Monday, May 20, 2013

Red Bank Triathlon race report-When a Sprint really isn't a sprint

Yesterday I competed in the Red Bank Sprint Triathlon.  Sort of.  I entered the event as a sprint competitor, what happened after that was completely different.

I was really excited for this race.  I knew that if everything went smoothly, I would have a great shot at a podium finish.  At the very least, I expected to win my Age Group.  So going into the day, I was extremely confident.  I even posted about it a few days ago.

Race Morning:
Like most of my races, I do them with my buddy Leo.  We get to the race site around 5:40 am or so to check in and get our transition area set up. Since this race had both an Olympic distance and Sprint distance, there were a lot of people there.  Looking at all the weather reports, it was supposed to be a nice day.  However, at the last minute it decided to rain and get nasty.  This was a sign of the day to come.

Once, checked in, we got our bikes, transition areas set up and was ready to roll.

Transition area ready to roll.  

Cant wait to jump on the bike and go with the shoes clipped in

Since there were 2 races going on at one time, the Olympic distance started at 7 am and the Sprint started at 7:30.  So for the 30 minutes we had to wait, Leo and I jumped in the lake and warmed up a little.  The water was completely dark and we couldn't see anything.  I couldn't even put my watch underwater and look at it.  But I'm glad we warmed up. It gave us a chance to get some open water swimming in before the start of the race.  It was nice to get the butterfly's out of our system.

7:40 rolls around and now they start the sprint race.  They wanted some more time to let the Olympic swimmers go so we wouldn't be cutting any of them off during their race.  So the gun goes off (really it was just someone yelling go), and everyone is off.

My swim was half good and half bad.  The first 150 meters or so, I felt great.  This is usually the part where everyone is jostling to get position and fighting but I felt good.  It was about here where I started to freak out.  For no reason at all I just lost it.  My stroke was good, my breathing was great, but I just felt like I couldn't go any more.  I started doing the breaststroke for a bit.  After about 25-40 meters, I realized I was being stupid and started swimming properly again.  After this, my swim was great. I was picking people off and realized how stupid I had been and how much time I wasted.  All in all, my swim was 10:53.  About a minute slower than I wanted.

I exited the swim, got my wetsuit off and picked up my bike and went.  This is where the confusing part starts.  The bike started on an uphill.  Who starts a bike mount line at the bottom of a hill.  This meant my flying mount was a little more difficult than I wanted it to be.  Either way, I did it and was off.  My bike was awesome.  I was killing it.  My first 5 miles averaged 21.7 mph.  I was picking people off left and right and at this point I was in the top 5 or so in the race.

Because of the 2 races going on, there was supposed to be a course marshall instructing where the sprint racers turn and where the Olympic racers turn.  However, in my case there wasn't anyone directing the top riders to go.  So ultimately, I ended up doing the full Olympic distance bike course.  At around mile 12 or so I realized I was so far from where I had to be that I thought this might happen.  Then at my 14-15 I realized I'm on the Olympic course and that on everyone's calf was a big letter "O" designating that they did the Olympic race.  Sprint racers had an S on their calves and I didn't see one "S" anywhere.

The wave of emotions that went through me was a roller coaster.  I thought, maybe this happened to everyone so I'm still racing.  Then I was pissed since I figured only a handful of people were affected and since I was going to place, I missed my chance.  Then I said I'll just push it and do a training ride and see how I can do on the Olympic course and use this for what it is and get the experience for future races.  I also thought about skipping the run since what did it matter any more.  I just wanted to be done with this.  But I really hate the idea of getting a DNF next to my name.  I wasn;t hurt so there was no point in stopping.

So here's the course I should have raced.

Red Bank Sprint Course

Here is my actual race:
Red Bank Olympic Course

As you can see, my bike split was really good.  It would have even been faster if I didn't have to do the extra 9 miles because I would have pushed myself even more and there were 2 big hills that slowed me up significantly that weren't on the sprint course.

At some point when I was around mile 21 of my ride, I ended up catching up to other sprint racers.  I didn't think they could have beaten me.  There was an older woman on a mountain bike. I asked her while passing her about the sprint and she said she was in it.  It was here that I yelled out at the top of my lungs.  "THIS IS BULLSHIT" and just raced back into T2 to go for the run.

My run was great.  My legs felt good and I was happy with how fast I ran.  I actually clocked the fastest run split of the race, so there is something to be happy about.  The course was fine for the run.  Pretty flat, but at the point I was on it, it was packed with racers.  Both the Olympic and Sprint runners were on the same course at the same time.  Kind of confusing.  But then again, that was the theme of the day.

Anyway, after the race I spoke with the race director and told him what happened.  He was shocked. He said there should have been someone with a megaphone directing traffic.  I told him there wasn't and explained how pissed I was.  I missed out on a podium finish, age group win, getting my name called and getting some publicity for Skora Running since I was rocking my Base's for the run.  I told him it affected at least 5 of the top riders in the group and all he could do was look shocked and say he can't change the results.

Back in transition, I spoke with about 10 other racers and they said the same thing.  That no one was directing traffic.  For the middle of the pack racers this isn't an issue.  just follow the ones in front of you.  But when you're so close to the lead, there isn't anyone in front.  The winner of the race beat the 2nd place person by over 10 minutes.  I'm sorry, this doesn't happen in a sprint triathlon.  4-5 minutes, I can understand, but definitely not 10.  I saw 2 other riders that were affected by this and they were just as pissed as me.

Once the results were posted, I calculated my swim time, transition times, run time, and average of my bike and added it up.  What this did was place me 2nd OVERALL.  At very worst, 3rd overall.  So I missed out on a huge day for me.

What this all means is that there isn't anything I can do.  I have to move on.  I can't change the results and have to look at the bright side.  I rocked my bike, I rocked the run, so I can head into my next race very confident since my next race is an actual Olympic distance Tri.  Well, I basically covered that today.

There are just so few opportunities that we all can make the podium, and because of someone else's mistake, I didn't get that chance today.  Not the way anyone wants to leave a race, but it's time to move on and do better next time.

So that is the story of when a Sprint really isn't a sprint.
Coming around the final turn of the race to the finish.  It really didnt matter at this point

All ready to get on stage promoting Skora.  Sorry I didnt get the chance to do that.


  1. Bike course was terribly guided. Sorry you missed that turn man... at least you're better trained now for the upcoming olympic distance tri :-)

  2. Same thing happened to me last year, i was in the same boat....i was one of the first few out of water, and boom....O's on calves everywhere....managed a #1 run in 35-39 AG after that but missed out on a podium.....Got a little payback this year with a 4th overall and 1st pl AG.....I could have copy and pasted your report....except mine was a little more vulgar!!! good job nonetheless!!!!