Tri-Mania. This is New England’s largest (and likely only) large-scale triathlon focused convention. This year, the convention was held at Boston University. Unfortunately, while I wanted to attend last year, it was held almost a month later and conflicted with baseball practice. I was pretty psyched to be able to attend this year. The event had great vendors, speakers, and even team competitions in swimming, biking, and running. Read on for more.
I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer for the team competition and was placed on the running and swimming team for Northeast Multisport (NEMS), Team White. There were three NEMS teams (white, orange, and blue) and one Peak Triathlon Coaching team.
Running Race – 4 x 1600 Meter Relay
The running team would need to compete in a 4 x 1600 meter relay and was the first event of the day at 9 am. The track was 200 meters so each person needed to complete 8 laps.
Before signing up for the team, we were asked to submit expected goal times. Based on my runs to date (usually averaging 8:15-8:30/mile) I submitted an expected time of 7:00. Upon arrival, my first NEMS orange gear was waiting…a nice cotton T-Shirt. Of course this wasn’t the ideal tech shirt, but I’ve been looking forward to “team Orange” gear for a year now.
After meeting several teammates and our specific Team White running partners, we had a quick warmup of a mile. My Garmin was spot on with the foot pod beeping at the pre-set 1 mile auto lap a few strides before the line where I started it a mile prior. After a brief break and a second shorter, but higher intensity warmup, it was time to make our way to the opposite side of the track to get ready for our heat. Millennium Running was there running time keeping, but the official time for the run (and the swim…more later) was done by a volunteer with a stop watch. This person was not only responsible for tracking your time, but more specifically, counting your laps. I’m not sure why Millennium wasn’t using the timers as official times, but perhaps they were trying some new technology. We had PVC pipes with timing chips taped to them. Of course we got our team photo at the track.
Soon, it was time to send off our first runner. He absolutely crushed his run. We had two women on our team in the middle who both ran solid splits. After the third runner handed to me, I was off and cruising around a 6:00/mile. For the next four minutes or so, I maintained a 6:00/mile plus or minus 5 seconds per mile. After four minutes on the track I started to feel the burning sensation in my legs. The air was super dry and brought back (cough) “fond” memories of high school indoor track. I heard “three to go” from my lap counter with three laps to go. Next lap around, I heard her say nothing. The lap after that I should have been on my last lap, but I heard “two to go” when I came around again…huh??? What? I know I was running on auto pilot at that point, but I was pretty sure she said two to go. Next time around which should have been my finish, I hear “last lap”. Damnit, she’s counted wrong and was going to make me do another lap.
At this point, my legs were fried and I had all I could do to finish that last lap…unfortunately rather slow as I planned for 8, not 9 laps. After catching my breath, I looked at my Garmin. 1.14 miles. Awesome. Remember I said the Garmin was spot on in warmup. Let’s do a little conversion. 200 meters in miles is…0.124 miles. So proof positive, I did an extra lap. Oh well, my average for the actual mile I did race was roughly 6:05. So I beat my estimate by almost a minute per mile.
Side note back to the electronic timing. I’m not sure why Millennium didn’t pick this up on their side. Oh well, it was just for fun anyway. The Peak Triathlon Coaching team won the event with an average pace of just over 5:00 per mile. Watching pros and semi-pros was incredible to watch.
After the run, several of us packed up and walked from the running track to the building the expo was in. We walked the floor and saw lots of ways to spend a substantial amount of money on things we “needed.” There were race wheels, saddles, electronic shifting, shoes, hats, clothing, coaching services, etc.
Peak Triathlon Coaching had a booth, so we all stopped by.
The event also drew some amazing speakers including Mike Reilly…the voice of Ironman. Yea, he’s the guy that shouts “You are an Ironman!” to each and every finisher at a 140.6 Ironman event. Such a humble guy who had some really cool stories to tell. He talked about how he learned how to use sign language to display his trademarked phrase to a deaf athlete. The guy is nothing short of amazing and has seen lots of triumph and heartbreak at the finish line of these events. He hung out at the track in the morning, expo floor, and had an awesome keynote presentation which I caught the tail end of.
