Wild Rumpus Sports

Top Notch Triathlon

I raced the Top Notch Triathlon in Franconia NH this morning. The unique race starts with a six mile uphill Mt Bike. This is followed with a half mile swim across Echo lake to the base of Cannon Mt. The last leg is a run/scramble up the alpine trails to the summit.

I set the course record for this race with a 1:06:05 in 2006. That year the course was dry as a bone and the Mt bike was ripping fast. This summer has seen more rainfall than I can ever remember in New England. For good measure there was a long thunder shower last night that completely saturated the trail. Setting a new record in the muddy conditions was going to be a tall order.

Fortunately another very talented competitor, Ryan Kelly, raced today and we pushed each other hard. Ryan is a more practiced and technically better rider than me. I was killing myself to stay with Ryan’s strong accelerations and smooth lines on the more technical sections of trail. I looked forward to the hard sustained climbs where technical proficiency wasn’t as important as overall engine size.

I made one stupid mistake that resulted in a crash. When I previewed the course I noted that the two most technical sections were in rapid succession and that my preferred line went from left to right. What I failed to take into account was that there was a wooden bridge in between the two lines where I needed to cross the trail. Wet wood and rubber is not a good combo. I came down on my hip hard, lost about 20 seconds to Ryan and had to cash some chips to catch back up. On a 1-10 stupidity scale I give myself a 5 on this one.

Ryan and I went through the swim exchange at exactly the same time and I followed his slip stream all the way across the lake. I have been swimming a lot this summer to gain shoulder flexibility but I have not received any formal technical instruction since I was 12 years old. Amy Caldwell offered to coach me a bit this summer but it never happened. I was able to stop choking on water cease thrashing about half way through the water, when I started timing my stroke with a mental chant “should have” (left arm) “learned to swim” (right arm). Anyway, with the advantage of the slipstream I came out of the water only five seconds down.

Then I made my second mistake. I have done this race multiple times and always set up my running exchange 100 meters further up the mountain than anyone else. This year a dozen people had placed their things near mine and I got confused and ran right by my shoes before having to turn around. Ryan ended up with a 20 second lead. I have to give myself a 10 out of 10 on the stupid index here.

Every time I have raced the Top Notch I have had the fastest run time so I was confident that I could still make up the gap and win. Ryan was hauling ass though and I had to dig to catch him by the halfway point of the mountain. We climbed together until what I figured was about two minutes to the top. Then I made my move. Hiking on ridiculously steep grass and mud we had a ski walking battle. My advantage here is obvious and I was able to put 16 seconds on him by the finish.

The back and forth in the race resulted in a couple of fast times. Despite the sloppy conditions I posted a new course record of 1:05:30 and Ryan bested my old record finishing in 1:05:46. He gave me a great race.

On the diabetes side of things, racing a point to point triathlon without a support crew is not ideal. It is an especially big pain when there is no clothing transport from start to finish. I had to pack two med kits with extra OmniPod insulin pumps, glucose monitors, and Humalog insulin. The OmniPod is programmed by a separate remote that is not waterproof and bigger than I would want to carry in a race. Each Pod is synced to one remote at a time in order to avoid cross talk between OmniPod users. I needed to have my remote at the start of the race in order to make last minute adjustments to my programming. So I left a second remote as well as new insulin pods and a glucose monitor as close to the finish line as I could. This way I could attach a new pump synced to the second remote after the race. The closest I could get this med bag to the finish was the base of Cannon Mt. So I had to finish the race and jump on the Tram to the bottom of the Mt as quickly as I could. It took twenty-two minutes to get from the finish to the bag.

I have been running a very basic basal insulin rate of .5 units per hour 24/7 due to my high training load. For the race I turned my basal up to .7 two hours prior to race start. The extra insulin is to keep my glucose from rising too high from anaerobic effort. Five minutes before the start my glucose was 163 and according to my Dexcom continuous glucose monitor, rising slightly. I took a micro-bolus of .15 units to curb the rise and started.

When I arrived at my bag one hour and twenty-seven minutes later, my glucose was 127 which indicated very good glucose control on the day. I did not need to make any adjustments so I left the Pod I was wearing on. Next I walked around the lake that I had swum across earlier, found my bike in the exchange rack, and had a great time ripping down the soaked trail I just raced up. Once back at my car, I grabbed my synched remote, made some small adjustments and headed out for another forty minutes of wet trail riding.