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River Challenge Paddle Triathlon - TriathlonOther

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Rochester, New York
United States
City of Rochester
45F / 7C
Total Time = 2h 16m 32s
Overall Rank = 5/8
Age Group = M40-45
Age Group Rank = 1/1
Pre-race routine:

This was my first attempt at a paddle tri. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work.

I had the car packed the night before. Everything ready to go, just need to get the gatorade out of the fridge in the morning. I awoke on my own before the alarm, as I often do during events such as these.

Choosing clothes for this event was tough. We had a frost warning last night and temps driving to the race site were in the mid 30s. But when the sun comes up, it warms up pretty quickly. I decided to go with long bike pants on the bottom. On the top, a long sleeve UnderArmor shirt with my tri shirt over it. Then my bright yellow cycle jacket over the top. It turned out to be a decent choice overall.

Breakfast was my normal bowl of cereal. Coffee and a banana on the drive to the race site.

I was one of the first to arrive, right at transition opening at 6AM. I got a great spot, right on the end by the bike entrance. After claiming that great spot, I went down to the water to get a canoe. I ended up getting a really good spot there too.

I had to tape my number on the canoe. I also taped a gel to the cross bar of the canoe in front of where I'd be later. I left a bottle of water there too.

Back at transition, I laid things out. Where is my gatorade bottle? Aw crap, I left it in the fridge at home. Fortunately, I had a couple extra gels, so that would have to do. A longer race, this might have been a bigger problem. Just going with the flow today.

I had to make several bobbystocks breaks prior to the race. The last was with about 30 minutes prior to race start. But there was a long line. I didnt get back to transition until about 10 minutes before race start. A flurry to get final prep ready. Take a gel. Drink some water. Put cycle computer on bike. Take off watch, put on garmin. Oh! I ALMOST left my race chip in my bag in transition. That would have been cute.

I got it on though. Walked over to the race start line. Waited for instructions to be called. The horn sounded and off we went.
Event warmup:

Only a couple little runs. Didnt feel the need to get really warmed up as it was a decent length race.
  • 24m 52s
  • 5100 meters
  • 29s / 100 meters

A good run for me. My plan was to give a tempo effort, pushing, but saving myself for the later events. I executed that plan nicely.

It was my first tri running in my Vibrams. These worked out well. I ended up setting a PR 5K during this event, even though I was only giving a tempo effort.

The Garmin had me with a 7:50 first mile. The next two were about 8:00 even.

I was working pretty hard and glad to be done with this leg.

I got a touch warm in the last mile. I unzipped my bike jacket. I considered removing it totally, but decided to keep it on for the much breezier bike to come.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. Executed my plan well.
Transition 1
  • 01m 9s

T1 went well. Got the Vibrams off fine. Bike shoes on. Took off my race belt as I didnt want that flapping around on the bike. Helmet and sun glasses on fine. The glasses actually fogged up though, as they were quite cool from the air and my warm, perspiring brow got them fogged immediately.

But not far to go to get on the bike. Bike off the rack cleanly. Out to the mount line. A touch of trouble getting my feet to clip in, but it worked out well enough.
What would you do differently?:

Not much.
  • 57m 42s
  • 20.4 miles
  • 21.21 mile/hr

My first race on my new tri bike! And I was very pleased with its performance. I set a PR pace.

I drove the bike course the day before so I was familiar with the terrain. The first couple of miles were really torn up and bad pavement. But I expected it. It was also quite cool during this time and I was glad for the multiple layers that I had on.

I passed people throughout, but the first few miles had the largest concentration. But after crossing Jefferson Road, things thinned out a touch. I went back and forth with a group of about 5 cyclists here. This was also the hilliest section of the course. There were a couple of hills that I had to gear up to my highest gear. Definitely more substantial than I expected.

We turned onto Erie Station Road. The group of 5 or 6 of us ebbed and flowed. I began to pick it up a touch here. And by the time we got to Scottsville Road, I had dropped all but one.

Scottsville Road is a long, straight shot back to transition. Some gentle rollers, but nothing major at all. Absolutely perfect for a tri bike. And I turned it up a notch. I was pushing 23-24 mph for much of this. I dropped the last guy who I had ebbed and flowed with for the better part of 8 to 10 miles. I also chased down and passed about a half dozen more.

