I'm in wave 4 out of 5. My friend Jenn is in the last wave and I wish her luck as I wade out to where I would be treading water near the start line. The water temp is 77 and just barely wetsuit legal. I did debate whether I should wear it or not for this short of a distance. For longer distances, wearing a wetsuit definitely cuts down on swim time vs what one would gain in T1 time. But, for this sprint, I wondered whether it would be better not to wear the suit as I had difficulty getting it off in T1. I opted to keep it on. Not sure if that was a mistake or not considering how the placing turned out. Now as we're lining up, incredibly, the fast swimmers from the first wave are starting to make their way around the last turn buoy as we're waiting. I decided to get up front more and see about avoiding bumping. I don't really swim very fast, but there are a good number of beginners here which I will run into if I'm in the back. While there were low clouds this morning over the lake, these are starting to lift and the sun is breaking through. Could be an issue going out to the first buoy but didn't think this would affect the rest of the swim as it would be behind us (unlike many other races where it's been in my face at the swim finish). But, unlike Kinetic, there's really no wind and it's turning out to be quite a nice day for this race. So, start my watch at the 2 min mark and wait for the countdown....1 min....30 sec....10.....5,4,3,2,1, GO! And I'm off swimming in the Bath Co Tri!
I decided to do what I did at Kinetic and breathe every stroke although there's no wind waves affecting me here this time. I seem to be faster when I do this and have a better stroke rate. It does wear on me, though. So, heading out to the first turn buoy and seem to be doing okay. And I have two companions with me on each side. Yeah, and we're not bumping but stroking together. I bumped a bit and one hand hit my head once but we were swimming together for quite some time like this.
Reach the first buoy and I try to catch some feet to the the next. I did a bit here and there but not too much. Round the next one and try to get straightened out for the last turn which to me looks a lot farther than the first turn...perhaps it is. I think I might've lost some time here though I'm not sure. I do remember sighting a bit more often and perhaps I got out of form to sight more than I thought. But, I remember thinking that I seemed to be doing okay getting to the last buoy. I got bumped once or twice but not that bad. Now caught up to a few of the wave 3 folks and I felt bad that I actually hit this gal while rounding the buoy as I think she wasn't turning as sharp as I was. Sorry about that. Now it did seem that I had some problem getting to the swim finish but I wasn't feeling that way at the time. I did pause once to see if I could touch bottom but I really shouldn't do that and just wait until I hit it with my hand. Finally I could stand but take note that the boat ramp is a bit slippery and I did slip a bit here. At last on solid ground, done with the swim, and heading to T1!
What would you do differently?:
I'm not really sure. I truly believed as I came out of the water that I had a good swim. I didn't really seem to have issues, no one was bumping me excessively or slowing me down, and I thought I was moving along fairly well. I might've not worn the wetsuit or just worn a sleeveless if I had one (another year). But when I saw 16 min on my watch (stopped it after the timing mat), I was kinda disappointed. Probably more practice is needed more than anything else. It's just that Kinetic was the same distance (supposedly) and that was a minute+ faster and I seemed to have more issues there. Well, continue to work on the swim.
My rack is at the far end of transition which is a small area due to the relatively low number of competitors. Still, doesn't take me long to get there and I attempted to work quickly but smoothly to get my wetsuit off and bike gear on. I still had some issues getting the suit off of my ankles. I think cuz the suit is new, I'm a little hesitant to "abuse" it just yet. Going to have to get this time down, though it was a minute better than Kinetic. Still this was another area which could've cost me a podium place in comparison to the folks in my AG. So, wetsuit is finally off and helmet on, no socks, no sunglasses, and shoes are on. Head out for the bike course.
BTW, I was 62 out of all men in T1.
What would you do differently?:
I've got to get better at getting out of this new wetsuit.
