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Baltimore Triathlon - Sprint Course - Triathlon

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Chase, Maryland
United States
Charm City Run
70F / 21C
Total Time = 1h 34m 7s
Overall Rank = 43/160
Age Group = M 50-54
Age Group Rank = 5/14
Pre-race routine:

"Removing the Bitter Taste"

Seven weeks ago, I did the Lum's Pond Olympic and had just a horrible race...bad vibes, bad execution, crappy hot weather, and a bad result. That was supposed to be my last race but I decided that I would not allow the results of that performance linger throughout the off-season so I decided to sign up for my local sprint, The Baltimore Triathlon.

This race is conducted about six miles from my house, and I practice open water swimming in the park there. I also have ridden probably 1K miles on the local roads around it so if there's ever a home field advantage for me this would be it. The only issue with it is that is always the first weekend of October, which is all over the place weather-wise. The swim has been cancelled at least twice in the six years they've had it as well. The weekend leading up to the race had the remnants of a tropical storm blow through here, then we just cloudy gross chilly weather for the following four days (this will become important).

If you're reading this you probably know my back story, no pun intended, so I'll spare the 12 years of drama around it. Training has been all over the place this year but I've had a pretty good summer including my biggest cycling and training month ever in July. Since then, though, it's been hit or miss with a couple of vacations and the resulting few pounds of cookies on my frame. I had been training consistently on the run, though, so hopefully we'll see some better results.

I also went into the race with a totally different mindset - that I was just going to enjoy the experience, the competition, and the challenge without getting hung up on results or anything negative that happens up to and during the race. This would be the first race I've done without a sherpa (The Wife), whom I told not to bother to come to this one as I was just chilling my way through it. I would miss her yelling at me to hurry up in transition. :-)

The weather finally broke late in the week and started to warm up a little. The women's race was Saturday (note: fellow BDAS mentor group member WON the women's race in 2016) and i saw the Facebook posting on the water temp and it said 65.1 degrees. Wait....what???!!! That's colder than anything I've ever swam in other than goofing around at the beach. Well i guess we're wetsuit-legal, right? Air temps were forecasted to start around 60 degrees warming to low 70s during the race so that's about perfect, but wow that cold water is going to be tough, especially in my sleeveless suit.

Taper week went as planned as I hit up a couple of hard workouts on Tues/Wed/Thurs, took Friday off, then a short run though of everything on Saturday all the while keeping up my core work. Did packet pickup on Friday afternoon which is so nice to get out of the way ahead of time. Went to bed super early Saturday night and slept pretty well and woke up 15 minutes before my alarm.
Event warmup:

"Enjoy the View"

I know from experience that I perform better at high-intensity events with several warm-up / stretching sessions so I followed that plan. Jumped on the bike for 20 minutes right after I woke up and did some stretching and the foam roller. Breakfast was an english muffin, an apple, and coffee. Showered, got dressed, packed the car and was ready to go about 10 minutes earlier than planned.

Drove the 10 minutes to the park and parked, gathered all my stuff (missing my sherpa for sure) and walked the 1/3 mile to transition to get everything set up. I actually remembered everything so yay me. I chatted with the guys near me and everyone was so cool to talk to - none of this self-focus that you see at the more competitive races (not that there weren't some fast people here).

I then jogged back to the car, did more stretching and the foam roller, then jogged back to transition to finish my warmup. Pre-race meeting at 730 then we just wait around. Put on the Promotion sleeveless and walked down to the water and noticed they were allowing people in so I joined them. Holy hell this water is cold. Just kind of waded around in it, swam a few strokes to get over the shock factor (didn't work -see swim report) and talked with a bunch of the competitors.

The Plan was to push the swim a little, cruise the bike around 20 mph, then negative split the run. Shooting for low 1:30s with a super-stretch of 1:30.

They lined us up in groups of seven to go in every 15 seconds by how we seeded our swim times. I apparently was feeling a little spry the day I signed up as I put myself in the 1:50 pace group. Oh well, at least I'll have some clean water.

