• Derek Stone

First Race Report! Chattanooga 70.3- First Overall Amateur

Well, this is my first race report and it is about a month late- sorry for any typos. I'm brain dead right now.

This is my 3rd time racing Chattanooga 70.3. Each year, it happens to fall the weekend after I have a department meeting in Columbus, Ohio. It is always a challenging week of staying up late and having too many beers. That is, until this year. I wanted to stay laser focused and I limited myself to 3 beers per night and made sure I was in bed by 11 each night. I managed to have 9 beers throughout the week. I only add this because the majority of us here are amateur athletes and most of us are working, have families, travel for work and all the other responsibilities that come before triathlon. I think it is important that we are strategic about balancing other aspects of life and not letting the sport completely take over. I have learned I do not want to regulate my social time during this meeting ever again, I will choose a different early race to focus on next year so I have the ability to enjoy myself with my peers from around the world.

Going into the race, I was pretty confident in my fitness and ability. I have been swimming with NAC masters out of Nashville which has been a huge blessing. The coaches are always providing feedback and it has paid off. I made it an effort to really focus on my bike fitness this past winter and while I am getting faster, I still have my work cut out for me. Coming from a running background, I always feel good about this area but this year even better. I ran a 68:46 half marathon in February so I have been itching to see how it plays out in a 70.3.

The morning- Well, I was under the impression the Marriott would have breakfast like past years, and they somewhat did. But I scrambled and had 2 Clifbars, a muffin and a sports drink full of GU hydration and a banana. I ate with a few folks from Nashville and we were ready to get the day started! From there I departed to transition on a shuttle and began thinking about how I was going to execute the race.

Morning Transition- As I was entering transition, I mistakenly gave a volunteer the wrong number to write on my arm. Like many athetes, I was trying to think of everything I needed at my bike. As I approached my bike, I ran into Mike Vanacora, who absolutely destroyed me at Ohio 70.3 in 2018. I knew he had the ability to really put down a good time. His a super nice guy. We chatted for a bit in transition and planned to take the bus together to the swim start but another athlete asked to use my bike pump and took a little longer than expected.

Heading over to the swim start, I saw many people I knew from the Nashville area and another Every Man Jack teammate, Jeff. One last stop to the plastic thrown and I was on my way to the swim line. I knew I needed to swim well if I wanted to have a PR for the day. Then, the dreaded news… The swim was shortened. Shit!!! I am not a super fast swimmer, but it does give me an advantage over the uber bikers so I was a little disappointed. Oh well, I had to roll with the punches. I Estimate I was about 200 people back from the AG swim start. I wanted to start closer, but I could not get to the front. 1 Last gel before the start and I was ready!

The Swim- 14:45 (Short) Roka Vermilion googles and Maverick wetsuit

Nothing too exciting happened during the swim. I just wanted to get to land as quickly as possible. I sited well and stayed at a really comfortable perceived effort and focused on my stroke the entire swim.

T1- 3:09

Looking at the time that seems pretty long. I opted for the wetsuit strippers and hurried conservatively to my bike. I grabbed my LG P-9 helmet, threw on my signature 84 shoes with quick laces and rolled out to the mount line.

The Bike- 2:21:05 Felt IA3 Disc with Enve 7.8

The goal was to average 240w on the bike. I dialed into that right away and put my head down. I took a gel and a big gulp of hydration and was ready to roll. I believe It was the second set of railroad tracks where I watched a guy lunch a bottle. A few miles in, I reached back for my bottle and it wasn’t there… I was really prepared to drink both bottles on the bike and grab 3 bottled of Gatorade so I was already down a bottle I also had 2 (maybe 3 gels). At the first two aid stations, I grabbed a bottle and took down about 2/3rds before discarding the bottle. The last aid station I drank about half and kept the bottle. Looking back now, I’ll be prepared to grab 2 bottles of Gatorade at an aid station or keep the bottle and take the last 3rd. I just put my head down and tried to catch the early swimmers. I saw a few people I knew and tried to go with the guys that flew by me but I was not ready to push anything over 240w. Around mile 5 I hit a pothole and my left arm rest clasped. I tried to yank it back into place but I couldn’t get it all the way up. It was mildly uncomfortable but I managed. At about mile 26, where we meet the steep hill and hard left, my focus began to drift. I stood up a few times and I could feel the fatigue in my legs. Not good! Not this soon! I knew it was faster on the way back and my power faded. By the end of the ride I believe I held around 224w. Nothing to wild on the bike. I saw maybe a group of 4-5 that were blatantly drafting but I couldn’t tell for sure. I saw a moto pass around the same time and they looked to hang around the group for a moment so someone may have received a penalty. Other than that, it looked like a pretty honest race from where I was. By mile 40 I was ready to run. I just counted down every 5 mile marker and was excited when I got back to transition. When I went to dismount, I tried a flying dismount but I was on the edge of cramping. I had to stop and step over my bike. At this point I knew I could be in trouble.

T2: 2:07

Grabbed my Boco bro band, Roka sunglasses and bib and was on my way.

The Run: 1:19:16 ON Cloudflash running flats

The goal was to run 1:17 or faster. 1:15 or faster was it was a perfect day. Well, that didn’t happen. I saw my wife about a half mile into the run and had her tell off my place. “8thoverall and 4thAG” (overall as in overall AG). I settled right into 5:55 pace for the first 30 minutes and faded to 6:03 pace. I pushed to the point where I thought I would cramp and backed it off just a touch. I did everything I could to maintain the pace. Gatorade and sponges at every aid station. It wasn’t overly hot but I knew I needed an additional bottle on the bike. I saw my teammate at a few of the turn around and caught him around mile 10. We chatted briefly and then I was off. He caught me on the bridge after Battery hill…. I was hurting BAD at this point. I did all I could to hold it together. By the time I got to the pedestrian bridge. I was ready for the last push. Put down a solid pace and forget how far the finish line was from that last turn but I continued to push. I caught up to my teammate and we continued to encourage each other. By the time I finished, I hit the ground. I can honestly say I gave it everything I had that day.

I got up and was greeted by Vanacora and we congratulated each other with a hug. Jeff, my teammate then finished and we were super excited for each other. It was really cool finishing so close to each other. At this time I thought I was top 3. I thought Jeff started behind me and I had no idea how long Mike was waiting around at the finish line. I greeted my wife and doggo, Louis. She told me I won my AG. I had her pull up the AG overall and she told me I won, Mike was 2ndand Jeff was 3rd. We needed to wait a little longer for the rolling start to factor in but Jeff moved back a few spots to 6th which is still incredible. He is young and ripped through 6 Gap in Georgia in the big ring this weekend… so, keep an eye out for him! A buddy of mine in Nashville, Conrad took 3rd so it was a pretty cool day to be around some incredible talent.

I had a different plan for the day however I didn’t execute as well as I would have liked. I was able to fight through and I learned a lot that day. I love that this sport offers a lot of opportunity to grow and learn. It is hard to have everything go right so there is always time to improve.

A tough day but it was a special day nonetheless. I saw some family, raced with A LOT of friends, teammates and clubmates and was greeted at the finish line by my wife. I also coach and had several athletes racing. it was really cool being out there and grinding with then on the course! This race will always be a special race to me. It was my first 70.3 in 2017 and I love Chattanooga. I get to see so many people I know during the race any it just makes the weekend that much better. With that, I will likely choose another early season race next spring. Gulf Coast anyone?

This is my first race report and I’m sure I left out a lot of info people might be interested in knowing. Feel free to ask away.

This is a month late from the race so I’ll recall to the best of my ability.


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