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Catfish Sprint Triathlon - TriathlonSprint

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Harrisburg City Island, Pennsylvania
United States
Tricat Sports
80F / 27C
Total Time = 1h 34m 24s
Overall Rank = 138/211
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

SInce DH wanted to come along to the race, we got a bit later start than I would've liked, but it really wasn't an issue. Ate a Nutri-Grain whole wheat waffle with peanut butter on and drank some iced tea on the way, managed to drip PB on my shirt. Oh well, I am my father's child (he rarely has a meal where he doesn't get a little drip of something on his shirt).

Once we arrived to the race site, we walked over to registration to pick up shirt, bib, etc, then walked back to the vehicle, dropped off stuff we didn't need, grabbed stuff we did. Found an OK spot in transition, set up, hit the porta-john, then it was time to walk to the swim start at the other end of the island.
Event warmup:

The walk to the other end of the island!
  • 14m 43s
  • 1287 meters
  • 01m 08s / 100 meters

With the recent rains, the river was running at a faster than normal clip. The past two years I recall being able to stand in fairly deep water at the start (but still touching) without the current pushing too much, but this year I had trouble holding my ground. Scratch that, I couldn't hold my ground and was being pushed and was glad when they started my wave so I wouldn't have to try to hold my place it any longer.

The shout was sent to start and off we went! Thankfully for the majority of the swim I had clear water, only occassionally encountering someone from ahead or behind. Visibility was minimal, as is typical of the river. Sighting is pretty easy, just keep the island on your left and make sure you don't get too far right, although it is important to pay attention as not to run into the bridge supports like my friend did last year, LOL! As I went speeding past the bridge supports, it gave me a better perspective of how swiftly the river was moving. Not long after that, I saw the finish buoy in the distance (but closing fairly quickly) and I thought, "Man, if people aren't minding the current and the angle necessary to cut over to make the buoy, it could get ugly quickly". I remember seeing a few white caps off to my left from the first wave. I also recall seeing a kayaker flying by on the right.

Goggles were foggy, so seeing/sighting was a little tough. Why do I keep using those old things? I kept powering my way toward the buoy and the boat ramp feeling like the swim had been fast, which of course it was. Once my feet found the ridges of the boat ramp I stood and removed goggles and swim cap and ran carefully up the ramp. Hit stop on my Garmin and was shocked (a little) to see the time! Fast current = good for me who barely hit the pool since my last tri in May. Bad girl!
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, except maybe get more time in the pool.
Transition 1
  • 01m 19s

Decent T1. Tossed goggles and cap on my mat, donned sunglasses, helmet, number on race belt, then shoes (sockless), grabbed Rico and we were off!

50/211, I think.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe speed it up a little.
  • 44m 40s
  • 14.5 miles
  • 19.48 mile/hr

Had just a little trouble getting into the clips (why? IDK) but got rolling soon enough. Passed a few folks before going up the ramp to cross the bridge. On the bridge and much of the course is open to traffic with a lane marked off with cones for the bikers with other cones dividing that lane into 2 or sometimes 3 (couldn't quite figure out the rationale for the extra cones at places - they were almost more dangerous than helpful). Immediately on the bridge I encountered slower bike traffic which was tough to pass safely, so I tried to sit back and be patient until things opened up a little. Some guy kept going out into the car lane to pass bikers. A firetruck and 2 ambulances/rescue vehicles wailed past on the bridge, sirens screaming and lights flashing. At the time, I figured they were headed to a fire on the west shore.

Finally I reached Front Street but the packs of slow bikers haven't improved. Racers were clustered up riding side by side, on the left, on the right, in the middle. Ugh, frustrating! Again the same guy kept going out into vehicle traffic to pass bikers. I'd think I had a little opening to pass when suddenly a cone would appear in the gap. Painstakingly slowly (at least compared to the speed I knew I wanted to be at) I picked my way through the riders. After what seemed like an eternity, I got past the packs and mainly had to pass single riders from here on out. Good, time to put the hammer down. Yelled "Go Army!" to a large group of (obviously) Army guys in ARMY shirts running on the path with some sort of flag, their unit or division, IDK. Got a HOO-RAH back which made me smile! :)

Finally I was at a good speed and didn't have many people close by. Pedal, pedal, pedal. OK, red light coming up (racers don't need to stop, intersections were manned by Harrisburg police). A small motorcycle passed me and stopped at the red light. No problem. On came the turn signal, he's about to turn right in front of me, PROBLEM!! I looked at the policewoman in the intersection, she wasn't saying or doing anything. I looked to make sure no cars were pulling out from the other street, looked again at the motorcycle, all these things in milliseconds. I said aloud (but not loudly), "No, no, no, no, don't do it!" He did it, I swerved hard left to go around him, praying no other bikers were there, not having time to look first, now saying, "Holy sh**!!", heart pumping. If it would've been a car it would've been an uglier outcome fo sho!