I deliberately found a spot to just chill for a few minutes and absorb the positive energy around me. Weather is beautiful as the sun rises over the river, everyone is nervously excited for the race, lots of family / spectators cheering. Let's do this. I think I actually said that out loud.

National anthem and off we go.
  • 17m 10s
  • 750 meters
  • 02m 17s / 100 meters

"Oh My God That Water's Cold"

The course is counter-clockwise rectangular, about 100 yards out, then 400 yards, then 50 yards, then 300 yards, then 50 into the shore. The Plan was to ease into the first 100 getting my breathing together, start getting into a rhythm the "back stretch", and then pick up the pace a little the second half. As Mike Tyson famously said, "everyone's got a plan until they get hit".

First 50 yards was running, then wading with a few swim strokes, then a little more wading, then starting to swim. And seize up and start hyperventilating. This is the coldest effing water I've ever raced in and I'm panicking.

Tri Mike: "Oh my God I'm going to die!!!"
Coach Mike: "Settle down, it'll go away"
Tri Mike: "But I can't breathe!!!"
Coach Mike: "Breathe every stroke then, Tarzan swim, backstroke, whatever, just stop acting
like you're going to drown...'cause you're not. You're in a wetsuit, dude."
Tri Mike: "But my arms are going numb!!"
Coach Mike: "No they're not you big baby, just keep swimming"

This type of self-talk continued as I tried to pound my lizard brain into submission. The entire 400 yard straightaway was Tarzan, backstroke, then some freestyle but with a wetsuit on I'm still making some progress, and it appears that a lot of other people are having a rough time of it as no one is passing me. I get to the short turnaround and I just feel like I need a reset. I know the water is like 5 feet here so I stand up and walk about 20 seconds and that did the trick. Final 300 yards or so went according to plan and I was starting to feel warmed up and ready to swim by the time I got out. Last 30 yards or so were wading so I was able to warm up my legs a little there.

17:10 4/14 AG 43/160 overall, perfectly seeded as I started somewhere in the 40s into the water

Not a bad result for the hot (cold) mess of the first 400 yards or so. I can't imagine how people swim in 60 degree water.

What would you do differently?:

Warm up a ton more in the cold water, try to practice in colder water bit more if I can
Transition 1
  • 04m 1s

"Settle Down and Hurry Up"

Stripped off the top of the wetsuit while leaving the water and ran the uphill to transition. Took it really easy to get my breathing under control as my lungs still hurt a little. Got into transition, got the wetsuit off cleanly, helmet/glasses, then shoes and socks, and off I go.

Didn't push hard through this but solid. Noted there were still a ton of bikes here which was new for me.

4:01 5/14 AG, 60/160 overall
What would you do differently?:

I need different cycling shoes and that's on the list for upgrades this winter, but I wouldn't approach this any differently.
  • 41m 54s
  • 13.8 miles
  • 19.76 mile/hr

"Home Field Advantage"

On to my strength, the bike. It's perfect riding weather, about 65 degrees with a light breeze and sunny out. I could ride this route blindfolded and now that the swimming fiasco is over I can get to racing. The Plan was to just hold around 200 watts on the flats and more or less stay in the same gear. There are 14 turns, a turnaround, and two sharp climbs over railroad bridges so I planned on burning my matches accelerating out of the turns and holding a good pace on the hills. Looking for something in the low 200s and zone 3 HR, 0.83 IF or so, hoping to average 20 mph, which would solidly put me in the FOP on the bike based on previous results.

Spoiler Alert: nailed this

Ran out of transition and mounted fairly cleanly and eased into the first 1/4 mile or so. Settled quickly into The Plan, and it's working. I'm holding 200 on the flats, HR is staying down, and I'm nailing the turns. The first part of the race takes you through a neighborhood (and kudos to them for putting up with all the cyclists that ride around here all the time) and I see a maybe 10 YO girl holding up a sign that says "You Just Peed in Your Swim Course" LOL

I got out of the neighborhood onto the Eastern Boulevard straightaway, about 4 miles of flat-ish smooth pavement and I just kept executing the plan and added in accelerating passing people. I think I passed 6-7 people in those 4 miles. First 5-mile autolap in 15:16 so I'm good on 20 mph so far.

