When it takes me over a week to post a race report for a race I did well in, you know I’ve been really busy. With a job, second job, and hobby that all have the same busy season, the last couple of months have been insane. It’s all good stuff, but I wish it wasn’t all happening simultaneously. In fact, the only reason I was able to get to this today was that I can’t get our new office printer to work and I’m waiting for technical support. In any case, I really wanted to take the time to blog about my latest race – Toughman Tupper Lake Tinman – because it is such a fantastic event. If you’re looking for a non-WTC race to support next year, I can’t recommend Tinman highly enough.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I chose this race not because I knew anyone who had done it, but because Tupper Lake is a place my family visited when I was a child. I have so many fond memories from trips there and when I heard about the race I couldn’t wait to go back.
We aren’t sure exactly when this photo was taken (my mom thinks I was five and I guessed seven), but the point is that I would be returning to swim in these very waters almost 30 years later for Tinman.
This race would also be special because my mom would be spectating her first ever triathlon.
Tinman is a Saturday race, which I am a huge fan of, personally. That meant I left Virginia on Thursday to head up to my parents’ house (about a five and a half hour drive from my house) and then my mom and I left on Friday to drive to Tupper Lake (an additional four hour drive). We drove straight to packet pick-up at The Wild Center, which is an incredibly awesome natural history museum in Tupper Lake.
We arrived a bit before packet pick-up opened, so we sat at picnic benches in the woods and had our lunch. It was gorgeous. The weather was perfect and it was really the ideal way to start our time in the Adirondacks. Nothing says Adirondacks like having sap drip down on you from the tree tops as you eat your lunch!
I would have loved to walk through The Wild Center and their outdoor “Wild Walk,” but I knew that wasn’t the best idea the day before a 70.3. I will have to plan another trip back to Tupper Lake for that.
After I picked up my packet, we drove to our motel (the same motel we stayed in 30 years ago), which was literally right next door to transition. I took this photo standing in the parking lot of the motel and you can see that the bike racks are just on the other side of the fence. Note that we did not have to check bikes the day before, although if I had to, I would have easily been able to check on my bike throughout the night.
The motel was exactly how I remembered it from 30 (ish) years ago. We were right next to the water. We even spotted this seaplane landing and taking off again from the window in our motel room!
I did my usual pre-race routine on Friday, we ate spaghetti in our room for dinner (we were able to cook dinner right in our room, instead of going out, which was great), and then went to bed early.
On Saturday morning, it was actually quite cold. I believe the temperature was only in the high 40s. I walked over to transition (which is in a beautiful park, also right next to the water), got set up, and then headed back to our motel room to hang out with my mom until the start. I’ve never been able to do that before at a race and let me tell you, it was fantastic.
I wrote out a timeline for my mom, letting her know about what time of day I would be coming in and out of transition. After a rough go in Knoxville, I really wanted to redeem myself at this race, but you never know what to expect, especially when you’re racing a course for the very first time. So, I gave her pretty wide ranges for everything. For example, for the bike, I gave her a window between 3:00 and 3:30 to look for me.
My wave didn’t start the race until 8:30 (we were the very last wave of the day), but I did one last check in transition and headed over to the swim start a bit before 8:00 to catch announcements, since there was a not an athlete briefing the day before. It was definitely getting warm as I was standing around in my wetsuit waiting to get in the water.
The Swim: 42:58 (11/22 AG, 69/125 Women)
As I said, we were the last wave of the day and after standing around in the sun waiting for the start, I was happy to finally get into the cool water. The water was really the perfect temperature (I believe they said it was around 68 degrees) and you start off in a shallow area where you can stand, which I really liked. I did a quick warm-up in the few minutes we were allowed to be in the water before our start. I felt good.
Once the swim started, it was pretty chaotic. I think that for so long I would tread water at the start of races and let everyone go that I’m not used to being in the crowd yet. I definitely got a little freaked out with all the kicking and flying arms, but, as always, once I got going, I was okay. I was actually with a pack of other ladies for most of this swim, which has never really happened to me before. In fact, one of the other athletes and I basically did the whole swim side-by-side (I guess that means I should have tried to draft off her…?) to the point that when we exited the water she turned to me and said “great swim!” My swim time was a 42:58, which is fine. I am still waiting for all of my work in the pool to translate to a fast swim in a race, but after my swim issues in Knoxville, I was happy to just get through this one without incident.
I ran into transition, switched out my gear, grabbed my bike, and ran to the bike out, where I saw my mom cheering for me from just a few steps away. Another bonus of being at a small race!
