What a day! I experienced a season’s worth of highs and lows over an eight hour period…
TriFest is a series of races that take place in and around the beautiful Taylorsville Lake State Park. The plan for this year was to have two races on Saturday, a Sprint and an Olympic distance and then a third race on Sunday, which would be a 70.3 (Half Ironman(TM)). My original plan was to race the Olympic only on Saturday, in tandem with a special needs athlete, and then come back and do the 70.3 solo on Sunday. This plan started to fall apart about a week prior when I realized that I was not going to be able to get a special needs athlete in time. Then the announcement came that due to lack of participation, the 70.3 on Sunday had been cancelled. So based on these events that were out of my control, I had to scrap my original plan and decided to just do both races on Saturday.
The forecast called for rain, but I NEVER trust the forecast. As I left the house bright and early on Saturday morning, I was greeted with a nice steady rain. It continued to rain until I was about 10 miles from the race venue…then everything cleared up. In fact, things were totally dry at the lake and a rainbow even appeared as I pulled up. I thought to myself, this is going to be a good day!
SPRINT DISTANCE RACE
I set up everything in the transition area and pulled on my wetsuit for the open water lake swim. Pulling that wetsuit on for the first time each season is always an adventure. I got in the water and did a brief warm-up. While we were waiting for the water safety patrol to arrive, I had a nice chat with some other guys and felt really relaxed.
Once the race started, I immediately ramped up to near max effort to try and keep up with the faster swimmers. Based on my previous times for this 750 meter swim, I was figuring I’d be out of the water somewhere around 15 minutes. I also knew that there would be some guys that could beat this time by three or four minutes. I swam hard, but tried to think about my form as I know that when I try to swim fast, things fall apart quickly. I feel like it’s necessary to mention that as I approached the turn-around buoy, the guy directly in front of me decided to make the turn about 25 meters early. There were no other buoys around and I had no way of determining who he was, but it was blatant cheating! I don’t get it…why cheat? I have no tolerance for cheaters. I hope that you have trouble looking yourself in the mirror knowing that you cheated yourself and everyone else that worked their butt off to train for this race! You know who you are and I hope that you are reading this. My guess is that you not only cheat in triathlons, but in all aspects of life (even when playing Candy Land with your kids) and probably haven’t given it a second thought. There’s no room for you in the sport that I love.
750 Meter Swim
15:05.1 (2:01/ 100m)
2nd out of 6 in Age Group
18th out of 77 Overall
I pulled my wetsuit down as I ran up the boat ramp to T1. I was in an out pretty quick as I decided to go without socks and only needed to put on my helmet before heading out.
1st out of 6 in Age Group
6th out of 77 Overall
There really is no strategy for these Sprint Distance races…it’s just go as hard as you can the whole time. I knew that I would probably pay for it during the second race, but I’m not one to hold back. So I pushed the bike hard and didn’t worry about pacing myself. I didn’t really know how many people were out ahead of me, but since it’s an out and back course, I was able to count as they started to come back. When I reached the turn around I was in 7th place overall. A little post-race math tells me that I passed 11 people either in T1 or to the halfway point of the bike. I manged to catch up and pass two more guys on the bike, so I was sitting in 5th place overall as I came in to T2. This is where things too an ugly turn. As I took my feet out of the shoes and prepared for my typical glorious “flying dismount”, I move my right leg over the bike and put my right foot on top of my left foot, both of which were on top of my left bike shoe, which was still clipped in. As soon as I shifted my weight toward the right to maintain balance, the shoe that I was standing on came unclipped. I was still going too fast to land and run beside the bike, so I just flew toward the ground. I hit the pavement on my left hip and did a few forward rolls before coming to a stop. Since my hands were on the brakes, my bike stayed behind me an flipped up into the air as well. So there I was…in front of all the spectators standing around at the transition area/finish line…laying on the ground with my bike in a heap next to me. I knew that I was physically alright and I immediately hopped up to check on my bike (like all good triathletes do). I looked ok, but the chain was off and the back wheel was locked up. So I had to pick it up and carry it through T2 to the bike rack. Not my proudest moment!
