MiamiMan – USA Triathlon Long Course Championships RACE REPORT

What a fun season of racing and training I was blessed with in 2018. It included an epic training camp in Helen, Georgia with my mates in April, a trip in early May to Virginia for a return to long course racing at MonticelloMan (my first half iron since 2013 – great event…I’ll be back next year), then on to my A-race in mid-August at the USA Triathlon Short Course National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. In between my spring racing and my A-race I was able to get in a few local races which had me in good form going into Cleveland. Unfortunately due to strong currents on race morning the race in Cleveland was turned into a duathlon (run-bike-run). I had a good result finishing in 5th in the 45-59 age group but not getting to race a true triathlon at my A-race left me feeling a bit empty after putting in 10 hard weeks of training. After about a week of bad eating and drinking (my wife would argue this…it was bad for me) along with about a third of the training I was putting in previously I decided I wanted to get in one more big race before I called it a year. After “convincing” my wife Jennifer to let me do one more big build up and race I picked the MiamiMan in early November which served as the USA Triathlon Long Course National Championship. I told Jennifer it would make for a great “vacation” for the family. I promised a hotel away from the race venue and loads of time with the family.

The MiamiMan is a great race that I’ve raced 5 times when I was in the 40-44 age group and I’ve always found it to be a big challenge with the weather always being hot. The race is located outside of downtown Miami in a smaller remote venue at Larry & Penny Thompson Park next to the Miami Zoo. The race starts off with a challenging 2-lap 1.2 mile swim in a very small pond/lake in the park. Due to the small lake the course gets very congested and that usually means slower times. The race then heads out onto a flat and fast 56 mile bike on lightly traveled roads. The race finishes with a 2-lap 13.1 mile run that features sections inside the Miami Zoo. The run almost always features lots of sun and temperatures in the upper 80’s.

We left Ohio the Thursday before the race with temperatures in the mid-30’s and snow on its way. The family was super excited to get to warmer weather and lots of sun. With the sun going down just after 5pm in November it can get pretty hard to keep training for an A-race. I was ready to be done with the hard training and looked forward to the big test. As promised I got us an apartment no where near the race venue and close to the beach.


A room with a view (Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach in the background)

The first thing we checked out when we arrived to Miami…the pool!

After a couple nice days of RnR with the family by the pool and the beach it was time to check in at the race site and get my full MoJo on for race day. It’s amazing that I traveled to a race so far from home and as soon as I parked at the venue I run into Daniel Smith from Team PR Racing in Vermilion, Ohio. Shortly after that we bumped into the Hart brothers and enjoyed some nice catching up after we checked our bikes into transition. Before leaving the race site it was announced the water temperature was well above the legal limit to allow for wetsuits. That was a little stressful news as I’ve spent the last 10 weeks training in my ROKA cheater suit for all my swim workouts to prepare me for a wetsuit swim. This would be the first time in the history of the race that the water temperature was not wetsuit legal…BUMMER. I only came with racing apparel that worked for a wetsuit legal race. I did not bring my speed suit or even a tri suit to race in. Oh well…I guess I’ll fight to put on a tri top over a wet body…that should be fun. Time to get back to the apartment and watch the Buckeyes vs Nebraska! OMG – another stressful game but at least a win. I spend the rest of the day at the pool chilling with the family.

Race day wake up call arrived very early (3:00am), as our parking pass required us to be at the race venue by 4:30am. After dragging the family out of bed and into the rental van we arrived just after 4:30am to a very busy and packed parking lot. The temperature was already 76 degrees and storms were looming. After pumping up my tires and staging my equipment in transition the rain started…then the clouds opened up and a heavy rain flooded the staging area and all my running equipment were soaked by the time I found a couple bags to cover them with. A huge mistake by many athletes before big races is making major changes to their race equipment…something I “normally” would not ever consider. However, after being trapped under the outdoor expo tent for 20 minutes while the storm passed through I made the rash decision to purchase a tri suit for the race instead of fighting my two piece HFP uniform. Not only was this a major no-no by most triathletes I was giving up the ability to represent my own company. It did fit really nice and I was convinced it would be better than fighting a two piece uni after the swim.

The storm delayed the first swim wave by about 15 minutes which was fine with everyone as the rain slowed and would eventually stop before wave #2. I was in the 4th wave which meant I was going to be swimming through a lot of slower swimmers from the earlier waves and with the swim being no wetsuits I knew the swim would be slow. I exited the water in 35:47 which was the slowest time I’ve ever swam the course in 6 race attempts. With a wetsuit I swam the course between 29 to 30 minutes from 2010 to 2013.

