Tuesday, July 16, 2013

RACE REPORT: HITS North Country 70.3

June 29th, 2013

Here is the bulleted version...

  • Drove up Friday night and stayed one exit down from the race site.  There aren't many hotels in the area, so a lot of people had to drive a ways.  
  • Spent the night with a fellow triathlon club member and his gf who thought we were both nuts.
  • Woke up at 3:45am & out the door by 4:15am.
  • Breakfast - 4 cold scrambled eggs (no microwave!), banana with pb, and 2 pieces of bread.
  • Arrived at race site at 5:00am, just as transition opened.
  • This was the first race I waited until race morning to get my race packet.
  • Everything is a sticker for HITS; bike sticker, helmet sticker, your wristband is a sticker, you have swim cap stickers, transition bag stickers...  A little overkill on the sticker frenzy HITS.
  • I sipped some Powerade and had half a Clif bar while I waited for the swim.
  • Did a 100m or so warm up, filled the wetsuit to avoid any cold shock, and then we exited for the start.
  • Mark Wilson, the race director, gave us some final instructions and we went out waist deep (which was quite far).
  • We started 7am on the dot!

  • I started just behind a few athletes I knew were great swimmers.  I had hoped to draft them.
  • As we started, the lead pack took right off!  To be fair, they had debated about who was going to be first out of the water, so maybe they were being competitive right out of the gate.  Yes, that's what I'm telling myself.
  • As I realized they were going to be out of reach, I found swimmers to my right and veered in their direction to draft.  We were neck and neck for awhile and then they dropped back.  I was comfortable at my pace, so I kept going and looked around.  No one!
  • 3-400m into the race I found no one to my left or right.  The lead pack was 100m ahead and the pack behind me was 25-50m back.  With a goal of drafting, I found myself in no man's land.  Great!
  • About half way to the first turn buoy, we finally lost sight of the lake floor.  No joke, you could have stopped and stood up at any point until then.  It was odd.
  • With 50m to the first turn buoy, a female made her way up to me and I began drafting.  After the buoy, she took off.  I would end up exiting the water in front of her, but she was swimming too fast at that point, so I let her go.
  • The turn buoys were a dark red and tough to see in the morning light on Lake George.  We could site the penninsula for the fist buoy and the splash of the lead back for the second and third, but the final buoy on the beach at swim exit might as well have been deflated.  I sighted the white expo tents instead; much easier to see.
  • About 200m after the first buoy, a couple of guys came up on me and I began drafting.  About 100m later, I gave up when I realized that between them and me, we get zig-zagging each other.  If felt I was swimming more side-to-side than forward.
  • After the final turn buoy, the two guys had drifted far right, the female drifted far left, and I kept second guessing where I was headed.
  • We started feeling waves closer to shore which made me not queasy, but gave me a little vertigo.  
  • The female to my left turned back in and we were neck-and-neck until we got shallow enough to stand.  I did a number of dolphin dives, pulled well ahead, decided I was tiring my legs out, and went back to swimming.  Once my arms couldn't swim without touching the bottom, I came back up and made my way to shore.
6th out of the water

  • I ran the 100 yards up to transition (a parking lot), tore off my suit, put on my sunglasses and helmet, grabbed my bike and was gone.
  • The announcer was yelling out people's race numbers and names as they came through.  He messed my name up of course, but I thought that this was a cool touch though it'll get tougher as the race gets bigger.
Darn you Ken!
(1st place swimmer & my genius friend beat me)
  • Holy c*#&!!!
  • You have just enough time to get your shoes on, strap yourself in, and get a drink / gel.  Then you climb.
  • ...and you climb.
  • ...and climb.
  • ...all the way to mile 5.  Then you get a downhill.
  • If I had taken a towel with me, I would have thrown it in.  No warning will get you ready for that bike start!
  • Mile 9 to the turn around at 28 are nice rollers; a somewhat scenic, but altogether nice ride.
  • There is one or two good hills aside from the first and last monster hill.
  • The last hill on the way back (your nice downhill on the way out) is 4 miles of continuous (no joke!) incline.  There is no break for 4 miles.  But you get a killer downhill 5 miles into T2.
  • Aid stations (mile 15, 28, and 41) had HEED and water.  I believe the turn around (mile 28) had gels as well.   
  • I thought an out-and-back would be boring.  It was actually fun.  On the way out, I got passed a lot, so I saw a lot of people.  As they started coming back, I yelled out there places which kept me occupied; I found I was #33 at the turn around and came into T2 #30 or 31.  You also got to see all your friends (if you have any racing) while on the course.  
  • My computer registered 59.6 miles instead of their 56.
  • My goal was to take it easy - something around a 17mph average.
    • The first 5 miles were killer and my quads were tight/cramping.
    • At mile 15, my pace was great and the legs felt relaxed.  
    • Finished a little later than I expected.
    • Coke went down fine as my last bottle.
  • My nutrition goal was a gel every 20 minutes.  I was able to stick to it up to roughly mile 35.  
    • I was sick of gels and my stomach felt bloated / full
    • I skipped one gel and then went back to it out of testing need.

