Strong Start – Charelston 1/2 Race Report
By George Worrell, FFT
Erg’s on the computrainer, 20 minute FTP tests, tempo rides with the Quarq, 1,000 yard TT’s in the pool, mile repeats on the track – sheesh, all good and fun in trying to determine how lazy or not you’ve been over the winter, but sometimes it’s just more fun to go and race, especially when you find a Half-Ironman in Chucktown, SC. In just its’ second year, The Try-Charleston ½ was this past Saturday, April 30th, put on by Jeremy Davis, a superb race director and all around great, and hilarious guy.
Because I was using this as more of a training day than a race, the couple days prior were more “life as usual” as opposed to feet up and tapering. So my good friend Tom Crichton and I headed down on Thursday and caught an Amos Lee show. Amos told us in a bar one night that he’s a “freakish, freakish man”, and I agree. But he’s one of my fav’s and although he looked as though he’d been on a 4-day bender in Charleston, his performance was still money.
Upon waking Friday morning with what a lot of red wine and local IPA does to one’s body, I needed to sweat out some toxins. So we headed to the race site and rode 40 miles of the bike course and ran a couple miles. Finishing the run, I spotted a huge beer truck. It’s been since the Bud Light sponsor days (early 90’s) that I’ve seen such at a triathlon finish line, but nonetheless it provided a bit of motivation to not lollygag too much on the race course the next day.
Traveling back to the hotel, we realized it was 80 degrees, blue sky, and Friday afternoon in Charleston. No discussion was needed before we were bar hopping all the rooftop bars downtown. The scenery was amazing, especially considering that seemingly every girl getting married on the weekend of June 11th was there for her bachelorette weekend. Finally after 3-4 hours of ”hydrating”, we thought we better get back, find some food, and knock out those things like putting on race wheels, attaching #’s, and figuring out what time the race starts.
Race morning started as usual w/ my 9 minute mini-run around the hotel in the wee hour darkness to get everything moving before inhaling a couple Hampton Inn waffles. Quick spin at the race site and suddenly it was time to head to the swim start. I jokingly did a can-opener into the lake for the in-water start, and of course paid for it by losing my goggles. After searching frantically for a minute in the now murked-up water, my hand luckily snagged them just before the gun went off. The swim was 2 loops, wetsuit legal, in clean, calm water, and pretty un-eventful (I didn’t get kicked or punched), which was perfect. I was out near the front with a few others, and after a typical rusty, first-event-of-the-season transition, headed out for the 56 mile ride in 5th or 6th.
The bike ride was amazing – beautiful course, smooth roads, and perfect conditions. I got the nutrition going and found a good rhythm and made my way to the front by mile 10 or so. I was playing around with some different cadences a bit, but mostly just tried to dial in a steady power output for the entire ride while keeping the heartrate level. Into T2 I had a minute on Patrick Farwell of Wilmington, NC, and he and I had a pretty good gap to the others. Again, the run conditions were perfect – sunny and 80, and very dry. The run was a 2 loop course with 2 out and backs. So you always knew where you were in relation to the other competitors. It didn’t seem I was either gaining or losing time to Patrick, but James Vavra, who ended up finishing 2nd with a 1:19 run, was moving quickly. So I just held what I thought was a “safe enough” pace and made sure I kept getting calories in from all the awesome aid station volunteers in case I needed a late surge to either hold off, keep up, or attempt to chase down the closing Vavra.
Thankfully, thoughts of the beer truck at the finish kept me moving and I crossed the line first in 4:07 and change (swim :26; bike 2:16; run 1:24). The post race scene was perfect, complete with shrimp gumbo, Fat Tire, and a band. Thanks to Jeremy, his staff, and all the wonderful volunteers for such a fun event! Cheers. -GW