I excited the swim in 35:47 in 7th place in the 45-59 age group

The sun makes its first appearance as I exit the swim and head into transition

Out on to the bike course I had a simple plan to race by power and not pay attention to the competition around me. The plan was to average around 275 watts which should get me in around 2:15 to 2:18 and around 24.5mph to 25mph pace for the 56 miles. My legs felt awesome and I was enjoying passing the earlier age groups on this near windless day. Around mile 6 a fellow 45-49 age grouper slingshot around me and seemed to be pushing similar wattage than myself so I made the decision to sit back about 20 meters and let him make the pace until I make my final attack with 10 miles to go. This plan was working quite will until mile 30 when we caught the leader of our age group. This guy immediately jumped on his wheel and sat up next to him for a convo of which I can only assume was “lets work together” as the two then teamed up switching on and off drafting off each other. I was blown away that two nearly 50 year old dudes would make the choice to cheat so blatantly off of each other. This normally would of had me raging but I was again content to sit back in a legal position and watch my watts. At mile 40 their pace dropped significantly as they picked up another rider and now all 3 were switching off in the draft. Now this was all I could take and I pushed my watts to 415 and went left of center around these guys cursing simultaneously as I passed by them (sorry Mom). After about 3 minutes at 415 watts I moved down to a more manageable 315 watts which was my plan for the final 10 miles…I was just forced to move this plan into play with 15 miles to go.  I was enjoying my solo ride and with 5 miles to go I was caught off guard when the 3 riders came riding by me again. At this point I realized it would only take up needed energy to re-pass them so I sat back at 20 meters and followed them for the remaining miles. The crazy thing was as soon as they passed me my watts went from 315 to 275 and then eventually 250. It was all I could to not pass them again in a rage filled attack.

I managed a perfectly paced 2:18:45 bike ride (24.2 mph average) for the 56 mile course

I was super happy with my bike ride as it was the fastest I’ve ridden the MiamiMan bike ride for the full 56 miles. The 5 previous races my best time was 2:15:54 but on a 54 mile course with my slowest effort being a 2:28 ride (2009 and 2012).

After a pretty good transition, which included putting on soaking wet soaks and shoes, I set off on the 13.1 mile run course. My left hammy felt tight and the sun was now in full force which made the air feel thick and stuffy. My first big mistake of the race was racing in my short course running shoes which have laces that are tied very tight. After about 3 miles @ 6:52 mile pace my feet started to go numb and I knew I was going to have some major problems if I did not get my shoes to loosen up. The solution I decided was to stop a mile 5 and remove my socks! Yep..remove my socks at mile 5 of a hot and humid 13.1 mile run. It’s amazing how poor your judgement can be when the majority of your blood is working your muscles and not your brain.

Motoring along in the 13.1 mile run minus my socks…so far so good

By the end of the first lap I had slowed down to a 7:33 mile pace and the morning was now approaching the mid-80’s. I was just praying my feet held out and my pace would not drop too much more during the final 6.5 miles. I ended up holding a 7:34 mile pace through mile 10 before the wheels started to come off…literally! My feet were on fire and my hip flexors were no longer willing to move my legs at a 7:34 pace. I dug deep and with 1k to go Ezra (my youngest) found me on the course and ran alongside me encouraging me to keep it going. My final run time was 1:43:24 which was a 7:53 per mile average pace…that was a really slow final 3 miles.

Suffer-fest with 3 miles to go…

The giant blister from my decision to go without shoes for the final 8 miles…ouch!

OMG…where is a chair. I’m so DONE! I finish 4:41:02 good enough for 3rd in the 45-49 and 16th overall

Reunited with the family and so happy for the season to be finally over (thanks Henry for staying home to take care of the animals)

In closing; I feel so blessed to be 49 years old and healthy, strong and most importantly… a well supported father, husband and triathlete. What a great experience MiamiMan was after a 5 year hiatus. I highly recommend this race to anyone wanting to finish their season at a spectacular event.

See you in transition!

Shannon Kurek, aka HFP Man

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2018 FIT Family Series Champion Tri Tops Revealed

Congratulations to all the 2018 FIT Family Series Champions. All “Champions” of the FIT Family Series will be awarded a “Series Champion” Tri Top. Orders have been placed this week and if all goes well, your tri top will be in the hands shortly after the New Year.

