cycling, running, triathlon

Comparing 4 Tennessee Olympic Triathlons

No Comments 05 June 2015

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Tennessee is home to a some great races, from sprints to iron distance.  With a love of triathlon but without the time to train for something longer, I’ve decided to race four of the biggest Olympic tris in the state.  In case you want to try one or all of them, here’s a lot at four of the biggest- Challenge Knoxville (formerly Rev3) in May, Chattanooga Waterfront in June, Music City in July, and Riverbluff (formerly Nashvegas) in August.  (Note: Memphis is May is a classic and an obvious 5th option- would have have made for a very cool 5 races Olympic logo symmetry- but with some changes going on with the race and location, it was hard to do course comparisons. Hopefully next year.)

To start, here they are by the basics and numbers, but I’ll also get into the background and a few stories for these great races.

SWIM

Knoxville- wetsuit-legal, 2/3 downriver
Chattanooga- generally non-wetsuit, 100% downriver
Music City- generally non-wetsuit, circle swim
Riverbluff- generally  non-wetsuit, circle swim
(note: wet-suit notes are based on general water temp)

BIKE

Knoxville- 1640 feet of climb, 1 cat 5 climb
Chattanooga Waterfront- 578 feet of climb, 1 cat 5 climb
Music City- 676 feet of climb
Riverbluff – 698 feet of climb

RUN

Knoxville- 190 feet
Chattanooga- 173 feet
Music City- 339 feet
Riverbluff- 41 feet

With a look at the basics, Chattanooga looks to be the easiest in the swim, followed by Knoxville.

On the bike, the elevation changes are virtually the same for the the June to August races, with Knoxville being vastly more difficult.  One year I stumbled across the finished line and happened to come across pro Matty Reed, who had won an hour earlier and was waiting for the awards ceremony.  I said hello and followed that up by saying, “Wow, that’s pretty hilly!” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well…rolling.”

On the run, even with the change of moving the 6.2 miles to a flatter course instead of running up and down hills in downtown Nashville, Music City still clocks in as the most difficult.

Challenge Knoxville Challenge Knoxville (formerly Rev3), May 17, 2015

Personally, I love this race.  With pros racing, it has a big feel to it. The finish line is great, the support is great, and the fact that it is so family friendly is huge.  This was my first ‘big’ race.  Until then, my wife wasn’t very much on board with the whole triathlon thing.  But when the kids got to do a scavenger hunt and then run down the finish with me at the end, something clicked.  She said, “Hey, let’s do this one every year.”  And for the most part, we have.  There are Challenge logos on the clothes and signage, but it’s still very much a Rev3 event, which is a good thing.  The hills on the bike are difficult- I actually do better on road by than tri bike for this one- but to me, that just adds to it.  I’ve really enjoyed meeting several pros there, listening in on the pro Q&A, and getting to a fan.  All in all, it’s certainly a favorite.  With the addition of Challenge, it’s nice to be connected to the “other” global triathlon race series.  (Note: There is also a half iron distance for you over-achievers.)

Screen shot 2015-06-05 at 2.35.47 PM  Chattanooga Waterfront- June 28, 2015

Every year I want to do this race, and every year something comes up.  So far, we’re in the clear this year, and I’m excited about racing it for the first time. Although I’m not a fan of time trial starts for open-water events, I am very excited about the downriver swim, the relatively flat bike and the flat run.  If I’m getting a PR this summer, it’s likely going to be here.  From a family perspective, it’s hard to get better than Chattanooga.  While you’re off on the bike, your family can check out the amazing Tennessee Aquarium or hop the trolley for free to get back and forth from your hotel.  Team Magic always puts on a great race, so I’m expecting good things!

