Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Richmond Tri Club Sprint - Larry Bowers

Richmond Tri Club Sprint

(3rd Place AG, 1 hr 4 min 31 sec)

27 April 2013


Venue, setting, course, organization, support and post-race food were all excellent.  A class act across the board.  And it was very clean … no muddy transition area, no muddy T1 or T2 entry or exit points.  SetUp Events teamed up with the Richmond Tri Club and 3Sports to make this happen … and it was perfectly executed.  I was impressed.

Swim (400M open water pool, 6 min 53 sec)

A truly open water pool swim, is that possible?  That is what they posted on their web site and they were correct.  The Greater Richmond Aquatic Partnership (GRAP) is a state of the art multi-lane 50M, 8 lanes (or 25 M, 22 lanes) competition pool used by serious swim teams, clubs and athletes (and local schools and Universities).  It is a fast pool (elite swimmer speak) and it has spectator seating for 700.

The competition pool (there is an additional smaller 25M warm up pool also) was set up with turn buoys, and triathletes were staged in groups of 10 (based on swim ability and estimated 100M times) to depart every 30 seconds.  We circled the pool platform and were staged in taped off corrals.  I was number 155 out of about 500 swimmers and this meant I departed 7 min 30 seconds after the elite swimmers launched at 0800.  The entire process of moving all the triathletes into the pool was very quick and very efficient.  They promised it would be fast and it was.  However, my first strategic mistake was jumping into the pool and heading to the front of my 10 pack during the water treading 20 second period.  I should have stayed behind the first 4 or so swimmers in my pack and merely draft off them for the first 50 meters or so.  Lesson learned.  When we launched, it was nothing but body parts and elbows mashing for the first 50 meters.  None of us were giving ground and it was an all-out in the water fight.  I saw the same thing with the previous 10 packs before me so you would think I would have figured that out.  I thought that someone was going to inadvertently get a black eye or lose their goggles.  The first buoy was bodies on top of bodies for the 180 degree turn.  Lesson learn, dive when you can’t swim on top.  Assertive is the kind term that comes to mind, aggressive is probably the more accurate term.  No pushing off the wall or floor of this pool which was 8 feet deep.  After a few more laps, things finally started to thin out, alas.  On the last lap, I finally found my groove and started slicing past swimmers at a faster rate, just in time to get out of the pool.  No surprise there.  The clarity of the water was superb and other than the shortness of the swim (and 180 degree turns); it felt like a true open water swim due to the overall competition pool sized dimensions (LxWxD).  The Chuck, Jerry, and Todd (CJT) swim squad would have loved the pool course.  It was quite the class act all in all.  And by the way, unlike the pool swim in Smithfield, there were no swimmers walking on the pool bottom (to deep, 7.5 to 8 feet) or hanging on the side of the pool or ropes (not allowed).  BUT, I did see a few swimmers that were side stroking it and they appeared to be winded and about to sink.  I guess the lifeguard policy was not to bail out these few swimmers unless their heads went under.  In the meantime, they merely acted as road blocks and/or speed bumps for the rest of us.   Thankfully, I had to work my way around only 3 or 4 of them during my swim portion.  The CJT swim squad would have likely chopped them in half.

Bike (20KM, 33 min 35 sec with T1 of 1 min 40 sec)

I blasted out of T1 but certainly not at the sub 1 minute level that all the hot dogs tend to do.  After about one-half mile of up-hill riding away from the GRAP, the next few miles were down-hill.  As expected, this was the fast portion of the 12 mile ride and I quickly experienced a Jerry episode where I found it almost impossible to swig liquid from my aero bottle because I was so winded (anaerobic?) from such a high pace race.  Eventually, I did suck down my full bottle of HEED but I had to force it down by slowing down my breathing and it took me the full 33 minutes of the bike segment.  As for the downhill first few miles …I know my physics well and knew that the law of potential energy was gonna kick my butt.  Or in USAF speak it was time to trade some airspeed for altitude on the way back to the GRAP.  Or in triathlete speak it was time to pay the piper for that downhill portion.  Three right turns and you are back on the main road heading back to T2, this time all uphill.  All went well on the bike but I was still concerned that I felt winded after only riding a mere 12 miles when I am so used to a very different and much longer ride.  An Olympic or Half race will be my season wakeup call apparently.

Run (5KM, 20 min 41 sec with T2 of 1 min 44 sec)

This was a two lap course around the GRAP and surrounding athletic fields, and it had some hills.  Sometimes I like repeat courses, sometimes I don’t.  In this case, for a new course, I appreciated the repeat aspect because this helped me gauge how to complete/run the next loop.  The run felt fast but I was not able to break 20 minutes and was actually about 18 seconds slower than what I ran in Smithfield for the same 5KM distance 3 weeks ago.  Without having Jeff yelling at me and giving me vectors to the next turn, I just sucked apparently.  Oh well.

Post-Race Food

Let’s just say you should have been there.  Alas, quality food like they had a Smithfield this year and the Kinetic Half last year.  Anything catered in is always good and it is always better than cold boxes of highly saturated fatty pizzas.  Here is the menu for the post-race “breakfast”- scrambled eggs with cheese, sausage and potato hash with peppers, onions and herbs (vegan – no sausage), French toast with cinnamon apple topping (and real maple syrup), fresh fruit and even cocoa milk (which went real fast).  Hungry now?

Alyssa gets another Volunteer T-Shirt

Just like spring break in Daytona Beach, offer a free gift and the students will swarm you.  Alyssa (my daughter) is just like dad and has figured out how to get lots of free goodies by volunteering (and it’s fun of course).  She even brought a friend and they were tasked with body marking, cup refills and cutting off timing chips at the finish line (which was very fast paced).  And both of them came home with more than a cool T-shirt (cow bells, puzzle blocks, granola bags, etc.).


It was impossible to “not” be touched by a special children’s program they imbedded into the tri.  About 8 special needs children completed the entire tri with the help of a team (large team) of volunteers sponsored by a local charitable organization.  It started off 15 minutes before the official tri start at 0800.  Each child climbed into a small rubber dingy that was attached to some amazing swimmers.  The pool was lined with the triathletes who were all pre staged in their corrals.  Well, the swimmers pulled the dinghies the length of the pool and everyone went nuts (kids, triathletes and spectators in the viewing stands).  I thought they would complete a ceremonial one length pull but the first swimmer went around the first turn buoy and continued through the entire course.  So did all the other swimmers pulling their special guests.  This continued for about 13 minutes and the applause never died down.  I was exhausted just watching the swimmers pull a child laden dingy 400 meters.  Not until I was on my bike did I know that the children were also on bikes (actually being pulled in a bike cart behind a bike).  They were going to complete the entire course apparently.  As I passed each bike, a mile or so apart, the back of the bike cart had a bright pink sign with the name of the child and several volunteer bikers flanking the pulling bike.  Most of the kids were fast asleep by then, worn out from the pool excitement.  And then I get onto the run segment and see a different set of volunteers pushing kiddie buggies with the same children around the entire 2 loop run course.  Wow was my reaction to all of this.  The kids were an inspiration and so were the volunteers that swam, rode or ran with their precious cargo.  Another class act all the way.  Well done Richmond.

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