Crabman Sprint Triathlon
July 28, 2013
South Kingstowm, RI
Story by George Ross
Photo by Glenn Anderson
In my debut year as a Triathlete I am learning that ‘I am learning’ and have a long list of things that I need to work on in the off-season and with that in mind I prepared myself to take part in The Crabman Sprint Triathlon (1/4 mile ocean swim, 10 mile bike and 5K run) on Sunday July 28th.
Preparing for a Triathlon is way more intense than any road race and the day before the race is consumed with preparation. I picked up my race packet at NBX then…
– Changed the wheels to race-day carbon wheels
– Add the front mounted hydration system so I can drink without leaving the Aero riding position
– Remove my seat bag and add a ‘sew-up’ tire spare for the race wheels
– Tape one GU onto the bike to be taken ½ way through the ride
– Tape my race # on my seat post
– Charge the GPS/Power head unit
– Oil the springs in my Speedplay shoe clips
– Cycling glasses, cleaned
– Make it nice and shiny
– Wet suit good to go
– Pink Swim Cap to designate that I was swimming in the first wave
– Add defogging spray to my swim goggles
– Body glide to add to the back of my neck to stop the suit from chaffing
– Add my race number to my race belt (which I will pick up when I change into my running shoes
– Check that the elastic lace locks are working (used for a quick change of shoes)
– Small towel to organize my cycling shoes and running shoes in the transition area
– One GU to take 15 minutes before the swim
– Baby powder to add to both pairs of shoes to make it easy to slip your bare feet into the shoes quickly
– Tri Bag back pack to carry all of the above and my helmet
With that all done, I put my one piece Tri-suit, timing chip (which wraps around your ankle) and my calf compression sleeves beside my bed and went to sleep, with the alarm set for 4:15.
As I drove down to the race I was very nervy about the swim. I have only been swimming for 11 months and I am not very good and to add to that I estimated that there would be 120 guys in the 1st wave, the old man wave (men over 45). That is a lot of folks for such a short distance…this one was going to get physical.
Once at the race transition area, I racked my bike and methodically set up my transition area as trained by Amy Rice. The bike must point the same direction as I will exit the transition area. My shoes must be orientated correctly, bike shoes pointing to the bike and running shoes parallel to the bike with my race belt under the running shoes. The shoes must be doused with talcum power. My helmet must be put on the bike in the direction to which I will put it on my head, with my bike glasses duly aligned.
Phew!, now I can go for a warm up swim – swim to the first buoy and back and work on “being smooth”. With my wetsuit on, pink cap on I walked the ¼ mile to South Kingstown Town Beach and the realized that when I got out of the water I had to run this ¼ mile back to my bike. This was going to hurt.
How to position yourself for the swim is extremely important. I am a low mid-pack swimmer and if I start too close to the front then the fast guys will simply swim over me. So, my plan was to start near the middle on the outside edge to avoid, as much as possible the inadvertent punching and kicking that occurs when swimming with a pack. There is no crying in swimming. Just before the gun went off I saw my friend Pete Rumsey run to the left of the pack, he dived in and I chased him into the water figuring he knew something that this rookie did not. ½ way to the first buoy I realized what he had seen…the current was flowing fast from left to right and as Pete and I swam towards the first buoy, the entire pack was drifting away from it. No bodily contact but that changed when I got to the buoy with everyone else and all hell broke loose…hands, legs, bodies everywhere but we all got around it and swam into the heavy current to the second buoy after which it was a left turn to shore. I made that left turn but because I have a tendency not to swim straight I headed off in the wrong direction. A quick adjustment and I was shore bound and this is where the constant drills that Amy puts me though come into being…..do not stop swimming until your fingers hit sand, take of your cap and put your goggles into them, pull the zip down on the wetsuit and lower your wet suit past your hips…all the while trying to run out of the water! Once out of the water it was that ¼ mile jog with wet suit on and more than a tad tired.
Races are won and lost in transition, the fast guys do it in about 40 seconds and I take about 1:25 as struggle to get my wet suit over my big feet. With my wet suit off it was time to put my cycling shoes on, riding glasses on, helmet on , unrack my bike and head to the corn fields. Yep, there was a ¼ mile run to the road., ugh! Once on the road, I moved the bike into my large chain ring, started my GPS and it was time to catch many of the guys who swam faster than me. It was a flat ride, I averaged 22.2mph with a couple of 24mph miles in there and I passed 25 riders. Feeling good that I was making progress, I got back to the cornfield, took my shoes off and pushed my bike through what seemed a very long ¼ mile.
Into transition, I found my rack, racked my bike, took off my helmet and glasses and switched my cycling shoes for my running shoes, tightened the lace locks, grabbed by race belt with my race number and into the run I went.
It is at this point in all Triathlons that you think…where are my legs? if you are lucky they will come back in half a mile. One of the tactics that I employed to help my legs was to spin pedal on the bike during the last ½ mile of the ride to ease the lactic acid build up.
My legs never came back to me and the situation worsened as my hip flexors tightened and became painful which is a by-product of driving hard in the aero portion of the bike and lack of flexibility (I really have to stretch more). It was a long 3.1 miles, I crossed the line in 109th place out of 431 finishers @ 1:09:33.
Exhausted but totally jacked!
The race was won in 54:04 by Derek Jakaboski.
I have much to learn and I need to hit the gym this winter to get stronger in the right areas but for now my attention turns to Firmman….a ½ Ironman distance…on September 8th.
Next up…July Results and a Blessing of the Fleet re-cap!