• Derek Stone

First Race Back After Quarantine! We Have Races and We Have Hope!

I had the opportunity this past weekend to head out to Secret City A.K.A., Oak Ridge Tennessee to race my first triathlon for the season. The Secret City Tri took place in an area with some unique history. If you do not know, Oak Ridge is where the Department of Energy is located and where the Manhattan Project took place. The Manhattan Project was the research that went into the development of the Atomic Bomb.

Back to the race- I took a road trip out with a couple other friends completing. We packed up Friday afternoon and set sail for East Tennessee. I booked a pretty unique Airbnb in Kingston, TN, in a house that was built in 1813. A lot of charm but the location sucked. I was hoping to be able to walk to a restaurant in a small downtown district. Oh well! You can’t have it all. We also had fellow EMJ teammate Jordan and his friend from Bowling Green stay at the house. Upon arriving, we all went out for a shakeout ride to build up our appetite. Following the ride, we found a local restaurant that was recommended by the Airbnb host. Kyle and I stuck to our pre-race ritual with a beer. However, it was flat… The waitress seemed eager to have us try it before ordering but we figured beer is beer. Maybe it was in the keg since pre-quarantine? Who knows! With a race the next day, we all went for the alfredo with our own additions and house salad without balsamic vinegar. After wrapping up dinner, we made our way back to the house to dial in all of our equipment.

Interesting enough, 3 of us had issues with our powermeters. Myself included. However, I was able to get it connected to the appropriate devices. A quick round of NormaTec Recovery Boots with a Budweiser Zero beer and then it was off to bed.

Race Morning- I stick to the simple foods for breakfast. I always start with coffee and a banana with a beet juice and 2 packets of instant oatmeal. We packed up the SUV and left at 5:30 to get to the race venue which was about 25 minutes away.

Race Venue- As we returned to racing, the only big requirement change was to wear a mask before and after the race and minimize grouping after the event. So, we quickly checked in then went out for one last bathroom break before getting in a run warmup with Patrick and Kyle. We wanted to check out the run course and quickly realized we went the wrong way. Fortunately, we figured it out and had a good of the run course by the end of the warmup. Okay, one last restroom stop then out to the pool. This was a pool swim which was honestly pretty cool as it is a 100m pool. It is massive. To be clear, the whole pool is even larger. There is also a 25-yard pool within the body of water. Naturally spring fed, it was a refreshing 100m warmup to the swim start.

The Swim- One last gel as we lined up for the start. To be sensitive to the social distancing, we started in a TT style format being separated every few seconds and then a larger gap every 5 athletes. I was 3rd in the water, right behind Jordan. The goal was to be within striking distance of Jordan. He has generally put out far better swim and bike times than me, but I know he hasn’t had as much time in the water as me do to the covid shutdown, so this set me up for an advantage. The swim was pretty uneventful; however, it was far choppier than you would think for a pool swim. As you made the turn for the 2nd 100, you began to feel the wake and splashing from the competitors as they entered the time trial start. AS we made the last turn for the last 100m, I made sure I had my sights on Jordan. I could see Jordan exit and I was out pretty quickly after. We had about a 400m run to the transition which helped me visualize what I needed to do once I arrived at my bike. It’s been a long time since I have done a race, so I didn’t want to do anything silly.

The Bike- I made it to T1 2nd and out of T1 3rd. I quickly got back into 2nd place on the bike and was anticipating I would watch Jordan pull away on the bike. That wasn’t the case, I was maintaining the same speed and had him in my sights. I Thought I may be putting out too much power and when I looked at my computer, there was no power reading. Well, it’s a sprint so you just push as hard as you can! I did notice early on my glutes and hip flexors seemed to be engaged more than before. I was concerned this might impact my run, but I figured it was a good day to push it hard on the bike and see what I could do. I also knew I was going into the race with a little fatigue. On Thursday, I ran 3x 2mile at 11:05, 10:58, 10:48 and in the evening completed several 2-minute bike efforts around 350-360 watts. Anyway, back to the race. I then began to reel Jordan in. I thought man I must really be going to hard. I should not pass him. Then I just went for it! Around mile 6, I was passed by someone I didn’t know (Nick) and he yelled out “move those legs faster” I thought, I need to hang with this guy. I have no idea if he can run! I took a gel to get me through the rest of the bike and run at this point. We hit the turnaround and he may have been about 30 seconds ahead of me. There was some dense fog during the ride that morning and by the time we hit about mile 14, he was out of sight. I figured I needed to keep him within 1 minute to be able to catch him on the run.

The Run- As I rolled into transition, I felt pretty good about my bike effort, but I was ready to run. I quickly settled into a quick pace and realized I lapped my watch wrong. Again, it was a sprint, so I just needed to suck it up for 5k. I had a view of Nick and knew I needed to catch him before we entered the 2nd lap of the run. I pushed hard that first mile to get within striking distance and I believe I was able to reel him in by the first mile. From that point I settled into a challenging but comfortable effort and pushed it to the finish.

Overall, it was a good day. I was very happy to get out and race with athletes I coach, friends and teammates. I had an athlete finish 5th OA in a pretty competitive field which was awesome to see. He went in with a hamstring strain the week before and rested going into the race. It wasn’t until the day before he made the decision that he felt comfortable racing. I even saw others I knew that lived in East Tennessee which was good to connect with athletes across the state. I’m looking forward to Muncie 70.3 which appears it is a go as of now. With many races being cancelled, this could bring some steep competition. I’m looking forward to it!

Last Note- I have reopened the Louis Garneau store with Tri kits. This is the same kit I am wearing below but with the Milestone Racing design. Link Here

That’s it for now! Reach out if you have any questions or comments!


Photo Credit: Tim Morse

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