This was my first outdoor ride with my aero bottle. I've used it a few times on the trainer. And in that setting, its more convenient to have the straw on the far side of the bottle. Well, it was too far to easily reach while seated. So I didnt get in as much water I would have preferred. And with no gatorade on the bike, I was beginning to get a touch depleted. I had gels with me, but I have never eaten one while trying to ride fast. Or while riding at all actually. So I didnt take any gels on the bike.

The lack of nutrition started showing up with a couple miles or so left on the bike. I was sliding back a touch on my pace. I didnt have quite the strength to close and pass. Fatigue was setting in.

But we finished up and I pulled into transition A quick jaunt to my spot.

My cycle computer says I averaged 237 watts for the full ride. 20 minute max was 250.

Looking at the overall results, of du and tri participants including teams, I think I had the 18th fastest bike time out of 282. I also set a PR for bike pace in a race. I'll take it. :)

What would you do differently?:

Get my nutrition right. Helps to actually bring all of it with me.
Transition 2
  • 01m 4s

This was not good. I got my bike racked fine. I had decided to put my Vibrams back on for the boating. The shoe swap went ok. A bit flustered, but whatever.

What was bad is that I needed to bring nutrition. I grabbed my waterbottle. WTH? I dont need water. I have some in the canoe already. I need gels! So I tried to put the bottle back in the holder, but it wouldn't go, so I dropped it by my stuff. I pulled out a gel from my bike bento box. I wanted both gels, but only got one.

I also had my life jacket in T2. I grabbed it. But my race belt, which I had taken off in T1, was tangled in it. So I had to untangle them. Or at least I tried as I started running toward the exit. I finally said screw it and just put on the life jacket with the race belt dangling. Somewhere along the way, the race belt dropped out. No idea where in transition that happened but it did. I was pleasantly surprised to find it by my bike after the race was over. I think a very nice volunteer saw it happen and found where it belonged. Very nice of them.

Leaving transition, I realized that I had not hit the lap button on my garmin for getting off the bike. So I pushed it twice to move it from bike to T2 to canoe.

I also realized that I never took off my bike helmet. Oh well, nothing to do but wear it on the boat.

I had to run a couple hundred yards to get to the boat. As I approached it, I yelled ahead that I needed help to carry and launch the boat. We got my boat and carried it to the water. There was another boat in the most direct spot, so we carried it beyond that. We got it in the water and I got in. A couple extra sets of hands were holding the boat steady. I told them I was good and pushed off.

Given all that happened in this leg, I have no idea how my time was faster than T1. But I guess it was.
  • 51m 44s
  • 3 miles
  • 17m 14s  min/mile

I signed up to do the canoe race as I've been canoeing since I was a young child. I remember my family going on canoe trips with my mom in the front, dad in the back, and my sister and me in the middle. We did that in a big aluminum Grumman canoe. The exact same thing I was pushing solo now. But I figured that having grown up canoeing that I'd be at some advantage to the field. A nice theory, but reality had a different idea.

Once out on the water, I looked ahead but did not see any solo canoeist. A pair was ahead of me, but no singles were in sight.

I knew I needed some nutrition. I had taken in zero calories and only a little water to that point. So I took a gel and washed it down with the water that I had left in the canoe early in the morning. The problem is that you cant really eat/drink and paddle at the same time. So I coasted a bit while getting the gel.

It did not take long to realize that sitting in the back of the boat was not good. The bow was out of the water and the back was definitely dragging. A lot like a swimmer with really bad body position. Very slow. Much better off getting everything flat.

I fortunately had a life jacket that came with the boat. So I opened it up and kneeled on it. I was able to get my body much closer to the center of the boat, thereby noticeably improving the speed. So I kneeled in the canoe and paddled away.

Canoeing is a bit like riding a bike. Once you know how to do it, you don't forget. Now you may not be in shape for those particular muscle movements, but you can handle the bike or boat. I learned very soon that my canoe muscles were not in shape. It took me all of about 5 minutes to realize I was in trouble. My arms were burning.