Then we make a sharp right hand turn and climb the first (and steepest) bridge climb and I stood up (gives my back a bit of a break and uses different muscles), pushed up and over and relaxed on the downhill. At some point I probably should start taking in some fluid (I'm horrible at this). This is also the uphill section of the course so I know I'm going to go a little harder...HR climbs near Z4 but I never feel like I'm working hard. Crest the hill and now we have a 2 mile false flat downhill with the wind so I get as aero as possible and get up to about 28 mph. Next 5 mile split is 14:48 so right at 20 mph pace.

Last climb over the railroad (and somehow I did my all-time fastest on Strava) and descend into the park. Now it gets a little technical with a turnaround, which I executed pretty well, then a little climb into the beach area and transition. Starting to feel the legs a little at this point but I still feel great. Dismount goes well and I start to jog and whoa legs aren't really happy about that. Must have been all that time in aero (not a great fit on my roadie/aerobar setup).

41:54, 19.8 mph, 204 watts, 211 NP, avg HR 126, IF 0.82
5/14 AG, 24/160 OA
(all exactly to plan...Coach Mike approves)

I'm in 3rd in my AG right now, and probably top 20 OA. I don't know this obviously.

What would you do differently?:

nothing...I'm at the point cycling where it's just don't flat or crash and I'm towards the FOP. I eventually need to get on my still-not-finished tri bike next year, and of course better equipment and fit would help a little but we're probably talking seconds at this point.

Oh, and actually take in some fluid / calories. I'm so bad at that.
Transition 2
  • 01m 27s

"Not a Picnic, but You Ain't Exactly Quick About It"

Solid performance, but lost a little time here on the field. Pre-laced shoes helped. Noted that not many bikes in transition right now, which is a good sign.

5/14 AG, 73/160 OA (meh)

What would you do differently?:

Run faster
  • 29m 34s
  • 5 kms
  • 05m 55s  min/km

"Still Don't Have My Running Legs"

Jogged out of transtion...the course is an out-and-back with a bunch of turns with some light hills and false flats, but nothing to worry about. Again like the bike I run here a bunch so I'm used to the terrain. No freakin' root-infested trail run this time. :-)

I'm still a beginner in my comeback from not running for 6-7 years so I have simple expectations for this one. The Plan was just run, keep on running, still keep on running, hold about a 9-minute plus pace and walk through the aid stations and get a little hydration. Shooting for 29-ish, stretch around 28. Just keep running and enjoy the ride.

First mile is downhill then a turnaround back uphill, then slight downhill and a flat. I eased the first downhill and got my legs under me, then pushed just a little up the hill to maintain pace. Hit the flat part holding like 9:20 which was fine. Got to mile one 9:29 so far so good. Then we go down a false flat, turn around, then back up that false flat to mile 2. Still feeling decent though I'm losing a little spark and I think my blowing off nutrition is coming back to haunt me a little. Mile two in 9:45...OK a little behind pace but we'll make it up, right?

Mile three I'm holding on...I start to push the pace a little and legs didn't have it in them. With about a half mile left you go up a short steeper hill and that just took the last of my surges, then I jogged back down the hill to the turnaround, then pushed with all I had left (which wasn't much at this point, more or less just holding pace) to the crest then did a light sprint the final 0.1 to the finish.

Given my run training, a solid B+ effort, but the results doomed me.

29:34 (this used to be my easy pace nine years ago...ugh), 9:32/mile, avg HR 137 (all to plan)
9/14 AG, 108/160 OA (ouch, but not as ouch as August LOL)

9/14 AG,
What would you do differently?:

Get my run back. I need a solid 3-4 months of healthy run training and then work on running fast again. I can jog 5 miles easy no problem but I don't have the race engine back yet. If I ran a 26-flat I'd have been podium in my AG. Oh well.
Post race
Warm down:

"The Cheering Section"

We couldn't leave the area until 10 AM (about 25 minutes after I finished), so I jogged around a little bit, drank some water and stretched, and did a whole bunch of cheering on the rest of the competitors. Talked to a bunch of people in transition - everyone was so friendly during the race. Everyone noted how difficult the beginning of the swim was with the warm air and cold water.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

"Getting Old and Injured Sucks"

Well, at least this list is getting shorter. In order of importance:

1) Get my run legs back. Nine years ago I ran a sub-22 open 5K, sub-46 open 10K, and a 50-flat Oly run. I know "Granpa Used-To-Be Done Died" but I fell like that athlete is still somewhere in there, just maybe a little older and slower. This off-season is going to be dedicated to run speed and doubling down on the requisite core work to keep me humming.

