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St. Anthony Triathlon 2016 Race Report

Created: Sunday, 24 April 2016
 
This was my first race in the ocean! An Olympic distance triathlon: 0.9 mi swim, 26 mi bike, 6.2 mi run. I was understandably nervous swimming in unfamiliar conditions. The weather was perfect. The winds and waves were calm. This made the swim very manageable. My goals were to not be last in the swim, and I did that. I exceeded my goal on the bike with a 20.8 mph average, and maintained a strong run with a sub-9 min pace.
Pre-Race swim out to the barge in the distance.
I planned to drive down the morning before the race. My favorite team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, were playing a close playoff game, so I was unable to go to sleep early as I intended. After a late night, I woke up at 2:30 am, and hit the road for St. Petersburg, FL at 3 AM.
Registration, Pre-ride, Pre-swim I arrived on schedule at 10 AM. After checking into the hotel, I was expecting the race check-in to be smooth. Instead, I was
Sunrise during the pre-race warm up
very annoyed. I had to get into 5 separate lines! I’ve never seen this before. There were multiples lines that were assigned by the racer’s last name. But the A-B line had 20 folks waiting, while no one was in the C-F line. Something isn’t right there. Maybe the “B” names should have been split, or the C-F volunteer help out the A-B volunteer. Finally, I get to the front of the sun scorched line to start the process: Line 1: I was given an envelope with my race numbers; Line 2: Everyone merged into one line just to check our USAT ID; Line 3: A volunteer placed the race bracelet on me; Line 4, volunteers passed out a goody bag & t-shirt; Line 5: I received the timing chip that looked and felt more like a parolee’s house arrest ankle bracelet. It was my first time using this style of a timing chip.
I had only been on my new bike for a couple of weeks. A brand new Quintana Roo PRsix time trial bike. Her name is ¡Rayo! Lightning in Español. I took her for a 2 mile ride to ensure no adjustments were needed and checked the bike in for an overnight stay.
Now it’s time for my first swim in the Gulf of Mexico! It was pretty warm in the afternoon, and none of the other racers were wearing wetsuits in their practice swim. I’m not so confident. I put on my Zoot Prophet 2.0 wetsuit while sweating profusely, and jumped in. I had heard that salt water will make me more bouyant, and whoa, was that true. Even more impressive is how the Zoot Prophet 2.0 kept me perfectly balanced in the water! Effortlessly, I was perfectly horizontal for a more efficient swim. Other wetsuits just provided bouyancy, this top of the line wetsuit kept me horizontal. The water was calm, and the 200 yd swim was easy.
I had previously videotaped my swim which allowed me to understand what I needed to correct in my stroke. My focus was keeping a high elbow while in the water, and a longer reach. I’m now race ready.
Race Morning Even though the alarm was set for 4 AM, I was constantly looking at the clock every 15 minutes since 2 AM. I ate oatmeal for breakfast and some fruit. I kept handy my pre-race fuel which consisted of Hammer Bars, Hammer Gels, Endurolytes, and Anti-Fatigue tablets. It may be overkill for an Olympic distance race, but everything today is training for my 1/2 and full Ironman races. The key to staying strong throughout the race and not cramping is loading up with electrolytes and fuel before the race, while staying away from salt tablets, and simple sugars (citric acid, corn syrup, fructose, glucose....)
Orange towel is where I should be set up! He eventually moved.
When I arrived around 5 AM to set up my transition area, the guy next to me had his towel where mine should go. I knew he was wrong, but #1> It’s too early for this and #2> I didn’t want to appear aggressive. So I talked to the guy, and asked him how he planned to transition on one side of the rack, but his bike is set up to leave on the opposite side. He litterally told me that we was going to run to the opposite side of the rack to move his bike!! WTH?!?! So I asked him again, with the same illogical response. Mind you, there are no rookies in this race, but it sure seemed like it. Fortunately, an announcement was made on the loud speaker that your transition area should be set up on the side of the bike where your wheel is touching the ground. “Thank You!” He moved his transition to the other side. I got my area all set up. Hit the bathroom while it was still safe. When I returned, the other guy next to me was set up on the wrong side and crowding me. “ARRGgghhh!!” This time I was straight forward, and let him know the correct location for transition area. Now... I’m really race ready.
Swim
There was no pre-race meeting, so I was not 100% sure how to navigate the buoys. The sun was just rising, so the course was revealing itself for the first time. I was in an early wave, and decided to just follow the swimmers in front of me. There will surely be plenty of folks to follow. I started in the back and off to the side of my wave. To stay calm, I rotated through 3 songs in my head: La-Di-Da-Di by Slick Rick, I Need Love by L.L. Cool J., and Eye of the Tiger from the Rocky movie. As long as I sing, there’s not enough room in my head to think about what’s lurking in the deep, bottomless water, nor worry about who just grabbed me or tried to swim on top of me. Learning how not to panic in open water is an essential skill. My focus was on staying steady, not stopping no matter what, keep my elbows high under water, high and a long reach. I didn’t want more 2 other waves from behind me to catch me, but I saw a 4th colored cap. Usually, I’m among the last swimmer in my age group in these big races. My goal today was not to be among the slowest! There were 11 slower me. *Success*
 