I normally have a nice J stroke to the left side of the boat. I tried to swap it up and go on the right, but I'm not nearly as efficient on that side. It was frustrating. I did improve over time and got a clean stroke by the end of the event. But it took awhile to get my right side J stroke able to control the boat and make good progress.

Despite the gel, I was still really hurting. I was in a bit of overall system fatigue and my arms were certainly hurting. I had only grabbed one from the bike and had one taped on the canoe. So maybe 10 minutes after the first, I took my second and last gel.

One kayaker who was passing me while taking a gel commented that he thought I was smoking a cigarette. It was hanging in my mouth as I tried to suck out the gel stuff while paddling. I ended up having to stop paddling and squeeze in the gel. But it made for an interesting conversation with the kayaker.

I worked on trying to engage my core in the stroke. I could do this some. But it was taxing on the system. I kept having to switch up my stroke and side as I would fatigue fairly quickly at anything.

I never passed anyone on the canoe. A whole lot of kayakers passed me. No canoes passed me though. It was fun to chat with the kayakers. I got a whole lot of comments about being brave. I had a couple people mention how pretty my J stroke was. A few comments about driving this big ocean liner down the water.

It wasnt until maybe a half to a quarter mile from the turnaround that I saw a single canoeist. I then learned that I was not in first. I had no idea to that point. It was a guy in a tiny little thing that was made of modern materials. I caught up with him after the race and his brother is a big canoeist and let him borrow it. Made of Kevlar, his canoe was. No way in hell I was going to catch this guy.

Not too far behind him I saw, to my dismay, 3 other solo canoeists. All young guys who had no idea how to handle a boat. 2 strokes on one side, 2 on the other. No ability to control the boat from one side or the other. I give them credit though, they seemed to have very high energy. But seeing their lack of skill, I thought I had a chance to catch these guys.

I approached the turn buoy. I made the decision to swap seats. I was fatiguing from being in the kneeling position. Sitting on the back seat was not good. So instead of circling around the buoy, I went just past it. Then I got up, walked toward the front seat, turned around, sat down, and started paddling the canoe backwards.

A woman in a kayak was going around the buoy about this time. I'm sure she looked at me like i had lost my mind when she saw me walking in the canoe in the middle of the river. Well, she didnt turn very well and ended up bumping into my canoe. Whatever. Well, I tried paddling back upriver but she decided we were too close. So she pushed off my boat. Pushed my boat backwards and hers forwards. Gee, thanks lady.

So now I was going upstream. Wonderful. And the wind was beginning to pick up. It was blowing downstream into my face. I was really struggling with very tired arms and I had only completed the easier, down wind, down stream leg. The hard leg going upstream and into the wind was ahead of me. Nothing to do but buckle down and get it done.

Sitting on the front seat facing backwards was a very good choice. The boat was much better balanced than the backseat and I was off my knees. I stayed this way the rest of the time.

I think I got a touch of a push from the two gels I took earlier. While I was hurting, I could at least maintain a reasonable stroke. I was working, but just plugged along. I was glad that my right side J stroke had improved enough that I could do that some and not lose control of the boat.

The wind actually was tougher than the current. If you don't point directly into it, then it will turn the boat to broadside of the wind. It was noticeably tougher to control the canoe on the second half.

Just keep plugging away. Keep getting passed by kayakers. Keep having nice conversations with them.

More or less through the first 3/4 of the ride, I'd periodically catch the metal clasp of the Garmin on the edge of the canoe. But I stopped hearing it. And I could not read the garmin any more, it had turned to face away from me. I had not realized until after the race was over that the clasp broke off and the garmin, which I was using for the first time in a race, was barely hanging on my wrist. How it didnt go into the river for a very premature death, I have no idea. I will have to get a new band for it, but that I still have the unit is amazing to me.

I can't say how glad I was to finally get to the finish. I was done. My arms hurt like hell and my overall system was saying enough.

I pulled up to the dock. There were several sets of hands to stabilize and take the canoe away. Another hand to help me up. I took it and got safely onto the dock. I started running towards a pathway with an open gate, but was quickly re-directed to my left towards a different gate. Well, my feet slid out from under me on the plastic dock when I changed directions. I went down and landed hard on my left hip. I said, "Oh, that felt good" and got a couple chuckles. I got up and ran the right way. A very short distance to the finish.