Note that the pace here may really be 18.75 mph. I had looked at the bike course profile plus read other race reports beforehand. So, I pretty much knew what to expect but I was hoping a bit that the climbs weren't too significant just so I could have a decent bike. In order to place, I really needed to be done in 37 - 38.5 min. So, after the short hill out of the parking lot transition area, tried to get up to speed only to be met by the first significant climb on the course. And had to stand for this which already killed my speed. But, I'm doing a bit better than a few other folks here. Up that first and gear up to go down on the other side. Took a drink of Powerade to fuel up. Now for the next part of the race, the course had some downs and ups but one really is going more up to the turn around point. A few folks do pass me and I noted that there were two women who were doing better than I on the steeper uphill portions on this part. I think I traded places with at least one of them here a couple of times but they did eventually stay ahead not too far away from where we turned around. Actually I think the one did and the other passed me after the turn around. However, after we turned around, it's basically and mostly downhill here! Zoom - Max speed 42.8 mph! Another swig of Powerade here to help with the push back. I kept the two women in sight and thought perhaps I could catch them on the run. No one else was really challenging me except a younger rider who I attempted to pass but couldn't on one of the slight uphills. I finally was able to push more and get past without a return challenge. I caught up to another rider and did pass him, but it was obvious as we approached the tough last uphill that he was a better climber and passed me back. The two women were still up there, BTW. I had taken 2 Clif Bloks and final swig of Powerade just before this hill so I'd be fully powered up for the run. This has worked quite well in the last two sprints and I saw no reason to deviate here. Might've taken these a bit late, though, as I had just a little bit of stomach irritation on the run. Didn't affect me, though. Well, on the last nice downhill and I see the flags which signal the right turn into transition. So, start getting out of shoes here though this might've been just a bit too early with a slight hill. I was still able to do it, turn right, and head down to the dismount line with my feet on my shoes coasting down. Swing my right leg over and balance slowly braking to the dismount line where a volunteer is waving at to me. Come to a stop just before the line and hit the ground running into T2! Volunteer said that I had a nice dismount.
What would you do differently?:
Well, this is the last year for my Felt S32. While I'm not at race weight, the bike is a definite limiter as it is now 7 years old and quite heavy for a tri bike. A good workhorse all these years to be sure. I still need to get to race weight but my 160 isn't too bad at present. Still, about 5-10 lbs less works better as I already know from last year.
I've gotten quite good at sprint distance T2s now and I was 1st in AG, 13th out of all Men. I mean the dismount and running out of shoes works quite well. Get to my area, rack bike which I wasn't as smooth as I need to be, slip on shoes (Lock Laces!), grab my race belt, and go! No socks, no hat, no sunglasses, and no nutrition for sprint distance.
What would you do differently?:
Nothing except get my shoes on quicker and get my bike racked a bit smoother.
Note that the BT pace calculator here is incorrect for some reason. This was a ~7:05 min/mile pace. Okay, here's where things got TOUGH! Now, I had read previous race reports and was armed with the knowledge that this was a tough run course. And my friend, Jenn, and I drove in on the course come race morning. I thought, "Oh, THIS is going to be fun!!" And the fun begins nearly immediately after T2 when turning right onto the road from the parking lot as I'm faced with a fairly steep looking hill! Okay, let's get this done! I shorten my stride but keep a quick turnover going and pass a few folks before getting over the top. Gravity takes over as I zoom down the other side and pass a few other folks. Oh my - I'm already breathing fairly hard! Trying to recover here on the downside so I can keep or increase pace but reel in my hard breathing a bit. Now up ahead, I kinda set my sights on a gal who's running fairly well overall but I'm slowly gaining on. She's helping keeping me focused on moving well rather than let the toughness of this course and pace get to me. Next hill comes up and I'm pretty sure here I passed the two gals who passed and were ahead of me on the bike. And this hill is taking its toll on folks as some are walking. The gal I've been closing in on is just ahead now and just after I get over the top, I really let gravity take over as I bound downwards and pass her. More about her after the finish. Now it's kind of rolling with one final short downhill to the turn around. It's here I think I see number 10, Michael Dalsey, who's in my AG. I mentally groan and think, "Well, there's 1 AG place possibly lost" though it could turn around for me like at Kinetic. Now coming down this last short hill and I have to really slow from my bounding downward to round this cone. I quickly check my time and I'm here at 11 minutes. That's 22 minutes if I can maintain. It wouldn't be bad but I know I can do a bit better. Still have to face this course in reverse now. Get through the return rolling and climbing the reverse of the second big hill now. At this point, I really am pushing and body is attempting to tell me to stop. For just a second, I was tempted to just stop and walk. But, no...mental toughness overcame this and I just pushed onward. I'm still passing folks, BTW, especially up the hills. Bound down again on the downside but I can't really recover and I'm really breathing quite hard which is something I dislike doing but is necessary in a sprint. One really does have to redline. Last hill comes up. I had seen I was catching a guy in an Ironman Arizona top and I maintained if not closed that gap during this final climb. Man! I'm panting and giving it my all here! I think I hear someone behind me but as I get over the top and race downhill, pretty sure I left whoever that was behind. I nearly caught the guy I was gaining on but he got a burst of speed and motivation here too as the Finish is just down this last short hill and around the corner, still downhill too! If the run had been longer, think I would've caught him. But, he's maintaining the gap between us as we both zoom into the parking area, round the corner and sprint towards the Finish Line. I hear a volunteer yell my number to the race announcer who calls out essentially "Here's Dave Miller from Frederick Maryland" as I'm coming in to cross under the Finish Arch! BTW, like at Kinetic, no one passed me on the run. So, it continues to be my strong point.
