must be an
art. Some people spray their body down with PAM but I didn't
seem the need to resort to that. The wetsuit strippers had it
down to a science at Lone Star, pulling my wetsuit off in mere
seconds. I yanked off the arms but struggled with the legs. I'd
step on one side and pull with the other foot but nothing seemed
to free me from its grasp. After tugging and pulling and then
tugging and pulling some more I finally was free of the beast. I
slid on my Team 464 race jersey and my shorts, put on my bike
shoes, grabbed my bike and clippity clopped over to the mount
point. <T1 time - 3:19.87>
sped out of transition onto the bike course. I wanted to keep a
good pace and actually maintained close to 20mph. My mom helped
me fashion a velcro strap to hold my hydration bottle in place
which worked out great. Thanks mom! The only problem was I put
the thing on backwards so to drink I had damn near lean over the
front of the bike. The couple times I tried to drink I almost
lost control of the bike. It was a short ride so I didn't bother
stopping to fix it. The course had small, rolling hills and was
straight as an arrow after leaving Sam Houston state park. At
around mile 3 I saw a girl on the side of the road crying. I
slowed down to ask her if she was OK and she gave me a thumbs up
so I didn't stop. I found out after the race that she crashed
and had a big gash in her leg. She finished the race by the way,
gash and all. I hit the turnaround in what seemed like record
time to me, all the while passing more people than I could
count. I think during the race I was only passed by one person.
I heard the distinctive 'whomp, whomp, whomp' of the tri bike as
the guy zipped past me. The bike was over before I knew it and I
was feeling good. I sped into transition and made sure to unclip
100 meters before dismounting so I didn't suffer another zero
mph crash like at Lone Star.
The only complaint I have about the bike is
the traffic during the race. Both lanes were open and even
though everyone else and I stayed to the far right as possible
the cars were passing left and right going a bit too fast. A
Toyota Civic, going what seemed to be around 70mph, passed
within a couple feet of me and almost hit the cyclist coming the
opposite direction. <Bike time - 31:18.04>
I hopped off at the dismount point and
shuffled into transition. I grabbed my race belt, took a shot of
water and ran out transition as quickly as I could. It was a
nice touch that the announcer called out your name and wished
you luck on the run as you left transition. <T2 time -
find that it takes me a quarter mile or so to get my legs back
after the bike. It took at least that getting out of transition.
I was averaging around 8:30 - 8:40 pace for the first half mile
before I got into a groove. The run course was probably my
favorite of the day. The course ran along the side of the
campsites and more than a few of the campers stood by the road
and cheered us on as they sipped their coffee and munched on
their breakfasts. I saw Chris headed to the finish on the home
stretch when I was about a quarter mile or so from the
turnaround. Chris is a trooper and I have the greatest of
respect for the guy. He's on his own weight loss journey
right now and he's doing a helluva job! Check out Chris'
www.tri-ingfatman.blogspot.com. After a high five and
an exchange of well wishes I continued on to the turnaround
point. My pace had steadily increased to 7:45 to 8 minute miles.
I wanted to finish strong so I upped my pace for the last half
mile. <Run time - 16:17.18 / 8:09 minute pace>
was really pleased with my performance today. <Total Time -
1:02:46.74> Although it was a short race I can see that I am
slowly getting better. I still have lots of room to improve in
all three sports but I do seem to be getting stronger with each
race. I'm not an Ironman yet but it's on the horizon. A few
hundred more miles in the water and a few thousand on the
pavement and the bike and I'll be ready! Much thanks to all the
guys and gals in the Baton Rouge triathlon club. I
really enjoyed meeting and racing with you all this weekend and
look forward to LA Tri in 12 days!
I hope you enjoyed reading my race report as
much as I enjoyed writing and living it.
Best of luck on YOUR life journey!
May you reach all your goals and achieve all your dreams!