 

Screen shot 2015-06-05 at 2.35.29 PMMusic City Triathlon- July 26, 2015

Pop quiz- Which race is older than Escape from Alcatraz, Wildflower, and Challenge Roth? It’s the Music City triathlon.  The race began in 1979, just a year after the Ironman Hawaii, and is one of the oldest continuous triathlons in the world.  The course has moved around the city several times but has found a downtown right on the river.  This was my first Olympic distance race, and therefore is stuck in my head as crazy difficult, but if you’re racing in the south in the middle of the summer, you’ve got to expect some heat.  Doing well in such an historic race is certainly something to talk about with your friends, and a must on your Tennessee triathlon bucket list.  (Note: There is also a sprint option, which is a lot of fun, too.)

Screen shot 2015-06-05 at 2.49.16 PM Riverbluff Triathlon (formerly Nashvegas)- August 8, 2015

The newest of the bunch, Riverbluff is great for scenery if you prefer the outdoors to the big city. Says Kat Williams of Start2Finish, “The venue is beautiful – Lake front with the post race party under a grove of trees. You can also camp at the race site. The bike course is hot, hilly and hard (especially the half). If you’ve ever heard of the Wildflower triathlon in California, the future of this race is inspired by that one.”  For me, it’s been a good race to close out the season.  With the move from early September to early August, it promises to be hot and challenging, but still keep the great atmosphere.  (Note: There is a sprint option.  There’s also normally a half as well, but due to road construction, the half is taking a year off.)

Out of these or others, which is your favorite Tennessee Olympic race?  Comment below!

I’m excited to try all of these races, and I hope you’re inspired to race one or more as well.

ALSO READ:
Why Older Triathletes Are Freaks

The Triathletes Secret Weapon At Work

 

 

 

running, triathlon

The Triathlete Black Friday Checklist

No Comments 24 November 2014

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.32.35 PMDo you want to set yourself up for a great 2015 season?  Then make sure to be fully stocked and ready to go by taking advantage of Black Friday to Cyber Monday deals.

1) Know What You Need

Create your list of what you need. Last week, I wrote about how to do your Triathlete Off-Season Inventory.  If you haven’t done that, make sure to do so now.  It’s no use shopping if you don’t know what you need!

2) Know Your Options

Once you have your list, do your research.  Call up or visit your local shop, check online at a variety of stores, and sign up for to get emails on sales and discounts.  Make sure to factor in shipping and handling costs- some online stores will do big discounts on products but raise the price.

3) Shop local

Did you know Amazon is going to start doing local how-to clinics, lead weekend rides, offer in-person service, and volunteer at races? You’re right, they won’t, and they never will.

There are some things online stores can never replace.  Studies have shown that just a 10% shift in buying more locally can have a huge impact on your area. Make an effort to shop and support your local triathlon, bike, running and swim shops.  I do buy online, but I don’t try it on in a store and then buy it online from someone else, and I also try to buy at least one thing I need from each of my favorite local shops.

4) Stock up on what you know you’ll use.

A couple years ago, I found my favorite shoes marked down from $110 to $40. I stocked up, and will go about 2 1/2 years without having to buy shoes.

BONUS TIP: Don’t forget to check out deals on races- many race promoters will also do deals this weekend.

5) Don’t stock up on products you don’t know or won’t use

One year I saw a great deal on cycling knee warmers.  I never used them, but they were only $4, so it wasn’t a huge loss.  However, sometimes more expensive items I’ve never used are tempting.

There’s also a great story in the book Decisive by The Heath Brothers about getting what you need vs. what you want.  A guy is stuck trying to decide between a stereo that’s $700, or a stereo that’s slightly better for $1,000.  The salesperson, who must not have been on commission, asked him this question- “Would you rather have the $1,000 stereo, or the $700 stereo and $300 worth of downloads?”

So before you decide to make a crazy purchase, even at a discount, make sure to figure out if it’s worth it or if you’d you’d really like something else more.

6) Do something good for someone else

Make time to think of someone else by donating items or money to a running or endurance related organizations for those in needs- Soles4Soles, Barefoot Republic, Challenged Athlete Foundation, SoleHope or Bikes Not Bombs are some great.  Help someone swim, bike or run!