What would you do differently?:
The run has continued to be my forte for the last few years and pretty much proved so again for this race. However, I probably should've prepared with a bit more speedwork than I had prior to the event. I could also stand to lose several more pounds to help make a speedier me.
Now here's where my opinion of the race organizers goes down in several ways. First, and this wasn't as important to me, but I was expecting a Finisher's Medal like Kinetic. But, no one received one. Then NO ONE handed me a water bottle OR directed me to where I could get water after I was finished. I mean for such a tough effort, I shouldn't have to ask someone which I ended up doing. I was directed to the aid station coming out of transition, which I thought was VERY strange because that would create some congestion for the folks just getting out of T2. I did at last find another area where a volunteer was pouring water but that was at the other end of the transition area. After I got that, I looked around to see if there was anything else like the snacks and drinks that were at Kinetic. NOTHING! I really was amazed at the differences between the two events both put on by Setup Events. Anyway, I continued to drink water and then congratulated others who I had passed or seen on the course. I found the gal who I followed for most of the first part of the run and congratulated her run. She remarked that when she saw me take off downhill, she thought "There goes a runner" and also said it takes some courage to run like I did downhill. I really appreciated those comments and thanked her as such. I found the two gals who passed me on the bike and said what a great bike they had. During this time, my friend Jenn came into T2 and so I later went to go and cheer her on as she went through the Finish Arch herself. Talked a bit more with her after I told her where to get water. Met up with another triathlete we know, Ben Foy who I think I passed on the swim and saw later on the run as he was going out and I was coming back. Ben took 3rd in his AG. Took my time getting gear back to the car when I could and then got a box lunch as the race meal. I actually thought it was okay to get ham sandwiches but I will say that we were promised BBQ. Hmmm....
Checked results and I came in 5th in AG as this report indicates. But, the guy in the IM Arizona top just ahead of me beat me by 3 sec at the finish in AG and the 3rd place guy only beat me by 35 seconds. So pretty close at the top. I still did very well compared to a lot of folks and was pleased with my performance overall. I found out that Michael Dalsey took 3rd in Masters awards, so I did get bumped up from 6 to 5 in AG at least.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Well, I don't know what happened on the swim. I don't think the course was long after looking at others' times. I mean the swim was okay, but not what it was at Kinetic nor what I'm capable of in a wetsuit. The bike went well for the course and my equipment. Again, the bike is now a limiter as I've stated a few race reports now. Sure, I could stand to use some improvement as far as weight and improving the bike's engine goes. But, better bike and wheels could certainly help. Run was pretty good for the course. Again, improving my weight would help.