2) OWS execution - whether it's I need a different wetsuit, or I need to shove my face in cold water more often, something needs to change here - what's odd is that with all this struggle I continue to improve relative to my AG and especially the overall field, so I know there's an opportunity here to make swimming a strength. OMG who woulda thunk that 13 years ago when I swim a 28-minute sprint swim?

3) Nutrition - I need to better plan and execute getting something in my body - I know you don't need much in sprints but it needs to be more than "I took two sips of Gatorade on the bike course and an ounce of water at the first aid station"

4) Sharpen the sword in transition - I mean, competition for those rack locations is tough

5) Bike choice / fit / equipment - as noted above chasing seconds not minutes here but there's an opportunity nonetheless and I'd look good with a disc wheel. :-)

This was a great way to end the season on a positive note and I had a great time with some really cool people out on the course. Two days later I'm still pretty beat up but that's sprint racing for you.

Event comments:

Charm City Run is top notch. Sign-up, pre-race info, packet pickup, setup, start, course markings, even a decent post-race food spread which one day I'll eat. Pizza Johns pizza!!!

This race plays to my strengths so I'll plan on doing it again if I'm in town.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2023-09-28 12:00 AM
00:17:10 | 750 meters | 02m 17s / 100meters
Age Group: 4/14
Overall: 41/160
Performance: Average
Suit: Promotion Glide Sleeveless
Course: Rectangular counter-clockwise, mostly parallel to the shore. You can stand for about a third of it.
Start type: Wade Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 66F / 19C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Average
Breathing: Bad Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 04:01
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
00:41:54 | 13.8 miles | 19.76 mile/hr
Age Group: 5/14
Overall: 24/160
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: mostly flat with two sharp climbs over the railroad tracks
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 01:27
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
00:29:34 | 05 kms | 05m 55s  min/km
Age Group: 9/14
Overall: 108/160
Performance: Good
Course: out and back with a bunch of short hills and false flats, but pretty flat overall
Keeping cool Good Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2023-10-03 1:50 PM

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Middle River, Maryland
Silver member
Subject: Baltimore Triathlon - Sprint Course

2023-10-04 1:42 PM
in reply to: #5286995

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Baltimore, Maryland
Subject: RE: Baltimore Triathlon - Sprint Course
I'm so glad you did this race this year. Reading your report, I felt like I was there (especially the bike) since I'm familiar with the course. Super bummed I couldn't do it this year, but will definitely be back.

You absolutely crushed. I know the swim was a little crazy in the beginning, and you lost a little juice on the run, but knowing how well you did in the bike, I'm not surprised. Overall, awesome job!
2023-10-05 7:00 AM
in reply to: nicole14e

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, Kronobergs lan
Subject: RE: Baltimore Triathlon - Sprint Course
Well done Mike! Much better way to end the season!

2023-10-05 11:19 AM
in reply to: #5286995

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Atlanta, Georgia
Gold member
Subject: RE: Baltimore Triathlon - Sprint Course
Well done! Checked lots of boxes on the results card and a season finale, to boot. Great motivator to keep the momentum going..

And a great RR besides..
2023-10-06 3:20 AM
in reply to: alltom1

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Auckland, North Island
Subject: RE: Baltimore Triathlon - Sprint Course
Great job Mike. Way to nail the 'revenge race'
2023-11-24 2:01 AM
in reply to: #5286995


Subject: RE: Baltimore Triathlon - Sprint Course
The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface.

2023-12-07 12:31 AM
in reply to: ryanhicks411


Subject: RE: Baltimore Triathlon - Sprint Course
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