Do you have any tips for helping another triathlete shop well?  Comment below!

Check out: How To Do Your Triathlon Off-Season Inventory

Five Ways To Help A Friend In Need

Brian Lord is a very average age-group athlete who loves to help encourage others in the sport, save money, and write bylines about himself in the third person.

marathon, running, triathlon

How To Do Your Triathlon Off-Season Inventory

1 Comment 17 November 2014

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For most triathletes, the season is over and we’re well into our “off-season recovery program”, aka, “laziness”.  With a little more time on your hands, you can conduct your first annual triathlon inventory.  Now is a perfect time to do your inventory before Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit!

Nutrition Inventory

1) Throw out what is old.  When do those Honey Stinger waffles expire? Are those GUs too gooey? Now is a much better time to figure that out then when you’re on a bike ride 40 miles from home.

2) Organize and put away what you have.  For me, I love feeling like I have a little store with gels, bars, and waffles and drank tablet tabs all in their own boxes. (I think this comes from always wanting a full box of baseball card packs as a kid.)  My wife thinks I’m weird, but she married a triathlete, so she should have known ‘weird’ came with the territory.

3) Make a list of what you need.  How many gels do you have?    Do you have enough endurance drink powder to last the long winter of biking on the trainer?   CLICK HERE FOR 6 Step Checklist To Take Advantage of Black Friday

(Exclusive Interview with Mark Allen: The Art of Ironman Success)

Gear Inventory

I basically take everything and dump it into a big pile.  With shorts, tops, socks, jammers and everything else spread between drawers, closets, car, and bags, I’ll often find something that’s been missing forever (and hopefully wasn’t dirty!)

1) Organize and put away what you have and want to keep.  Sometimes it’s just so nice to see all your clothes actually folded.  It’s the simple things.

2) Donate what is still in good condition.  Connect with your local triathlon or running club, bike shop or Y to see if there are any running, cycling, or endurance related nonprofits in your area.  Don’t wait till your gear is past doing any good before donating.  If you don’t have usable gear to donate, thing about making a monetary donation.  It pays to help the next generation!

3) Throw away or recycle what you’re not donating or keeping.  Bonus tip- Check your helmet.  If it’s more than a few years old, you need to stop using it, even if you’ve not been in a wreck.  I thought this wasn’t legit until I asked several veteran triathletes, and they all said it’s true due to natural breakdown.  One triathlete who worked in construction said they’re required to get new hardhats every year for the same reason.

4) Make a list of everything you need for the next year.  Are those compression socks still compressing? Are you good on goggles, both clear and tinted?   Keep this list to figure out how to take advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals (CLICK HERE FOR 6 Step Checklist To Take Advantage of Black Friday)

(Also read: The Triathlete’s Secret Weapon At Work)

Bonus: Friend Inventory

1) Hang out, don’t work out. There is no 2). Since you’re probably not doing as many group training bricks as you normally do, pick a night to get together to just hang out, celebrate the year you’ve had, and burn as few calories as possible.  Talk about the glorious races, failures and victories, mechanical and bodily malfunctions and all those things that only fellow endurance athletes would understand.  You’ve earned it!

What tips to you have to share about taking advantage of downtime and getting ready for next season?

ALSO CHECK OUT:

Why Older Triathletes Are Freaks!

The Surprising Reason Rock Bands Demand M&Ms

interview, running, triathlon

Mark Allen- The Art of Ironman Success

No Comments 07 October 2014

MarkAllenMark Allen, who ESPN picked as the #1 endurance athlete of all-time, took some time to do this interview with me and answer some of these questions:

What is the single best step an age-group triathlete can take to be successful?

How do you come back from a tough defeat? (Dave lost the Ironman world championship six time before overcoming his arch rival Dave Scott to win six straight himself).