About the FIT Family Series:
Welcome to one of America’s longest running multisport series — the 28th Annual FIT Family Series. Throughout the summer, the FIT Family Series visits six beautiful venues. Each venue features a Kidz Triathlon & Duathlon on Saturday followed by a mini, sprint & Olympic distance triathlon and duathlon on Sunday. So whether you’re racing for an overall title or giving multisport racing a try for the first time, the FIT Family Series is for YOU! It’s ALL ABOUT FUN!

2019 FIT Family Series

  • Deer Creek State Park
    Mt. Sterling, Ohio
    June 8–9, 2019

  • Maumee Bay State Park
    Oregon, Ohio
    June 15–16, 2019

  • Caesar Creek State Park
    Waynesville, Ohio
    July 13–14, 2019

  • Alum Creek State Park
    Delaware, Ohio
    August 3–4, 2019

  • Vermilion Harbour
    Vermilion, Ohio
    August 17–18, 2019

  • Portage Lakes State Park
    Akron, Ohio
    September 7-8, 2019

American Triple-T and TOUGHMAN Ohio on-site lodging GOING FAST!

The response to the new venue and lodging for the 2019 American Triple-T and TOUGHMAN Ohio has been very strong with the on-site cabins and lodge rooms are going very fast.

SALT FORK LODGE AND CONFERENCE CENTER

This massive pine beam and stone lodge captures the atmosphere and flavor of the grand park lodges built at the turn of the century.

Salt Fork Lodge is perfect for bringing the family or the spouse along to the race. Let them sleep in and then it’s just a quick walk to the main staging area to catch you crossing the finish line.

Salt Fork Lodge features 53 two-bedroom cabins conveniently located next to all the action. These cabins sleep up to 6, have two bedrooms, bathroom, full kitchen with dining area, living room and screened in porch for all your bikes and gear which makes a cabin perfect for teams traveling together.

Whether you’re doing your pre-race routine or recovering from a hard effort, these stress-free environments are peaceful, private, and close to everything.

For the GUARANTEED LOWEST RATES please call 740-435-9000 and mention the “HFP Racing” block.

DO NOT BOOK ACCOMMODATIONS ONLINE.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN TRIPLE-T

What IS the American Triple-T? Well, it’s everything you’ve heard it to be, and more. The event is so much more than your typical “triathlon weekend” — it’s a triathlon achievement of epic proportions for all who partake. It is 3 consecutive days of racing, gelling together 4 races covering a total of more than 70 or 140 miles for the weekend. You will find yourself swimming in chilly Salt Fork Lake, riding the challenging hills of Guerney County, and finishing with a demanding run on the trail systems climbing and descending those same hillsides.

The American Triple-T is not for the weak or faint of spirit. It has humbled many triathletes who didn’t take it seriously, and it validates a host of others who test their “tri-mettle” at the “T” every year. Athletes from all 50 states, and 4 continents have all sought the privilege of earning their American Triple-T finisher T-shirt. Competitors, volunteers and spectators all come away with a new appreciation of the sport and of the athletes who train and tame mind and body to complete this legendary event.

You’ll also come away with newfound friendships, and you’ll solidify those bonds every year you come together to face this demon. There are even a special few who turned their initial shared experiences at the American Triple-T into a union of souls, and they came back the next year to compete as husband and wife! While we cannot guarantee that you’ll find your soul mate at the “T”, we will guarantee an incredible, unforgettable experience unique in the triathlon world.

So please, take your time, peruse the website, and check out all the unique aspects of this amazing weekend event, then reach deep down and find the courage to sign up and join us at the 2019 American Triple-T on May 31-June 2.

ABOUT TOUGHMAN OHIO

TOUGHMAN OhioHFP Racing and Salt Fork Lodge & Conference Center invite you to Ohio’s season opening long course triathlon — TOUGHMAN Ohio. This exciting course serves as the final event of the American Triple-T Ohio event, giving you an opportunity to compete alongside Triple-T participants as they battle for top honors. Salt Fork State Park is nestled in the Appalachian Hills of southeastern Ohio. TOUGHMAN Ohio will challenge all ability levels as you take on this challenging bike and run course.

The Salt Fork region is dubbed the “Crossroads of America,” the Salt Fork region is found nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains along I-70 and I-77. Salt Fork Lodge & Conference Center is tucked away in the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio just a short drive from Cambridge, in Ohio’s largest state park. The lush wooded surroundings boast miles of recreational trails, wildlife, and impressive views of the sparkling lake.

FIT Family Series and ALL OHIO Rankings Update

A season of racing has finally come to an end and over 75 athletes were crowned 2018 FIT Family Series Champions along with another 35 athletes finishing in the runner-up and third place positions.

