Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nanticoke Triathlon May 3rd 2009

Let me preface this race recap...
I have wanted to do a triathlon for a long time. I suppose since when I saw IRONMAN coverage when I was a teenager. Seeing these absurdly in shape folks churn along like machines was inspiring, from an athletic level as well as the mental accomplishment impressed me. I would guess everyone is inspired by those endurance athletes. But I never took the time to swim, so the thought of competing in a triathlon never materialized.
It was about 15 months ago that I met Mike V. and he got in me into running with a bunch of endurance knuckleheads. I rarely ran more than 4 miles prior to linking up with these folks. After completing a couple races with Rise Up Runners and a half marathon in Rehobeth last fall I put forth the plan to do a triathlon this year. 2009 the year of the "TRY".
Some folks liked the idea and some already were knee deep in the sport.
Sprint Tris are the short(a long way from an Ironman) - all out, as the name implies, triathlons that are typically a .5 mile swim, 15 -18 mile bike, and 5k run.

What the Eastern Shore lacks in topography it makes up for in Sprint tri races with 3 in May and June. Nanticoke being the first in the series.

I started swimming last Fall with the aid of "Coach" Keene. A local Master Swimmer Mike is a beast of a runner and arguably a better swimmer. His guidance in the pool on Tuesday mornings was instrumental in giving me the bit of confidence I needed to tackle the swim portion.
So after swimming for a few months, as well as our normal early morning runs through the streets of Easton at 5:00am I pulled out the old bike, dusted it off and had our friends a Easton Cycle and Sport give it the proper "love".
A few 15 mile rides later and I was feeling ok.
I linked, or "bricked" the bikes with a run, or the swim with a run at least.
I never put the entire trio together in a test run.
(Though I have proposed a great route for a local triathlon)

The test run would be this morning in the race.
I started the morning by downing some coffee and Claritin as the allergies decided to start abusing my sinuses just 3 days ago.
Wawa graciously provide me with fuel and donuts, the ultimate pre -race food, or at least what I have used as the quick energy carbs the last 3 weekends for my runs of 10 and 13 miles. ( I am not messing with a good routine). I picked up Keene and we headed for Bivalve MD at 6:45am.
I am not sure of the total number entrants, but Keene was suprised by the number cars in the "lots" at 8am compared to last year. The event certainly looked big to me, with volunteers wunning everywhere. And seemlingly everyone moving at a quick pace from here to there.
I paid $75 to enter the race, $10 of which was a day member fee to USA triathlon ~ whatever.
However, you sort of immediately recognize that a triathlon takes considerably more effort to put together than a run, so the cost was not out of line.
We grabbed a spot for my bike and I had plenty of time to be nervous.
Dan and Corey, set up near me, and we immediately set to making fun of each other. Repeated attempts to crack Dan's angry game face were futal.

Some photos were snapped and we watched the kids triathlon kick off.
I am not sure of the event distances, but seeing wetsuit-less kids barrel out of the water to their bikes was pretty neat.
After some discussion which buoy we would have to swim to we all hit the water for some a warm up swim. The water was 68F, perfect.
The 3 mile swimmers(the other event besides the Tri) got the first wave, and we would have to wait appx 8 minutes to let them get out in front before our wave, Men 25-39, would start.
I unwisely ignored coach Keene's advice to get up front, go like hell, and let swimmers battle my feet to get passed me. Instead laid back picked a small clear spot and start at the bottom of the pack. I won't make this mistake again.
The count down bottomed and we were off. The nervousness I had about the event would soon fade. That nervousness was actually most enjoyable for me lately. I think it is good to be nervous and push "out of the your comfort zone" from time to time, and is my overall general 2009 resolution. Ok, enough about that.