WATCH: EXCLUSIVE Interview with all-time great triathlete, Chrissie Wellington

What are the universal tools people need in order to be successful in sports and business?

It’s the week of the Ironman World Championship, so I’ll be posting triathlon stories all week long!
READ: WHY OLDER TRIATHLETES ARE FREAKS
READ:  THE TRIATHLETE’S SECRET WEAPON AT WORK

READ: RE-RUNNING THE RACE THAT STARTED IT ALL

running, triathlon, work

The Triathlete’s Secret Weapon At Work

No Comments 22 September 2014

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 5.56.44 AMDid you know that many triathletes and runners have a secret weapon they could be using at work?  Make sure to only read this article if you want to improve your work performance, triathlon performance, avoid crows feet, and enhance your “that person is weird but also weirdly cool” vibe you’ve likely been building up with your non-endurance co-workers.

Last year I read an article called “Balance Training For Triathletes” by Ben Greenfield in LAVA Magazine.  In it, Ben states that to improve your visual balance, triathletes who spend quite a bit of time looking at screens (i.e., almost everyone) should wear “gamer” glasses.  According to the Vision Council, 70% of US adults do experience eye strain from staring at computer screens.  I did some research and found out that A) the science checks out and gamer glasses do help reduce eye strain for most people, and B) gamer glasses start at $80-$100, which I didn’t want to spend.

However, I found out that as a triathlete, I already had gamer glasses and didn’t know it.  Continue Reading

running

Re-running The Race That Started It All

1 Comment 07 March 2014

Tomorrow, I’m re-tracing the steps of my first half-marathon, that I decided to run for my unborn daughter. Here’s the story of that ill-planned adventure.
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A few days after Christmas 2004, we found we’d be having a child that summer. It hit me I needed to do whatever I could to stay healthy for a long time, so the day after I found out, I signed up for my first half marathon. The race would be the Tom King Half Marathon in mid March.

I’d done a couple of 5Ks, but training was foreign to me. Preparation was pretty much limited to fitting in a mile run maybe once or twice before a race. Otherwise, I just stuck to basketball twice a week. Someone had told me that if you wanted to do a half marathon, you did this thing called a ‘long run’, where every week, you run one mile longer than the week before. I started with the week of the half marathon, and worked my way back subtracting a mile each week. To figure out mileage, I’d go out and drive to a point of half the distance I needed, and drive back. I learned that the distance around the parking lots of a nearby school was one mile. Oh, the boring laps I ran around that school! I only knew about this long run thing, so I didn’t do any running outside of that. I had a radio headset, so I’d time my runs during football and basketball games so that at least I’d have some company. I never ran with any friends, because at that point, I only had friends who did normal sports like football and basketball. Continue Reading

interview, running, triathlon, Uncategorized

Mark Allen- World Greatest Endurance Athlete

No Comments 12 December 2012

So, what does the World’s Greatest Endurance Athlete do after he finds out he’s been so honored by ESPN?

What can you do to become great?

All this and more in this interview with Mark Allen!

expo, half-marathon, kids, marathon, running, triathlon

Going to the marathon expo with kids? You HAVE to do this.

No Comments 27 April 2012

Extra Snickers bars? Check

If you’re going to run marathons and race triathlons, you have to get your family on board.

One of the best ways to get your kids to love it is to have them go ‘trick -or-treating’ at the race expo. My girls, 5 and 6, absolutely love this. They each get one of the many bags vendors hang out, and then they go around to all the vendors and say “trick or treat!” And since they’re cute little girls and not greedy adult runners, venders just love giving them tons of free stuff. At the last expo we attended, I got a few gels and a bottled water from vendors. My girls each got tech tees (adult medium, but who cares) race finisher medals, a bunch of gels, bars, waters, gatorades, shaving cream- probably $100+ in free stuff. The girls didn’t want any of it, they just had fun ‘trick-or-treating”. And I had enough gels to last for months.