50th place 

  • Announcer guy got my name right (as I corrected him) and I was in and out in that time.
  • Fastest T2!


If only that was the whole race!

  • The course is a GREAT set of good sized rolling hills.
    • It's challenging without being impossible.
  • My testing went succesful!  
  • I had pulled back on the bike and had coke as my last bottle in order to see if I would run better.  If so, I'll give up 10 minutes on the bike to save 20 on the run!  It worked.
  • I ran an average 6:43 / mile pace for the first 4 miles and felt strong and consistent.
  • Then my body/mind started shutting down.  I would run the same pace, but take walking breaks.  
  • I pulled out a gel and my stomach didn't want it; it still felt bloated from the bike.  
  • I took in a coke and then threw it up.  I didn't feel sick, just my stomach didn't want it.
  • At one aid station, they had no idea what "salt pills" were, so I trudged on.  
  • Finally at the turn around (staffed with adults, not children), I realized I should ask for Endurolytes, not salt pills.  Obviously these people are not well versed triathletes.
  • Salt pills got me going again.  Walk / Run with more running this time.
  • I made it out at 7:45 pace and back in 7:24 pace.
    • Therefore, running 4 miles at killer pace only hurt my pace by forcing me to walk more in the subsequent miles.
    • Once I was refueled, I ran better albeit more of a walk / run. 
7:35 pace

25th overall
3rd in M25-29 Age Group

  • Got some snacks (cookies, chips, water).
  • Got in the short, but long-lasting line for a massage
    • So worth it, but it took at least an hour.
  • I found I snagged 3rd place in my age group!

  • Afterwards, I drove from Hague down to my mother's north of Albany.  Sunday was her birthday, so the trip worked out perfectly!!
  • Recovery started with the casino buffet where I ate WAAAAY too much.
  • Then on Sunday we went kayaking where I got a worse sunburn in 2 hours than I did all day Saturday.
  • And then before heading home, we sampled the local pizza.  Yes, I ate the entire pizza!  Delicious!


  • Volunteers and Mark, the race director, were all on hand for questions and help.  They were AWESOME!!  You truly felt like family at this race.
  • Clean water.  Lake George is awesome!
  • Small field (easily maneuverable); We had 161 in the half. 
  • There was an announcer at the Transition/Finish yelling out our names. 
  • Each athlete has a stool in transition for their own use.  I used the ground, but it was a nice touch anyways. 
  • The out-and-back format actually worked well.  Competitive athletes could see how far ahead/back they were and non-competitive athletes had something to break up the monotony of the ride.
  • The run course was incredibly fair; good rolling hills with a steep hill at the turn around.  Very challenging, but not impossible course.
  • The aid stations were well set up; everything was prepped and ready!!  
  • Transition is pretty close to the water, which allowed for post-race recovery swims.

  • Not many hotels in the area.  You do have a bit of a drive on race day unless you stay at one of two hotels on site.
  • Packet pick up is on Friday at a restricted time.  You're better off waiting until race day.
  • Everything is a sticker.  Your bike stickers, helmet sticker, stickers for your swim cap, your wristband is a sticker...  It's a little much.
  • Once on the bike, you've got just enough time to strap your shoes on and then you climb for 5 miles!  I would venture to bet that quitting crossed everybody's mind.  I can't imagine doing two loops for the full.  In all fairness though, it was 5 miles of up, flat, up, flat, up... 
  • On the way back, however, that same hill was 4 miles at a steady incline without a break.  THAT was tough!
  • The run course does wind through a driveway for the local YMCA, which got hectic with YMCA members walking by, traffic, racing athletes, and such.  It felt like you were racing through the center of a city block. 
  • No one at the aid station knew what "salt pills" were.  It wasn't until I asked for "Endurolytes" that they said they had them.  I can't knock the volunteers, they were awesome, but they weren't seasoned triathletes either.

The last thing I will drive home is that while I'm unsure whether I'll return to Hague next year (only because that hill on the bike scares me), I will certainly be sticking to HITS races.  The feeling of being so inclusive and like family was well worth the money, trip, and experience.

Thank you HITS!!  Keep doing what you're doing!


1.  Have you ever raced a HITS race?
North Country was my first, but I have Hunter Mountain in September!

2.  Do you prefer the big name races or the smaller race companies?  
Some smaller races/companies are phenomenal, but the big companies have more to work with.  It's a toss up for me depending on the distance and specific races being compared.

3.  Do you ever sign up for races just as a way to test something?, nutrition, pacing, clothes, etc.?
This was not the first time I've tested something new, but it is the first race I've done specifically for that purpose.



Brian S. said...

Have you ever considered eating more real food instead of gels and coke? All that sugar is bound to make anyone hurl. Just reading that made my stomach upset.


My first race of six continents is a HITS next year in Naples FL... Nice and flat!!

christa said...

I love, love, love Lake George. We camp on the islands several times a summer.