Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hammerhead Olympic Triathlon

Hammerhead Olympic Triathlon (HOT)
Camp Blanding, FL
August 29, 2010

Olympic Distance - 1.5K Swim| 40K Bike| 10K Run
BIB:           73
Overall       3:05:40  (216/311)
Swim:         33:48   (Rank 139/311 Pace: 02:15 min/100m)
T1:             3:03
Bike:          1:25:09 (Rank: 242/311 Pace: 17.51 mph)
T2:             1:49
Run:           1:01:53 (Rank 232/311 Pace: 09:57 min/mile)

Photos (BB Action Photography)

The Site

This race was held at the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.  This historic training site was used heavily during WWII as a training center.  During the course of the war, Camp Blanding served as an infantry replacement training center, an induction center, a German prisoner of war compound, and a separation center. At the height of the war, thanks to leases with local landowners, Camp Blanding sprawled over more than 170,000 acres. From 1940 to 1945, more than 800,000 soldiers received all or part of their training here (Wikipedia).

There is a public museum at the entrance of the base that has several outdoor exhibits and displays including equipment from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and Operation Desert Storm, including captured Soviet-manufactured Iraqi equipment from the latter conflict (Wikipedia)..  I will not comment of the authenticity of the LIME GREEN restoration paint job on their WWII vehicles.  Needless to say Home Depot must have had a sale on green paint and that is how they picked the color.

I decided to stay in on-base housing.  My room was for extended stay visitors and was only $48 (includes tax).  It was a concrete block room with a sink, desk, double bed, a microwave, TV and some night stands.  It was military so nothing was fancy but it did it’s job.  The nice aspect of the room is it was only ½ mile from the transition area so you could just walk or ride your bike to the transition without fighting traffic, finding parking, etc.

 You shared a bathroom (toilet and shower) with the room next to you.  There were two doors that led into the bathroom.  When you wanted to use the facilities you locked the other door and when you were done you unlocked it so they could use it.  No big deal and the system worked well.

From what I understand the price included a two night stay if I wanted it.  They definitely did not rush us out and it was nice to take a hot shower after the race before I had to drive 3 hours to get home.

My Swim

The lake was VERY clear and appeared to be clean (although I really do not trust lakes on military bases to be clean).  The swim started off in a really small area with reeds.  It was a pain getting running/swimming through the reeds.

This was not my best swim (although I ranked in the top 44%).  It took some time to get through the reeds and there was a really rude swimmer in front of me who liked to shove me over the whole race and could not hold a steady pace.  He kept moving in front of me, slowing down, falling back and repeating.  I also had issues with my goggles.  I did not place my swim cap on right so I was not getting a good seal and they leaked badly.  I tried to ignore it but it was too bad to ignore. So I had to stop twice to take care of them.

My Cycling

I found the place where my mother went to school because the ride was uphill both ways (minus the snow).  This is the only place on earth where hills ONLY go up.  They are not hard sloping hills but what my friend called “Ghost Hills” because you can barely see them but they go on FOREVER.  Even when you went downhill visually it you appeared to be going uphill.  It was strange.

This course was really fun, beautiful and challenging.  This is definitely not a smooth riding course.  It had lots of potholes, gravel, rough spots, etc but what do you expect from an 80 year old army training base.

The volunteers on the ride were great and the course was well marked.

I think that 75% of the riders had TT bikes so the participants where FAST.  I was on my cheap road bike so I was not able to keep up (I like blaming the bike ;-) ).  My overall pace was 17.51mph.  This is not bad when you consider the never ending “Ghost Hills".

My Run

The ghost hills took a toll on my legs.  My legs felt like bricks but I expected this so I started really show.  After a mile they felt fine.  I paired up with another runner that was my pace and we ran the whole race together.  It was really nice to have someone to pace with, push you and talk to.  I ran the entire race and it felt great.  This was one of my best runs.  My overall pace was just under 10 minute miles.

Race Review - Grade A

Race Grade: (Overall Grade A) - This was a great race that I will definitely do it again.  I also recommend it to others.  The weather was overcast and slightly rainy so it was really nice conditions.  Normally this is a really HOT race.

1. The Transition Area (Grade A-):  It was nearly perfect.  Security was great.  Every number was checked both in and out of the area.  No one was allowed in but participants.  The only issue was the lack of space.  They did not plan properly for the number of bikes.

2. Judges (Grade N/A):  I am not sure I saw any so I cannot comment but I saw no one cheating so it was no big deal.

3. The Swim (Grade A):   Nice clear and clean water.  Turns were well marked.  In my opinion there needed to be some additional lifeguards but that is just me being overly safe.

4. The Cycling (Grade B):  The course was well marked and there was no way to get lost.  It was a hard course with many “Ghost Hills” but was scenic and pretty.  This is definitely not a smooth riding course.  It  had lots of potholes, gravel, rough spots, etc but what do you expect from an 80 year old army training base.

5. The Run (Grade A):  You ran over the same “Ghost Hills” as before but they were not as bad when you ran them.  There was only one normal large hill but it was manageable.  Lots of water / Gatoraid and the volunteers were great. It was also well marked.

6. Race Results (Grade A):  The times went up lighting fast at the race and on the internet. But the photo updates were a bit slow.

7. Volunteers:  (Grade A+): The local ROTC did a great job helping out.  They cheered us on, gave out drinks, directed traffic, marked turns, danced and generally acted like fools for our enjoyment.  Great job!

8. Misc (Great A):  Woody’s BBQ gave out pulled pork sandwiches after the race.  There were also chips, beans, cookies and bananas.  There was plenty of it and it was even left for us slower people.  The free massages were a nice touch.  They even raffled off door prizes.  I won a free tub of Heed Sports Drink.

Two weeks in a row of Olympic triathlons and I am tired.  But this was great and a ton of fun. 

I will update this post as soon as the photos from the race become available (which should be in the next few days).

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