Collision avoided, I collected my nerves and settled back into race mode. Made it to Fort Hunter and the turnaround without incident, took the opportunity to take a long draw of Infinit, time to go back! Passed, got passed, and passed the same girl a few times. Handed out a few "beautiful day, isn't it?" greetings to those I passed. Tried to keep the hammer down and not let up the pace. Unfortunately, my Garmin is not bike mounted but on my wrist, making it less than convenient to watch time, pace, etc. Gotta figure something different out with that.

Finally, almost back to the bridge. Picked off another few riders, then made the turn. Uh oh, some more slower guys, packed up, talking, and congratulating themselves on almost completing the bike leg (must've been their first?) and now we're in the narrow, coned off lane, no room to pass. Well, there would've been room to pass if the one guy would've stayed right but he was on the left talking to his pal. Not wanting to be a jerk and take anything away from their first race, I relegated myself to just hang where I was. Hey, I suddenly realized, this is the prime opportunity to try taking my feet out of my shoes while still on my bike, which is something I've never done before but considered trying for this race. No time like the present, seeing as I'm not flying in at the speed I'd prefer. Left foot out successfully while still on the bridge. Took the corner down the ramp and got to work on the right. Both feet out and on top of shoes successfully, yeah! Passed a few people as the lane opened up, rolled up to the line and jumped off.

114/211, I think (some ties) and I think 20/58 women.
What would you do differently?:

Hmm. Maybe somehow deal with the slower bikers differently as to not lose so much time? Find a way to position my Garmin so I can easily see mph. Otherwise happy with the bike. Was hoping to average 20 mph but fell just short.
Transition 2
  • 01m 5s

While running through transition, I was directly to the right of another racer, side by side and I asked if he was headed to the right or the left. Of course he is on the left heading right and I'm on the right headed left, so he slowed his run just a touch and told me to go ahead, so I thanked him and surged to get out of his way.

Racked bike, took off my helmet, (no shoes to take off, how novel!) started shoving my feet into my running shoes, sockless. Left foot went OK, right calf protested mightily with a cramp, yeeeooowww! I stopped putting my foot into my shoe partway, then realized I can't go on with my foot only partly in the shoe and I braced myself for further shoving and cramping. My calf didn't disappoint - another sharp cramp so much that I yelled out like a dork. Suck it up, buttercup, just stick your foot in there and go! Put my hat on as I was running out of transition. Made some sort of face at DH when he told me I'm almost done. Uh, don't you realize I still need to run? LOL!

Pleased with my virgin attempt at taking my feet out of my shoes while on the bike and with my first completely sockless race. Only one minor blister appeared on my Achilles which didn't cause any grief while on the run.

99/211, I think (some ties)
What would you do differently?:

Somehow prevent the evil calf cramps that made me yell out loud. They were time wasters!
  • 32m 39s
  • 3.1 miles
  • 10m 32s  min/mile

As determined as I was to stay ahead of the people I passed on the bike, I of course didn't fully succeed. I kept seeing person after person I recognized from overtaking on the bike who were now overtaking me. Frustration! To myself: "Why do I suck so much at running?! OK, don't let the demons take over, just run your own race at your own (snail-like) pace. Enjoy running by the river, which you love."

Got out of my own head and the positive part of my brain pushed the ugly thoughts down. Just kept trucking along. Got to the final bridge we go under before the turnaround and saw a rescue dive team with their boats on a trailer and a few guys in full suits milling about, none in the water that I saw. Hmm, are they doing a drill? On a Sunday morning? Oh please let it just be practice.

I kept going up the ramp to the park, a nice soul already headed back the other way announced there was water and Gatorade ahead (I apparently looked like I needed some, of which there is little doubt). I thanked him and kept moving. Walked for just a tiny bit to drink some water, then I dumped the rest on me. Let's get rolling!

Still was getting passed by a few more folks. Oh well, I was already acceptant of that fact. Heard someone behind me breathing as loudly as I was, they were back there for a while. Eventually she passed me, but didn't really pass me, just sort of went in front of me and stayed there. Within a few steps I realized she was not truly going faster than me so I went just a little faster to get ahead of her and stayed there, she dropped off completely.

