My first triathlon test was at Maumee Bay this past Sunday. It's a flat Olympic distance race with the swim in a man-made lake next to Lake Erie. Adriane and I drove over Saturday afternoon and I picked up my packet and drove the bike course the night before. We checked into the hotel and grabbed some dinner. Teammate Frank Dejulius and Stacey Kaiser stayed at the same hotel and we met up for a bit when they got in. It's always fun to see teammates and friends at a race. Triathlon is a pretty independent sport but I think the popularity of teams growing, as the camaraderie of sports is motivating and adds enjoyment in my opinion.
On race day I grabbed an english muffin and banana at the hotel's continental breakfast. The weather was perfect as the wind had died down from the day before. After setting up transition, Frank and I did a 10 minute jog warm-up with some stretching. We got in the water about 15 minutes for the race and did some swimming to get warmed up. As with all HFP races, heats went off every 3 minutes. The sprint waves were first. Our heat went off at 8:15. The swim was a 2-loop course with a beach start. I got out decent at the start and Frank and I were side-by-side for the first 200. Once we hit the stragglers from previous waves, it was all bets off for trying to get on the toes of a faster swimmer. At that point it was a matter of dodging other swimmers for the first loop. It was totally congested but I managed to get through pretty easily. The 2nd loop was much less crowded and I could tell I was in the top 10. I feel I've lost a little swim fitness since February, but I was feeling pretty relaxed and comfortable. I had a great rhythm going - three strokes breathe left, three strokes breathe right, two strokes spot the buoy. Swim time: 22:26.
T1 went okay. Had some trouble getting my right shoe on but that'll happen. I wanted to push the bike hard which I felt I accomplished. I'm used to getting passed by about 10 guys or more on the bike and I was determined to go with whoever passed me. I only let one guy go during the ride and he was moving pretty good. Two other guys passed me at about mile 10 and I matched their pace. We swapped places for the rest of the ride and eventually one of them fell off with about 3 miles to go. The wind picked up during the ride and I felt like I was getting blow around a lot when we'd head west or north. I tried to stay aero and keep pace. I thought my bike was faster than my time indicated, but oh well. Bike time: 1:03:54 (was hoping more for 1:02 or so).
T2 was good. I came out with the guy who entered transition with me and immediately dropped him. I asked my parents and Adriane my place and they said 7th. I wanted to be top 5 and knew I had some work to do. I quickly passed 2 more guys within the first mile and clipped 5:45's for the first 2 miles. I started to hurt as the wind was fairly strong on the way out and the sun was belting down at this point. The run was an out and back with an additional loop around the lake. I passed another guy just after the 2 mile mark. At this point the duathletes were mixed in with the triathletes so I couldn't tell how many other guys were in my race. I was in 4th but pretty far out of 3rd. At the turnaround there were a ton of guys within 5 minutes behind me. I was hurting pretty bad with a mile to go and kind of shut it down. Turns out the guy in 3rd was hurting more because I gained a lot on him the last 2 miles. I probably couldn't have caught him but I should have pushed harder. Run Time: 37:38.
My final time was 2:05:43 and I was 4th overall in the elite race. That's my fastest Oly race so I can't be disappointed. I know I can cut some time off of the swim. I need to do some more hard, sustained rides. And I'd like to be under 37:00 on the run.
After the race Frank and I cooled down and went to get our stuff in transition. I couldn't find my wetsuit and I think someone stole it. I found out later that Rob Thompson had one stolen last year at an HFP race. When we went to transition, the workers had torn down most of the fencing and no one was checking people's numbers. Anyone could have walked in and taken stuff. I brought this up to 2 officials and they blew me off saying "don't have such a negative attitude, it'll show up. triathletes are good natured people and they don't steal stuff on purpose. someone accidentally took it." One of the guys told me I had to take personal responsibility and that I should get my stuff sooner. I know it's just a "thing," but it's not a cheap thing and their comments really pissed me off. I'll only do an HFP race if it's a last result option and I need a race. I emailed two of the workers at HFP and I finally got a response 4 days later from one of them saying "sorry, we'll let you know if it turns up." This experience really reflects poorly on their company, especially since I know someone else that had a wetsuit stolen at one of their races. A bad end to an otherwise good day.