20K (12.4 mile) Bike
34:45.5 (21.4 mph)
Avg Power – 233W
1st out of 6 in Age Group
4th out of 77 Overall
Despite losing some skin coming into T2, I still tried to focus and get out of there quickly. I pulled my helmet off, slipped on my running shoes, grabbed my hat and race number belt and headed out. Now that everyone could see that I was ok, I got lots of laughs as I headed out on the run.
3rd out of 6 in Age Group
19th out of 77 Overall
I knew that no one had passed me in T2, so I was still sitting in 5th place overall. As I started the run, I saw two guys come in off the bike together…so I was going to have some people chasing me. The run starts off with a massive hill. Some people walk this to conserve energy, but since it was only a Sprint race, I let me heart rate soar and the lactic acid build! Once reaching the top of the hill, I attempted to settle in to a nice rhythm, but it was tough. Each mile was a little faster and never did feel like I was warmed up. Good news is that no one caught me on the run. I gave a quick glance back as I neared the finish line and cruised on in.
5K (3.1 mile) Run
22:36.7 (7:16 min/mile)
2nd out of 6 in Age Group
10th out of 77 Overall
So despite the crash coming in to T1, the race went pretty well for me. My only thought as I crossed the finish line was “is my bike going to be useable for the next race?”. Thankfully, TriFest is sponsored by VO2 Multisport, our local triathlon store. Because of this, they had their top-notch bike mechanic, Peter on site. I handed my bike off to him and he gave it the once-over. Verdict came back that the only damage from the wreck was a broken water bottle cage! Now that’s lucky!
1st out of 6 in Age Group
5th out of 77 Overall
OLYMPIC DISTANCE RACE
My parents brought my four-year-old son out for the second race. As I was setting things up in transition, they showed up. I was thankful that they weren’t there to witness the crash, but they quickly noticed all of the cuts and scrapes. I quickly explained how my the bike dismount move that I’ve done for years failed me. Once I had everything back in order (including the addition of sun screen), I headed down to the water for race number two. I was feeling pretty good other than a little soreness in my left knee. I was in the water waiting for the Olympic Distance race to start [I’m going to interject a “don’t be that guy” commentary here. As all 82 of us are standing on the boat ramp or in the water ready to start the race, multiple boaters decided to back their boats into the lake. Each time, we had to move out of the way to make room. It took one dude at least 10 tries to get his boat started, while we all stood there waiting on him. So why couldn’t these guys wait a few minutes for us to start? The lake isn’t going anywhere!]
Ok, back to the race report. The race started and I tried to get out toward the front. About five strokes in, I went to take a breath and was kicked in the stomach right as I went to get some air. I instantly knew that something wasn’t right. I put my head down and swam another few strokes. As I turned to get another breath, I couldn’t. It was like my lungs were already full, but they weren’t…I was taking little shallow breaths and my chest was tight. It was all involuntary, I had no control over my breathing. I knew that I could not try to swim like this. So I didn’t panic. I just floated there and let everyone go around me. A few people stopped to ask if I was alright (another reason I love this sport). Once everyone was past me, I just relaxed and floated on my back. After a few minutes, the shortness of breath (known as dyspnoea) stopped and I started to breath normally. I never thought about quitting the race, but I knew that I had a huge deficit to make up. I eased back into swimming and didn’t really push it until I knew that I was ok. I’ve never had this happen before and it was a little scary. It is good to know that I won’t panic if something like this ever happens again. Panicking in the middle of a lake is not good! As I tried to navigate my way through everyone, I started to feel comfortable about half way through the swim. Needless to say, I passed a lot of people. After the race, I looked at my Garmin file and saw that I was not moving for two minutes and eleven seconds…that hurts in a race this short!
