Today I took part in the annual JerseyMan Sprint triathlon held at the Spruce Run Park in Clinton, NJ . This was my triathlon of the 2014 season and my first on this course. It was a sprint distance event although the the bike portion was extended because of some road work so it wound up being a bit longer.. Weather was perfect clear and low 60’s., and about 400 folks took part in a mixed triathlon, duathlon and aquavelo event.
SWIM (1056 yd/ 0.6 mi) – calm and fast lake
The swim took place at the lake at the Spruce Run reservation lake. This would be my first swim in my Zoot sleeveless suit. I choose this suit this year to see how i would swim relative to my other full sleeve suit. At first I was concerned the water temps would be cold due to one of the coldest NE winters, but to my surprise during the warm up swim the water was actually pretty moderate , cool but comfortable, so I was stoked about the swim. The lake was also super calm and virtually no chop, like swimming in a big pool. I was told by one of the lifeguards this was the deepest lake in NJ..
The course was a simple rectangular right hand turn course, marked by 4 large buoys and a few smaller ones. I was in wave #2 out of 6 waves. At the start I started from behind to avoid the wash and then settled into a nice rhythm. I noticed the swimmers all lined up wide across and as the swim began I decided to take a straight line for the first buoy which worked out well as I gained a little on some swimmers that had to swim a diagonal to make the first turn. Very little contact on the swim, I tried to catch the feet of a few swimmers, but never really managed to find one that was either going straight or at the right pace for me to hang with.
Also the position and direction of the swim SE outbound and NW inbound meant the sun was always to a side so it made sighting easy, As we turned for home I felt my track was still pretty strong, I kept swimming until I hit the sand on the beach, then popped up and began the short 200m run to T1..
Swim time was disappointing 1:35/100m pace , I should be doing sub 1:30 with the wetsuit on..
BIKE 24 mi. — arrghh mechanicals!
As I got to my rack I took a little breather decided to put on socks (instead of going barefoot) and then hopped on the bike and went. T1 was nicely organized and the exit spilled out into a large open parking area so there was plenty of room for folks to mount their bikes.
I knew coming into this ride my bike was less than optimal bike. I had broken a bolt on one of my elbow pads on the TT aero bars and I had just gotten new tires which I’m very happy with, but this would be my second ride on them. So I started off its mostly flat exiting the park, then the course gets into a series of rolling terrain before the steepest climb near mile 10. The bike mechanicals began shortly thereafter..
Every time I climbed or put force on my rear wheels the rubbing of the rear tire , and made a loud horn like noise, or as one of the other races described a “pig in heat” ,to me it sounded more like a noisy car horn, either way when your bike makes freakishly loud noises it doesn’t mean good things. The noise was clearly coming from by back tire, it somehow was rubbing on something when under load. The ironic part was when I road yesterday on a fairly flat road no issues. So I didn’t discover the issue till the race. Also related I couldn’t shift into my granny gear because of this issue.. on flat or downhill I had no issues with the bike.. very strange..
About about mile 5 , my Contour action cam came loose from the mount and crashed onto the floor , so it was a quick stop to pick up the pieces, and after stuffing them in my back pocket I was off again.. But by now I was disappointed, I really couldn’t open it up on the bike on hills as every climbing effort caused major rubbing and further sappe dmy energy.. so I had to baby the bike going up, less I rub a tire bad enough for it to do permanent damage to the frame ..
So I did the best I could, I was passed pretty regularly and I’m usually doing the passing on the bike, I cant blame all that on the bike, I don’t have the bike fitness this year either, I have put less than 250 miles total training this year.. Now that the weather is warmer more cycling should improve my fitness. The courses rolling nature also did not play to my strength being 185lb ,w hen you hit the climbs my power to weight ratio comes back to haunt me..
Funny thing too, is this course played an optical illusion on me, even though it was an out and back , because the turn around was over a 4-5 mile square shaped set of turns, I didn’t recognize the return leg route, it felt like we were going further out, I kept waiting for a more obvious turn around, only around mile 23 when we came back into the park did I realize that was it. It was the most surreal unusual route I experienced. I mean after about mile 10 when I saw the leaders and other riders go by on the return leg.. I mentally kept waiting for the turn around.. but it never came..
Even with my problems and slowness I had a blast on the bike, cycling is such pure joy when your swooshing down a hill (albeit a little nail biting) its a lot of fun..
As I hit T2, I racked the bike and quickly put on my running shoes , and went back through the run, mostly through the Spruce Run reservation trails. Its a pretty nice flat run in a mix of shaded and open areas. I knew I was running really slow and since my Garmin had run out of battery about an hour into the event , I really didn’t care, I just wanted to enjoy the rest of the race. Mile 1 took a while to arrive but from there few and fewer runners passed me, again not saying much.. The slow run went ok until about mile 3.5 of 4 miles, I started to get bad upper leg cramps, as I suspect the 24 mile hilly -“squealing pig” bike ride sapped my legs pretty well. But I pressed on and with the finish announcer nearby … there was going to be no walking..
With MJ Thriller playing in the background I did a little dancing shuffle across the finish, a disappointing time (off by 10-15 minutes) over my goal of 2:00 but as always had a good time. Also the race Mc did a nice job welcoming home the athletes and eliciting crowd support. All races should have an MC it adds so much character .
Post race amenities were pretty good, besides the usual assortment of fluids, bagels, banages and oranges, there was a nice hot breakfast waiting for the athletes. one of the best post race amenities I have had, hot breakfast included scrambled eggs, sausages, ham, and the most delicious french toast.. yummy.. Overall a very well run event.
So now its off to fixing my bike and putting in the training… I a race of one form or another every weekend for the next 4 weeks.. so fun fun..