The Atomic Man 1/2 IM race was pretty straight forward. By the small turnout it seems it's not in a very popular venue (Somewhere in the middle of Tennessee -- Lenoir City). However it seems that this was a hard core--but very friendly-- bunch of participants. I'm small, light and weak so I just tried to enjoy the day and treated this as a long IM training day -- it felt more like a long day and a half. I kind of went into this race blind and did not preview the course at all. Not the best plan but the weather was perfect and I had a great time using ALL the gears on my bike.
Anyway to the brass tacks:
Atomic Man 1/2 IM 9/5/2010
Location: Lenoir City, TN -- Mellon Lake TVA
Entry: $100 (Can't beat that)
Age group: 40-44
SWIM 1.2 miles (1.1) 7:45 AM
The water temp the day before the race was 84 degrees -- but most had brought wetsuits just in case. At midnight before the race there was a large water release at Norris Lake dam which plummeted the water temp to 73 and put it well into the wetsuit legal range. 11 degrees in 5 hours. Thank you Army Corps of Engineers. Note to self and suggestion to Atomic Man race coordinators-- check the water release schedule for Norris Lake Dam.
The swim was shortened somewhat for safety/visibility issues due to a dense early morning fog (cold water release) and it was a fast swim. My guess was it was closer to 1750M than 1931M.
Swim time + walk to transition: 31:56
Wetsuit: Y -- Sleeveless
Water Temp: 73F
Air Temp: Low 50's
Course Type: 2 Loop, + 30M run/walk, clockwise with buoys to the right.
T1: What gives? There are still plenty of bikes in here. Where's my bike? Where is that other sock?! I've never biked without socks. Dang grey, tiny $9 piece of fabric....found it -- there goes 30 sec.
BIKE 56 Miles
The bike course was challenging with 13 moderate-serious (2 min) climbs in the 2 loop course. The turnaround point (28 miles) climb (7-8% and 2 min of granny gearing) was not repeated in the second loop. The course was rolling and hilly and the only truly flat piece was the portion running along both sides of the river to and from the dam. Unless one is strong on the bike,(which I am not) there are plenty of opportunities to blow up here. Rules of thumb that served me well -- 1) If you're rolling faster than 22mph, stop pedaling, go aero and enjoy the ride. 2) If you're going slower than 16 mph, get on the horns. 3) Use that small chain ring--when you're in single digit speeds, sitting and spinning at 7mph is more efficient than standing and hammering for 9mph. 4) Fear not gravel and debris if you have Continental Gatorskins -- saw 6 people that flatted.
Bike Time: 3:14:xx
Air Temp: Mid-70's
Av. Speed: 17.4 (Yeah, I'm slow, hurt on the hills, my tubes are thick and I use Gatorskins)
Terrain: Hilly, Rolling -- WHEE! 45 mph without pedaling and hanging on for dear life.
RUN 13.1 Miles
You will be glad to have saved your legs for the run. The course is rolling and until mile 10 (Took a cup of gatorade and 5 second walk at each aid station) I held pace well for a sub 6 hour race. Then the leg muscles started cramping about every 1/4 mile each time I started a significant hill. I ruled out dehydration, electrolyte depletion and heat. The only thing left was rather obvious. I don't do much hill work and was paying for it. I was encouraged by several people I met coming back from the turnaround and one girl offered to finish the race with me at mile marker 12. I thought it was a good idea but the legs reminded me that they were in charge. The margin for a 5:59:xx finish started to slip whenl I turned the corner and saw the 7-8% grade 1/2 mile hill that needed to be climbed to get to the finish. Slow, steady all the way up without stopping to walk and sub 6 was mine -- Almost -- 6:00:18 . It was a good race, and sub 6 was a tied shoelace, temporarily lost sock or a mistimed pit stop on the bike. Thanks to the volunteers and excellent staff.
Run Time 2:09:xx
Pace: 9:54 (Crazy cramping but stayed on my feet and did not stop forward progress for ANYTHING).
Temp: Low-mid 80's
Personal Notes: A personal best on the 1/2 IM distance for me by 15 minutes on a course far more challenging than IM 70.3 Florida. Not a lot of people do this race but as my first race of the season (Yeah, my first 3 races were cancelled/scheduled out), it was a good tune up for B2B and I met lots of nice people. (Didn't qualify for Half-max -- typo on the Active.Com page.)
Overall 99/181 A small field but lots of nice friendly athletes and staff.
DNF/DNS Rate: 15%
There isn't a lot of fanfare for this race. It's affordable, close by, well run, friendly and challenging. I'll be doing this again. It's just too good a deal to pass up.