Tri Waco

I have not done an Olympic distance race for nearly 3-years, and so when I decided to build some focus into what was risking being a post-Ironman year of disorganization, I decided to see if I could podium at some sprint races, and improve my PR at Olympic distance. I had a great opportunity for what should be a good race to do itr, the Toyota Dallas Open on October 10th. I got in as one of the first 100 entries and only paid $70. It's a fast flat course and should have a great Pro field and lots of spectators.

And so it was that I had to find out where I am in relation to my PR. Lisa Buckley my now long time training buddy needed a sub 2:35 time to apply to the US Army National team, and really only had one more shot before deploying to Iraq for a 2nd time. We scoured the race calendar and decided Waco Tri fitted in well. To add to the fun, Tammy, Kelley, Bekah all agreed to race, and Tune said she'd come up and cheer us on. So the stage was set.

We stayed overnight at the Hilton Waco which couldn't have been closer to the race, the service road on one side of the hotel was the transition area. Bekah is a member of the Texas Beef Council tri team, and they hosted us for dinner Saturday night. Sunday pre-race couldn't have been easier, walked out the hotel, put my bike on the rack, and a small pile with run shoes, hat, number belt, magic run sticks, bike helmet, walked away. Went back to my room and chilled out for 20-mins.

Jack Weiss runs a good race. But boy does he ramble on and on, and on, and on, and on. I'm sure there are some key messages about the course that participants need to know before the start, but does it really need a 20-min hectoring lecture? No good luck, no have a great race... 

They'd organized the swim well, the sprint went off first by swimming across the lake, then 15-mins later the Olympic waves started swimming, I guess east. So it was unlikely that the Olympic would catch the sprint. I was in the last wave and so it was obvious that any decent swimmers in our wave would struggle to avoid all the back-of-pack swimmers in the other waves, and that turned out to be the case. The water was rumored to be 89f. It didn't seem that hot. Doug Edwards who beat me to 2nd at the Rookie sprint triathlon earlier this year was there, I didn't recognize anyone else in my age group. Doug was wearing a swim skin over his US Army race kit!!

I had an ok swim, and exited the water in around 32-mins. I had to avoid and bumped into people from every other Olympic distance wave, and especially at the last couple of turns. It was a long run up to transition and I could hear Tune shouting Tammy was 1-minute ahead of me and Tune wouldn't forgive me if Tammy beat me.... T1 went perfectly and I was out onto the bike pretty quickly, the official results are messed up for my transition times, but based on the Garmin, I was 2:36, which was the same as 4-of-the-top-6 in my age group.

The bike went really well, I was on my tri-bars and the nose of my saddle for most of the ride, I was passing people at speed for most of the first 10-miles, and wasn't passed by anyone; I had a minor run-in with someguy who seemed to be just hanging out in the right lane of the road, while there where 8-10 people on the shoulder, he really wasn't passing and it caused cars to back up behind him, I remarked to one driver as I passed him on the right that I'd get him out of the way, when passing him shouted "keep right", I heard him shout something back and just yelled back "get the f*** off the road" and that was the last I saw of him, but the truck driver honked about 20-seconds later...

Just before the half way point I passed Melanie Sun from Houston, #315, shortly after she passed me back and for the next couple of miles this continued; around the half way point we'd picked up about 6-guys as well and while there was no deliberate drafting, I don't think that I dropped back the full 15ft each time I re-passed any of them. As we approached the airport, around 15.5-miles, I decided I was done with them and needed to push ahead, you can see this in the 5-mile averages graph below where I upped my speed and left them behind. I'm not sure why my heart rate tailed off around then, but it's a really great feeling to be on the nose of the saddle on a great fitting tri bike cranking 25MPH+ and seems easier than going slower.

In the last two miles, I finally got passed by a couple of people I couldn't hang with, one was Charles Rapp who had the fastest bike in my age group; it was disappointing to watch him disappear in to town and I couldn't stay up. Off my bike and racing through to T2 went well, Bike time was 1:07:28, 22.5MPH from the Garmin. That would have been the 3rd fastest in my age group.

The weather had been pretty perfect for a Texas race in late July, overcast, it had even rained a little on the bike, but started to heat up for the run. In one magic run stick I'd put two Salt tabs, in the other two pieces of Airwaves gum. I took the salt tabs at the first water stop exiting the transition area, and then it was time to chew my way through the rest of the race.

The first part of the course was pretty flat, but that didn't last long. I saw Logon in Jack and Adams kit, followed closely by Lisa also in J&A kit coming back the other way and within 100ft of each other; around the corner was the first hill, followed by another and another, the bad news was since this section of the course was an out and back, I'd have to do them twice. Running on my toes has at least allowed me to pick up more speed on the downhills, I saw Tammy, Bekah and Dougon their way out, and Kelly Marsheck passed me going down the last hill. I was doing pretty well until about 5-miles and then the heat and the lack of distance runs meant the wheels started to come off my bus, and any hope of getting near my PR was going away.