All series champions please send your tri top size (sizing chart) and your shipping address before October 15 to customerservice@hfpracing.com. Series champion tri tops will be mailed out in late December or early January. Anyone that placed in the top 3 will receive a “champion”, “runner up” or “third place” medal in the mail.

FIT Family Series Rankings:  https://triregistration.com/Points4.php?org=18

ABOUT THE FIT FAMILY SERIES & ALL OHIO – POINTS SYSTEM
We use a sophisticated algorithm that was developed by TriRegistration.com to determine the true champions from HFP’s FIT Family Series. We also produce All-Ohio Rankings which rank athletes participating in all HFP events regardless of distance.

The series points system gives the average time for each event 100 points (110 for Sprint, 120 for Olympic, and 130 for Half). Your points will be the average time (in seconds) multiplied by 100, then divided by your time (in seconds). If you are faster than the average time, then you will have more than 100 points.

This allows us to get a consistent points system that isn’t affected by the number of participants in a particular event or by the time of the overall winner, which can vary greatly depending on who shows up. Your total points is the sum of your 4 highest point totals, so you must complete 4 races to qualify.

Both the FIT Series awards and the HFP Ohio Rankings system use this method to compute the points earned at each event. From there it is different:

FIT Series Awards are grouped by race distance, thus separate series awards will be given for Mini Tri, Mini Du, Sprint Tri, Sprint Du, Olympic Tri, and so on, so you must do 4 races in the FIT series of the same distance (and in the same category) to qualify for a series award.

HFP ALL OHIO Rankings are only divided by sport (triathlon and duathlon), so all races count towards your overall ranking regardless of distance. It is separated by sport and category though. One race remains in 2018 that will count toward the ALL OHIO rankings…the Deer Creek Fall Challenge.

Rankings are published immediately after we post the results online.

NOTE: Anyone racing in the FIT Family Series Championship at Portage Lakes State Park will be awarded 25% points bonus when determining the final series points.

 

 

American Triple-T @ Salt Fork Labor Day Bike Course Recon

 

After our big announcement on Saturday, September 1 that the American Triple-T, after 15 years at Shawnee State Park, was moving to Salt Fork State Park in Cambridge, Ohio I made plans for a bike course recon day on Labor Day. I wanted to ride all the roads on the course to be able to better answer the many questions coming into our customer service…the number one question was the terrain on the bike course and how did it compare to Shawnee State Park.  The plan was to ride the half iron course and then when it intersected with the Olympic course on the way back do the rest of the Olympic course. This would allow me to hit every section and every major climb on the weekend.

I arrived at 9:30am at Salt Fork State Lodge and Conference Center and parked at the transition area location across the cabin boat docks. There is a nice bathroom located there and a nice egress to the swim course from the cabins private beach area.  I jumped on my bike and road a few laps around the parking lot to make sure everything was working properly. I quickly realized I forgot to charge my front derailleur battery and I could not shift out of my large chain ring. I addressed my options; I could ride the entire day in my large chain ring (wow that would make for some hard-core blog riding) or swap out the back-derailleur battery with the front temporarily, so I could shift into my small ring and leave it there for the rest of the day. Believe it or not I decided to go with first option and keep it in my large ring for the ride…that lasted about 6 miles and after my 4th climb at 480 watts I decided that there was no way I was going to survive this course in my large chain ring. After switching to my small ring, I finally started to enjoy the ride…even as temps approached 90+ degrees by 10:30am. About 7 miles into the ride I left the park roads and started riding the county roads of Guernsey County which is when I got the first switch back climb on Freedom Road (love the name). As you can see the switch back is wide enough for two-way car traffic to pass by safely and the elevation is much more gentle than the steeps of Shawnee. On this particular climb I bombed down the decent and actually enjoyed the accent which still was mostly in the shade.

After a left turn on to Broadhead Road, which is a smooth and gently rolling road, you’ll notice most of the houses do not have electric lines running to them…you are now officially in Amish Country! This is a beautiful section of the course and I enjoyed passing by the many Amish houses and seeing their underwear out drying in the sun. Other than some horse droppings, the road surface is smooth and fast. In the middle of Broadhead Road you’ll drop down to the Rocky Fork Recreation Area around mile 11. The climb up and out of the Rocky Fork Recreation Area is nice and has a gentle rise to the road that leads to “Ohio’s Pikes Peak” and the top of the climb.  