I was determined to run all the little ramps up from the path and did. Finally we were back to the metal bridge to head back to the island. Passed a guy walking with his beautiful pit bull who I said good morning to and he told me he was jealous. I wanted to say come on, run with me, then! but didn't, LOL. Eventually I caught and passed a fellow with a Gettysburg Tri Club top on who looked like the same guy I saw and passed about the same point in the race at Got the Nerve. Interesting. Not sure if it was him or not, but I told him we're almost there. He jokingly said he was saving something for the finish so he can look strong coming in the home stretch. I chuckled with him and wished him well.

Down the ramp of the bridge, now we're really in the home stretch. Do I have any extra? Nope, I don't think so, just bring it home without tripping. DH was along the way cheering, I cast him a look and half a smile. Crossed the line with relief!

177/211 (I think), so obviously my worst leg of the race.
What would you do differently?:

Run faster, LOL!!
Post race
Warm down:

Got a bottle of water at the finish and walked back to where I last saw DH but he wasn't there. OK, I need to sit a minute. Sat on the curb to recover a little, then got up and resumed my search. Eventually found him waiting over by transition, I think he was keeping an eye on Rico since transition security is very lax at this race, but yet I was thinking, "Why is he over there?"

Gathered up my things, then DH said of two guys in the next row over, "I think they're looking at Rico." I looked at them, then said, "Nope, they're looking at the Shiv next to Rico. Rico ain't nothin' compared to that!" (no offense, Rico, you know I love ya) Took belongings back to car, changed, then headed back to watch other finishers and mill around.

Saw on the unofficial results that I was listed 3rd AG!! No way, cool! So we hung around until the end of the race, then the running of the kids' race for awards to begin. Grabbed a bite to eat.

Award time! I moved up closer so I could hear since the lady was shouting out winners and times and not using any ampifying device. OK, women's 40-44...3rd place: someone other than me. Wait, what?! Did I hear correctly? Sure enough, some other person walked up. 2nd and 1st place, not me, either. Was this the correct AG? Yup, I looked at a calf that read 44. Hmm, what the heck happened? I was a bit disappointed since getting a podium spot is not the norm for me, but oh well. Eventually when the official results were posted, I still showed 3rd AG, but in the overall results there is one person without an age, etc., and it must be the person who took 3rd. Since she didn't have an age listed, she didn't get sorted and didn't appear in the AG results. Sigh. I suppose if you count her in, I finished 4/10 instead of 3/9.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Probably 10-20 lbs. or so excess 'baggage'

Event comments:

On the way home my husband and I were discussing our individual experiences of the day and after pieceing these sightings together we came to the conclusion that something bad had happened on the swim. The fire truck and ambulances I saw on the bridge were actually coming to the race site and the boat ramp. The divers, although I don't think they were utilized, were there just in case. My husband and another fellow had heard cries for help as they walked from the swim start back to the other end of the island. Later he saw people being seated into police cars and driven away (family members). I hoped for the best and kept checking local news sites.

Eventually it came out that a man had been pulled from the water and taken to a local hospital but passed away - fresh water drowning. The news greatly saddened me and shook me. I cried for him and his family, who had been there watching. I didn't know him or them, but felt sadness just the same. We often hear of tragedies in races but never has one hit home at a race that I was participating in. My prayers continue to be with his family. Bless us all.

Last updated: 2013-03-08 12:00 AM
00:14:43 | 1287 meters | 01m 08s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/211
Performance: Good
Suit: HTC 2 piece tri suit, you know, the one that cuts
Course: .8 miles (approx) in river with current, point to point from one end of City Island to the other. Starting at the North end (by bath house) must go around the first flag keeping it to your left. Remember there will be a current. Aim for about 15 to 20 yards north of the flag because of the current. Keep all other flags to your right (you will be between the island and the flags).
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Time: 01:19
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
00:44:40 | 14.5 miles | 19.48 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/211
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Out of transition, over Market Street Bridge turn left on to Front Street heading north past Division Street. Head north to Fort Hunter turn around in parking lot. Return same route to transition area - approx. 14.5 miles.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills:
Race pace: Drinks: Not enough
Time: 01:05
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
00:32:39 | 03.1 miles | 10m 32s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/211
Performance: Good
Course: Out of transition area, go over Walnut Street Bridge towards Harrisburg. At end of bridge take first right and proceed down the ramp towards river. Stay left and proceed south towards the 83 Bridge until you hit the turnaround. From turnaround, stay on left side to allow for oncoming runners. Return back to the up ramp and go back over the Walnut Street Bridge to City Island. Finish past parking garage - approx. 3.1 miles
Keeping cool Average Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race? Yes
Course challenge
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2013-07-23 4:04 PM

