2008 Miami Triathlon report

Woohoo it’s exciting triathlon time again! Just like last year I am racing in the Miami University Student Foundation triathlon.

Here is my race report. First of all, I am going to be going by my watch time. I did get the official results from HFP and they are 2 minutes slower than the time I had on my watch. I could understand a few seconds discrepancy but 2 minutes? My friend PJ also had a watch on and his time was also 2 minutes or so slower on the “official” results. So until that gets resolved, I’m calling shenanigans.

So, looking back at last year’s report, my first big dilemma came at a wake up time. This year due to the large number of participants (over 600!) they moved the start time from 8:00 to 7:30, and then to 7:15. I decided to wake up at 4:30 a.m. I didn’t sleep all that great and ended up waking up on my own at 4:18. I packed the car and set off.

The second big dilemma, upon review, was which route to take to Oxford – Cross County or 275. I was disappointed to find that no empirical data existed from my choice last year. How else was I supposed to determine the best way? I’m a scientist!. I need the data.

So here’s the data from this year’s route – where I took Cross County.

Time: 28 minutes from my house to the intersection of US-27 and 275.

Or should I say, 28 minutes from my house to ALMOST the intersection of US-27 and 275, AT WHICH POINT I GOT PULLED OVER BY A COP!!!!!.

Yeah, I got pulled over at like 5 a.m. by a Colerain Twp. police officer. He comes up to the door and asks the classic cop question “Do you know why I pulled you over?” I, of course, follow Rule 1 of being pulled over by a cop which is “Never admit to anything”. I knew I wasn’t speeding – that was for sure – I was hypermiling :-) . So I say no, and he tells me that I have a headlight out. I was aware of this as Carolyn has been telling me to get this fixed for some time now. But the first words out of my mouth (had I not followed Rule 1) would have been “because my license plate sticker is expired?” I thought for sure he was going to bust me when he ran my plates but he either didn’t notice or didn’t care. He ended up just giving me a warning, and then asked where I was going and we talked a little triathlon. It was refreshing to meet a cop who wasn’t a complete jerk. I even tried to go out to RateMyCop.com to give him a positive rating but they don’t have Colerain Twp’s department online yet. But hey let’s hear it for buffer time!!! Carolyn kept wondering why I was leaving so early.

I’ve written (and you theoretically have read) this much and I haven’t even gotten to Oxford yet? Hoo-ee this is going to be long.

The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful. I spent a couple of minutes trying to remember the name of that town between Cincinnati and Oxford. I also had a car pass me with a bike on the back (I guess also going for the triathlon). The bike had saran wrap all over the bike seat and handlebars. I thought that was an interesting way to try and combat the rain (forecast was for rain all morning). But then I thought it would be extra time during transition to try and pull that off. I didn’t see them at the race itself so I don’t know if they pulled it off before the race or not. Anyways, once I got to Oxford, I missed the turnoff and had to turn around.

I got there at about 5:30 or so. I went up and registered and then took my bike into the transition area.

As you can see from the picture above, I got the prime “end of row” spot on the rack. Yet another reason to get there early. You come down that row after the swim, so being right there on the end is worth AT LEAST 5 seconds or so :-) .

Here is a picture of PJ and I. I was wearing my shirt from last year’s race; trying to “intimidate” everyone else by letting them know that yes, I’m a veteran. PJ said that he opted for a blank white T-shirt to let potential advertisers know that he was available. We talked about sponsors and I commented that really, advertisers were wasting their money sponsoring any of the front runners – after all, I’d be on the course for MUCH longer, giving them much more bang for the buck! Notice too my ultra tight super streamlined racing swimsuit.

One of the things that I had done this year was bring a 2nd towel. It was time for some strategic placing. I left one towel out in the transition area. And then, I made my way poolside.

This picture is taken right at where you start the swim. You start right in that bottom left corner, and then do a serpentine swim down one lane and up the other, until you make your way through the 8th and final lane, exiting the pool at the 8th lane, in the top left corner of the picture. Notice PJ there in the background.
Here’s a closeup of the area right next to the pool exit. You can see that I stuck my 2nd towel there. That way once I got out of the pool I could grab a towel and dry off as I made my way to the transition area. Again, saving me the CRUCIAL 5 SECONDS THAT WILL GET ME INTO 1ST PLACE! PJ wanted me to point out that he too put his towel there but it’s not in the picture simulating how he was already out of the pool before I got there :-)

We kind of hung around for the next hour or so, making a few trips back to our cars to get everything ready. They had the mandatory pre-race poolside meeting at about 7 and midway through I decided to head back to the transition area to make my final adjustments (dump the shirt and flip-flops I still had on). As we were heading back there we heard an announcement “Final warning to clear the transition area before we turn the timing mats on”. We made it just in time.

Sat in the bleachers for about 40 or so minutes while the first 300 or so people started their swim. Then we made our way back down. Unlike the 3 Pigs last year, I got my goggles in place with no mishaps.

Then it was time for the swim. Even though I promised to cannonball into the pool if I did it this year I didn’t. PJ did and got a few laughs from the people around.

