First DQ race of the season. Between the way my CG schedule has worked out/training periodization, etc, I haven't been able to do any of the others earlier in the summer. Aside from XTERRA Jersey Devil, this was even the first race I've done in NJ all year, so good to see some of the same people again.
I went to pick up my packet and pre-ride the course yesterday (Saturday), after spending the better part of the afternoon fixing up my mom and brother's bikes (well, he was riding my CX bike with road wheels). Note: riding down Ocean Avenue of the most easily accessible Jersey Shore town from the North Jersey/NYC area is not a good idea at 6 pm on a Saturday in July. I rode one lap of the three-lap bike course and ran the first almost-mile of the run course, which went around a lake then an out and back along Ocean Avenue/the boardwalk.
When I picked up my packet, though, I saw I was wave 5 of 5, with the 24&under and 55+ males. I asked the RD if I could possibly change that. If it weren't a three-lap bike course, if wave one weren't male 25-34 (thus about a 90% probability of the winner coming from that group), or if I weren't in the very last wave, I wouldn't have asked, but I had to be that guy, and they obliged.
Race morning, left around 4:45, drove just shy of an hour to Belmar, set up transition, then did a pretty normal warmup for me...about 3/4 mi run, 2 mi bike, then put on wetsuit and maybe 200 yds swim. I did forget my Garmin watch, which bothered me for a bit, but it seemed like a message. I'd read a couple of articles lately on the importance of "going hard" and not being too much of a numbers slave, and what better place to test it out than in a sprint that means next to nothing? I forget that I wasn't always an endurance athlete, and that gameday mentality is often what helps me, the ability to push through the crap and just go, regardless of my spiking HR or lactic acid buildup.
Swim 1/4 mi: 6:27 (1:31/100) 5th overall
This was a straight out and back in the mighty Lake Atlantic. Normally I'm not a fan of the ocean not having waves, but as my brother pointed out, this was one time when we were going to the beach hoping for glass, and we were happy with that. I just pushed as hard as I could, and I know I physically came out of the water in less than 6 minutes because I saw wave 3 waiting on the beach. The fact that pretty much nobody broke 6 minutes for the split means that I'm almost positive that the entire run up the beach and across the street into transition was included.
T1: 0:52 13th overall
I can't quite figure out the shoes-already-on-pedals with my new Pearl Izumis and Look Keos, so I just did it the old-fashioned way. I came into T1 in 3rd, but I left in 1st.
Bike (10, 12+? mi): 28:04 (23.5 mph) 14th overall
I question the distance because the original website said before the race it was 12. I pre-rode the course yesterday and got 4.40 for a lap, but that was including an extra little turnaround loop at the top that ended up being cut out. The results page now says 10 mi, but the calculations they used seem to be based on 11 mi. I have no clue, but I felt like I was going fast.
I was solo the first half or so of the first lap, until a guy passed me and just kind of left me in the dust. I managed to hold my position and ended up getting passed by about one or two guys per lap, and two on lap three, so I finished the bike in 5th. Laps two and three were an absolute zooooooo. It got pretty dangerous with people on beach cruisers, mt bikes, etc, who don't understand that riding 13 mph right along the yellow line is dangerous/illegal/just not cool. Another dangerous, illegal, not cool thing is blowing by everybody, including me.....on the right. I am swinging out around all of the people on lap one just like you should be, Mr. Thousands of dollars of gear to barely outsplit me in the bike then fail to break 21 minutes in a 5k...play by the rules.
I didn't look at my regular, non-Garmin watch enough to figure out anything with respect to lap times.
T2: 0:32 4th overall
QUICK. Uneventful; managed to beat somebody out and start the run in 4th place.
Run 5k: 17:56 (5:48/mi) 8th overall
Felt pretty good. Not 100%, but I definitely felt the bike ride more than I normally do for the first half mile or so. About 3/4 mi into it, the guy I beat out of transition passed me, but I caught somebody else to stay in 4th. Then I got to the out and back along the boardwalk, which was concurrent with two-direction bike course, so TONS of spectators. This was probably the most spectator-friendly tri I've ever seen, with the swim start/exit, transition, three laps of two-directional bike traffic, and two-direction run traffic including the finish, all within about 200 yards of each other.
If the course was actually 5k, then this is a PR by 3 seconds over my Jolly Holly 5k last November in Millville. However, both Gmaps and another racer's Garmin watch put this course somewhere in the vicinity of 2.88-2.90 mi. I am still deciding whether I want to call it a PR.
Overall: 53:49, 6th overall out of 411 finishers, 1st 20-24
A couple of people from other waves bumped me back to 6th. I am very pleased with how I raced today. My TT cycling isn't quite up to speed yet, but that's not surprising given that I have strayed to those little "other" triathlons a bit this year, but I've got a little bit more time before Age Group Nationals and the NECTC season to get in those long, high-intensity intervals. I hoped to win, but I raced my race and did pretty well, but you can never predict the field. This isn't the World Championship Series where I know everybody I'm racing against and what his strengths and weaknesses are, so I just have to go for it and let the best man win. Today, it happened that there were 5 who were better.
I'm SO SO SO happy for my mom and my older brother. Pat said he barely finished the swim, but he managed to ease into the bike and crush the run. He started 6 minutes after my mom with the wave start, but he ended up blowing past her, making up all that time and then some. Either way, she still managed to beat her goal of 1:30.
Next up: another insane week of training, including a MTB ride Wednesday with a pro downhill racer, followed by XTERRA Stoaked in New Hampshire next Sunday, and previewing the Age Group Nationals course in Burlington, VT the day after.