Saturday I competed in the Keystone Warrior Memorial Triathlon. A sprint distance event at Ft. Indiantown Gap, PA. It was the inaugural year of this even and they did a pretty good job putting the event on.
Friday after work, my friend and I who also was competing drove out there to pick up our packets and run the 3 mile course. It is only about 20 minutes from work so it was doable. We also met up with another friend while waiting in line so there were four of us running the course. I felt the craving for Chinese food for some reason so my carbo loading dinner was a pint of chicken lo mien.
I really wanted to watch the Flyers game Friday night but knew I had to get to bed early because the Tri started at 7am with the transition area opening at 5:30. After I knew the Flyers had it locked up, I went to bed around 9:30-10pm.
The night before a race my mind always keeps me awake, along with the amazing lightening storm I could see through my closed eyelids. I got up two times before I finally fell asleep because I go over the race in my head and kept forgetting things (like my goggles and swim cap). After I packed those two things, I finally drifted off to sleep.
4:30am rolls around and my alarm goes off and I'm up. My brother in law works the overnight shift so comes home around 4:45am. There were 3 out of 4 of us up and moving around at 5am. Doesn't happen too early. We leave around 5:15 and get to the park 30 min later. I walk my bike to the transition area and see all my fellow TnT peeps. I never noticed how nice it is to have friends competing in the same race. Especially a triathlon. We chatted, warmed up together and racked our bikes next to each other. I always feel that I am invading my neighbor's space but it was nice because we were on opposite sides and shared the space.
Around 6:50 we all put our wetsuits on and get in the water for a little warm up. A quote from our Tri Coach "There are two types of triathletes, those who pee in their wetsuit and those who lie about it." I peed twice while waiting for the gun to go off.
About 1/2 way thru the 750 meter lake swim I almost stopped and started laughing. The swim was an upside down triangle and between the first and second boey, this guy cut in front of me and started swimming in the completely wrong direction. Every time I took a breath, he kept swimming further and further away from me. I had to pick my head up several times just to make sure I was going in the right direction.
My swim time ended up being 12:30 and my wife told me I was about 15th out of the water (out of 224 finishers). I have always been a confident swimmer so that part of the race is pretty easy for me. The bike portion is a bit different.
I get to the transition area, wipe my feet off, put my socks and cycling shoes on, helmet, and race belt and I'm off. Immediately I remembered I forgot to stretch my hip flexors which have been very tight the last several rides. Then people start to pass me... and pass me... and pass me. And then it starts to rain... and rain... and rain. It took me about 5 miles for my hip flexors to loosen up (15.5 mile course). I had my sunglasses on to block the rain but they were getting so blurry I had to take them off. I had a nice chat around mile 12 with a guy I kept going back and forth with. He said "you always pass me on the downhills, I got nothing on you." I said "yeah, i have a few pounds on you but as soon as we get to the uphills, you catch me." There was one decent downhill right after that and I never saw him again.
We had to make a 90 degree turn into the parking lot back to transition. There were guys telling us to turn but I also noticed an ambulance coming out. What to do... what to do. The volunteers weren't stopping either the bikers or ambulance. The guy in front of me locks up his breaks and puts his foot down, right in front of the ambulance. Stopping the ambulance and allowing me to sneak around! Needless to say I was in a big gear and cranked it to the dismount line.... rather to the dismount area. My wife said I was pretty much the only one going full speed to the dismount area. There was no "line" to dismount so I kept going around the corner. I locked up my back tire and basically did a BMX style stop like when we were kids. Not so fun on skinny tires while it's raining!
I get back to the transition area and now my dad is there, trying to have a conversation with me while I'm rushing to put my running shoes on. "Are you OK?" he asks. I said "yeah, I’m fine, almost get hit by an ambulance and slide off the road but I'm good." He's a runner and has done triathlons before so I don't really know why he was asking if I was OK or not. I didn't really ask him either.
Running is my strongest discipline. Thankfully. I felt like I was in high school again running this course. It was all gravel roads and grassy fields. One guy passed me on the run course right at the beginning. He was in my age group too! Bastard! But my legs loosened up and I began to hit my stride. I sprinted thru the finish line passing a few people in the last 150 yards. My finishing time was 1:22.02. A PR by almost 8 minutes from last year.
Then I hung out by the finish and cheered on all my friends and made them sprint through the finish line, drill sgt. style! (literally, screaming at them to sprint and pass one more person)
Out of 21 men age 25-29 I finished 10th. Out of 224 finishers in the race I finished 36th.
Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon is June 27th. Double the distance. This was just a warmup!