Last weekend I too part in the NJ State triathlon, its part of a two day triathlon festival put on by the folks at CGI held at Mercer County Park, just south of Princeton. CGI , who also do the Rutgers half marathon among st other events. Always very well supported and professionally organized, they claim its one of the top triathlon’s in the county, seems a bit much but its a well run event. I signed up to do the Olympic distance race which was on Sunday at Mercer County Park.
Weather conditions were sunny, and I knew it was going to be hot, as we have been in the middle of heat wave this last week. But the 1600+ participants were eager to get going..
The swim is a 1500m swim, in the lake at Mercer county park. The lake normally only used for rowing, had the swim course neatly laid out with 1500m buoys all marked. I would be in wave 10 of 15, and as each wave went off I could relax and cheer on my fellow competitors, while waiting my turn.
Its an in water start, and once the wave start signal is given your swimming, about 400m to the first left hand turn, followed by the long backstretch , then a 180 turn , a shorter front -stretch on one final right hand turn for home. Because of the water temps this was a non-wetsuit swim . Overall I felt comfortable, minimal contact in the beginning, managed to find a swimmer, that maintained a steady pace, and I hung on to his feet till about the 500m mark, when running into slower swimmers, made me lose contact.
From 500m to the finish it was mostly playing “dodge-ball” with the slower swimmers, you would bump into them , the go around, then get back on a line, and repeat.. but nothing terrible contact wise.
With the numerically marked buoys its easy to see where you are and how much further to so can gauge your effort nicely. I tried to put in a little surge for the last 300m , before existing at the lake. Swim time was sort of expected for a non-wetsuit swim, about 28mins, marginally faster than Philly, but a few minutes off my theoretical best for the distance.
Onto the bike. I brought my Specialized Shiv this race, as I have been racing on the Cervelo P3 so far this year. I wanted to compare. I feel a little more at home on the Shiv, I think the position, the longer stem, give’s me a little better ride. That’s why I’m using both bikes this year, at the end of the season I want to choose the best one for me.
The bike course it mostly around Mercer county park, virtually flat, its a very nice and fast bike course, I quickly had my average up 21 mph. Maintaining a steady tempo the ride was feeling good, I managed to find another well paced rider and we would go back and forth for most of the ride. It’s funny how in some of these races, you ride with someone who is close to you in athletic capability and you tend to see-saw positions back and forth on the entire ride.I tried to stay with a few stronger riders, but to no avail.
The bike average speed kept increasing and I was as high 22.3 at some points, but near the end there was a bit of turning in and around the Mercer county college parking lots that sapped quite a bit of my average. It was about this point , mile 18 or so I started to realize we’re not doing another lap (I had assumed it was a 2-lap 12 mile course), as we hand’t passed by the bike start/finish by that point.
Then as we started to head into the park ,and I noticed a few riders up front loosen their feet from the pedals, I realized we’re not doing another loop and that this was the end of the ride , we’re done with the bike ride, ONLY 20 miles, this is NOT OLYMPIC distance, I grumbled at the officials, at the dismount line. Really they should not call this event an Olympic distance, maybe standard distance race. Kind of defeats the points since distance-wise its not apple-to-apples for a true Olympic distance.
Knowing the disappointment of the shortened bike, I sort of mentally checked out on the run. While I started ok, the heat again started searing down on me, and as other runners passed me by, I was resigned just to complete the race, not exhausted, as this was a shortened “Olympic” distance race, even if I salvaged the run I couldn’t count this as my fastest Oly race, I know I should quit my b*tchn and suck it up.
The run course was very well marked, and EXTREMELY well supported with aid stations every mile, plenty of hydration, cooling hoses, cold towels, ice, more cooling hoses, the best run course support I’ve ever been on, considering its only a 10k The run is mostly through the shaded trails and roadways around the perimeter of the lake. It was neat seeing the lake with the bouys still out there, coming to grasps with the idea, I was just at that spot out int he middle of the lake a few moments ago, that’s one of my neato triathlon memories..
Running through the first 5km, you go back through the race center and transition and past the eventual finish chute. For me it was another slog out to the edge of the run course near mile 5. At this point the heat was pretty rough and I pulled down my tri-suit and ran bare-torso for the rest of the race. I waddled, walked and jogged back, before managing a short run for the last quarter mile..
Happy to finish , hands up in the air,another triathlon successfully finished. Sadly another slow run , and because of the shortened bike distance, I can’t consider this an Olympic distance race. So now I have only one more Oly tri this year to try to break my 2:50ish curse, NationsTri in September.
After the finish , our old triathlon buddy Brittany and her friend Mike were there to offer congratulations.. Overall a fun event, well organized.. just wish it was an Olympic distance.. Ok I’ll quit complaining..