Smith Point Sprint Triathlon - Race Report

Race Goals:
1. Finish the race without getting a migraine.
2. Knock the race rust off.
3. Enjoy the race atmosphere.

The Swim:
The direction of the 500 yard swim changes from year to year based on the lifeguards safety concern for the current. With an out-going tide the Race Director made the call, we would be swimming in a clock wise direction. I made sure to get a lengthy warm up in since I hadn't swam in awhile and I figured it would be important to remember how.

The water was calm and warm as I took my position at the starting line. I positioned myself far to the left in anticipation of the current and first right hand turn. Right before the start I glanced back and noticed a distinct separation in our wave, half was on the line the other, about twenty yards back. As the whistle sounded we were off. I was immediately a bit taken back and yet excited about how aggressive  everyone was at the start. With in 100 yards I took a right hand to the face causing my goggles to come loose and fill partially with water. I took two more strokes and realized I could not swim with the amount of water in my goggles so I stopped to empty them. Once emptied I got back to work and headed towards turn one. As usual a majority of the swimmers slowed drastically as a result of going out too hard. As I made the turn I saw the lead swimmer was about 15 yards a head of me with just a handful of swimmers between us. The leg to Turn 2  was directly into the sun however I had no problems sighting. I passed another swimmer or two as I reached the second turn buoy and I now had my sights on two things: the finish and the bowed line of swimmers in front of me. The current was apparently getting stronger towards the end of the swim as the swimmers in front of me were drifting away from the buoy line. I did my best to swim on an angle until the final turn. This worked out well for me as I excited the water fourth in my wave. I was off to a surprisingly good start.

Transition 1:
As I entered T1 and reached my bike I saw the first place guy exciting. This is awesome, I'm actually in this race. I started to get excited and was wondering if my legs would be able to fire on all cylinders or would I fall victim to a combination of the time off and migraines? If they did fire then I had shot of placing in this race. I was out of transition and into my shoes in 40 seconds. That was a welcomed and very smooth transition.

My breathing was labored and my HR was high as I started to pedal which was to be expected as I essentially went from being dormant for over 2 weeks to full throttle.  My number one priority at this time was to get into a relaxed position and slow my breathing and HR. The sooner I could reach an equilibrium the sooner I could settle in and get to work.

The bike leg was an out and back on William Floyd Parkway, flat and fast.  On the way out I was passed by one athlete and was eager to get to the turn around to see where I was in this race. As I settled in my legs felt good but not great.  I was pushing the power I would expect for an Olympic distance event, my top end was definitely missing.  Despite not having the power I had hoped for my pedal stroke felt very smooth and fluid and I was easily maintaining a constant power output.

As I reached the turnaround I was finally able to gauge my competition.  I was sitting in 5th and my body was finally about balanced out. Emerging from the turnaround I immediately tested my legs and they just didn't want to fully fire so I made the decision just to dial in the current effort and see what happens. About 1 minute into the return trip I saw the 6 and 7th place athletes approaching the turnaround.  The 7th place guy was blatantly drafting the 6th place.

Within the next mile or so the 6th and 7th place athletes caught and passed me and the 7th place guy was still drafting, absolutely ridiculous.  As I watched them pass I noticed that I was reeling in the 4th place athlete.  As I approached a position to over take him the two riders that had passed me were just about passing him when something really cool happened.  The guy drafting was called out by 4th place athlete! The fourth place guy not only called him out but also explained the rules to him.  Once he was called out he made the pass.  The fourth place guy had now been caught and passed by all three of us right before the bridge.

There was less than a mile to T2 after the bridge and this was where things became interesting.  Once you cross over the bridge there is a traffic circle one must navigate.  The two athletes in front of me (the guy was back to drafting) went the logical way around the circle.  I was setting myself up for the traffic circle when a volunteer began to wave and point me in another direction.  The volunteer was gesturing to turn before the circle and to not actually go around it.  I slammed on my breaks and cut across the grass. The guy behind me was able to make a smooth pass and move up three spots heading into T2. Basically we all came into transition with in 2 seconds of each other.

Transition 2:
This went very smoothly as we all dismounted, racked our bikes and exited T2 together.  I was in a foot race. If I wanted to podium I would have to have an absolutely amazing run.

Heading out of transition I grabbed a cup of water, slung my race belt over my head, threw on my hat and started my watch. Right off the bat I was running 5:30 min/mi pace. This was too fast for me, my chances of landing on the podium quickly vanished.  It was time to create new goals.  My bet was that this pace was hot for everyone and that I would just wait for one to blow up and then make my move.

At the turnaround the 3rd and 4th place guys were showing no signs of breaking.  The 5th place athlete had been in my sights since the start and remained 40 yards ahead of me since leaving transition.

On the return trip I would make up some ground then loose some ground on 5th place.  Leading up to the bridge was where I should have made my move.  This was where I have should put in an effort to get right onto this guys hip by the start of the bridge.  I could then sit on his hip up the bridge as well as the next incline. From that point it would have just been a foot race on flat ground to the finish.  This move was obviously not made.  As I made it to the top of the bridge I glanced behind me, there was no one.  As I made it to the top of the final incline I checked again, there was no one in sight so I decided to shut it down. There was no way I was going to catch 5th place, or lose 6th place and I didn't want to risk getting a migraine.   I crossed the line 3rd in my age group and 6th in my wave (Turns out, if I hadn't shut it down I would have finished in 10th place OA rather than 12th.)

The best part of the race was that after crossing the finish line I didn't have or feel like I was getting a migraine! It was such a huge a relief. I grabbed some oranges and made my way over to some friends that had raced.  We traded war stories and snapped some pictures. This was what I was looking forward to the most, hanging out after the race and celebrating with everyone.  It was the perfect way to cap off a great morning.  Then, it happened. Migraine.

Oh how quickly things change.  I just went from having a great time to the worst.  I hurried back to transition to grab my medication from my bag and grab my gear.  For the next 90 minutes or so I was huddled by my car suffering from a migraine.  I could hear the finish line. I could see the athletes heading from the parking lot to the finish with coolers to celebrate and cheer on their friends and other athletes. I could feel my adrenaline wearing off, the pain setting in. Thankfully my friends were more than understanding and hung out with me until it passed.

Getting this migraine definitely knocked the wind out of my sails.  I doing my best not to make any rash decisions but I know now that I need to put training on hold and figure out what is going on with my head.  Then when that is figured out I need to get back to being a Dad and husband.  After that i will get back to training.

I had very lofty goals for this season and I will have to readjust them or push them back and make them longer term goals.


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