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Race Result

Racer: Andrew Jones
Race: Patriots International
Date: Sunday, September 13, 2009
Location: Williamsburg, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 2:59:51
Overall Place: 139 / 177
Age Group Place: 6 / 7
Comment: I need to learn how to swim in a straight line!!!

Race Report:

Pre-Race & course description:
The day before the race on the way to packet pick-up Jessica and I drove the bike course, walk/drove part of the run course and checked out the start and finish to the swim course. The bike course was very flat, minus the new bridge crossing over the James River. The bridge crossings were at mile 7 and mile 17 of the out and back course. The bike course was all on two lane roads, mostly lined closely by trees on the right side heading out, and on the left it paralleled a multiply purpose paved path. I did notice the half way turnaround was in the middle of a farm road, I thought that could prove tricky in the race since it took me a couple forward and reverses as I made the turn around in my car. The road surface was good minus the small shoulder on the outside of the painted white line. The run course was on the same multiply purpose path that paralleled the bike course, very flat, but not always covered by trees. Nothing stood out as an issue on the run course on the day before. The swim was my biggest concern going in. There was rain during the week leading up to the race, the James River had a southeast current on Saturday, and the event coordinators believed it would stay that way for the race. The swim course put you against the current for 600 of the 1,500, then with the current coming back. The water was more choppy and darker than I thought it would be; you could also see storm debris flowing by from shore. While in line at packet pick-up I reviewed the transition area. All grass transition, the ground was a bit squishy due the rain fall and cloud cover. The distance from the shore of the swim to the transition area was easily a quarter mile in a field cut by tractor.

The swim (1500 meter)
Time: 38.15
Category Place: 7/7
Overall Place: 157/177
The swim was a rectangular shaped course starting at up river ending on a small beach down river. There were three legs, first leg out was about 600 meters, turn left to the second leg that was about 500 meter, then left again toward shore for the last 400 meter. The first leg had you swimming directly out so you against the current until you got to the turn. Iím not a good swimmer; I started on the far right assuming the current would pull me toward the rope and buoys of the course. The water was very dark, dirty, and very choppy, you couldnít see further than your hand when it was in front of you, and anything around you further than two feet. Due to the choppy water I couldnít swim in a straight line I zigg-zagged all over the course, after the first turn I kept swimming out into the river until I kayaker redirected me back in the right direction. After the second turn I again zigg-zagged to much and ended up going inside the ropes of the course until another kayaker redirected back on course. Maybe itís me, but I thought course could use more buoys on the rope, there were only three per leg and one at each turn, that averages to more than 150 meters between buoys. I know the swim is the leak link in my triathlonsí it will be my focus in the off season.

Transition one:
Time: 3.54
Category Place: 3/7
Overall Place: 73/177
The start of T1 was about 20 feet on shore out of the river. Because of my horrible swim I was walking out of the water from a far distance from shore. As I got closer to the beach I began to run, I hit the transition mat while running. I never stop running the entire distance from shore to T1. I estimate the distance to be a quarter mile. With no wet suit to take it, was ready for T1 with cap and goggle in hand. I was happy with my time out of T1, but I know I can still work on it.

The Bike: 40K
Time: 1:09.25
Category Place: 2/7
Overall Place: 61/177
My strength is the bike; I also knew Jessica had passed me in the swim so she was my carrot on the bike. Quickly out of T1 I was in the big ring, in the TT position and passing riders as I went. The good thing about being a bad swimmer is the motivation and good feeling of passing riders on the road, the bad is Iím usually at the back of the swim field so there are a lot of riders to pass. The first 5 miles of the course were shaded by trees on a neighborhood road, not a lot of traffic which helped when passing riders. The course was flat enough you could stay in the big ring the entire ride. At about mile 5, you turn left onto the busiest road of the course; it also had the bridge coming in two miles. The bridge at mile 7 got windy as you climbed up, not a good idea to stay in the TT position, other riders were cautious when descending down the far side. After the bridge the roads bent to the right then straightened out for a long distance. Due to traffic on this road passing was more difficult, cars were also crossing the double yellow passing other riders coming back on the course. More traffic, riders on the both sides of the road, it was not a good combination. Turning onto the farm road at mile 10.5 and still no sign of Jessica, she must have been flying! Then, about ĺ of a mile before the turn around, there she is on her way back! A quick shout hello and then I was re-motivated to get to the turnaround to I could catch her. As I expected the turnaround in the middle of a two lane farm road with other riders wasnít easy, a simple unclipping with one foot down was faster and easier than trying to slowly turning around on my own with other riders around me. Going back the long straight road leading to the bridge was faster than going out, I guess there was a slight downhill leading to the bridge. The bridge was steeper coming back but I could still stay in the big ring, other riders were down shifting to spin up the slope. I caught Jessica about 6 miles before the end of the ride, we spoke and gave our race status to each other; she was worried since she forgot to pack any gel on her bike. With 2 miles to the end I rode a head to T2.

Transition Two:
Time: 2.41
Category Place: 6/7
Overall Place: 158/177
T2 is a bit strange; you have to come off the road into the same parking lot the athlete vehicles are parked in then left down a single lane road with many cracks, holes, bumps, dirt, etc. and people that slow your approach to the dismount line. I didnít bother trying to leave my shoes on the bike; it was easier to pedal to the dismount line than coast in with feet on top of shoes. A short run from the dismount line to the rack in the grass wasnít a problem.

The run: 10K
Time: 1:05.38
Category Place: 6/7
Overall Place: 161/177
I felt okay but not good starting the run, I did notice my legs were less responsive than my last race, I think due to the longer distances on the swim and bike. The sun was out, the temps were rising and I was beginning to feel the heat. I drank at the water stop in T2; had a gel with water at mile 1 as well. I couldnít keep a constant pace; I felt very sluggish and had to walk beginning at 1.5 miles. I kept a fast walk/run pace for the next Ĺ mile keeping any other runners that were around me close enough to catch when I began to run again. At mile 2 you cross marshland in the woods on a large wooden path, about 4 feet above the swamp/marshland. The smell was bad enough to know that this area was full of mosquitoes so I pushed it to cross the area quickly going out and heading back. The run was flat and well marked, plenty of water stops with water and heed. Other athletes encouraged me anytime I was walking it was motivation to run as long as possible before walking again. Coming back the distance marked pushed me to run more on coming back than heading out. At mile five I checked my watch and estimated that I may or may not finish before 3 hours total time. I picked up my pace as best as possible. Heading into the last stretch I could see the clock and pushed it to get in before the 3 hour mark! Mission accomplished.

Time: 2.59:51
Category Place: 6/7
Overall Place: 139/177
Overall I was happy that I finished my first Olympic Distance Triathlon in less than 3 hours; that was my primary goal. I definitely felt my poor performance in the water lessoned my bike and run. I estimated that I easily swam an extra 300 meter by zigg-zagging and swim off course. Keys to improving on this race next year is a wet suit and more preparation in open water swimming. Working on my transitions, more practice the better. And lastly working on running after riding, it was more difficult for my legs to transition to running due to the longer distance of biking. Next yearís goal is a 2.40 or better.