So I signed up for these races along time ago, and back then I thought it would be a smart idea to do both – I guess to prove how tough I am? Who knows. I’ve had a lot of big takeaways through ~6 months of being a triathlete, and I’m happy to share them with you:
1. Don’t commit to races super early, unless it is going to be an “A” race and it will sell out immediately.
2. Don’t make your A race a WTC event unless you plan to Kona Qualify (Ironman World Championships) or Las Vegas Qualify (70.3 World Championships). Speaking in complete generalities here, you’d want to be able to put down a 30′ swim, 2:20 bike, and <1:30 run to have a good shot at LV.
3. Along the same lines of #2, there is a HUGE world outside of WTC for racing, that is a lot cheaper, smaller, and closer. Explore HITS, Active, Rev3, or just local backyard races. Build up your resume by performing well at local races, and then go to a WTC event when you have worked out your kinks.
4. The race is won on the run.
5. Never use a Garmin Quick Release system, unless you want it to quick release into the bottom of the water.
Anyway, on to the Sprint Distance.
There is something pretty awesome about rolling out of your own bed, walking out your door, hoping on your tri bike, and being able to hear the Race Director on the megaphone at the race course. A 5′ ride to the course got me into transition quickly and I got setup. Took a quick plunge in the non-wetsuit Schuylkill to warm up, and then got ready for the start.
Swim: We started in the first AG behind the “Elite Amateurs.” Our wave was M 29 and Under, so it was a big group. The course is basically a parallelogram, with a total distance of ~900m (says Greg). I got to the front, and off we went. The first line was about 400m through Columbia, a sharp right turn, then 50m then another turn, and another 400m back down stream before turning into the finish area. The first 400m were chaos. I was in the front, but the course design kind of funneled people in, so people narrowed toward the middle (where I was). I made the first two turns with a few ‘bows thrown, and by the time I had gotten onto the long straight away headed back, I could see that I was ahead of pretty much everyone and had clear water ahead. As I made the last turn, I glanced at my watch and ***GASP*** WHERE IS MY GARMIN F*&K ASHDSSDFSDHKFKL. I seriously wanted to die in that moment, as I discovered that it had been knocked off (likely at the first bouy). I climbed out of the water and ran into T1. Seriously, fuck the Schuylkill.
Time: 14:51, 4th AG, 87th OA
Bike: T1 was very quick, with no wetsuit or things to change, I put on my helmet and charged to the Bike Out. It was a long, bumpy run through mud and grass, and about 100ft from the mount, my aero-bar mounted water bottle flew out of the cage. Fucking sweet. No time to stop for it (in retrospect, there was), so I kept going and hopped on the bike. With no Garmin to tell me what I was doing, or to look back on and piece together data, I have no idea how my ride went. I know that I passed everyone in my AG, and the first lap was beautiful as there was just the Elites ahead of me. I felt like I was pushing at a decent pace, and no one passed me, so that was good. I got off the bike, and while I didn’t know it at the time, I was in 1st place in my AG.
T1 time: 01:02 (fastest in my AG?)
Bike time: 40:59, 22.9mph (was shooting for sub 40’). 1st AG, 16th OA.
Run: And here is where the wheels fell off. I am not proud to admit it, but I learned on my run that my interpretation of how well I am doing is 100% correlated to the data that I have. I postulate that if I had been able to see “how hard” I was going, or what my distance left was, I could have gone faster. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, right? I felt like garbage on the run. Some of it may have been not having drank anything, or eaten anything (my only GU I had taped to my bike, but had nothing to wash it down with). I also learned, plain and simple, I will continue to get run down until I put a lot more effort into being a LOT faster. I counted 3 guys go past me, including 1 in the final mile. I had no idea how far I had left to go (I am used to my Garmin giving me 1/4 mile splits, which are easy for me to focus on) other than the 1/2 way turnaround. However, I don’t want to provide excuses for my overall result. I just know that I have a lot of work to do in order to be serious in this sport. The three guys that passed me, according to race results, ran splits of: 6:11/mi, 6:24/mi, and 6:08/mi. My race results say I ran 07:07/mi. For a 5k, I need to be able to go substantially faster than that.
Run: 22:04 (7:07/mi), 4th AG. 30th OA.
Total: 01:20:25, 2:25 back of 1st in AG, 9:23 back of 1st OA.
Positives: Near the front of the pack on the swim??? Mind blowing. Sighting a relatively straight course? Equally mind blowing. Not passed by anyone on the bike.
Negatives: Goodbye Garmin, bottle ejected before the bike started, non-spectacular bike ride, poor run (AKA poor race), missing a podium spot.