As I stopped and walked for about 50yds around 5.2-miles into the run, another guy, I assume Jay Rabon, from my age group passed me, the last mile went slowly and I walked again as I came up onto the bridge for the run into the finish. Disappointing, but as I'd been discussing with Tenille, I could hardly have expected to run any faster given I'd only run 6-miles or longer 9x this year... as I came down the finish chute on the historic Waco suspension bridge I could hear Tune, Lisa and Kelley shouting, crossed the finish line in 2:48:58, 6th place in my age group. Run time, 1:04:40

Thats my highest ever place finish in an Olympic distance Age group with a stacked group. I finished a couple races in the top-3 as a Clydesdale, and even won at Clearwater, but with only small fields. I beat Doug by 7-minutes and overall I'm very please with the time given the hills on the run course and my lack of training. I have much to do for the run before the Toyota race though as well as improving my swim by maybe 4-mins, while not losing anything on the bike.

Lisa won her age group and got her qualifying time. Post race it looks like she got 3rd woman overall. Tammy PR'd by 5-mins and finished a solid 4th behind Melanie Sun who'd I'd tussled with on the bike. Bekah also had a PR, had a great finish, quicker than she expected after getting back from vacation, Kelley had a great race in the sprint, missed out on a place because of helmet problems in T1 but still had the fastest bike split; and Tune tooks lots of pictures that will hopefully show up sometime soon.

After the race, the posse all went to lunch to celebrate with Lisa! All in all a great day out, a good race and great friends!

There is a short video clip of the race and some of the history, apparently a 15yr old Lance Armstrong raced Waco triathlon way back when, on the News 8 website.

By the numbers:
Swim: 33:51 6/18 Age group, 135/314 overall
T1:  no official result
Bike: (official result has me at 764MPH) 1:08:26, 22.3MPH 4/18 Age group, 58/314
T2: no official result
Run: 1:04:40 11/18 Age Group; 229/314 Overall

The run far website has the results, here is a link to the 50-54 age group.

Next up: Last race in the Summer Sunstroke 5k series on Wednesday; Pure Austin Splash and Dash on Aug 17th
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Olympic Clydesdale
My husband participated in the sprint version of the TriWaco. We were listening at the award ceremony and heard "Olympic Athena" & "Olympic Clydesdale" terms. I was googling these terms to found out what they meant & it brought up your blog.

Would you please explain to me what these terms mean?

Thank you,
Jennifer Coffee
Re: Olympic Clydesdale
There was, a number of years ago, an active organization trying to get separate classifications for heavier people. Since triathlon is organized on age, it by definition says that people have different competitive abilities at different ages, and so why not at different weights?

So, they set-up a Clydesdale organization to lobby for official recognition. The classification went something like this, a Clydesdale Athlete is any runner or triathlete usually over 200 lbs(women over 150 lbs are called Athena's). Each weight group will be divided into 2 age groups: an open category for those 39 and under and a masters division for those 40 and over.

There was a Clydesdale world championships for a few years, it was though mostly only Americans. Then the same Clydesdale organization was given demonstration status at the ITU Triathlon World Championships in 2001 and 2002. The whole idea of Clydesdales at the worlds failed when the ITU rightly asked the Clydesdale organization to pay the same affiliation fees that they asked countries like the USA through USA Triathlon to pay; there was also significant friction between Triathlon Canada and the ITU based in Canada, when in 2001 the Clydesdale category was won by (if I remember correctly) Darren Henry in a time that was faster than a number of Canadians picked by Triathlon Canada in his age group, although he hadn't been picked.

then there were compeating Clydesdale organizations in the USA, and the whole initiative was lost and Team Clydedale has gone away.

However, the idea of offering Clydesdale competition categories at many but not all races still lives on. It really doesn't cost race organizers much to get a few extra medals and prizes and if they get a large enough number of competitors, it more than pays for itself.

I competed in bothe demonstration Clydesdale categories at the World Championships, I was the only non-US person to do so. I've also placed and won a few races as a Clydesdale. I mostly raced as a Clydesdale not because of my weight, but because I have a damaged right leg that means I have difficulty running. Competing as a Clydesdale made it easier for me to rank higher. However, after winning a couple of races as a Clydesdale I realized it really wasn't worth it, I just needed to work hard and faster and try to win my age group.

I did that in a duathlon late last year, and have placed in the top-3 in a few sprint triathlons; but never higher than 6th in an Olympic distance triathlon.

There is a massively long discussion about the Clydesdale classification at triathlons here:

I hope your husband enjoyed the race!