Scary Disney Marathon Poster!

As my friend Shawn says, “Kids are expensive! You might as well get some money back from them.”

 Have fun at the expo!

disney, half-marathon, international, ireland, michigan, minnesota, netherlands, new york, running, toronto

How To Break Through The Training Wall In Your First Marathon

No Comments 07 March 2012

A lot of runners hit a wall training for their first marathon, especially when they do their first 14- or 15-mile long run. Sure, they’ve likely done 13.1 miles in a half marathon, but somehow going past that distance is a post-half marathon barrier that makes newer runners want to quit. I have two in-laws training for their first marathon, so I asked my local triathlon club and the LinkedIn Marathon Finishers Group this question- “How in the world did you break through that training barrier for your first marathon?” And you know what? The world answered back.

Roman, a software engineer from Ireland, said he used ‘pure determination’, but also made sure to never run too fast on long runs. Derek from Toronto used what I like to call the ‘planning ahead’ and ‘family bribery’ methods. He and his brother signed up for the Disney marathon almost a year out, and booked the plane tickets and hotel for their families at the same time. They knew they couldn’t back out because they’d invested so much money into it, and they got the support they needed from their families for those long training runs, because, hey, they’re going to Disney World! Wayne from the UK advocated keeping detailed notes on your training to track progress. Twan from the Netherlands, and my fellow BEAT tri club member Kathy, shared what was probably the most popular advice- get a good running mate to train with you. You’re not going to skip that 5:30AM long run if you’ve got a friend waiting out there in the cold. (Well, I might, but you probably wouldn’t.)

There was some great brain work from the folks stateside as well. Chris in Denver advocates doing core work and cross training. Bradford and Thomas, both from New York, (along with a number of other runners) advocate a focus on nutrition- you have to have a good plan in place, and practice it during your long runs. You need to eat your GUs, drink your Accelerade, and know what your body can handle and can’t. You’re doing something you’ve never done before, so you need to fuel differently than you do running a 5K.

Amy from Minnesota had one of my favorite bits of advice. She told as many friends as she could that she was training for her first marathon. Not only did that keep her from backing out, but she also found support and encouragement from all those people who were asking about her training. A cheering section is vital!

Bill, an engineer from Michigan, had what I thought was the best way to conquer the mental hurdle: “First-time marathoners should never think ahead of where they are in training. 14 is tough, if you think about the other 12 you’ll eventually have to run. Just focus on the 14 that day, and get through the miles. The next week, you’ll be ready for 15 and then 16 and so on. By the time you get ready for the real long runs, you’ll be ready for them, but the idea seems daunting when you’re just over the half marathon distance.”

Personally, my love of orange Jelly Belly sport beans- which I only allowed myself to eat on long runs- played a big role. Knowing I was going to have the delicious treat helped me get up and get going. I also bought a copy of 26.2 Marathon Stories, and only allowed myself to read the next story if I’d hit that mileage.

So what helped you break through that barrier?  Leave your comments below!

Brian Lord has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and on BBC radio, and has had his works appear in 40 different publications in the US, Canada, and Israel, although none of that had anything to do with triathlons. He is the lowest ranking board member for the Brentwood Endurance Athletic Team, Nashville, TN.

cycling, running, triathlon

GearBuzz – The Groupon for Triathletes, Runners and Cyclists

No Comments 18 November 2011

It’s about time, but it looks like we finally have a ‘Groupon’ all to ourselves.  GearBuzz, brought to you by Competitor Group- the same folks of Rock N’ Roll Marathon Series, Triathlete Magazine and Muddy Buddy fame- will offer deals on products and services for the endurance community starting November 21.

I’m excited about it.  I’ve always been a fan of Bonktown.com, but adding the groupon mentality to it makes it a bit more fun- and we’ll probably have 24 hours or more to decide rather than Bonktown’s 30 minutes.  Happy shopping!

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