Azalea Triathlon Race Report
The race was a success 🙂 I broke 50 minutes as I had hoped, but only by the slightest of margins. My time was 49:59. haha.
The quick synopsis is I swam 4:09 (goal of 4:00), biked at 22:43 (goal of 22:45), and ran a 20:05 (goal of 20:00), so although I missed two of the three, it was only by the slightest of margins, so I’m very pleased with the result. Now for the rest of the story…
To start, the drive to Wilmington from Charlotte is terrible. There are so many stop lights and ridiculous speed limits (divided 4 lane limited access road in the middle of nowhere with a 45mph speed limit?!?). I was staying at my sister’s place and they were fixing dinner for me, so I hadn’t eaten on the way. I was starving by the time I got there so I should have picked up a bite, but alas I didn’t. As I’m rolling into town, of all things, the drawbridge goes up right in front of me. I had to wait 16 minutes (I timed it) for that thing
to go up, let the boat through, and then go back down. It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal if I hadn’t been so hungry. Either way, I made it, had a great meal with my sister and her family and then went to bed after they briefed me a bit on the course.
In the morning, I woke up about 2.5 hours before my start time (approx 8:30). I took down my typical pre-race breakfast of 2 cans of vanilla ensure, a banana, and some water. Then I rechecked all my gear to make sure it was all in the right place and accounted for and I was ready to go. Since I had arrived so late, I never got a chance to drive the course or even study the maps. I grilled my brother-in-law a bit on the way to the race to garner as much info as I could about the course. I felt like a had a few tips, but I was still nervous b/c I’ve never gone into a race blind like that. I have always ridden the course or at the very least driven the course before the race to find key markers so that I know I’m going the right way as well as to find potential trouble spots. But, I didn’t have time, so that was that.
I got there around 7:30. Usually an hour is plenty of time for me to set up, warm up, and be ready to race. It wasn’t any different today except I had to add picking up my race packet and chip to that routine (plus figuring out where everything was). Setup Events did a great job of organizing everything and posting signs to show where everything was. Once I picked up my packet and chip, I set up my transition area and did a short run through of all the different transition directions I’d be going. Then I went through my transition plans, did a quick jog warm up, dropped off all my warm clothes (it was about 40 degrees and I’d decided to forego all my warm gear and only wear gloves on the bike) to my bag, and headed in to the natatorium for the swim.
Inside, it was quite chaotic with all the people everywhere. The event ended up having just over 700 people sign up, so between officials, racers, and spectators, the swim area was packed with people. Thankfully there was a diving pool as well where we could warm up. I took advantage of that and was ready to go. Sendoffs were every 15 seconds, but they also paused every 50 racers for 2 minutes to allow the pool to clear just a bit. This makes for a very nice swim. I was number 104, so there were only 3 people ahead of me when we started which was great.
On the swim, I stayed to plan and went about 80%-90%. I had hoped that would put me right around 4:00 coming out of the water. I passed 2 of the 3 guys in front of me and I was on my way. I jumped out of the pool and hit lap on my watch. It read 4:09, so I was right on track and happy with the result.
T1 was a bit complicated. I had to exit the pool area, go down two flight of steps, out a door, across some sand, down a sidewalk, then circle to the complete opposite side of the transition area to enter it. It was also my first taste of the cold while wet. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad. I grabbed my glasses, helmet, bike, and I was on my way.
When I went to get on the bike, I noticed the floss I’d used to hold my shoes up had busted and my shoes were flopping around, so it took me an extra second to mount. As you can see above, it wasn’t the swiftest bike mount you’ve ever seen. Oh well. Due to the slow mount, I jumped on and stood up and pushed for the first little bit to get a good bit of speed before I took the time to put my shoes on. There were quite a few speed cushions on the route as well as a few damaged roads, but the ride was pretty flat and relatively uneventful. I held a pretty good constant speed other than on the turns. I sat up and took each turn cautiously b/c I didn’t want to be too aggressive and wipe out (I was told ahead of time that some of the turns are sandy and that you had to be careful). It wasn’t too crowded, but it was busy enough that you could almost always see someone which was important to me b/c remember I had no clue where I was going. Thankfully the riders ahead of me as well as the marked route and volunteers made most of the course pretty easy to navigate for me.
However, my one big problem was that since I didn’t know where I was, I had no idea when I was getting near the finish and I got there quite a bit earlier than I had expected to. That means I wasn’t prepared for it at all. There was a volunteer in the road telling me to turn left. I did so and almost immediately I was told to dismount. I was taken by surprise and had to uncleat instead of remove my shoes. Then I had to run across the transition area with my bike shoes on which is never a good thing.
Other than that snafu, T2 went well and I was out onto the run course. However, after running on my bike cleats directly after pushing the bike hard for 20 minutes or so, my calves didn’t really like that. They started to cramp up for the first mile. You can see my awkward run as I passed the first aid station.
Due to the cramping, my first mile was a bit slower than I’d hoped for. I ran a 6:42 to start, but I was able to pick it up and pull off the time I wanted. My second mile was 6:24 and then I followed that with a 6:08 to finish with a 20:05. All in all, I was happy with my performance and it paid off. I came in third in my age group (only lost by 2 seconds to second place) and 12th overall. Not quite what I’m used to, but for a new area and a race with about 700 people, I’ll take it as a good starting point. I’m looking forward to this season and it’s started out well! I’ll end with a few more pictures of me playing with my niece and nephew after the event.