This was the second tri in a series of three, one per week. I log my stuff in Google Calendar, but still managed to schedule myself like this. That said, this makes triathlon #6 of the season to date.
This was the first time the triathlon had been held at this location. I wasn’t feeling great or particularly enthusiastic, and arriving to get setup didn’t help. As the course is public, in a well-used area, it was understandable the organizers would not want to encroach. We were lining up to get into transition, watching as they constructed the bar to hang the bikes. I really did not care for how they envisioned processing us into transition. They assumed we’d all be suited up, so they could check us off, bodymark, and finally time chip us before we entered transition. There was a lineup over a block long at points… Why they couldn’t let us in to rack, and then proceed to bodymarking/chip like every other event I’ve been to? But I digress…
The course was nothing like the diagram – they only setup the buoys for the turns. Maybe they ran out of the little yellow ones? I don’t remember seeing any kayaks either.
Open water, 500 m swim, and the water was over 25 C – making it definitely a non-wetsuit swim. It was an in-water start, which no one mentioned that you could not stand. So there I was, treading water while waiting for the horn….
Nothing much to say about the swim. I train without a wetsuit (though I have two), So I saw some ahead of me that I could no longer see once past the first buoy. I swam with one other person that I could see for the majority. I don’t think I was especially fast, but someone I’ve seen at a number of tri events this year said they saw me heading out of T1 as they were entering T1. My T1 times are roughly 2 minutes, so that infers a lead on this person of upwards of 3 minutes in the water.
Swim time: 17:24. It didn’t feel like swimming 750 meters, but the times certainly suggest this was the case. Even at 750 m, my time sucks. But part of that is likely because the timing mat was at the entry to transition, and it was not a direct path. So, chop off a minute or so for actual swim time? 17th place overall, coming out of the water.
Transition 1 (T1) Swim to Bike
Initially I scoffed at the setup. It wasn’t the longest run between water to transition, and the mats certainly helped. What I didn’t feel good about was that we crossed a street, and more importantly – there were gates on either side to stop general traffic from running through the intersection. So two choke points. Thankfully, I was alone getting out of the water. Often I pass a few people on the way in but not this time.
The racking had numbering to portion competitors, but they neglected to mark numbers to indicate where you rack your bike. Fair enough, that means first come first served…
I didn’t get the ankle on one of the socks right, but managed to shift it enough that it wasn’t a problem. Add shoes and helmet, and off I went. The mount line for the bike was not far outside of transition, which was nice.
I’d ridden the area, and honestly – never thought to pre-ride the course. It’s not that I thought I knew it, it just never occurred to me. I’d heard different reports from various people – that it wasn’t hilly, that there was one hill, and that there was two hills. There were more than that, but the majority of them – if you pushed on the downhill you’d have the momentum to get over what was next. I passed some that I knew were fellow Sprint participants, the faster swimmers, but congestion was low for me. The last hill was nasty – it might be a 8-10% grade but short – 30 meters? I can see participants who were not strong cyclists having trouble with it.
Back to organization/setup, the signage and signalling was not clear until you were in most intersections. Way too late, but I guess that’s why I shouldn’t rely on racing infrastructure. I almost got hit at an intersection because the people watching me failed to tell the person signaling traffic. It might have been a typical issue with people who really can’t judge cycling traffic speed, or just that they weren’t paying attention for the job they were out there for. Whatever the issue, I hope people after me got better treatment.
Bike time for 23 KM was 46:41, an average of 29.56 KM/h. Put me at 10th overall.
Transition 2 (T2): Bike to Run
Nothing special, but I could hear surprise as I did my running dismount. There were markings suggesting to slow down, and people were starting to approach me as I’m sure they thought I’d blow over the line but at least no one thought they’d make themselves a marter…
Racked the bike, swapped the shoes, added a race belt and hat. Out I went…
I struggled with the run. I stopped for water at the start, and walked a few steps because my breathing was horrible. What was weird about my breathing is that it was downhill to get onto the course. All I can figure is my running into transition is blowing out my lungs. The walk didn’t help at all – I resumed, and it still took until around the 2 KM mark for my breathing to recover. I tried altering my stride, but with the trail run going up and down – I didn’t maintain.
I also messed up the finish. I misunderstood where the finish was to be, so I started ramping up to find out I had to make a hard left and continue for another 50 meters. Would it have made much of a difference? 10 seconds I figure, at best.
Part of the issue was that a major intersection of the trail, where 5+ trails combined – there was no one there to direct, and there was no markings. Myself and a few others ran an extra ~30 meters to find out we were off course. It’s not my worst run time this season, but I was hoping I could be a little faster.
Run time was 32:56, a 6:35 min/KM.
I placed 2nd in my category, but I didn’t stick around. It’s usually just a ribbon, and I have enough of those already. It’s my run time that I’m really interested in. I missed first by 7 minutes, but what’s interesting is the person in first was just like me – their run was 28 minutes. And they were slightly faster than me on the swim and bike.
My times are fairly consistent, so I’m not going to blame this on not getting adequate recovery between events. And the next tri is next weekend… Another aspect of consistency is the breathing on the run, that it sucks but it’s largly mental.
This was the first time for the location, but to my knowledge – this outfit has run one other triathlon for at least a couple of years. I am really not impressed with what I saw today. I spoke with others who had similar stories about the run, that were stretches of no one (or signage) so they’d ask general public. But it was nice to be starting at 7 AM – it meant being done before 9.