Friday, July 19, 2013

Sunfish Sprint Tri Race Report Jul 2013 in Meridian, MS

Sunfish Sprint Triathlon, Meridian, MS July 13th 2013. 
1/3 mile swim (586 yds)/17mi bike/5K run.  Weather at start time: 70°, Sunny and 88% humidity and 5-7 mph northerly winds.
I put this race on the calendar in coordination with a weekend trip to see family…what a coincidence.  Left home and drove to Meridian on Friday afternoon.  Picked up my race packet on the way into town (Bib #83) and got some takeout grilled seafood from Outback.  Convenient to stay with family, but the guest bed is a double and we’re used to a king size mattress.  I think my wife and I kept each other awake just due to lack of space and the “extra firm” (concrete) mattress.  This resulted in almost no sleep the night before the race. 
After at best 2 hours of sleep, I followed my normal nutrition plan and headed back across town to the race.  Got to the race site around 5:30 and set up my transition area on a rack about halfway between the corners that were designated as bike IN and bike OUT points. All along I felt like I was missing or forgetting something -  very uncomfortable feeling for a new race course and and out of town race.  Made a short jog around 6:20 to get the legs moving and then hopped on the bike for a test ride to check gearing and brakes.  The bike mount line was right at the bottom of a short but significant “hill”.  I made a couple of barefoot starts with my shoes clipped in to be sure that I could get up the hill without causing a crash or embarrassing myself.  Racked the bike and then got to chat with my wife and Mom for a few minutes before lining up for the swim. With 2 young children my support crew usually opts to sleep in on race day.  Nice change, since the kiddos were not with us, to see my wife right before the start.  I can’t describe what a good feeling that it was to see her right before the race and again headed out for the run.  Yes, triathlon is a mental sport.
SWIM – 1/3 mile, 10:34.   Different approach at this race to seed the starting order for the swim.  It was a time trial start by bib number where race bibs were numbered based on registration order.  As I line up for the swim, I’m thinking that despite being #83 in the water, there will be lots of swimmers to pass since it was based on registration order and not estimated swim time.  I entered the water and within the first 50 yards another swimmer passed me.  I decided that I would test the swim drafting theory and got right on his feet.  I checked his sighting the first 25 yards or so and he was right on course, so I kept my head down and just followed his feet the rest of the swim.  He stayed straight on course. I rolled into T1 feeling more rested than ever and my breathing and heart rate were completely under control.  This was great!
T1 - 0:40.  Pretty smooth transition, and felt really fast (only 14 racers were faster!).  Found out later that my wife took a photo as I exited the water, and by the time she made it to the bike mount line I was already pedaling away.
Bike  - 17 miles, 19.5 mph avg, 51:44.  I made it up the hill pedaling barefoot on top of my shoes.  As I reached the flat section crossing the lake dame, I attempted to slide my feet into my shoes.  Left shoe slide in easy, but before I could Velcro the strap it came unclipped.  Panic.  Please don’t let me lose my shoe.  Fixed that emergency and went to work on the right foot.  The Velcro strap had came out of the metal loop.  Fun time threading that back through while riding across the lake dam and not becoming a hazard to the other cyclists.  After finally getting all strapped into my bike, the course takes a nice steep downhill off the pond dam and I used it make up the seconds lost arguing with my shoes.  Through the park and onto the highway and hello hill climb.  I had ridden the course so it wasn’t a surprise, but still no fun hitting 3 hills about 100 feet/.25 mile each right out of the gate. 
Doesn’t seem like much on paper and I know some people enjoy it, but I’ll take the flat course any day.  The rest of the bike went well.  I did get passed by some really fast bikes, considering that there were plenty of fast racers behind me on the swim entry.  Caught up with Rocketman on the course and noticed he was pulling another racer along (incidental drafting on her part I’m sure).  The course did take a nice jaunt down a county road between miles 4 and 8 and thus began the Paris-Roubaix of Mississippi.  This again, not a surprise, but the road was as bumpy as riding down cobblestone, only without the cobbles.  On the upside, the local residents had taken care of the dozen plus dogs that chased me when I rode the course back in May.

T2 - 0:44.  No problem on the dismount and bike racking. Slid into my running shoes, grabbed my sunglasses, hat, and race belt and out the runner’s shoot.  I usually clip my belt while standing in transition.  Little things to save time… and putting on the hat, glasses, and belt while running out of transition does make a little time back (from my slow bike).
Run  - 5K, 23:36, 7:49 pace (Garmin recorded a 7:33 pace over 3.1 miles).  Not sure why the 16 second difference between the race time and my Garmin?  Run started out fast as I clocked a 7:19 on the first mile and wasn’t sure what to think.  I knew I was running way too fast for my normal pace, so I slowed down for the second mile not wanting to bonk on a 5K. Lots of water stations in this race (3 stations, passing each one twice) and another first was getting an icewater sponge.  Ice water sponges make for great heat relief under the hat.  And it worked great on the back of my neck, too!  Second mile came in at 7:44, more like it.  Kept a steady pace through mile 3 and even pushed it up the hill back onto the lake dam.  Picked up the pace the last 1/3 mile and finished strong at 1:27:13.  Stepped off the course and under the showers just past the finish line.  This was a nice touch that I would recommend to every race director.  It helped to cool your body back down and was nice to rinse off the race sweat before heading to the food tent.  Lots of good eats afterwards and shady spots under the tents with tables and chairs to enjoy the food.
18th AG, 86th OA, 1:27:13
This was a small race but the USAT certification brought out some very fast racers in all age groups [James Bales- Air Force orthopedic surgeon, world class athlete and 2012 Olympic hopeful, Bain Foote - VP of Skin Sake, and first year pro triathlete and Sunfish 1st overall male Ben Hall, to mention a few]That explains how there were 15 cyclists that averaged 23 MPH or better on a very hilly bike course. Parking was okay if you arrive early but they used all the space available and I even noticed some spectators had to park along the highway since they arrived after the race started.  This meant over a mile walk to the finish line.  Great venue overall and nice lake view with plenty of shade trees and even picnic tables on the hill overlooking the transition area.  There were at least a dozen kayaks in the water for the swim course, lots of volunteers on the bike course, and as already mentioned, lots of water stations on the run. The ice water sponges and Finish Line showers were a huge hit in my opinion. Shout out to Rocketman’s daughter, Denise Joplin, for taking 1st Overall Female!!

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