This was my third year returning to Race-Mania. Last year, the event was rebranded to a more endurance specific expo. While I’d say this year there were a few running and cycling only exhibitors, it felt more triathlon focused again. The Northeast Multisport club fielded two teams this year. I was happy that I was able to participate in both the bike and swim team competition. Read on for more of my 2018 Race-Mania recap.
Running Race – 4 x 1600 Meter Relay
Unlike prior years, I was not participating in the 4 x 1600 relay. The last few months for me were rough going training wise as my dad passed away in the middle of March. While I was originally asked to participate in the run, bike, and swim (in that order), I declined to participate in the run. I was grateful that another Northeast teammate was able to take my slot. It was a good thing as my fitness had taken a significant slide given the past few months of travel. I really wanted to make sure I attended this year’s Race-Mania as I was rightfully in a bit of a training slump and was hoping hanging out with like-minded athletes would give me the motivation to get back into the training routine.
Still, I was able to get to the track just in time for the race to start and was able to cheer on the Northeast teammates. I also got there right in time for the group photo. Winning. The Boston University indoor track is beautiful and brings back fond memories of the years of indoor track I ran in high school.
After cheering on the teams, I decided it was probably a better idea to change into the bike gear at this location before getting to the main expo. There were far less people here. Turns out that wasn’t a bad idea as the rest room back at the main expo was packed when we got there.
Bike Race – Indoor Time Trial
I was scheduled to participate in the indoor time trial on my bike around 10:45. After walking over to the main expo hall from the track, it was time to grab my bike. The event organizers had a bike valet service which was an awesome and secure place I could park my bike while I was at the indoor track. The valet was run by the Wheelworks Multisport Team. It was quick and efficient to grab my bike and get ready for the indoor TT.
There was a staging rack to the side of participants currently racing in the heat before me. After parking the bike on the same kind of rack you’d find in transition at a triathlon, I got a good look at the course that was in front of me. It started at the top of a hill, rode down it, up a roller, down again, and finished at the top of a hill. Race organizers said there shouldn’t be any grade over 5%.
One thing I should have done a better job of was understand how much warmup we’d have before our heat at the time trial. Turns out we’d only get 10-15 minutes. At the recent Northeast Multisport Indoor Time Trial, I had almost an hour warmup. It really did take that long to fully get warm. Oh well, I’d roll with the punches. I wasn’t feeling super great given a decent amount of time away from the bike, but was nice to have other Northeast teammates in this heat. A woman named Stephanie (also from Northeast) was next to me. Before you knew it, the warmup was over and it was time to get started.
This indoor TT was setup as two groups of 8 CompuTrainers for a total of 16 people riding at once. As the race got started, I realized one of my fatal errors. There were only two fans. One for one group of 8 and one for the other group. Unfortunate for me, the fan was in the far corner and probably only was hitting 2 of the farthest right people. This was going to be a warm ride. The other thing I noticed was that the front wheel elevation block felt too low and my body felt like it was sliding forward off the nose of the saddle. By the end of the ride my arms would be sore from pushing myself up. I never was able to get comfortable as I was constantly pushing myself back on the seat.
After a brief countdown, it was time to race. My weight isn’t quite where I’d hoped it would be this time of year and the indoor TT’s make this fact well known. Knowing I didn’t have as much riding under my belt since the Northeast Indoor TT I was hoping just to hold current FTP as long as I could. As the course had you start at the top of the hill, you felt the resistance on the trainer release soon after starting. As I began heading down the simulated hill, I started realizing that there was a LOT of ANT+ interference in that small area which was causing a lot of data dropout. I had my heart rate, power, and speed sensors losing the connection to my head unit and watch.
You have to figure that each bike likely has at least a speed sensor and most also have heart rate straps. Others had power meters too. With 16 bikes in close proximity, I figure there was at least 30-50 devices all broadcasting their data. It causes the Garmin head units to get confused. This also happened at the Northeast Indoor TT. Considering I was planning on pacing with the power meter which was dropping out frequently (an issue I don’t ever have outdoors), I was looking at the power on the screen with all 8 of us. I tried to keep it as consistent as I could.
Anyway, getting back to the race. Around the halfway mark, I had sweat dripping down my arms and made my bars slippery as a result of no cooling. I did have a small hand towel with me and did what I could to try myself off. Coupled with the ever so slight downward position of the bike and a little more time away from the bike than I had preferred, my legs were pleading with me to slow down a bit. I backed off the gas a little bit, tried to get comfortable and reposition myself on the saddle. I fell behind a little on the second half, but pushed hard the last minute or two.