The Bike: 2:57:45 (6/22 AG, 33/125 Women)
Going under 3:00 on the bike has been a goal of mine for some time now and you may remember that I was not too pleased (bitter?) about the fact that I probably would have done so, but for the course being more than 2 miles too long at Challenge Atlantic City last year. I was hoping to be able to finally break through that barrier at Tinman, but, again, after Knoxville, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
As is always the case for me, being a weaker swimmer, I spent much of the first portion of the bike at Tinman passing people. There were definitely some challenging climbs, as well, so I needed to try to strike that balance between working hard to get up the climbs and passing people and not blowing myself up in the first 30 minutes on the bike.
I tried to focus on my nutrition and, with the hilly course, making sure I was on top of my shifting. The course was really beautiful. There were a few occasions where I did a double take because of the beautiful views. I snagged this photo from the Tupper Lake, NY Facebook page – it isn’t me in the photo, but I wanted you to get a glimpse of just how stunning the views are along this course.
The ride is an out and back, with the first and last parts having the most climbing, while the area nearing the turnaround is fairly flat. The course is not closed to traffic, but there is a very wide shoulder along the road, so this really isn’t an issue at all. The road surface conditions were good throughout the course.
Throughout the ride I really tried to keep my foot on the gas and I knew I was setting myself up well for breaking three hours. Everything was going along well until about the last half hour when my shifter broke and I couldn’t stay in the big ring. Suffice it to say, I was not happy and quite concerned I was going to let my sub-3:00 ride slip out of my grasp. Initially, I tried just holding the shifter down, but riding with a firm grip on your shifter for an extended period of time sounds a lot easier than it is. I finally decided I was wasting too much mental and physical energy on this and just needed to do the best I could using my small ring. I pushed as hard as I could, but I knew I was going to be cutting it close.
I rode back into transition and I was pretty sure I had broken 3:00, but I wasn’t positive until I checked the results latter that day.
The Run: 2:11:30 (8/22 AG, 33/125 Women)
By the time I got back into transition, it was getting hot. I decided not to wear my hat because I was afraid it would hold in too much heat. I knew I was going to need salt right away, so as I was running out of transition, I grabbed my baggie of salt pills and off I went.
This run course was kind of different in that it changed a lot as you went along. We ran through residential neighborhoods, we ran on a gravel path, we took a lot of turns. I kind of liked that I never knew what was coming next and couldn’t get bored. The course was well-marked and aid stations were plentiful. I haven’t mentioned them yet, but the volunteers were really great all day. The only negative about the run course was that there was very little shade at all and at this point in the day (with the 8:30 a.m. start) we were running in temperatures that were over 80 degrees, with the sun blazing down.
In addition to the heat, I had stomach issues for the second race in a row, which I obviously need to address before Mont Tremblant. This time, my stomach was feeling even worse than it did in Knoxville and I actually stopped to use a porta potty on the course.
I had forgotten to bring the wrist strap for my Garmin, so I did the entire run without knowing my pace or mileage. That may have been a good thing, since I wasn’t running my best. Between the heat and my stomach, a 2:11 run in a 70.3 isn’t bad for me, but it’s far from a PR. My best 70.3 run ever (by a lot) was a 2:02:16 at Challenge Atlantic City last year and while I know that was a special day for me, it does bother me a bit that I haven’t been able to replicate that kind of run in a 70.3 since.
I crossed the line and immediately asked my mom the time of day. I knew I was going to be close to breaking 6 hours for the first time ever (!!) in a 70.3, but without having a Garmin on the run, I had no idea how fast or slow my run had been. My mom said 2:20-something and I knew I had done it. I was thrilled!
Final Time: 5:56:51 (8/22 AG, 33/125 Women)
After the race, there was a lovely picnic (with vegan options!) in the park (under a pavilion, so we were shielded from the sun), with live music and food, and lots of friendly conversation. Since we were right next to the water, there was even a nice breeze. It was perfect!
You need to visit Tupper Lake! It’s so stunningly gorgeous. I promise you won’t regret it!
The day after the race, I got back in the water (voluntarily!). You can see in the second photo below (taken underwater the day after the race), the water is amazingly clear.
I can’t think of a reason not to do this race again.
Thank you to the everyone who made this race possible – the race director, volunteers, Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce, The Wild Center and other sponsors, and of course the members of the community who have supported this race for over 30 years.
And a huge thanks, as always, to Alyssa for her guidance.
And, before I sign-off to throw our printer out the window, I have to give a quick shout out to Tupper Lake’s natural food store, Tupper Health Hub. You definitely need to stop by if you’re ever in the area. I love being able to “vote with my pocketbook” and support small, organic, vegan-friendly grocery stores when I can. I also recommend Skyline Ice Cream, which had non-dairy soft serve.