The year of the sprints!
Race Reports on the Florida Challenge Triathlon and Sampson County Super Sprint
The past two weekends have been a huge change in pace for me. I have not competed in a sprint triathlon since 2008 and now I was looking at doing two in a row! To make the races even more daunting was the fact that I have not swam since my elbow surgery on January 17th. Here we go…
Florida Challenge Triathlon
I signed up for this race as part of the AJ Baucco Training Camp. This camp took place in and around beautiful Clermont, Florida. All 25 of the camp participants took part in this race as one of many workouts throughout the training camp weekend.
Morning: Race morning was sluggish as the prior day’s workout was an 85-mile bike ride and 4-mile brick run in the Florida heat. When I was packing for the camp I decided to not “tri-nerd” too hard so I left my aero helmet and race wheels at home. As I watched everybody frantically putting on their race wheels the morning of the race I thought to myself, “maybe racing on training wheels with Gatorskins is a bad idea!”
Swim: The swim was a 400m open water swim in the shape of a triangle. The swim was wetsuit legal but I did not think I was going to be able to rip off a wetsuit with my bad elbow. I settled on wearing my Xterra Speedsuit. The swim started and I did my typical long-limbed run into the water and dolphin dives until I could no longer reach. I was in the lead for all of about five strokes until reality set in. I settled in to a pace and settled for the fact that swimming with one good arm was not going to mean a fast time. I exited the water in ~14th place with a time of 6:11.
T1: As I was running to T1 it became evident that I was completely numb. This lead to me “streamlining” the transition by keeping my speedsuit on for the bike leg.
Bike: The bike was a short 8-mile loop around the lake we had just finished swimming in. Coming out of transition there were two quick hills to navigate before you could really settle into a good tempo. These hills really spiked the heart rate and shocked the legs into turning on. After the hills, the rest of the course was as flat as a pancake. I hit the jets and started bringing people in one by one. The ride flew by and before I knew it I was coming in to T2 in what I thought was 1st place. Total bike time of 21:45 was fastest of the day.
T2: My transition skills left a little to be desired as I went from 1st to 4th by the time I left. I thought I was quick but apparently, a quick transition for an Ironman or 70.3 is different when compared to a sprint triathlon!
Run: The run was an out-and-back 5K course right along the lakefront. I was quickly able to run down the 3rd place person within the first few minutes. The 1st and 2nd place had packed up and were now running step for step with each other about 50m ahead. I surged a little bit to hook on the back of the pack and tucked in for 800m to recover. Just before the turnaround, I noticed a guy riding a bike towards me and a triathlete running behind him. It was none other than AJ Baucco himself! For those who do not know, AJ is a professional triathlete and races on the MLT triathlon series. He was so far ahead of the rest of us that everybody had basically forgotten about him. After the crushing realization that we were all getting smashed by AJ, I decided to make a little move on the group I had been running with. I surged slightly and nobody came with me. After that, it was just about monitoring my effort and keeping the legs turning over. I was happy with my 5K as I finished in 19:36, good enough for 2nd overall and the 4th fastest run.
Sampson County Super Sprint
This fun little race was my first-time racing in Raleigh with my TMS-IOS teammates. It was fun to see the familiar faces at registration and in transition prior to the race. This was also the first race of the FS Series of races for the year so we were all hoping to make a good first impression. I decided to race the entire race in my speedsuit as it had worked well the prior weekend. Additionally, I brought along the Flo race wheels and aero helmet for a trial run! I was going full aero on a race that was going to take less than 40 minutes!
Morning: The race did not start until 9:00 so there was ample time to drive over, register, and set up transition on race morning. I bought some waters from the local Sampson County Piggly Wiggly but then had to scrap them soon after as the expiration date was March 2003! Two thousand and three!!! I will wait until I am the race site to fill my bottles.
Swim: The swim was a 250m pool swim that went off in a seeded time trial format. I was #23 meaning I had numerous swimmers ahead of me to chase. After the prior weekend, I knew this was likely a reasonable location for me to start. The swim was uneventful and was over in 3:53 (all splits include transition), which was good for 11th overall.
T1: I had my full race setup going for this race. I got everything on quickly and headed for the exit. There was a guy at the exit saying “Do not mount until you cross the line.” I thought this meant getting outside of the transition line. It did not. I mounted, clipped BOTH feet in, took two pedals, and was quickly told the mount line was 15m ahead of me around a corner. Course mistake #1! I unclipped, ran about 5 strides, and started did another awkward flying mount.
Bike: The course had a lot more turns than I was expecting for a short 7 mile course in a very rural area. I slammed on the power immediately and started bringing people in quickly. It was weird getting to the turnaround and trying to do the math on the 7 people that were still ahead of me based off of their numbers. With only 7 miles of biking it was fun to just “floor it” the entire ride and go fast without any real repercussions. Total bike time was 16:24 and the fastest bike of the day. I knew there were still 4 people ahead of me that I needed to chase down.
T2: Nothing big to report. I think I have figured out these quick transitions!
Run: The run started by winding its way out of the parking lot and on to the main roads. I came to the first intersection and there were three volunteers standing in the middle of the intersection. I turned right but the course was actually straight. Dang it! Course mistake #2! I need to really look at the race maps before doing the races in the future. I did not take the time to bring my Garmin so I was “running blind” when it came to distance and heart rate. I was able to run down 2 people in the first mile but then I didn’t see anybody. That is not a good sign with only a mile to go in the race! I put my head down and tried to run hard but I couldn’t get any additional speed in my legs this early in the season. Coming in to the finish line I saw another person standing in the chute getting his timing chip taken off. I knew he had just finished and it was all a matter of how soon before me he had started. I checked his number (#11) and figured he had at least a 90 second head start. This was going to be close! I finished the run in 13:02 which was a decent effort (even with going off course) which was good for 1st overall and the 3rd fastest run split. I ended up winning my first race by what ended up being less than 20 seconds! It just goes to show that you have to keep pushing because you never know who is in front or behind you.
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