Today I took part in the 2013 edition of the Harryman Olympic triathlon. Its an annual race put together by Genesis adventures in Harriman State park , starting at Lake Welch.
I chose this race because its fairly close but even more motivating was the 10:30am start time. This is the latest start to any race I did and its fantastic to be able to get up at a reasonable time for an event like this. Most triathlons start early like 7:00am, and you need to be there about an hour before.. so it’s usually a 4am wakeup..
The race itself offered two distances a 70.3mile race along with the 35mile Olympic distance. Myself like most of the participants choose the shorter race and everyone was happy they did as the bike portion with its climb was pretty taxing on the legs. We all felt sorry for the poor bastards doing the 70.3mile its a grueling bike segment and to do that loop 4x is not pleasant.
Arriving early I had plenty of time to setup. I especially liked the bento box style transition area, I wish more races would use this style it makes for easier bike mounting and keeps the transition area much neater. Also there were no lines at the porta-potties, wow, this is mostly due to the small starting field about 200+ racers.
After a few brief instructions and the national anthem we were split into two waves and waded into lake Welch. The water was a cool 58 so pretty much everyone had on wet suits The swim started well the lake was super calm and visibility was excellent. The new tyr special ops goggles are fantastic and reduced any sun glare out there. I love these goggles, I have been looking for a pair of comfortable non-leak goggles with good open water visibility (sun-glare), and these polarized goggles do the trick..
I started slowly and there was the usual jostling at the beginning, I made steady progress, to the first right hand buoy. Turning right I began picking off some of the swimmers ahead of me. I didn’t really find anyone to draft off of , most swimmers I came up on their feet but then needed to pass then up. I came out of water not exerting too much didn’t look at the watch as I was focused on the upcoming bike. Although this race is marked Olympic distance, this swim is only 0.6 miles or about 1000 meters. They make up the difference with a slight longer bike leg (~ 4 miles more). My official split coming out of the water was 20:28.
Transition was pretty decent off with the wet-suit and on with the bike shoes (no socks) . My new Orca S4 suit, worked well and came off pretty easily, unlike the nightmare of last year trying to remove my QR Ultrafull (it took my 3+ minutes, yikes)
We headed out via the badly in need of re-paving parking lot and out onto the course. This year’s bike course ran clockwise which was a welcome relief sparing us from the hairy 45+ mph steep bike descent of previous years. The bike portion had a small rise then flattened out. The first few miles had small road divots across the road about every 30 yards, making for an unpleasant thump as my tires where taking a beating.. I started picking off the slower riders, while only letting a few of the faster cyclists pass me, during this segment of the race.
The pace picked up as we turned right onto a newly paved and mostly downhill section of seven Lakes drive. Its a very nice scenic ride with some rolling terrain and slight downhills that were welcomed and allowed me to spin in top gear. Going through one circle we arrived at the second Tiborati circle onto a series of short but out-of-the-saddle rolling climbs , before plunging into a series of descending turns where one can really fly. I loved this part of the course, its exhilarating and pure joy swooshing down the hill.
Its about two minutes of this descent, before we pass under the overpass that will be climbing. Then its 180° turn around up a steep long 1.40 mile climb down into the lower gears. And everyone begins their 5 mph suffer-fest for about 10 minutes or so. I managed to pass a few riders here but the length and duration of this climb requires metering your reserves. When the top is reached you have an aid station where the volunteers graciously handed out water , Gatorade and gels. kudos to the race organizers and volunteers, for a smaller local race they had some of the best on course and finish nutrition I’ve seen.
Now you do the bike loop again. At this point the racers were more strung out and the second lap was as uneventful as the first, fewer riders to pass, so you can really open it up on the long straightaways and descents. When I arrived back at the 180° turn around , I tried not to burn my legs on the bike hoping to leave something for the run.
Returning tired to T2 I was glad to be done with the bike hills, I headed into transition, racked the bike and threw on the running shoes. Just as I was leaving transition the winner of the Olympic distance finished in 2:08, shortly followed by second place, I guess it helps when you can run sub-6 minute miles, kudos to them.
I exited transition, then realized I didn’t put on my race belt with my number I turned around to head back, but changed my mind again, since god knows would that have done to the timing system. So I headed out t2, onto the run course which ran along the bike course on the road shoulder next to the cones. You had an option in certain sections to run on the grass, so it was a pseudo trail run if you wanted it to be .
The run course had the same minor rises as the early bike course and by now I was losing it. Runner after runner began to pass me as my mile pace slowed. I still have this problem of giving up all my bike gains on the run course. I trudged along through mile 3 and walked at the aid station near the 3.1 turn around. On the return a few more runners passed me and I just a took stopped and walked a few times. I looked down at my watch near mile 5 of the 6.2 run and saw 2:59 and realized I was going to miss my goal of going sub-3 hrs on this course.
My legs started cramping at this point and walking through another aid station I took in a gel to alleviate the cramping. So I pressed in within a quarter mile to go you can here the crowd at the finish. I tried to catch the guy in front of my but to no avail he managed a last minute sprint to pass up the young lady in front of him.
I came in quietly there after. It was over. A good race minus the abysmal run… The post race lunch bag was a tasty chicken wrap, again very pleased with race amenities.
- It was a very, VERY wise choice to ride my road bike on this course. It helped me feel more confident on the descents and I still could tuck into the aero bars I bolted on, plus the multiple hand positions and gearing make for a good climbing machine.
- My swimming I still tend to breathe more to my left in races than in training . Sighting was pretty good, but I’m not sure if my Ocra wet-suit is giving enough leg buoyancy , but overall not bad and it came off fairly quickly in transition.
- Need to really do more brick sessions to improve my run off the bike, I just didn’t have it today, or maybe it was the hills. We’ll see in three weeks when I do a 70.3 on a flatter course.