Swim Race – 4 x 200 Yard Relay
Those who know me understand that swimming is a strength of mine. While the swim legs aren’t terribly long in my events, it is still fun to be reasonably fast. I hadn’t been swimming much this winter so had a few weeks of training specific for this distance. When I submitted my estimate to the team for times, I sent 3:10-3:20 total time. Our race was after the first two NEMS teams (orange and blue), but Peak Triathlon Coaching team was in our heat. The Peak team had two incredibly fast swimmers. One is a current pro and another was on the US National team.
I was the anchorman again. After a short warmup of a few hundred yards, we exited the pool. Each swimmer had the choice of diving off the blocks, the side of the pool, or starting in the water during the relay. The pool was a 25 yards long. This meant each swimmer had 8 lengths to swim. They setup the Daltronics pads on the walls. This wasn’t to track official time, but so fans and teams could see real-time feedback on time. Again, official time would be kept by a volunteer with a stop watch. The far side of the pool had volunteers with lap counters on poles they put under water.
After the three women took their turn racing their lengths, it was my turn. I was the only one on our team who dove off the blocks. My goal was to swim the first 50 fast with strong leg kicks and settle into a rhythm for the last 150. It takes me roughly 50 yards to get the heart rate up. First 50 was completed in 35 seconds. Holy crap, I was hauling ass. The last 50 hurt, but I finished in 2:40. Considering my 100 yard PR last year was 1:13, I was very, very surprised I completed the 200 yards with an average of 1:20/100. I know I got a little help from the dive into the pool, but that was only worth a few seconds.
1:20/100 isn’t even close to world class (especially considering those two pros I mentioned above went sub 1:00/100 pace. But for an age grouper who has only been doing triathlons for 2 years and had a very light winter swimming, I’ll take it!
When I got out of the pool, I saw we finished 6th in our heat out of at least 8 lanes. Yet, when I looked at the results later that night, we were DFL and appeared to have 3-4 minutes added to our overall time after the fact. What?! Another timing screw up? Geez. Still all for fun, but my advice to Tri-Mania for next year is fix the time keeping issue. It was interesting that after the race, at least two people commented on my stroke and how smooth and calm it was. Looking at the photos, I see room for improvement.
Back to Expo
After the swim was complete we went back up to the expo to cheer on the NEMS cyclists.
There were a few heats NEMS were in, but the basics of the competition was there were 16 people connected to a Computrainer system at one time. Pretty cool to watch. I didn’t get to participate in the Goodale’s Indoor Time Trial this year, but that’s the same concept. Might have to do that next year.
After Mike Reilly’s keynote was done, it was time to listen to NEMS’ fearless leader’s presentation on running cadence. I’ve talked to Colin enough to know how strongly he feels about the topic. I’ve tried in year’s past to get mine up, but always seemed to settle around 85 (170) cadence. I heard a Triathlete Training Podcast that while having a lot of things I didn’t care much about made some really convincing arguments. So I set out to work on cadence for several weeks. I focused on form and running dynamics and low and behold, with a little mental effort, I can consistently nail 90 (180). I feel better than I’ve ever felt running. Joints don’t hurt, feet don’t hurt, and I’m running with less effort than I’ve ever had. Believe in what this guy says. He even has data to back it up from his 2014 Ironman marathon at the world championships in Kona.
What I Learned
The swim and the run were short…shorter than anything I’ll see this season, but I can say I’ve learned a few things.
- Remember what you did in indoor track. Stay hydrated and put copious amounts of Chapstick on before the race
- On high banked tracks, run as low as possible and watch your footing
- Count your own damn laps
- Competition brings out speed…plain and simple
- Next year bring some more calories in between events and when you get food
- Bring more cash! Lots of great deals on parts, clothing, and accessories.
With that, thanks for reading!