Swim Time: 39:48 Rank: 94/106 Pace (per Garmin): 2:07/100yd - Very fast for me!! Thanks to the wetsuit. 1893 yds. Hmmm, course should be 1584 yds. I stayed wide on the turn buoys to avoid the crowd, and this added extra distance to the swim.
Transition 1 I should have started peeling off my wetsuit as soon as I came out the water, but I was out of breath. As a result, I didn’t start taking it off until I was at my bike, resulting in a slower transition time compared to what I should have. I did quite well though compared to the rest of my group. Especially since many of them swam without a wetsuit.
T1 Time: 2:24 Rank: 43/106
Bike The bike course was flat, bumpy in spots, with 3 U-turns. This is my favorite part of the race, and the first time racing on ¡Rayo! My plan was to stay over 20 mph, but I was often over 24 mph!! I was amazing myself. I fueled myself using my flask that was full of Apple Cinnamon Hammer Gel. The new tri bike makes a huge difference. Although every course is
different, I was averaging 18 mph in previous races. There were several stretches of road that were quite bumpy. There were water bottles and other debris everywhere. Fortunately, I was able to avoid running over any of the obstacles. There was one dip in the road that was deeper than I expected, and my right arm slipped right off of my aero bar!! I focused on pushing with every pedal stroke, but not too much, since I have to run afterwards. I used my Garmin 920xt to track my progress and speed. Unfortunately, after I turned the watch to the inside of my wrist, it would pause when I hit a hard bump in the road after the watch banged against my aero bar. I ended up losing 2 miles on my Garmin. I must have hit restart at least 5 times. This screwed up my strategy to sprint the long straightaway at the end because I wasn’t reading accurate distances. I thought i had a ways to go, but then the transition line appeared, ending the fast ride. I could have gone faster, but extremely pleased with my bike performance.
Time: 1:11:14 Rank: 51/106 Speed: 20.8 mph (Smoking!!) Goal: 19 mph
Transition 2: Transition to the run was pretty efficient. No issues. I wore the same Zoot Ultra Race shoes I raced in last year.
Time: 1:49 Rank: 38/106
Run
Running strong
The beginning of the run gave me a good laugh! Throughout the bike, it seemed like I was trying to clear the salt water out of my system. There was still a little left in in gut. As soon as I started running, I let out a huge burp! It was LOUD! I felt embarrased. There were 3 other runners around me when I apologized. Surprisingly, they cheered me on! “Awesome”, “That was a good one!” So I started the run with a smile.
My goal was to stay strong, under a 9:30 pace. Instead, I ran the entire race averaging a 9:00 pace. There were lots of spectators and vendors lining the course. Many offering water, fruit, and even beer! I only accepted water from the race volunteers. The sun was scorching! So at every water station, I grabbed two cups: one to drink, another to dump on my head to cool off. I was soaking wet when crossed the finish line.
Time: 55:35 Pace: 8:57/mi (My last Oly race I also avg’ed 8:57) Goal: 9:30/mi
Finish:
Strong Finish!
I sprinted to the finish! As you can see from the photos, I had to squeeze past some young girls that were just having fun. I was very happy to see my wife Stephanie waiting to greet me!! Thanks for your support. I finished with my fastest Olympic time, and very happy that stayed strong all day. I was worried at moments that I would cramp, but the Hammer fuels did their job, and my nutrition plan was working. My bike, ¡Rayo! performed like a champ. And my Zoot shoes have never failed me. I’m feeling strong and ready for my 2nd 1/2 Ironman race in Chattanooga in just 4 weeks.
Finish
Results
 
I earned this medal!
Thanks for reading this looong race report!!!
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