Your first triathlon will always hold a special place in your heart. Somehow, we feel a special connection to the place we first cut our teeth in the sport. The first time we put Swim, Bike, Run together in a single event. For me, that was on Oak Island, NC at the Bridge to Pier Triathlon.
I had this event marked on my calendar this year, but through a series of random events had decided not to register. Then, the monday before the race, I get an email telling me this was going to be the final year for the event. “I have got to do this” I told my wife. So… We did. I signed up at 7:30am on thursday, 30 minutes before online registration closed. At 4:30am Saturday, with the car loaded down with food and toys for the family (oh… and my triathlon stuff too lol) we started the 2+ hour drive to the race.
We got a nice view of the sunrise over the lovely North Carolina farmland. I ran over an opossum trying to cross the road. We made 2 potty breaks… 1 along the side of the road, and our 2 year old didn’t go back to sleep at all in the car. But we got there with plenty of time for the family to change out of their PJ’s and for me to pick up my race packet and set up in transition.
I figured out pretty quickly why this was the last year of the race. less than 100 people were in transition. A big thanks to Jones Racing Company for not canceling the race. I hope they didn’t lose money on it. On the flip side, my whole rack in Transition was first timers. Something I love about the sport and this race in particular. I shared some encouragement and got all my stuff in order. They announce that the official water temp was 76 degrees… Wetsuit legal! This would be my first race with a wetsuit, and only my 2nd swim in one!
Swim- 1/3 mile 12:16
The swim was rather choppy. Being in the ocean I had expected as much, but it seemed a little more so than usual. I was in the first wave with about 12 or 14 other guys. Going out to the buoy was rough! Once I made the tun I couldn’t see the sight buoy over the waves, and it didn’t help that our swim caps were red and the sight buoy was orange! I had to strategically time my sighting so I was at the top of a wave to get a good sight on the buoy. As is normal for me, I couldn’t swim straight and had to swim most of the course alone. I made decent time though, and I even think the course was marked a little long. My time 3 years ago for my first tri ever I did was 10 minutes. I know I’m a better swimmer now, so that would be why my swim was over 2 minutes slower.
The other obstacle was the rocks right along the edge of the water. I got out way off the mark from the flags they put down, so the rocks hadn’t been cleared. I still ran as much as I could to get to the timing mat up the road about 100 yards or so.
Another 50 yards from the timing mat and I was in Transition. It’s a little weird that they put the mat for Swim end and run start so far outside of transition. That would explain the long T1. I was very pleased with how fast I got my wetsuit off. For my first wetsuit race, I was thrilled actually!
Bike- 16.25 miles- 43:13
cycling has always been my strength! since I’m in the middle of building towards the Half-Iron distance, I didn’t quite have the short course speed I wanted, but I rode at about 95% of my FTP as much as I could. That high-end sustained power just wasn’t there. Still, I biked down about 3 guys in front of me and was the 5th guy off the bike. (Once you count the other waves, I was the 6th fastest bike split of the day). I was thrilled with that again.
I had some tought mental issues at the start of the bike when my power wouldn’t come up, but I eventually got it there and by the time we crossed the bridge again I had passed the only guy I knew would be competitive in my age group. I knew he was a decent swimmer and a poor biker, so I planned to catch up and put as much time as I could into him on the bike. I got about 2 minutes on him, but I also knew I couldn’t match his run.
Not much to say about my transition. Again, this is pretty slow for me for a T2 time since the run start timing mat was a good 50 yards up the road.
Like I said, I didn’t have the short course speed. and I hadn’t done a brick since my last race in late April. So my run suffered. I struggled to hold 8:00 and had horrible side stitches. A mile in a started to feel better, and 1.5 miles in I got passed by the guy in my age group. Right before that, as I saw the guys up the road and started to feel better I had a thought of running them down, but that all faded. I did my best and held on for 9th place overall! I’ll take a top 10 when I can get it!
I love this race. It may be because it is the place of my first race, but they just do sch a great job making it family friendly and encouraging first timers. I thought my 4:30am wake up and 48 hour prep time was spontaneous (I am not spontaneous at all!) but there was a guy there who woke up at 2am and decided to race and made the drive from even further than me that morning for his first triathlon ever! They really went out of their way to encourage him. It was awesome!
Some takeaways for me personally is- Run more! I know your bike pacing is key to a good run, but I really havn’t pout the speed work in that I need, even for a 13.1. Also, my open water swims need help. I should put more time into that.
A big thanks to Trisports for keeping my kitted and equipped. I also felt great in my Brooks shoes and a HotShot before the race kept me cramp free even with red-lining the whole race! Of course, Honey Stinger filed me race from start to finish.
Next on the schedule is hopefully an olympic sometime in August and then it’s off to the OBX tri for the Half-Iron Distance!
What’s your next race?