When I started swimming it seriously felt like there was a current pushing against me. I don’t know if I was just imagining it or if it was some sort of byproduct of all those people in the water or what. I had just read about this attachment to pools that let you use a regular family pool as a lap swimming pool by pushing a current back at you and that’s what it felt like.

My goal was to try and pass more than the 2 people I was able to pass in the swim last year. I knew people would pass me, especially since I had put in an overly optimistic swim estimate of 9 minutes. Turns out 10 people passed me while I did not pass anyone. I did manage to swim freestyle the whole time without stopping. A few people hit my feet as they were coming up on me; I gave them some extra hard kicks. Then one guy was passing me like right on top of me; getting all in my way (rather than passing on the left where there was plenty of room). I gave him an elbow. Other than that, not much happened.

Got out of the pool and grabbed my clandestine towel. Unfortunately I forgot to hit the lap button when I did so I’m not sure of my exact time. By the time I got into the transition area and hit it, it was 11:31. So I’m guessing about 11 minutes or so.

Transition was fine. Not much to do and I made my way out – 1:52 on my watch plus whatever time due to not hitting my watch on time. Again, let’s say 2:23. I left the transition area right behind PJ who managed to not take forever like he did last year (3:39!) :-)

The bike course was different this year than it was last year. I had set my internal goal at 50 minutes, and figured that would need about 15.5 mph. So I decided to aim for 16 mph on the flat stretches. Because I’m a total nerd, one of the things that I do as I ride is calculate miles per hour and stuff in my head as I ride. So I figured that I should be aiming for a mile every 4 minutes. At the 4 mile mark I was only at 15 minutes (1 minute ahead of pace) and I thought “Wow I’ve got this!”. Then I told myself “Well, maybe I should wait until some of these big hills before I start congratulating myself :-)

As the bike course started I was keeping track of how many people I was passing. I am nothing but devoted to my faithful readers who I knew would be hanging on every detail such as this. I almost stopped counting the people that passed me (because there were a lot right at the beginning) but then a funny thing happened – people stopped passing me and I started passing people!

Shortly after that I looked up and realized I had gone off the course. At least I thought I had – I had just passed a road off to the left and gone straight. But I couldn’t see any course markings or any bikers ahead of me. Just as I was about to start panicing I did see some race officials in the distance.

And they signalled the start of the first hill. It was brutal. I immediately passed 3 people who were walking their bikes up. I managed to ride all the way up but it was slow and very hard. I had noticed from the course topo map that there were 2 big hills, so when I got to the 2nd one I thought “Wow this one wasn’t even close to that first one”. Then I realized that was just a fun intermediate hill. The 2nd hill was also pretty big though not as bad as the first one.

After about mile 9 or 10, the rest of the course is fairly flat with a slight downhill back to the transition area. I was hitting about 20 to 25 mph. The final totals were passed 32, passed by 26 (net +6 for the bike). Time for the 20.5K (12.7 miles) was 51:16, or 14.9 mph.

Transition 2 was a brisk 34 seconds, which I note was 26th overall, again proving the adage that although I can not swim, bike or run very fast, I can do NOTHING very fast.

As I made my way to start the run, I noticed that I was going to have to do about 24:30 on the run to hit my stretch goal time of 1:30. It looked like beating last year’s time of 1:38:45 was definitely going to happen, barring some sort of craziness on the run.

So off I went. The first mile was pretty slow – I had a bit of the jelly legs going on. I didn’t see the Mile 1 marker, but at the water station which I think was about there, I had about 9 minutes. I had both passed and been passed by a few people. Somewhere around here, this one person passed me and I decided to try and run with him as long as I could. I figured since he was going a bit faster than me, he’d be good to try and push myself. I ran behind him for most of the rest of the course and we passed a few people. I briefly passed him when he stopped for water but he then passed me right back. My time at Mile 2 was 16:55, meaning my 2nd mile was at about 8 minutes. At about mile 2.5 I started pushing a little harder. I saw that while 1:30 might be tough, I could probably hit 1:30:SOMETHING which I figured I could count :-) . I passed the guy I had been running with as well as a few other people. Once we crossed the street back towards the transition area I kicked and really blew by 2 people there. Final passing totals were passed by 6 and passed 22 (net +16), and a final run time of 25:22, which is an 8:09 clip.

Final final time was 1:30:40, a time I was EXTREMELY pleased with. I improved in all 3 disciplines, leaving me to wonder how I could possibly get better again next year!

Again, like I mentioned, the “official” results have some definite time discrepancies, but here they are.

I’m assuming that the discrepancies are the same for everyone (at least several people I’ve seen have mentioned them), so even though the times are off, the order is probably fairly accurate. I was 285th out of 532, 24th out of 30 in my age group and 3rd out of 3 in the “Miller” division.

The race after party that was so fun last year was completely lame this year, probably mostly due to the rain. It had sprinkled off and on. During my bike it had rained a bit off and on and then when I got back from the bike all my stuff was noticably damp and then it had continued to sprinkle. I didn’t even get any free pizza!! :-) .

All in all it was an extremely fun time and I’m looking forward to coming back next year! And remember, don’t mess with me, I’m an “athelete” [sic] :-D