Alright, having looked at the numbers a little bit, I’m calmer and more at peace with how things went yesterday. It wasn’t a great race by any means, but it wasn’t quite the disaster I thought it was at first blush, either, so… Well, I’m dealing with it.
That said, this year’s race report is brought to you solely by the fact that I noticed via the blog’s statistics page that A LOT of folks had read my report of last year’s race in the days leading up to this year’s race, presumably while trying to decide whether or not they ought to come out and give this race a try. And since I also noticed that the field this year was a little deeper in terms of talent, well, here we are.
Pre-Race (or, How Not to Optimize Your Triathlon Performance)
My story starts on Thursday, May 19, 2011. We traded in our old Honda CRV and my mom’s Nissan Altima for a new Honda Pilot last weekend. Sally picked up the new Pilot on Thursday, but she was running late at the dealership, so she didn’t have time to let them install the bike racks. No problem, she thinks, I’ll just go back next week and get it all hooked up.
Except that it was our CRV that had had the bike racks previously. Meaning that as of Thursday, we no longer had a car with bike racks.
“No problem,” says I. “That damned Pilot is HUGE. Surely we’ll be able to get both bikes in the back. Seriously, nothing to worry about.”
Famous last words.
So I get home from work the next day, Friday, and I’m exhausted. It’s been raining, guys in my office have been sick, and my allergies are driving me crazy. I want to sit down with a beer and TV and just chill. But no. Hannah and Emma (my daughters) had won tickets—good ones—to the Bridgeport Bluefish game, the first in a 3-game home stand against the Lancaster Barnstormers. So we head out to the game, and I’ll admit that it was fun. Had some beer, watched some baseball, saw the girls march in the kiddo literacy parade. Everybody wins. Well, except the Bluefish. But in any case, though it wasn’t as relaxing as I might’ve hoped, it was fun. And it wasn’t like it was a marathon, either.
Saturday was more of the same. Took the kids to swim lessons, swam an easy little workout myself, went to the chiropractor, made brunch, cleaned up, took Emma to the library, etc. By the end of the day, I was happy enough, but I’d been on my feet a lot and wanted to sit down with the TV and just rest. But no. Hannah had a gymnastics show, which ended up lasting until almost 10 pm. Ugh. But, as Sally pointed out, Hannah watched me race. The least I could do was watch her perform, too. And Hannah was good. She really was. I could wish that her show hadn’t been the night before the race, but what are you gonna do?
So… Got home late. Slept like crap. Had been on my feet all day. This wasn’t the pre-race I’d been looking for. But the Y-Tri is a short race, so it wasn’t an insurmountable start by any means.
Race Day (or, What Can Go Wrong Will)
Got up Sunday at 5:30. Saw that it was raining. Made a pot of coffee and ate a banana, a yogurt, and a Cliff Bar. I usually use Power Bars, but with this being a short race, I decided to give the Cliff Bars a try based on their claims of improved healthiness or whatever. Then I went out to pack the car, and uh-oh… The bikes don’t fit.
I spent twenty damn minutes wrestling with the bikes and the new car, and they just wouldn’t go. So I got Sally’s bike in there, took the front wheel off of mine, put mine in MY car, and we had to drive two cars the whole five miles to the race site. Argh! On top of which, I had to let the air out of my front tire in order to get it off, a factor that would come back to haunt me.
Eventually, we got to the race. We were running late, but we got there with a little over an hour to spare, and I figured we were okay. Got registered, set up in Transition, and basically prepped. So I’m about to head to the pool to start doing my pre-race yoga/warm-up ritual when my front tire lets go. I’m literally just walking by, and it goes “POOF!” and that’s it. I’ve got to change the tire. So I borrow a lever, change the tire, start pumping it up, and somehow I’ve grabbed the wrong size inner tube! I guess somehow I got one of Sally’s for the spare instead of one of my own, and now I’m scrambling, trying to find a new, correctly-sized inner tube. This takes ten minutes. But finally, I get the tube, get it all set, and I’m finally ready to now RUN over to the pool and do some yoga when, oh wow, now they FINALLY have body marking set up—with exactly one person holding a marker.
Suffice it to say that by the time I got to the pool, there was no time for any yoga at all and minimal time for stretching. I was the second swimmer in a pool-swim triathlon, meaning that I had to be ready to go right at the start. From the time I left body marking, I had ten minutes before the race started in which to change into my suit, warm up, and be ready to go. That sucked a lot.
Swim (In Which Nothing Bad Happens)
So we lined up. I knew the other guys at the start of the race from last year’s race, and we talk a little about our seasons, and I stretched a bit. Then the guy in front of me took off, I hoped in the water, and 30-seconds later, I took off.
They let the first few of us go off with 30-seconds between swimmers. By that, I know that my first 100 was right at 1:00. My next 100 was probably around 1:05, and my last was probably around 1:15. I mean, I could feel myself slowing down, but I was okay, and I didn’t want to push too hard right at the start of an hour-long race. Anyway, I touched the wall at about 3:20, hopped out of the pool, and then ran outside and over the timing mat.
