Due to some significant travel recently for my new job, my training volume dipped in recent weeks. A good friend of mine did the Kingston Tri for the Y triathlon last year. I thought it might be fun to get a higher intensity, but shorter race in, practice transitions, and as always, learn a bit more from the race. So, on a whim, I signed up for the Kingston Tri for the Y sprint triathlon. I wound up finishing second in my age group and 19th overall.
Read on for more.
How it Went
The race venue was only about 20 minutes from my house which was awesome. As the race entrance fees primarily went towards fundraising for YMCA – Camp Lincoln, the swag was extremely limited. Registration wasn’t busy when I arrived. After getting body marked, I setup the transition area. I then saw my family arrive. This was the first triathlon they got to watch so it was fun seeing the kids cheer me on.
Recent water temperatures were above 78 degrees per race organizers. A day or two before the race we had a solid amount of rain. My hope was that was enough to knock the water temp down. On race day, I heard the most beautiful announcement over the PA:
The race official has ruled that the water temperature is 76.5 degrees and that the race will be wetsuit legal
The race official in question was none other than Colin Cook. The swim was only 0.25 miles, so I expected it to be fast. During registration, the event organizers asked how fast you could swim 100 yards. I was conservative in what I selected. Based on the responses, your bib number was assigned in order of fastest to slowest. Numbers started at 300…I was bib number 309. Given my swimming strength I wasn’t surprised that I was seeded towards the front. I timed my warmup wrong as I got to the water 10 minutes before the race start but race organizers wanted the water cleared for pre-race announcements and staging. Oh well, it would be over in like 7 minutes and I did get a short warmup run in.
We lined up two by two and were going to enter the water every 5 seconds or so at 8 am. The race swam due east…right into the sun. The swim was counter clockwise with only two buoys. After a run into the water over a rocky entry and a few dolphin kicks I was off. As is typical, I took off a bit too fast (probably around 1:15-1:20/100 yard pace) and not surprisingly was gasping for air. So, I slowed down a bit. After the first few minutes, I started getting a little concerned my sighting was somehow off as I knew I was swimming faster than many already in the water, but I didn’t see them other than off to my right. I pulled up and looked around…CRAP. Due to the sun right in my eyes, I swam the first 1/4 of the leg to the wrong buoy. I couldn’t see the first buoy initially and had to detour back down to it. See below for a crude representation.
In addition to sighting the wrong buoy, very early into the race my left goggle was leaking. It was weird as that’s never happened to me. Every time I’d take a breath, the goggle would slosh water into my eye. So, I rolled onto my back, emptied the goggle and took off again. Not a few strokes go by and the goggle was leaking again. Ok. What was going on? I reach up to investigate and realized my swim cap was UNDER the goggle gasket. Darn. Note to self, make sure you don’t put the swim cap on under the goggles.
After the goggle issue and swimming a bit more than I needed to as a result of poor sighting, I got into a rhythm and finished strong.
- Distance: 0.32 mi
- Average Speed: 00:01:20 per 100 yards
- Max Speed: 00:01:00 per 100 yards
- Moving Time: 00:07:37
There was a healthy run up a rocky and wood chip covered hill to get to T1. For some reason, the timing results managed to royally botch the transition times. I can assure you nobody had 30 second T1 times.
After compensating a bit for two issues on the swim, my heart rate was racing. The plan was to try and get the heart rate down in the first mile or two. As we exited transition and headed out the quarter mile dirt road, the heart rate was still racing. Within the first mile there was a string of cars in front of me that were traveling approximately the same speed I was. No worries I thought…until the car in front of me stopped and opened the door on the passenger side. Note, there was no shoulder so I came to a dead stop, off the road, ride around, and get back up to speed. I knew there was a hill on the bike around the halfway mark. I seem to have this really bad habit of saving too much in the tank for “hills”. I suppose it is a sign of improved fitness when after I go over the hills I think to myself “That was it?” Unfortunately, that often means I leave too much in the tank for the bike leg. Like my swimming, cycling is also a strength of mine so I need to get better at holding speed and power for more of the legs. Sure, there were a few more rolling hills on the first “pre-hill” section, but you can clearly see after the hill I hit my average speed goal.
There was of course some beautiful fresh pavement on the course which was perfect for absolutely hammering. All in all, I left too much in the tank, but was happy with a 19.9 mile per hour average speed knowing I had more to give. I was not passed by many people which was encouraging.
I’m thinking this is a good time to mention a power meter would have come in handy to keep output consistent for the terrain. Santa?
- Distance: 14.5 mi
- Average Speed: 19.9 mph
- Max Speed: 36.91 mph
- Elevation Gain: 508.53 feet
- Moving Time: 00:43:42
- Calories: 581.7
- Location: Kingston New Hampshire
- Achievement Count: 1
- Strava Segments: 5
The dismount line for the bike was at the bottom of the dirt road. After a quick run up, I was back into transition.
The shoes I’ve been running in came with elastic laces, but I’ve never tried them. After tying laces for the last few triathlons, I’m considering trying them out. I typically have an issue with my left heel in that my laces need to be pretty tight to prevent blisters. Practice, practice, practice.
Run out was right next to my rack so I didn’t have far to go. Immediately out of transition went down a grass hill, through a quick little trail and then out to the only pavement we were going to see on the course with the rest being a difficult trail run. Right before we left the pavement I hear the very familiar sound of my friend Dan coming up fast behind me. This was Dan’s first race after a serious bike crash back in April. Dan took it easier on the trails so I put some distance on the trails, although he still beat me on the run split by 14 seconds.
The trails were tough! Lots of very tight turns, uphills with not great footing and two very steep downhill sections. On top of all this, the footing was tough in places with roots running every which direction, rocks small and large, and leaves and pine needles covering obstacles. The last 1/3 of a mile exited the woods and finished up the dirt road that shared the bike out. I finished with a pace somewhere around 6:30/mile.
I haven’t been training for 5k’s (rather half marathons on a half Ironman). So while my body was capable of going faster the legs didn’t quite know what to do at speed. Still, I finished strong, and felt great crossing the line. My friend Dan (same age group as me) crossed the line a minute or so after me. Uh oh…time to calculate results.
- Distance: 2.95 mi
- Average Speed: 00:08:19 per mile
- Max Speed: 00:05:49 per mile
- Elevation Gain: 187.01 feet
- Moving Time: 00:24:35
- Calories: 492.9
- Location: Kingston New Hampshire
- Achievement Count: 0
- Strava Segments: 0
So as the swim was a time trial start, net time was going to be crucial. I expected Dan and I to be competing with each other. So, here’s how it broke down.
- Swim – Advantage Dave 1:15
- Bike – Advantage Dan 3:30 (Overall Advantage Dan 1:15)
- Run – Advantage Dan 0:14 (Dan wins 1:30ish)
So Dan won the age group on the bike (Kudos man. Job well done in the first race back). But, I was very, very happy with a respectable second, especially if I lost to my friend.
What I Learned
I didn’t expect to “learn” much from this short race as the whole race was over before I’d even be halfway through the bike leg in the half Ironman in two weeks. But, it was surprisingly beneficial.
First, never, I repeat, never put the goggle gaskets on over top of a swim cap. They’ll leak.
Second, swimming into the sun is very difficult. I can swim fast, but really, really need to nail the sighting. I would have picked up at least 0:30-1:00.
Third, I need to get a power meter to stop the “holding back” on the bike.
Lastly, I nailed the fuel and nutrition in this race.