1500 Meter Swim
30:35.0 (2:02/ 100m)
6th out of 14 in Age Group
42nd out of 82 Overall
I decided to put socks on for this race since I thought that running a 10K sock-less might be a bad idea. I rolled my socks on, put my helmet on and rn out of T1. I had hoped to be in the top 10 or 15 coming out of the water. My Mom, unaware of what had happened at the swim start, was standing at T1 counting people as they headed out on the bike. As I ran out of T1 past her, she informed me that 40 people had come out before me…not exactly good news.
Since this race is a little longer, I had a pacing strategy for the bike. My goal was to try and keep my power around 210-220 Watts, but not let it get above 270 for more than a few seconds at a time. Thanks to the swim debacle, I had a lot of people to chase down on the bike. I managed to catch up to a few guys that I knew and we pushed each other over the last half of the race. I had filled up a single bottle of nutrition to use for both races and didn’t think that I had used that much during the first race, but about half-way through the Olympic distance race, I ran out. This was bad news. I had no more calories to take in and it was getting hot! In hindsight, I think some of it spilled out when I wrecked, so maybe my calculations were not that far off. Either way, I was going to be doing the 10K run on empty.
40K (24.8 mile) Bike
1:14:03.5 (20.1 mph)
Avg Power – 202W
3rd out of 14 in Age Group
11th out of 82 Overall
Needless to say, I was very careful dismounting my bike this time! I had plenty of jokers telling me to “slow down” or “don’t wreck” as I came in to T2. I ran my bike to the rack, took off my helmet, slipped on my shoes and headed out. Pretty clean transition.
4th out of 14 in Age Group
?? out of 82 Overall
As I came to the bottom of the hill starting the run, I knew that I was in trouble. I attempted to run, but my heart rate was in the low 160’s and I didn’t want to start out the run that high. So I walked up the hill (speed-walker style). When I started to run after things leveled out, I still couldn’t get me heart rate down despite a very slow pace. Things never got any better. I took in water at every aid station, but the sun was out and temperatures were climbing into the 80’s. I had no calories to take in and I was bonking. I never got a second wind and struggled to hold a 9:30 pace. I was passed by multiple people and just didn’t have the juice to run any faster. My legs were heavy and my heart rate was jacked, so I just moved forward, one step at a time. My average heart rate for the run was 158 bpm! That’s only a few beats lower than my average for the recent Anthem 5K open road race! As I came down the hill toward the finish line I noticed that I was gaining ground on someone in front of me. I hadn’t passed a single person on the run, so I decided to make a move. As I came up behind him, I noticed that it was a friend of mine (name will not be mentioned to protect the innocent). I thought that he would just let me pass since I gave him some encouragement as I went by. Nope. He ran right up beside me and I knew that I was in for a sprint to the finish line…not exactly what I felt like doing at that point! I gave it everything I had and never looked back to see how close he was. I managed to edge him out at the finish. We definitely gave the spectators some action!
10K (6.2 mile) Run
58:56.8 (9:29 min/mile)
5th out of 14 in Age Group
34th out of 82 Overall
It was a tough race. The combination of the the nutrition screw up, the heat and the fatigue from the first race made the run brutal. If nothing else, I learned that even when I thought the tank was empty, I was able to dig deep and sprint the last 30 seconds or so to the finish line. This will be filed away in my memory banks for a future race.
4th out of 14 in Age Group
25th out of 82 Overall
My parents left shortly after the race but left my son to hang out with me. He helped my load up all of my gear as the race was winding down. VO2 Multisport was giving away a $2000 store credit to one lucky participant. You had to be present to win, so I figured it was work sticking around for. I figured that with all of the bad luck that I had had so far that day, I was due! They wanted to make sure that no one thought the drawing was rigged, so they had everyone wad up their race bib numbers and put them in a big cooler. They mixed them all up and then asked for a kid to draw the winner. My son was standing there and he was nominated. I’m sure you can guess what happened next. To the shock and amazement of everyone standing around, my son drew his Daddy’s bid number! I’m not sure if he has some sort of telekinesis power that I don’t know about, or if it was just luck of the draw, but either way…I was the big winner!
One thing is for sure, this will be a day that I never forget!
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