Race Recap: Belews Lake International Triathlon 2017

  • Date: Saturday, April 8, 2017
  • Location: Stokesdale, NC
  • Start Time: 9:00 AM
  • Distance: Swim 1500 meters, Bike 27 Miles, Run 10K


Pre-Race Goals

I’ll admit, I wasn’t really interested in doing this race, due to it being in early April (cold), and due to the chance that the swim might be canceled (last year it was canceled for the first time ever, I was told). But when my triathlete training friend said he was going to do the race, I eventually signed up. We are both doing Raleigh 70.3 this year too.

  • #1 Goal: Swim straight! Stay on course, and sight often.
  • Swim as close to 2:00/100 yd as possible.
  • Bike as close to 19 miles/hour as possible.
  • Run as close to 8 minutes per mile as possible.

Pre-Race Routine

  • Went to sleep around 12:30 AM the night before
  • Woke up around 4:15 AM and ate a bagel with peanut butter
  • Got a small coffee around 6:30 AM en route to the race
  • Had a few (three or so) Base salt licks before the race and one gel

Race Results

Swim: 1500m – 37:19 min (2:16/100yd)

My Garmin 920XT had me down as swimming a little over 1646 m at a pace of 2:04/100yd. I swam an extra 146 meters. Of course, with races, it’s all about your official distance and time, so any extra distance you complete unfortunately bloats, your swim stats.

This race was a wetsuit legal race with water temps around 68 degrees. I wore a pair of Speedo jammers under my wetsuit. The outside temperature was in the low 40s; it was pretty chilly outside! The swim format was a time trial format; swimmers entered the water based on their 100yd pace they submitted. Instead of a mass start, two people at a time entered the water every 15 seconds. I’m very satisfied, if not a little excited, about my swim for this race. My biggest goal was to swim as straight and on course as possible. I sighted every four strokes, and instead of using the turn buoys as a reference, I used landmarks instead; a tip that Brad, my high school friend and fellow triathlete, mentioned before the race. The new sighting technique worked like a charm for me.

Something that I didn’t expect during the swim: cramps. Toward the end of the swim, I could feel a cramp in my left leg, and I remember thinking, “why do I have a cramp, I’m barely kicking?” I’m not sure if it was the water temp or what, but my leg cramps got worse  during Transition 1.

Transition 1 (T1) – 8:15 min

Due to the cold outside weather, the race event people setup a changing tent for males and females, and advised participants to dry off completely and change into some dry clothes before starting the bike portion. I took their advice. I knew that my time for transition one would be terribly long if I did this, but I wanted to avoid catching a really bad cold and possibly messing up my training schedule by becoming sick.

I ran into the tent, started taking off my wetsuit, and then had some massive cramps in both of my legs! I don’t know why this was happening so early in the race, but I definitely need to rethink my pre-race nutrition strategy.

Fighting through the cramps, I dried off and put on my one-piece tri-kit, which is quite a challenge with leg cramps. Instead of putting on compression gear over my tri-kit, I just opted for a wind breaker. I also ended up wearing the new Winter gear I purchased the day before: skull cap, winter gloves, wool socks, bike shoe toe-covers, and neck gaiter.

Nutrition: I took a gel before getting started on the bike.

Bike: 27 miles – 1:27:36 (18.6 mph)

The weather had warmed up significantly. I was glad that I didn’t wear Under Armour compression gear over my tri-kit; I would have over-heated. The winter gloves felt like oven mitts, and were too warm for the ride. I ended up taking one off, so that I could take my base salt and gels throughout the ride.

I didn’t sweat much on the bike, and so I eased off my bike fluids. I had two bottles of Gatorade Endurance mixed with Base Salt and Base Amino. I ended up finishing one bottle almost 2/3 into the race and sipped a bit on the second as needed. I took Hammer gels throughout the ride as well. One thing to note, my lower back bothered me through much of the ride. It’s nothing that I haven’t felt before when riding Mill Mountain and the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I may need to focus on some core and back exercises as well as take my bike in for a fitting check-up (I was professionally fitted last year).

The course had a nice big hill to start off with and then rolling hills throughout the course. It was a fun ride. Also, I did something pretty interesting for the bike ride with my bike computer (Garmin 910xt with quick release bike kit). Instead of having a data screen with average miles, distance, etc., I switched to the virtual partner screen and set the pace for 18.5 mph. So essentially, I was racing my bike computer. My only goal was to ride faster than my “virtual partner.” This seemed to work well, and for most of the ride, I was about .50 miles ahead of my virtual partner.

Transition 2 (T2) – 2:22 min

I was in and out of transition pretty fast. I parked my bike, took off my helmet, skull cap, gloves, and I switched out my crew cut wool socks for some ankle cut socks. Lastly, I put on my running shoes and took off. In hindsight, I should have took off my windbreaker and neck gaiter too, because it was way to warm to have those on during the run.

Nutrition: I took a GU gel before the run.

Run: 6.2 miles – 53:18 mins (8:40/mi)

Not too long after, I started my run, I knew I had too much stuff on. I ended up taking off my jacket and neck gaiter and running with them for a while, until I found a nice place to leave them for the remainder of my run.

Not even a mile into the run, I had to stop and stretch for leg cramps. I still had a little bit of Base salt left, so I took the remainder of what I had and continued to run. I didn’t have any major cramp issues after that.

Throughout my run, I used my metronome feature on my 920XT watch, and focused on having a consistent running cadence. Although, my run cadence was set for 170 spm, I ended up running 160 spm. It was somewhat challenging trying to keep up with the cadence. I’m wondering for future purposes, if I am better off setting my cadence for 165 spm.

Nutrition: I ran out of Base salt toward the beginning of my run. I took an additional GU gel toward the later part of my run.

Age Group

  • I finished 8th out of 12 overall in my age group (35-39)
  • I ranked 7th out of 12 for the swimming portion
  • I ranked 8th out of 12 for the bike portion
  • I ranked 6th out of 12 for the run portion

Post-Race Nutrition

This isn’t going to be pretty…

  • A slice of pepperoni pizza
  • Two Mountain Dews
  • Sandwich wrap and pint of chocolate milk on the ride back home
  • Later on that day: whopper jr., cheeseburger, Coke, cookies & cream milk shake (I was at a birthday party that my daughter was invited too at Burger King).
  • Shrimp pasta (small plate)


I’m happy with my performance at Belews Lake International Triathlon. The biggest concern I had was my swim sighting. After this race, I feel much more confident with my sighting ability and staying on course. However, I still need to continue improving my swim stroke.

Post-Race Pain

Today (Monday), two days after my race, my quads and hamstrings are extremely sore. It’s hard to walk up and down stairs. I’m not sure how this will affect my training schedule this week. I’ll take it easy. My throat is also sore. I raced at a high intensity. It’s hard for me not to go “all out” at a race, even if it isn’t my main race for the year. I may need to reconsider the participating in the Kerr International Triathlon race later on this month, if my legs are going to feel like this afterwards.

Update: Monday, I felt like I was coming down with something. There was a lot of pressure in my head, and I also had chills. Those symptoms only lasted throughout Monday. I’m guessing that my issues were allergy/sinus related, I don’t know for sure. By Tuesday, my legs were feeling “useful” again. I did my swim and run workout as scheduled. I continued to have a bit of a runny nose and sore throat throughout the week.