I'm sorry, but I can't give this a race a 4 or higher which I'll get to in a moment. On positive side, this is a decent but challenging course. It really was just in my ability level and I didn't consider it too hard. Some beginners unprepared for the hills would think otherwise and you should prepare yourself for mostly the run course. Sure, the bike had a few climbs. But, one is rewarded with a really fast return segment on the bike. The fact that the bike and run courses are closed to traffic is a definite plus in my book as well. The race was organized for the most part and started on time. Lake Moomaw was a pleasure to swim in! The volunteers there were helpful and I thanked them when I could. So, if not for the following, I would've given this race a 4 and maybe a 4.5:
- NO ONE was ensuring that racers only were in transition! I saw families and friends of some of the racers here obviously helping out. I would've understood if this was what I call a "neighborhood" tri or a kids race. But with folks' gear, who knows what might get taken or messed with? I brought this up to who I believe was the race director which he noted but I felt he essentially brushed me off.
- NO cold water nor anyone directing me to such after I finished. I just haven't that happen to me in a race in quite some time.
- The fact that Kinetic and this race cost the same but didn't give Finisher's Medals caught me off guard.
- Same with the fact that there wasn't anything other than cups of water available for finishers. At Kinetic, there were a few large essentially plastic wading pools of diet pepsi, water, and gatorade afterwards.
- No other snacks for finishers either. There's usually bananas or some other fruit available post race.
- Two of the swim waves had the same cap color, wave 1 and 5. There was some initial confusion at the start because of this.
- And, this a minor point as things do go wrong and I was glad to have the box lunch that I received, but BBQ was promised for post race food. AGAIN - minor point but I don't remember hearing the reason why this was so.
- Another minor point was that I saw AG awards were travel drink mugs. Hmmm, Kinetic gives out wine and wine glasses. I know that Rumpass in Bumpass has done something similar as well for AG awards. I always appreciate practical AG awards. Just surprised at the different level of them between the different Setup Events races.
In summary, the race course was fine. Sure it was challenging but that's part of this sport. I met it head on where I could and met it's challenge fairly well. I liked the return fast return part of the bike, the swim in fairly clear lake, and the small field of folks. There seemed to be enough volunteers, plenty of parking for the event, decent transition area, and a decent post race meal. So overall, this is a good race event. BUT, I don't think I"ll be back due to the what I consider is lack of security for the racers in transition as well as the amenities differences we got when compared to similar Setup Events VTS races for the same prices. I mean I kinda wondered if Setup just didn't have the budget for this race. If Setup Events keeps this one at this level, they should consider dropping the prices. Oh, combine this with the fact that most of the lodging are B&Bs which tend to make lodging a bit expensive and travel costs and against what racers received just don't make this as attractive a race as I first thought. We were fortunate that we stayed at the Hillcrest Motel near Hot Springs for a reasonable overnight rate with what the room came with. Recommend them and they're only about 30 min from the race site.
So, if you're close to this race and looking for a challenging sprint for the beginning of your season, I can say that you might want to look at this one. However, there are other events which I will personally choose over this one because I felt like I was being taken care of better, are closer, and received more for less cost. If I read that this has changed in the future, perhaps I'll be back.
Last updated: 2013-06-15 12:00 AM
Set Up Events
62F / 17C
Overall Rank = 41/215
Age Group = M50-54
Age Group Rank = 5/13
Note that the temperature started out in low 60s and overcast. But that cleared during the swim and it got a good bit warmer later with sunny skies. I will next note here first my friend Jenn and I stayed at the Hillcrest Motel in Hot Springs and price was reasonable. One fairly significant point of this event that it is the sparsely populated area of western VA and finding lodging near the race site was a bit challenging. Drove 3.5 hours from Frederick on Friday. The motel was only 30 min away from the race site. As usual, my alarm goes off far too early at 4:30 AM though that's my normal work weekend wake up time. Still, a few more hours wouldn't have hurt. Anyway, eat a whole wheat rollup with strawberry jam, an orange, yogurt, and Powerade Zero. Plus coffee - not going anywhere without that ;) Got to the race site about 1/2 hour after packet pickup opened, got the packet, body marked, put numbers on, pumped tires, got gear into transition, laid out gear, and poured Powerade into my aero drink bottle. Good to go!
I do have something to say here about the transition area which is in my race evaluation section.
I thought about doing a bit of a swim but I decided against it. Didn't really do anything for a warm up this time.