Yes – it’s Sunday again and once more the clock is quite a bit earlier than I want and need. In fact it’s 5 am and I am going to Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island for the inaugural Harvey Cedars Sprint Tri. The good thing though, is that it is already a bit later than I have woken up for my previous races this year and the sun is already up.
I have been suffering for a bit of sore throat all week, so the first thing I do is to make sure that it hasn’t gotten any worse during the night. Luckily it’s not any worse and I jump (or crawl) out of bed and get ready.
The venue is almost 1 1/2 hours away so I quickly eat my traditional cereal with raisins and get into the car. After 15 min I stop at the first Wawa on the way and get myself a 20 oz coffee. 20 min later I stop at the next Wawa and get rid of whatever the 20 oz coffee has told my stomach to rid of…
The weather is very nice, sunny and 14 degrees Celsius as I drive up towards the parking close to the transition area. I pick up my race bag and find that it is actually stocked with nicer goodies than normal. Among the items are a Gillette battery driven razor (the legs will look even better tomorrow) and a themal water bottle. Nice work organizers!
After attaching all the race numbers and getting marked I set up my transition area and get rid of a bit more fluid before the race.
The current on the swim course looks quite strong but the water is nice and warm as I take a few warm-up strokes in the bay. I have decided to make 100% sure that I don’t overdo my pace during the first section of the swim so I can maintain good freestyle form all through the swim. As the start goes I do get quite short of breath after the first 200 yards but I haven’t overdone it and I can keep my form all through the swim. I make it through the swim (750m) in 13:53 including a not so elegant exit from the water where the muddy bottom of the bay seems to drain every bit of energy out of my legs. My swim time is actually 6 secs faster than my last race (and the swim today is a 100m longer) so my training during the last month has really helped.
The transition is good and I am quickly out of T1 and on the bike. Even getting into my shoes on the bike is done faster than in my previous races.
The bike course is a 2 lap circuit on Long Beach Island Boulevard where the race organizers have secured the inner lanes for the racers. The course is fast and straight and the tarmac is good. At the first turnaround at 5k I count 14 racers in front of me and even though my pulse is at my max (the bike leg was done at an average of 95% of my max pulse) I can keep up the pace and at the 2nd turnaround at 10k I am 12th.
The third leg is a bit of an experience. At around 13.5k an ambulance is heading towards me (with sirens and lights on) on the other side of the median strip that consists of 8-10 feet of grass. Suddenly the driver pulls up on the median strip, but stays there for a few seconds (and turns off the sirens). With the ambulance not moving I get back to the aerobats that I had previously left and pick up the pace again. When I am around 20-25m from the ambulance, the driver decides to drive right out in front of me!!! and I have to brake heavily and move away from the designated bike lane and into the lane on my right reserved for cars. As I pass the ambulance that now takes up almost all of the bike lane I yell quite a bit of obscenities their way and I hear quite a few “FUUUCK!!!” around me. Whether its the bystanders to my right or the guys in the ambulance shouting I can’t hear, but the episode leaves me a bit shaken (and quite pissed) as I go around the next turnaround.
At the time of the incident I am pretty freaking mad, but after a bit of reflection I can’t really tell who is to fault. Under normal (i.e. just driving my car or bike on any regular day) circumstances I would have stopped and let the ambulance go out on the road, but during a race with a closed off course I do think that the ambulance need to take a bit more car before driving right out in front of a rider. The good thing is that I managed to get around the ambulance without getting hit!
On the final leg my pulse is still high and I throw up a little bit in my mouth a few times. But after another 5k the last leg is done and I move into the T2 area. I have passed a few more riders on my way and I am now just inside the top 10 guys. Even though I have visualised the transition area a few times I still run towards the wrong rack and loose around 10 secs on my transition but putting on my shoes and race belt is fast.
The run leg starts out pretty well. I don’t feel the same fatigue in my legs and upset stomach that I felt in my last race and I can actually see the that I am closing in on the 3-4 guys ahead of me after the first km. At 3k I am at an average of 4:14 min/k, and I try to up the pace, but I can’t go faster for the final 2k and end up doing the 5k (my GPS says 4.83k) in 20:26 min. I get 7th overall (3rd in my age group) in 1:06:54. Not a bad day…
After the race I stay to see the draft-legal race where the race organizer has gotten quite a few of the fast guys to the race. The main guy is Olympic Triathlete (and co-founder of this race) Jarrod Shoemaker and he doesn’t disappoint as he takes the win after approx. 53 mins… So I guess I still have a few minutes to make up for if I ever want to go to the Olympics