Sunday, May 31, 2015

Race Report: Over The Mountain 2015

Sometimes things just go right.  And that's what happened this weekend.  I started having a good feeling about racing at Over The Mountain about 1-2 weeks ago....a feeling like I knew I was going to do well and I believed that if I had a good day I could win the race.  I've always loved racing at OTM and it is definitely my favorite course of the NCTS series.  The bike course is beautiful, challenging, and just pure fun!  The day before we left, I was tuning up my bike and grabbed a rag to get some of the grease off my chain.  As I was almost done I turned the rag right-side-out and noticed that I had just so happened to be using the 2013 OTM t-shirt!  I felt like this was definitely a sign and a good omen since I won the race back in 2013 :)

On the way to Kings Mountain I felt nervous but it wasn't because of the race.  The awesome folks at Beet Performer had arranged for me to do a live TV interview with WBtv in Charlotte on Friday evening to talk about fueling for triathlons.  I have done a few interviews but they've always been with a reporter who has his/her own camera and we've been able to do multiple takes if need be.  I've never done a live interview and I had no idea what questions they were going to ask me.  When we got to the tv studio I got even more nervous because everything looked so legit like you see on tv!

Despite my nerves the interview went really well!  The anchor & I had good rapport and I even got him to taste beet juice on air!  Thanks to Kurt for coming with me because when I was talking to the anchor and I looked over and saw Kurt smiling it made me feel relaxed and a lot more comfortable on camera - thanks for your support Kurt!!!  Here's a link to the video clip!  After the interview was over it was later than I'd have liked, but I felt calm because now all I had to do was race!

Race morning came early and because OTM is a point to point race there are a few more logistics involved than a typical triathlon.  We picked up packets at swim finish and oh hello!  My bib number was #1.  That's never happened before and I felt like it was another sign that I was going to come in first :)  Swim finish/T1 is on the other side of the lake than swim start and T2 is down town.  So after you set up both transitions you hop on a bus and they take you to swim start.  It sounds complicated, but this race has been going on for so long, it's all really smooth and easy.  On the way to the start, Kurt & I reminisced about the race - OTM was our first triathlon that we ever did back in 2008!

OTM Swim Start 2008
OTM Swim Start 2015

The Swim - 1500m - 26:40 (1:38/100 yds)
Every year that I've done this race it's been wetsuit legal.  But there's always a first time for everything and this year the water temp was 82 or 83.  No wetsuits!  Thankfully, on a whim I had tossed my speed suit into my bag so I decided to wear that over my tri kit.  The swim is in in-water start and as we were waiting for the gun to go off someone said, "So who's going to lead this swim?  Who are the fast swimmers?"  No one responded.  I knew I wouldn't be leading the swim and tried to line up behind a couple people so I could get some draft.  The swim started out well, but early on I found myself with no one to draft off of :(  I later realized that a few women were drafting off of me! Overall I felt good during this swim, but was a little bummed when my watch beeped for the 3rd time signaling I had swam 1500m and I was still in the water.  My Garmin said I did about 1634 yds so I guess I could stand to swim a little straighter next time, though the graph on Garmin connect didn't look terrible!

T1 - 2:14
I almost fell over getting out of the water because the surface was  little bumpy, but swim exit was pretty cool and exciting because there were 4 or 5 of us women who all got out of the water, ran up that GINORMOUS hill, and into T1 at the same time!  It felt like we were in an ITU race!  We all got out on the bikes and you could see everyone spaced out but together on the course.

The Bike - 1:26:46 (19.3 mph)
The bike is why you should do this race!  I can't say enough about how beautiful it is and how much fun it is to ride through Kings Mountain State Park!  This was the first time this year I've felt like I've been in a race on the bike.  The 4 or 5 of us kept passing and re-passing each other throughout the first half of the course.  Unfortunately, at the beginning I felt like I was getting passed more than I was passing other people.  But then, the climbs started to hit and my legs felt good.  I was spinning up them and felt like all that riding into the wind in Wilmington was paying off.  On the descents I dropped it into my hardest gear and pedaled down.  A few times I felt a little nervous because I got up to 40 mph, but I reminded myself of how many times I've ridden this course and all the descending I used to do in Greensboro.  As the course went on I got more and more confident.  I passed the lead woman at about 20 miles into the bike, though I thought at the time there was still one woman ahead of me.

T2 - ?
When I came into T2 they said I was in the lead for the women!  I still wasn't sure that there wasn't one more lady in front of me though.

The Run - 42:45 (6:53 min/mi)
The run starts off down hill and my first mile was 6:35.  I felt decent and I wanted to catch up to the woman ahead of me.  However, people on course kept cheering me on saying I was in first!  I finally believed it when I hit the turnaround without having seen any other ladies ahead of me.  I felt excited to be in the lead, but I also lost a little motivation to keep running as hard as I was.  Two years ago I got my 10K PR (39:21) on this course because I was chasing someone down and didn't pass her until the final miles.   It's hard to believe I ran that fast on this course because it was a lot hillier than I remembered.  But that probably has to do with the fact that I used to live in Greensboro which is hilly, I trained about 10 hours more per week, and I was a dedicated fruitarian.  Anyhow, on the way back I started feeling really fatigued and it was getting more than a little toasty out.  I just kept it moving and tried to keep it under 7:00 miles.  I ran up the finish chute and they announced my name as the female winner and I was stoked to be done and stoked to clench the victory!!

Total Time - 2:38:24 (1st female)
It feels good to win a triathlon again :)  I feel like everything came together on race day and it couldn't have gone much better!  I met up with Kurt at the finish area and turns out he had finished 2nd place in the Aquabike division!  Way to go Kurt!!!  We chowed down on some delicious local watermelon & cantaloupe.  And of course they had the traditional smoked BBQ chicken for all the meat eaters.  Seriously, the town of Kings Mountain goes all out for this race and that is part of what makes this such a special race!

So now I have about 2 months before I do another race.  I don't really like the thought of waiting that long to race again.  I've got a training camp planned with my coach in Greensboro early June and I can't wait to get back to the hills.  Then in August I've got Lake Logan Half, which will be a real good test to see where I'm at before IM Chattanooga.  So for now, it's time to put all the excuses away and put in some consistent training.  In other words it's time to #GTWD.


  1. Nice going Tara, keep cranking!!!

  2. Amazing! You helped me pick out my gear for my first triathlon in raleigh! I finished in just under 7 hours! I need to spend more time swimming but i am hooked! Check out my recap at! Thank you so much for your help!