The start of the race was when they US Soldiers stormed Normandy in Saving Private Ryan. Only without all the gunfire, fighting for your country, and real sacrifice. But other than that, it sounds crazy, your head is in and out of the water with intense splashing all around you with the occasional foot in your face, and bodys flailing everywhere. It was nearly impossible for me to get into a normal stroke routine until I was about 300 yards into it. I was intimate with some guy wearing only a white t-shirt from what I could tell, as he and I climbed over top of each other on repeated zig zags (newbie open water swimmers have hard time holding a straight line).
Where is the black line at the bottom of the pool? Having to constantly recon where I was wreaked havoc on my stroke as I mentioned. But after about 200 yards I realzied I was going to finish the swim, and man this thing was fun already.
Back to the pool. Swimming training laps in the pool is a really poor way(of course the only way in winter) to train for an open water event, and I hope to get out on the Tred Avon a bit this summer before the nettles roll in.
I hit the halfway point at 7:30 so I knew I was doing ok, and the fastest 1/4 mile I had done in the pool was 8:30 without push offs and flipturns.
After doing further battle with some overly wide guy on the home stretch, and watching another guy over my shoulder head pretty much perpendicular to the way he should have been swimming I made it to where I could run up to the beach. I started in the back of all the swimmers and pretty much stayed there, only passing a handful of folks. Heading out of the water at approximately 15 minutes made me happy however.

I ran to my bike and began the "quick change" into my biking/running gear. Running shoes, helmet, shirt, glasses. I was at my bike at 16:20 and on it at about 20:somethin. Or what Keen called the slowest transition in HISTORY. For comparison sake Dan was in and out in appx. 30 seconds. Ok, I need to practice this .
On the bike I didn't stop huffing and puffing until I was 5 minutes into the bike. The swim was tough on me, and I ingested a lot of Nanticoke water. I devoured a Cliff bar, and drank a little Gatorade, orange only and forever.
The bike went fine, roughly the time I thought I would put in as I had only logged 90 miles of training time on my bike.
Gulp! Seeing that now, is not good.

Anyhow, my worst fears came true as I watched fat people pass me on the bike. One after the other. I probably passed 5 bikers, and was passed by probably 20. Of the 20 I would say, umm 15 easily had extremely high end, ero-tricked out, carbon fiber, NASA certified bikes. This is the part of the triathlon where you can gain an advantage without training a lot...I think. Bitter? Yeah a little. Mentally in I noted number, 116, 36 year old chic (your age is Sharpied on your calf), 236, 72,
etc. these folks would soon be my victims, or so I hoped.
I made it back to the transition area where I grabbed a gatorade and bolted out on numb hamstrings and tingley feet. It took about only .75 of a mile before my legs started to feel decent. This was a quicker recovery than I was used to. And that is when the carnage began. Having come off the Trail Dawgs half marathon the week before my legs where battle tested. Vicious hills, and 13.1 miles had me prepared for this measly 5k. I started passing runners as we came off the main marina road and didn't stop until the finish line. I passed 25-30 runners over the 3.1 miles and felt better with every one, on my way to a decent 21:45 in the run portion.
Overall, I was real happy with my time in my first triathlon, 1:31:27.

Now, had I done this time LAST year I would have finished right around 50th overall.
I say last year because apparently Nanticoke has quickly gained a solid reputation, since that time garnered me 126th this year! Ouchie.
But knowing I should be able to shave at least 8 minutes off my time for next year gives me hope.
All in all this was a great experience and the configuration of the race would make it a great spot for families to come and cheer on competitors.
A post race hilite besides the beer and wings at Boonies with Keene, Dan, and Corey, was returning home to a myriad of motivational drawings by Addie. My favorite being the picture of the shark captioned Great White Daddy Wins!, barely nudging out the circular, slight hairy rainbow she drew.
Good times.
Up next Assateague?


Thanks for the calls, texts, etc. of support from my RUR peeps.


Picknhand said...

Man Joel!!! This has me fired up. Great write up...I was excited for you reading it and sorry I wasn't there to participate. Good times...

Runners on Trails said...

You have double impressed me, Joel, these past few days; first with the success of competing in your first triathlon, and second with the awesome race report you post here. yea, we'll work on those transitions. I'd say the Bieb has a big black X on his back for races to come. Congratulations you BBOS. WF

Michael Valliant said...

And who says (former) football players can't write? ;) Stellar report and mad props to you, kind sir. I love that at the end of 2008, you proclaimed 2009 the year of the tri/try, set your sights, and made it happen. You are a rock star, for sure.

marymac said...

Time for a new blog post, JOEL. Are you not inspired by my ass-kicking blog?

donaldo said...

I had no idea you had ever done a Tri. If you can swim in the dank mire on the east coast, certainly an event in a third world country with clear, warm ocean water should be in your future...;) Cousin Don