All in all, I was a little disappointed by how I felt, but was fully expecting performance to be where I ended up.
Swim Race – 4 x 200 Yard Relay
Soon after finishing up the bike I went back to the Northeast Multisport booth, ate a sandwich and drank the Thermos I brought with chocolate milk. Still, after all these years, I keep coming back to chocolate milk as recovery. While the indoor TT was only 19 minutes long, I wanted to replace some energy for the swim.
This is also the point in my story where I fess up and say that prior to this event, the last time I was in a pool was on December 29th. I’m sort of in this odd spot with swimming. The closest pool is about a half hour away. That makes every day I want to swim at least a 2 hour round trip. Excuses, for sure. But I’ve really got to get back in the pool.
After registering our team with the three other teammates, we finished watching the heat in front of us before getting in a 200-300 yard warm up.
The BU aquatics center is beautiful. The middle of the pool has a bulkhead that is movable to allow the pool size to change. The race organizers had people counting your laps which is nice. We did get a nice joke out of it that the math is pretty difficult in a 4 x 200 relay. Each person swims 8 lengths or 4 laps. If you can count to 4, you should be all set.
After the warm up we got out of the pool and waited for start commands. I’d be swimming last for our team. As I got out of the pool my heart rate felt high. High like I had completed a hard set of intervals but wasn’t recovering. Obviously, the de-training I experienced and hard (enough) bike TT put me in this position. My arms also were sore from pushing myself up off the downward slope of the bike. The swim was going to be interesting. I was here for fun.
After each of my teammates finished their legs, it was my turn. I dove in off the blocks and felt like I had a very strong first 50. I felt great like my body was gliding right over the top of the water. Sweet! Looking back at the data, the first 50 yards was done in about 40 seconds. That was pretty close to where I had wanted to be. The second 50 I slowed down a bit as I was trying to get my breathing back under control. It was almost 7 seconds slower the second 50. Then just sheer lack of swim volume kicked in. I slowed way down. My whole body hurt and I just did what I could to finish. Ending time was 3:02, almost 20 seconds slower than last year. So this year I averaged a 1:30/100 yards. Somehow, my Garmin missed recording the last 25 yards but the overall time was a few seconds high as I started it before diving in to start my leg. This was a little bit of an eye opener as swimming usually comes naturally to me. I didn’t feel comfortable in the water this year. Time to get in the pool!
The major draw of this event for myself and many others is the expo. There are seminars, lots of vendors, teams & clubs, and special guests to talk to. This year, the main attraction was Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell. I wasn’t able to attend their session, but enjoyed meeting them a few years ago at the Ironman Timberman 70.3. Northeast Multisport had a booth right next to Peak Triathlon Coaching. There were some slick vendors and I wound up picking up a new hat from a group called Endurance Threads (thanks Chris for the tip).
The cool part about having the club booth was it was a great option for storing my bike after the indoor TT and a place to keep my bag of “stuff.” After the swim was over, I was hanging out and chatting with some Northeast club mates and a few attendees who wandered by the booth. Turns out I’d wind up sticking around the booth for a few hours spreading the good word. A few people stopped by and poked fun at why I had such an “ugly” rear tire on and not the pretty Flo wheels.
We had several people who stopped by who lived in the Boston area while others were from Maine. It was fun chatting with people about the club, how we include and welcome people of all abilities and goals, and don’t have mandatory race commitments. It’s a fun group of people who support each other and for me, just hanging out with the club on this day was enough to motivate and energize me to get back into training. I think the club will get some new members as a result of attendees stopping by.
It was interesting too how a few club members who I never met approached me as “you are the guy who writes these race reports.” Turns out quite a few people actually read these things. Kudos to one member who even remembered an interesting fact about one and asked me why I was pounding maple syrup in last year’s Kranc the Kanc.
What I Learned
No report would be complete without a section on what I learned.
- Chocolate milk still works wonders
- Consider putting the Garmin watch right down by the bottom bracket to try to avoid power meter dropouts
- 10 minutes is not enough warm up time for an all out bike effort
- Consider bringing a trainer and another block of wood next year. A better warm up and having the option to raise the front wheel more would go a long way.
- Swimming once every three months isn’t quite enough…go figure
- Despite feeling like trash, I was surprised by the residual fitness and how fast it has come back subsequent to this event
- Hanging out with lots of like minded athletes is a great way to get back into the mental state needed for training
- The team competition events are a lot of fun and are great for all abilities
- Northeast Multisport has some amazing people. Many people offered their condolences about my dad, shared their personal stories, and honestly, made me fall back in love with triathlon. I’m so grateful for this.