A few weeks back I took part in the 11th annual Philly TriRock Olympic triathlon. This year the weather was perfect, no massive downpour like last year, and the swim was going to happen.. This year’s race seemed to have fewer folks and the pro field didn’t have any big names I recognized (no disrespect to the elites that were there), I think it had to do with some change with the organizers that made this year’s event. But everyone who was there was ready to do battle and with near perfect weather, it was going to be a fun day..
The swim started in the same spot as the sprint distance swim the day before. In past years the swim started opposite side of the river, so athletes were bused to the start. This new approach is much more convenient and practical from a race organization perspective.
After waiting for my wave we walked down the ramp onto the short dock, were swimmers dive in 2-by-2 in a time trial start. Important thing to note the minute your timing chip goes near /over the start mat, your race has started. I got burned by at least 30 to 45 seconds , because the the race official held us up for that long for swimmers from previous waves to swim away.. So be ready to go as soon if time is important to you. With river temps being over 78 this was a non-wet suit swim. I sort of had to pee before the swim , but decided to hold it , maybe even do it in the river, but once we started I couldn’t relax enough to do it while swimming..
The swim is beautifully marked , with large marked buoys every 100m , we swum up to mid-river then turned left for about 300m , before making a 180 turn and heading down river towards T1. Its a really scenic swim, passing a small rocky island on your right , and swimming under a few train trestles arches. Very little to no current in the river made this an honest 1500m swim. I felt good even though not having a wetsuit made me drag my legs a bit. I was able to maintain a nice pace passing many swimmers from earlier waves, and sighting was super easy once you swim down-river as the buoys are all in a straight line. As you approach T1, there’s a swim exit ramp, with a few volunteers to help you up.. Swim was pretty uneventful, I finished in about 28m, a little slower, but I felt good, then it was a quick transition without any wet suit.
I was on my trusty Cervelo P3 , The bike course is a 2 loop around the inner roadway of Fairmount Park, there are a few climbs but nothing too severe, the most challenging climb is right after mile 1 . I felt pretty good, first climb went well, still a little hesitant on the descents, but overall I was passing folks through most of the bike course.
The course as described last year is a good honest course with enough climbing to keep everyone honest, there’s the famous short and punchy Lemon hill climb, right that the base of the boathouse, which can be climbed quickly if your in the right gear.. followed by a nice sweeping descent onto the road in front of Art Museum and the famous “rocky steps”, which is one of the highlights of the bike course.
Lap 2 begins again at the bottom of the fast descent into transition ,much like lap 1 , a little less crowded as the slower folks remain behind you and there’s less folks out on the course. I managed some decent speeds coming down the first climb and over the bridge.
When it was all said and done I was about 2 minutes faster than last year, nothing too amazing, but at least its an improvement. Overall everything went as expected the cervelo P3 performed well.
After a decent and uneventful bike,and holding it in since swim start , I really, really had to pee, so I trudged out of T1 immediately looking for porta-potty. About .3 miles in I dashed to a porta-potty and literally relieved myself. About a minute later I emerged, hoping the short respite and lighter bladder would do the trick. But not quite, I felt sluggish on the run this year, mostly due to the increasing heat, it was about around 89° F at this point. So I trudged along, I really couldn’t sustain a decent pace, and unlike last year, was being passed left and right.
At the 5km mark , you go back through transition and by now I was hang on mode, the heat was really increasing and I had to walk a couple of times mostly at the aid stations, it was sad for me, last year, I ran this course so nicely, so I’m now convinced I’m affected quite a bit more by the weather, than I expected. I hung on after the last turn around near mile 5, I started to head back to the finish line. Every time I do these out and back runs, I have the same thoughts on the way back in I feel sorry for those poor souls all on the other side,who still have to cover the distance..
Eventually I trudged to the finish over an hour for the 10k, stopping the clock for the entire race at 2:51 , this is my 3rd Oylmpic distance that I have completed around 2:50, I was certain I could easily beat that this time.. In the end as always a lot of fun, so my next race will be another Olympic at NJ state triathlon hopefully I can go sub 2:50 there.. time will tell.