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Subject: Catfish Sprint Triathlon

2013-07-23 11:38 PM
in reply to: #4812095

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Central Kansas
Subject: RE: Catfish Sprint Triathlon

<hugs> You had such a terrific race -- speedy swim, fast bike, and you fought the demons on the run (which I know very well is hard to do). I'm sorry for the loss of the racer. I really can't imagine how terrible that must be.

You still had a wonderful day and an impressive age group finish. Congratulations.

2013-07-24 6:32 AM
in reply to: #4812095

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Catfish Sprint Triathlon

Wow, Melanie, that is such a sad end to an otherwise awesome day. Your race sounds great, you paced the bike (good on ya with the shoe removal), hauled it through the swim and got the voices in your head to shut up. 4/10 is nothing to scoff at. 

Prayers for you and yours and the folks touched by the tragedy.

2013-07-24 6:41 AM
in reply to: #4812095

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Subject: RE: Catfish Sprint Triathlon
Excellent race! I did a double take when I saw that swim time :) I have never been swimming in current like that-- is it scary? Very nice bike too :) I can't imagine having a death at one of the races I did... my heart aches for that family. Stay safe luvs.
2013-07-24 8:39 AM
in reply to: switch

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Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Catfish Sprint Triathlon

Nice rice.  Love the fast swim and fabulous bike.  It's frustrating when people hang out on the left and block (however unintentionally).  So glad that your DH went to the race!

Sad to read about the fatality.  :-/

2013-07-24 11:21 AM
in reply to: jmkizer

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Catfish Sprint Triathlon

Well done with the race - and I'm terribly jealous of your bike time and the fact that you're coordinated enough to take your feet out of your bike shoes while on your bike - I don't think I'll ever master that one!

Very saddened to read about the man who passed away, my thoughts are with his family and yours.  Cry

2013-07-24 12:54 PM
in reply to: #4812095

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Rio Rancho, NM
Subject: RE: Catfish Sprint Triathlon

What an awesome (mostly) race report!

First, I'm sorry you had to experience that and I've prayed for all affected by that tragedy.

Now on to you. You're awesome! I, too, did a double-take at that swim time. How fun! And on the bike you stayed patient and waited for your chance to cruise. Nice! I love that you decided, last minute, to take your feet out of the shoes. I would probably have to contemplate that for weeks! And the run. Give yourself some credit chica! You stayed positive, defeated the negative voices in your head and encouraged people you passed. Sounds like an abundantly awesome day to me. And that was only 1.5 hours!!!!

Nice job on the race and the report!

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2011-07-11 3:42 PM stilgarnaib
date : November 9, 2009
author : TexasHeatRunner
comments : 5
At mile ten I heard a noise like I had gotten paper in my spokes or something. I looked but saw nothing but a few seconds later my rear tire blows out.
date : June 3, 2009
author : Amy Kuitse
comments : 0
Are these races too close together to give me any sort of recovery? Will I be spent and unhappy racing back to back weekends and then again two weeks after that?
date : September 8, 2008
author : pjwalzphd
comments : 2
When I told my husband that I planned to work toward completing a sprint triathlon, he smiled and was supportive, but a bit disbelieving.
date : April 1, 2008
author : trvw
comments : 0
The challenge? The accomplishment? I want to do this because it is an opportunity to live life. The event is an indoor sprint triathlon. I get to experience the challenge on a safer scale.
date : February 12, 2008
author : mikericci
comments : 0
This plan is designed to make you go faster. 3 workouts per week in each sport, 2 days of strength training and core work. The maximum volume is around 10 hours toward the end of the 12 weeks.
date : September 3, 2006
author : acbadger
comments : 0
Since your “A” race is your marathon, which you stated in your question, this should be your main focus. I encourage you to taper a bit for the sprint distance triathlon.
date : July 30, 2006
author : acbadger
comments : 0
Since I didn't have much time and since it's a super sprint, am I OK just go to at the training relatively hard through Thursday or even Friday?
date : August 30, 2004
author : Ron
comments : 0
Couch-to-sprint triathlon training programs to get you over the finish-line of your first triathlon.