The only thing better than racing… is a destination race!
For my last race of the season I decided to take a swing at the Outer Banks Triathlon. I grew up going to the Outer Banks every summer so this was the perfect opportunity to take my family along on a short vacation and get some racing in too!
First of all, the OBX tri is actually a weekend with 3 different distances across the two days. There is even an option to race twice with either the Half or olympic race on Saturday and then the Sprint on Sunday (If you are thinking about doing the sprint… you should check out my free 6 week training plan for it!). I briefly toyed with the idea of doing this, but let that pass from my mind about as quickly as it came. With how I felt Sunday morning, I’m glad I did. Kudos to those who were able to complete both races without killing themselves!
OBX Sporting events does a great job putting on these races (and the other races they do throughout the year). The swag was AWESOME, and everything was super organized!
We drove into town on thursday night and had a nice morning at the beach on Friday. Packet Pick-up and a pre-race meeting were on the docket for that afternoon/ evening. I timed it so I would grab my packet and catch the meeting all at once before dinner. The meeting was the usual USAT rules and course description which was all on the website. Standing around with a toddler and hearing repeat info wasn’t high on my “fun meter” so we scooted out
and went for a drive along the bike course.
We hit up a local place for dinner and it was packed! You could tell there were a lot of athletes in there. I’ve heard from years past that these races are a big boost for the local races so it was good to see so many people around. I’ve actually never seen that many people in that particular restaurant before sunset before!
The next morning we got to the race around 6:30 and parking was already mostly full. Thankfully we got a place close to transition and near the porta-potties! (That was quite the adventure for my wife and our potty-training toddler!) I got to my spot in transition and set up quickly because they were closing it at 7:15 for the Half distance start. The olympic didn’t start for another 45 minutes so I got a quick run warm up in and got out of there fast.
It was a really relaxing start since I got to watch all the half distance athletes start around 30 minutes before me. After they were off, they let us in the water to warm up with plenty of time before our wave start.
Swim- 1500m- 34:35
The swim took place in the sound near the NC Aquarium in Manteo. It was just barely warm enough to be non-wetsuit legal which made a few guy upset… but since I didn’t have a wetsuit, I was happy for an even playing field!
The course was a triangle, but they buoys were set up quite crooked. The point was way off from the start/exit so I’m sure that added to the distance. The water was also very shallow for the first 150-200m so when the gun went off a lot of the guys just waded out. I tried to swim around them but my goggles leaked so I stopped and ran with them while I fixed them before diving back in.
This is where the fun began. I can’t swim straight to save my life, so that made for an interesting swim. I know that I did more of a teardrop than a triangle and I’m sure I swam around one of the sighting buoys for the Half distance along the back edge. When we made the final turn back to shore we were swimming straight into the sun and we couldn’t see a thing. At one point a lifeguard blew his whistle and directed me back on course. Put all of this together and I swam 1920yds… That translates to 1755m… a bit further than the 1500m we were suppose to swim.
The transition took us on a long run from the water through the local airport and to the transition area. Once I got there it was a quick transition and out on the bike I went!
Bike- 24.5mi- 1:12:27
The bike can be summed up in one word… WIND! I was expecting wind since it is at the beach, but with Hurricane Julia sitting off the coast of South Carolina, the wind was a bit heavier than normal. Going out across the bridge was fun with a big tailwind, but once we made the turn up the coast it was a nasty crosswind. Turning back was even worse with a slight head/crosswind, and then crossing the bridge in the other direction was absolutely horrendous! I talked to another guy after the race and he said it was like a long 2.5 mile climb! And it really was.
The good news is that this played into my strength well and I passed many of the people who made it out of the water before me, and even a lot of the half competitors who started 20-30 minutes before I did. I came into T2 near the front of the race even with such a bad swim.
After slightly overshooting the “bike in” chute and having to backtrack a bit, I made a smooth transition and was out on the run. One race volunteer ran up to me as I was racking my bike and asked me which distance I was doing. He seemed confused and I’m still not sure what the big deal was. I just answered his question and kept moving.
Run- 6.2mi- 58:15
The run has been my undoing the last few races, and this was only slightly better. I was a bit more conservative on the bike this time and felt I had a bit more left in the tank. It was a nice run through the airport maintenance trails and off into some neighborhoods. About a mile in I got passed by one guy who was just a bit behind me on the bike. I didn’t have any cramps this time but the side-stitches got to me at the 1st aid station.
The run aid station volunteers were awesome and were right on top of things. I started counting the guys that passed me going the opposite direction and realized a top 10 wasn’t in the cards, but I knew and Age Group podium was still possible. I kept it strong the whole way and was able to overtake one guy about a half mile from the finish.
I finished with a time of 2:47:55, good for 17th Overall, 14th Male, and 3rd Age Group. The finish line was well
organized and had a few nice touches for the athletes. We got our finisher’s medal, they took the timing chip, and handed you a cold, wet towel, bottle of water, and gatorade! They really care about the athlete experience and it make all the difference!
This was a great race and a great way to end the season! OBX Sporting Events really puts on a good race and the atmosphere is wonderful. Add to that the fact that it’s at the beach and you can really start the off season right!
If you are thinking about doing this race, you need to check out my 6 Week Training Plan to get ready for it!