-- 300-yard pool swim in 3:31; 1/6 Age Group; 1/91 Overall.
Bike (In Which A Wrong Turn Causes Mayhem)
T-1 was untimed. I’m guessing that it took me around 2-minutes, but that’s a wild guess. Eventually, I got on the bike and felt like CRUD. I don’t know if it was being on my feet all day the day prior, or if the lack of yoga in my warm-up factored in, or if I was just off all the way around. Regardless, I felt heavy and slow for the entire first five-mile loop. At one point, I even stood up and tried to stretch out my calves, which seemed to help. On top of that, my bicycle computer wasn’t working, a casualty of my repeated tire changes. Argh. Still, by the time I got to the second loop, I felt better. Breathing under control, quads not screaming quite so loudly. Went up the little hill, around the turn, up the second climb, and…
Wait. Second climb? There’s no second climb on this course! And why the Hell does that sign say “Welcome to the Town of Orange”?!
Yup. Don’t ask me how, but I somehow missed a turn and wound up in Orange, CT. I can only guess that the traffic volunteer at that turn went out to take a piss at the exact moment that I hit—or rather, missed—the turn. I remember that it was CLEARLY marked the first time I went around. Regardless, I put my head down to start really hammering once I started feeling better, and when I looked up, I was in the Town of Orange. So I turned around, asked directions, fumbled, and eventually found my way back onto the course. If MapMyRide is correct, I managed to make the Y-Tri’s 11-mile bike course into about a 13.5-mile course. In any event, I KNOW that I had to pass a group of riders that I recognized twice, and I estimated after the fact that I added between 9 and 10 minutes to my total ride with that detour.
-- Approximately 13.5-mile ride in 44:43; 4/6 Age Group; 46/91 Overall. Not my best effort.
As a side-note, if we assume that T-1 was exactly 2:00, that had me averaging 18.96 mph on the bike. That’s not terrible, especially considering that I had to stop, turn around, and then fumble my way back onto the course after having tried to get directions from a passerby. But I’d hoped to average around 20 mph and might have succeeded without the mishaps. Regardless, at the time I was PISSED.
Run (In Which This Farce Finally Ends)
Got to Transition—again untimed—fumbled with my gloves and the laces on my running shoes, and eventually headed out. You had to run out the back of transition and around to get to the parking lot and the eventual running course. On top of everything else, it felt like hazing. Anyway, I headed out, now behind a bunch of folks I’d been in front of. I was steamed, but I kept running. Not so much because I wanted to try to place high—that was out the window—but because I’d trained and wanted to see what I could do. I mean, at a certain level, it really didn’t matter. It wasn’t like this was my season’s A-race or anything, and I’m not gonna lose my scholarship because of poor performance. I was just STEAMED. But I didn’t quit or anything.
Eh. In the event, I felt okay. Not great, but okay. I’m running better this season, and I felt that yesterday. Still, I didn’t light the world on fire or run well enough to make the biking crap unimportant. But I did, at least, re-pass some of the folks who’d passed me while I was lost on the bike course, and that’s worth something, I suppose.
-- Approximately 2.4-mile run in 20:08; 3/6 Age Group; 16/91 Overall.
If we assumed that T-2 was 90-seconds, and that I’ve got the correct distance down for the run course (2.2 miles from the official course map + .1 mile of parking lot in each direction that the course map doesn’t show), that puts me at 7:45/mile, or a touch faster than I was per mile at the Westport 10K. Which is about where I’d expected to be. Not blazing fast, but faster than I’ve been in years when I haven’t done as much run-interval training. I should note, though, that at the time I finished, most of the posted results were for runners who were MUCH faster than me, so that I thought I’d put up something like 8:30 or even 9:00 per mile, and I was FUMING. Inconsolable, really. On top of getting lost and having all those bike malfunctions, it easily ruined the rest of my day.
-- Milford Y-Tri Official Time: 1:08.22. 3/6 Age Group; 27/91 Overall.
At this point, my biggest complaint is that the Transitions weren’t timed. I mean, it’s my fault that I got lost. I don’t know how it happened, but it only happened to me, so who else can I blame? It sucks, but what are you gonna do? Still, if the transitions were timed, at least I’d have better data on my performance, and I wouldn’t be guessing after the fact about how I did. Given that this was at best a B-Race, that would be worth more to me than the placing statistics.
By the way, Sally ran this race, too. And yes, this was her first triathlon. Her swim was a very respectable 8:34, or 2:48/100. Personally, I think she’s ready for Open Water next time. At 53:09 (~13mph), however, I also think she needs to spend some more time in the saddle. That bike leg is a little slow. Finally, her run was a respectable 21:13 or 8:25/mile—not bad at all for the last leg of a first-ever triathlon. That’s faster than I averaged on my first ever triathlon, anyway.
So there you have it. If you’ve got questions about this race and aren’t a regular reader of my blog, feel free to hit me on email at danthead (at) gmail.com. And please note that I’ve used (at) instead of @ there in order to avoid spambots. Or you can leave a Comment. But if you Comment a year from now, just realize that I might not notice it in time to answer your questions before the race.