Race Report: Richard B. Russell Triathlon

The Richard B. Russell Intermediate Tri was my fourth triathlon of 2021. It feels good to be back to racing, especially every two or three weeks—I keep myself nice and busy.

The drive to this place sucks. I was up at 2:30 a.m. in order to leave by 3:45. It took almost two and a half hours to get there and most of it wasn’t on a major interstate. There is just no quick way to get to this place. 

I’m gonna go back here for a second to when I was loading the car. I get the bike on the rack and this dude is walking towards me talking while my podcast is playing on speaker. I couldn’t make out who it was as they were backlit by the street light. I was actually kind of nervous because I wasn’t expecting to see anyone at 3:30 a.m. Turned out to be my neighbor, Britt, just getting home from his job bartending. Still you don’t expect someone to walk up to you that early and in the dark.

I arrived at about 6:30 a.m. and had half an hour to check in and set up transition. Check in is easy as there were only 200 people at this race, it’s small. I had grabbed my Rudy Project Helmet instead of my Kask when I packed. I’ve had an issue with the visor staying in and today was no different. I said “Fuck it” and stopped trying to wedge it back in and went with sunglasses. I had actually brought a rag and water bottle so I could put the TriTats on easier as using toilet paper or paper towels sucks.

The water was piss warm, I think the race director said 84 degrees. That was fine because I wasn’t planning on cranking it. I hadn’t been swimming outside of racing for nearly four months—I just didn’t want to, it happens sometimes but I can still get by okay in the meantime. It was a time trial start seeded by what we said our expected swim times were. . I was bib #5, it was an honest assessment of my abilities back when I signed up, but not now. 

The swim itself wasn’t all that notable. I kind of just settled in at like 50% effort and enjoyed my space for lap one. This douche canoe in a canoe was blocking the buoys so I couldn’t sight where I should go. The second lap was more congested because of the sprint racers. Also on the second lap you had to contend with sun in your eyes as it had finally cleared the tree line.

The bike is hilly so don’t let Tri the Parks tell you any different. For the course I would rate the road conditions subpar, with miles 14-18 being extremely poor and mile 13 was just the essence of pure shit. That main road in & out of the park has two speed bumps, one of each side of the parking booth. I blasted the one coming back in because I wasn’t expecting it. The bike was slow for me, but it was not nearly as slow as Lake Lanier Rowing Park.

At this point I didn’t get passed much so I thought going into the run I’d likely be on the podium if I had a decent run. The first four miles were going great, but I had two walk through the aid station at miles four and five. I felt like I wouldn’t have had to stop if it wasn’t for the half mile stretch of the course loop (which you do twice) that went through the hills in the woods—it took a lot out of me, but my 10k was still under an hour.

I ran hard downhill to the finisher chute. After I crossed I grabbed a water bottle and went and laid on the grass. I was hot and my heart felt like it was going to explode. I squirted the cold water on my chest and face as I laid on my back. A couple of minutes go by and I’m suddenly feeling a lot of pain in my arms and legs. I apparently laid down right next to a fire ant nest and either me being there or the water I squirted enraged them and they attacked me.

I ended up 31st overall, which was good enough to land me in second place in my age group right behind Matt Triick. I got a cool medal with a bike chain going around it. 2:41 was my overall time, which isn’t good but I’ll take it.

The drive home also sucks. While at the park you have no GPS, so when you leave you kind of have to backtrack and think about how you came in, but it was dark and it’s the sticks. I remember the turn out of the park and five miles later Waze picked it up. Now that I could see my surroundings I wondered why people want to live out here in BFE and could not figure out what industry keeps this rural area alive because it wasn’t farming. Traffic sucked on the freeways. It was pouring rain on I-85 so at least I didn’t have to do a bike wash now.

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