Essential Sports Nutrition


Paris Mountain 20K road race recap

With Paris Mountain standing just a few miles away from our house, we have the opportunity to bike (or run) up the mountain anytime we want. Here's a picture (below) of my ride on Thursday, when I did 4 x 9 min heavy gear (45-50 rpm) intervals up Paris Mountain (and descended 3 minutes down between each interval). With no lookout point to stop at on the mountain, it's an added bonus to bike riding when we can enjoy the views and get in a great workout at the same time.

Once a year in Nov/Dec, the Greenville Track Club puts on the "toughest race in the south" with a 20K road race that goes up and over Paris Mountain and covers 2500 vertical feet of elevation gain, 89 curves and a few hills over 15% grade. For any athlete who likes a challenge, this is the race for you.

This year, the race was the host of the 2017 Road Runners Club of America South Carolina 20K championship. In 2015, Karel and I participated in the race and enjoyed using our triathlon resilience as we mixed it up with the road runners. Although I love a challenge, I found that the race really beat my legs up (as to be expected) and it took a while to recover from the extreme event. Karel wanted to race it this year but I decided to pass on it so that I didn't have to take any risks with my run training, as it's been going well and I've been very consistent. But, I could still get my racing fix by cheering on Karel (and our athlete Thomas) at the start/finish of the race and doing my scheduled run in between.

The race started at 7:30am at the Shi Center of Sustainability so after we parked at the Timmons arena, Karel did his warm-up to the start (about 3/4th mile away) and I started my workout (60-90 min endurance run). With about 10 minutes to spare before the start of the race, I made my way across Poinsett hwy so that I could cheer for everyone as they made their way to the base of Paris Mountain. After a few speedsters went by, I spotted Karel who looked like he was getting into his rhythm before the 2.5ish mile climb.


Karel went into the race with no expectations, except for the slight chance of winning overall masters, which would give him a $100 award. But seeing that this race brings out the real runners, it's tough to mix it up with those who are in the peak of their season. Karel (and myself) have done no speed work or intense run training for several months so for Karel, as a triathlete, his performance reflected his ongoing development as a triathlete.  He said maybe he would have slowed down a tiny bit in the first 1/2 mile but otherwise, he felt good with his execution and could not have gone any faster/harder. This course requires a lot of resilience and strength and great running form for both the uphill and downhill sections. Although the mountain climb comes in the first mile, there's a nasty stretch of a few miles at the base of Paris Mountain that will require your legs to be strong and durable for the back half of the 12.4 mile race. The community, police and volunteer support along with the race organizers do a fabulous job with this event. I just love our Greenville community that embraces active lifestyles.

After I finished my 80 minute run, I timed it perfectly to change into some warmer clothes (although great running weather in the mid 40's, it got cold once I stopped as there was no sun, just cloud cover) and then a few minutes later, the first finisher for the 20K was making his way to the finish line in 1:11. I had no idea how the race would go for Karel but seeing that he did the race in 2015 in 1:24 (on a slightly different course in the last few miles), I expected him to be a little faster since he has improved a lot with his overall resilience over the past few years.

A few more male finishers came back and finally, I spotted Karel making his way up the last hill on a cement path in Furman. I cheered him on to the finish and then got the details from him after the race.

Karel was happy with his performance but he said there was just no way for him to go any faster. He was pleased to have completed the race in 1:20 (12.4 miles and 2000 feet elevation gain) and to place 1st in his age group. Sadly, he was the 2nd masters finisher as a 45-year old beat Karel by 2 minutes - those runners are so fast! Well, we can say that Karel was the winner of the hydration belt category as I am pretty sure he was the only one wearing a hydration belt for the race - as we like to say "it's cool to fuel."

We waited for Thomas to finish and then went inside the building to wait for the awards.

Karel was pretty exhausted and sore for the rest of the day as the race took a lot out of him (stand along running races are so much more difficult than triathlon events!). At Trimarni, we encourage our athletes (triathletes) to be mindful that the sport of triathlon is different than the sport of running. Although it's perfectly fine (and sometimes encouraged) to jump into a local 5K, 10K or even half marathon event, we advise against training specifically for that event in an effort to achieve a personal best. Many triathletes are under the impression that training for a running race will better prepare the body for triathlon season. Although your running race may build confidence for your upcoming season, the adaptations of training and physiological makeup of a triathlete is much different than a runner because of how we train for the sport of triathlon. It's always fun to see our triathletes participate in a road race with little run specific speed work training and outperform expectations. In triathlon, we want to build a strong and resilient body. While this body may not be fast relative to what a stand alone swimmer, cyclist or runner can do, to succeed in the sport of triathlon, you must learn to train in a way that makes you great at not slowing down. Once again, Karel showed us all that you don't have to be fast to do well in a race, you just have to be great at delaying fatigue with a resilient body and strong mindset.

Congrats to everyone who "conquered the mountain!"