At 13.5 miles you leave to the smooth surfaces of Broadhead Road and head north on the bumpier Salt Fork Road which features some wheel sucking cracks in the road. I’ve been assured by the county these roads will be repaired by the time the race rolls into town. You’re only on Salt Fork Road a short distance (about 1.5 miles) before it turns into State Route 258. Once the road turns into State Route 258 the surface goes back to smooth and fast. State Route 258 rolls down towards River Rd where you begin a nice flat section along the Tuscarawas River. This is a spectacular section that had very little traffic on it and provided awesome views of the river. I rode past the turn around point at Gilmore Road so I could restock my fluids at a local gas station in the little town of Gnadenhutten (say that five times fast).

The ride back from Gnadenhutten was a little tougher on River Road as I discovered I had a headwind coming back. However, I still enjoyed this section and held back a little knowing the ride back up 258 would be tough in the early afternoon heat. At the top of 258, around mile 41, I stopped at the appropriately named “Sally’s Hilltop Store” for another refuel stop which included a huge chocolate chip cookie that the checkout lady said was actually made by Sally.  Salt Fork Road turns into Old Twenty One Road and had some of the same wheel sucking cracks and bumpy sections that plagued Salt Fork Road. However, you can count on those being repaired or at least well highlighted by orange paint by race weekend.  At mile 46 you take a left back on to Freedom Road for 4 miles of serious roller coaster riding. This section featured large hills that go straight up and straight down allowing me to hit about 45 mph safely without even peddling. I can imagine this will be a really tough section on day 3 of the Triple-T for both the XT and ST racers.

Once I got back to Egress Road where the half iron turns right and heads back on to the park roads, I opted to go straight and ride the back half of the Olympic course which again featured the switch back climb from earlier on Freedom Road. The course goes south on Birmingham Rd which is a state bike route and features smooth road surfaces and multiple long climbs. I loved this section of the course and I’m sure this will get rave reviews from participants…maybe not the second time around in the afternoon but certainly during the AM course.

Birmingham Road intersects with the little town of Winterset, home of the Pot House Garden Center that Batman appears to be watching over…from thereturning right onto Cadiz Road (State Route 22) was a nice relief as I knew I was getting closer to the park. Due to this road being a higher traffic road we’ll be detouring car traffic via Birmingham Road south to Lake Ridge Road during both Saturday races. As you approach the park entrance you cross a bridge that has a spectacular view of a beautiful lily pad section of the lake. The section in the park from Park Road #1 to Park Road #3 is no joke and features some of the toughest climbing of the day (or at least that’s what my legs were saying at this point in the ride).  Some of the park roads have sections with orange paint on them and according to the park manager these sections are scheduled for repair…hopefully before the race.

Once I pulled back up to my truck I was totally cooked and looked forward to jumping in the lake to cool off and to clean off. There was about 8 boats anchored in what would be the right side of the swim course and many had entire families enjoying themselves on inflatable rafts or just swimming near their boat. I was amazed that there was a nice firm sandy bottom as I walked out to nearly chest deep water, which will be part of the swim course for every race. This will certainly be nice for the Saturday PM race where many participants will discovery it’s really tough to swim after riding a hard-hilly bike ride and may need to stand for a break ;).

There is no doubt that Salt Fork will continue the tradition of challenging courses in the American Triple-T. However, the major difference I felt was that the hills may have been long (in some cases even longer than Shawnee) but they were not as steep and the descents were much safer.  All the courses are on much wider roads with have much better visibility than the roads of Shawnee.

HFP Racing is planning an early May training camp for the American Triple-T to give participants a chance to train on these roads and get some miles on the Shadbush Trail.

Hope to see you then.

Shannon Kurek, aka HFP Man

HFP Racing 4th of July SALE

Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Plan your summer racing during the HFP Racing 4th of July sale going on now through Midnight on July 4th. Receive 15% any HFP Racing event below by using the code “HFP-4th-Sale-2018” during the registration process.  Remember the code is case sensitive and must be typed in just as it reads. This code is not retroactive for races already registered.

July 7-8: FIT Family Series @ Caesar Creek (Waynesville, Ohio)
July 21-22: FIT Family Series @ Buck Creek (Springfield, Ohio)
August 4-5: FIT Family Series @ Alum Creek (Lewis Center, Ohio)
August 18-19: FIT Family Series @ Vermilion Harbour (Vermilion, Ohio)
September 8-9: FIT Family Series @ Portage Lakes (Akron, Ohio)
September 30: Deer Creek Fall Challenge @ Deer Creek (Mt. Sterling, Ohio)

HFP thanks and remembers our U.S Armed Forces this week both active duty and veterans for their selfless sacrifices that allow us to live in this wonderful country.

Thanks and we look forward to seeing you at an HFP Racing event soon.

Shannon and Jennifer Kurek