Lake Guntersville Pre-Race Review

  On call this weekend.  Uggh!.  Enough said.  Thought it’d be a good time to review my next race in Guntersville.  It’s coming up next Saturday and fortunately I’ll be joined with at least 2 other DTriClub members.  It’s the first running of this race and only the second Olympic-distance triathlon in the North Alabama.  Sprints and Super-Sprints dominate this area.  And for good reason as that distance is less intimidating to beginners…Much easier to organize as well I imagine. 

The triathlon is the brainchild of Parker Edmiston.  He’s a certified race director and a positive influence on the local triathlon community.  So far there are about 180 folks signed up.  Not bad for the first year.  The swim and run are in the Lake Guntersville State Park.  The bike portion winds out of the park, then loops through adjacent rural roads.

The race is about an hour’s drive from home.    I’ll be leaving about 5:00am or a little earlier to pick-up packet and, of course, scope out a prime bike rack position.  The swim, according to website,  will be wetsuit legal.  The race is USAT-sanctioned so we’ll be following their rules re: water temps.  The swim is a deep water start in 4 waves going every 5 mins.  I’m in the third wave.  One of my goals this year is to improve on my previous 1500m open water swim time.  Two years ago,  I set a PR with a wetsuit of 25:53mins.  Hopefully, I can swim a similar or quicker time.  But I realize swim distances in triathlons are inaccurate.  I also hope the swim doesn’t get too congested.  The start will be a sprint to the first buoy then a counter-clockwise swim.   I freely confess that my form and balance suffer with longer swims.  The wetsuit should keep me at a similar pace as a pool 1500m.  My recent 1000y TT swim times are encouraging.  It’s been difficult lately to devote more time in the pool though.

The bike course is interesting.  I’ve ridden the course 4 times at different intensities.  It isn’t  pancake-flat.  The first 3+miles are winding rollers out of the State Park.  This was the slowest segment in my training.  I plan to push but not explode the legs here.  From the exit to the park, you head out for 7+ miles to a turn-around.  This is a hammer section.  It’s down-hill to flat and the prevailing wind is usually from the left or behind.   This is a section to gain some time.  There is a mile incline at mile 8-9 that will slow me down but it’s averaged coming back.  From mile 12.5 we turn onto a deserted 4 lane highway and travel a 5+ mile out and back.  There is a long slow climb at mile 13-14.  It’s just a grinder but you’re rewarded with a long fast downhill.  You make the turn and climb back out again.   After that we return to the state park.  That 5 mile section will be flat to uphill with a headwind.  The last 3 miles are net downhill.

Bike Intensity for an Olympic is recommended at 88-93% of your FTP.  I’ve done one loop at 85% and I felt like I was exhausting myself.  Sadly, the speed was barely over 20mph.  Granted, my race set-up will be lighter and more aerodynamic, but I am tempering my predictions for a fast bike split.  And don’t mention the run which is a hill-fest.  So, as is becoming my tradition,  I plan to bike conservatively mentally but let my legs have the final say.  As learned at the Chattahoochee Half,  numbers aren’t everything.  I am going to OCD the bike course into segments and hit the lap button on my Garmin to hit certain power numbers.  I love the data.

Will be coming in hot and looking to get my running legs quickly.  I ran on the course once this week.  As it currently is advertised, it will be challenging.  I’ve heard a rumor that the course may be slightly altered but I’m going in planning to run the original course.  The first 1.5 miles is on a concrete path that follows the beach then connects with the park road.  Then the course branches off onto a gravel road with some big rollers.  I found the last 3 miles faster than the first 3.  My strategy will be to divide the run into four 1.5mile segments.  The hilly course will make time predictions difficult so I’ll be running by HR.  I’ve rarely done this but I want a little objective sign along with my breathing that I’m running at threshold. 

Looks like we’ll have nice weather.  I got my Roctane gels and a new bag of Infinit, so I’m ready.  Look for a race report soon. 

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