I finally returned to Olympic distance racing by completing the YOLO Triathlon held at Aurora Reservoir this past Sunday. Conditions were as good as they could have been with an August 17th race date, but it was still pretty hot. Despite some questionable race directing decisions, I had a pretty good event and went about as fast as I could have given my conditioning and the weather. Fortunately my calf held up and a post race massage had it feeling better than it has in a long time.
My first ever triathlon was the Memphis in May Triathlon in 1989. What was then termed the Bud Light distance introduced me to the sport and I was thrilled to tackle the distance again. I am 25 years older and 40 pounds heavier, but managed to muddle through.
The swim was a mass start from the beach with 4 waves going off 4 minutes apart. The Olympic course was set up as a triangle with 4 buoys. The original plan was to go to the 3rd buoy always keeping the buoys to your right, circle the 3rd, come back and do it again, but this time going to the 4th buoy and the exit to transition. Unfortunately all of the buoys were drifting (in very light winds). The decision was made to disregard all of the buoys except the 3rd. We would go out, straight back, straight out and then go to the finish. In addition to the massive confusion and horrible sighting, I also experienced my first ever head on collision. The poor girl I ran into was quite stunned. Nevertheless, I made it out of the water in a respectable 34:14 (103 out of 298).
T1 was a long 5:05 transition (218 out of 298). There was the run up the beach, wetsuit stripping, getting shoes on, but then I added to special time wasters. I wanted to wear gloves and I also chose to put on my garmin 305. I also made the wonderful rookie mistake of putting on my helmet backwards. I really need to start practicing transitions.
The bike course was rolling and for me the course was well marked and attended. Several of the lead riders did an extra add on by getting on the sprint course before returning to the Olympic course. It was poor race directing in my opinion. My legs felt dead mostly from lack of training the past two weeks. I cruised along averaging 14.0 miles per hour and was passed by a large host of bikers. I drank nearly two full water bottles and ate a gel and Honey Stinger waffle on the bike. This was my worst leg at 1:47:30 (278 out of 298).
T2 was no better than T1 at 5:13 (278 out of 298). Changing shoes took the standard amount of time, but I could not re-rack my bike and ending up laying it on the ground. I also had to put on calf sleeves for the run. It probably worked out better than putting them on wet legs, but a time suck anyway. Finally I stopped at the port-o-let to piss. In my haste, I kept my cycling gloves on exiting T2.
I was terribly afraid of the run. My calf felt tight, but held up OK. I took it easy going out at a 10 minute per mile pace and walking all of the aid stations. After the turn around which was out of cups, I started walking the slight uphill sections as well. I was pleasantly surprised to finish the run in 1:10:43 (232 out of 298). The 11:34/mile pace is something to be embarrassed by, but I was happy to finish.
It was great to see Fred and Dara from the Arvada Triathlon Club on the course. They gave me a mental boost. It was also great to see fellow 3W Ambassador, Joy, on the course. The heat led to some significant muscle cramps and I wasn’t the only one walking sections.
I also enjoyed a post race massage from HealthSource Chiropractic. They had my calf feeling great all afternoon and I scheduled a follow-up appointment with them for Thursday.
Barry Siff and 5430 Sports deserve a mulligan for the production. After 3 years off some of the changes they made to Rattlesnake certainly did not help them. The day of race only packet pick-up caused some confusion. Having the Sprint and Olympic on the same day caused a lot of chaos. Running out of cups is just amateur hour. I learned a lesson to carry my own hydration. The 5430 Boulder Triathlon Series and the Rattlesnake were premier events in my opinion. However given this latest adventure, I am going to take a year off from 5430 Sports and wait for them to get their act together. Only a strong financial compensation would change my mind. Even the post race was silly with pizza as the only food option. No cups were at the finish line either (plenty of coolers full of iced Gatorade and water were there).
Race directing is a thankless and not terribly financially rewarding, unless you sell your series to World Triathlon Corporation. As athletes, I have typically seen directors make very fair decisions. I certainly could not have done any better. However USAT should not have sanctioned such a dangerous swim course ($10/racer goes to USAT). The bike and run I can forgive. Knowing the course and carrying hydration is a good idea.