Looking at the results, I had the 2nd slowest canoe time of anyone. I'm really, really surprised by that. Maybe they all had better canoes. For sure the fastest guy did. And certainly being 15- 20 years younger helped several of the better times. While I struggled a lot on this leg, I would have expected my boating skills to help more than they did. I guess not.
What would you do differently?:

Not much I could of have done differently. Get a better canoe? I really can't think of an exercise to train for this. Swimming and rowing help a touch, but its just not the same.
Post race
Warm down:

I was not working super hard aerobically during the canoe. So it was minimal settling down time afterwards. But I was done. Physically I had had it.

I walked over to transition and got my stuff. It was a very pleasant surprise to see my race belt with the rest of my things. That really was nice of whoever put it there.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I got about as much out of this race as I could. I had PR paces for both the run and the bike. I can't realistically have given greater effort on the canoe.

How much difference did nutrition make? Hard to say. I would have been a bit fresher for the canoe. But would it have mattered that much, really?

Overall, I am very pleased. When you PR the run and bike in an April race, you get pretty excited about the prospects of the coming year.

Event comments:

There were a ton of volunteers. It was very well run. The police had all intersections monitored and allowed us to go through unimpeded. It was the first time doing this event, but they looked like they had done it several times before. The boating part had the potential to be absolute chaos, but it seemed to go quite well.

Last updated: 2010-03-27 12:00 AM
00:24:52 | 5100 meters | 29s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/1
Overall: 0/8
Course: Fairly flat run with a couple small hills and rises. Rather pretty, going across the river a couple times and through the park.
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 01:09
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
00:57:42 | 20.4 miles | 21.21 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/1
Overall: 17/8
Wind: Little
Road: Potholes Dry Cadence: 90
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Average Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Not enough
Time: 01:04
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
00:51:44 | 03 miles | 17m 14s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/1
Overall: 7/8
Course: Canoe downstream 1.5 miles, go around a buoy, and come back to the start.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2010-04-24 5:54 PM

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Rochester, NY
Subject: River Challenge Paddle Triathlon

2010-04-24 8:03 PM
in reply to: #2814276

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: River Challenge Paddle Triathlon
That sounds like a fun race.  Great way to tri early in the season when OWS is still out of the comfort range!
2010-04-24 9:24 PM
in reply to: #2814276

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Malvern, England
Subject: RE: River Challenge Paddle Triathlon
Nice job!  You're getting speedy on run and bike now - hopefully going to be a great season for you.
2010-04-25 9:21 AM
in reply to: #2814276

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Rochester, NY
Subject: RE: River Challenge Paddle Triathlon
Nice job PRing the run and bike courses!  There is nothing you can do about your speed in the canoe leg with a monster canoe like you had, and paddling it solo to boot!  Enjoy your AG award!  Smile
2010-04-25 11:01 AM
in reply to: #2814276

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Subject: RE: River Challenge Paddle Triathlon

Awesome race!  I'm really impressed you went with a canoe- it seems like it would be like riding a bigwheel for the bike leg .  Great bike and run! 

2010-04-25 12:25 PM
in reply to: #2814276

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Canandaigua NY
Subject: RE: River Challenge Paddle Triathlon

Congrats on the first in AG!!! PR on the bike and run is awesome too!!!

Good for you getting out there and trying something new!!!

2010-04-25 9:34 PM
in reply to: #2814276

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Subject: RE: River Challenge Paddle Triathlon
Sounds like fun.  Great job.   I may have to try it next year. 
2010-04-27 9:23 AM
in reply to: #2814276

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Verona WI--Ironman Bike Country!
Subject: RE: River Challenge Paddle Triathlon
What a great job....congratulations!  I am so happy to see the Vibrams are working for you and you certainly are Mr. Speedy on the bike/run front.  Nice podium finish too!
2010-04-27 12:38 PM
in reply to: #2814276

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Subject: RE: River Challenge Paddle Triathlon
good work ridge.....stop smokin while racing....! Laughing
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