Monday, August 19, 2013

Deep Pond Triathlon - Racing Injured

First things first. This event is one of the best produced and executed triathlons I've done. If you are looking for a quality sprint race on Long Island next summer, this one should be on the list.
"The devil is in the details." As I said above, I really enjoyed this RACE. From arrival on-site to crossing the finish line I give the event outstanding marks. As I have experienced in participating, marketing and executing all levels of participatory events, every consumer has different pressure, passion and pleasure points, and events must excel in all areas to leave an impression and deliver an exceptional consumer experience for all.

Sign-up/Price:  Easy sign-up. Price is a bit steep when considering all factors discussed below.
Pre-Event Communication:  No pre-event emails were received after registration confirmation. The event setup a Facebook Group page to communicate and for others to share information. A good idea but not all racers joined and is not a proactive push of information to all participants.
Packet Pick-Up:  I opted to pay an extra $10 to pick-up the morning of the race. A nice option as I was traveling a good distance to the venue and the early pick-up options were not convenient.
Goodie Bag:  Average. Nice fabric 'backpack' bag (good to see events getting away from plastic bags). Run of the mill 'tech t-shirt' (all mass produced event 'tech t-shirts' are basically over-sized polyester women's underwear). Assorted inserts.
Venue:  Excellent. Easy to get to, good parking and gorgeous.
Course:  Outstanding. Excellent swim water quality and layout. Flat, fast bike course with airport runway section to make it unique. Trail run course with great mix of double-wide trail and singletrack. Well placed aid stations with good volunteers. Beautiful run around pond through woods.
Course Markings & Volunteers:  Excellent. Swim buoy placement was great, not just one turnaround buoy, but a line of evenly spaces makers to turnaround. Lifeguards and water safety personnel were in abundance. Transition 'in's & out's' were fair and well marked. Bike course markings were clear and a good number of volunteers/police stationed in good places. The run course had excellent markings with hazardous roots and rocks painted and easy to see mile markers. Great finish chute with clock and PA announcer.
Finisher Medals: Good quality. Better than most.
Post Race Food:  This is where the event could use some improvement. There were some cut up bagels, popcorn, hot dogs and assorted energy bars; no beverages, no fruit and no protein options.
Medical:  This is something no one usually notices until they really need it, but since I had an injury and needed some ice post-race this was a glaring misstep. A bunch of volunteers manning the medical tent with one first aid kit and when asked for ice the response was: "All they gave us was this little first aid kit and one ice pack, there is no other ice here." I sure hope they were not faced with a medical emergency.
Race Photos: Most race directors hire this out and have no control over quality. The group contracted for this event was terrible. Go here to see:  Race Photos
Post- Event Communication: As of three days after the event, no communication from the event. It is nice to get a thanks/congratulations email in the days after an event. It is also a good marketing tool to promote your other events and offer an incentive to sign up for next year.

OVERALL: I give this a race an excellent mark because other than the lack of ice or helpfulness at the finish line medical tent the other areas do not matter that much to me. For a new triathlete, those who don't attend a lot of events, people wanting reassurance and a little hand holding communication from the race director, good photos and good post-event nutrition these details might overshadow the positives. I'll be back to this race next year and will look for other Competitive Events Group offerings to attend.

This has been a summer of rebuilding my fitness, reintroduction to the sport of triathlon and recovery. After a spring of clearing up some health/injury issues, I set out to build fitness and attempt to find the joy and passion for racing again. I signed up for the Tri-One-On sprint race on Father's Day as my first race in almost four years away from triathlon. That race went well and I started catching the bug for racing again.

After seeing an email about the Deep Pond Triathlon I kept it in mind as a possibility as the summer wore on. Coincidentally, a friend of mind brought it up one night as a race one of his buddies had convinced him to do and said I should join them.

I signed up and the next week suffered a serious bout of Achilles and Peroneal tendonitis (that's what I get for picking tennis up after 25 years). It was so bad after one night of tennis I could not walk. I continued to do a little cycling and swimming but no running.

As race day approached I doubted that I would be able to do the race and was 99% sure I was going to pull the plug as to not worsen the injury.

But, I could not rid myself of the desire to compete. I finally hatched the plan to race all out in the swim and bike and pull the plug in T2 or walk the run.

Race day was an EARLY morning - alarm at 3:00am to meet the guys and drive to the race site.

I had been to the Schiff Scout Camp in 2006 to compete in a mountain bike duathlon, but did not remember much and did not realize its beauty until the run course as it was dark before the race start.

Arriving at the race site, packet pick-up went smooth, easy transition set up and some friendly people chatting about racing.

We headed down to the water for the swim and the scene was something out of a movie. Fog rising from the water as the sun started to crest the horizon across the pond.
Photo credit: Tom Mcgibbins of 631 films
I waded into the water to find nice warm water and proceeded to warmup the shoulders and find a swim stroke.

We were in the third wave, all waves separated by three minutes. Quickly after the first wave went off, I found myself treading water about three people back from the start line. Mentally getting ready -  no watch, no heart rate monitor, no bike computer...JUST GO as hard and fast as my body would allow.

The gun sounded and off I went full sprint to the first buoy. I had to climb over a few people who clearly seeded themselves too close to the front, but one of the aspects of the triathlon start I enjoy. Passing the first buoy I took a quick glance around to gauge placement and if I could find some feet to draft off - Nothing. No One. Nada. I had gaped the field by about 10 yards and was off the front alone. Huh?!

Settling into a good rhythm I set my sights on the next buoy. The course set up was fantastic with buoy placement at great intervals with the turnaround marker down a straight line.

I quickly caught the wave that started in front of ours and easily navigated the traffic maintaining a good pace. The burn was creeping into my shoulders and my mind wandered a bit, cursing my lack of consistent swim training.

With the shore approaching I picked up the pace unsure if anyone had latched on to my feet and wanting to be first out of the water. Mission accomplished.

Gingerly making my way up a good hill from the water to the transition area, I was overtaken by some other competitors, but knew it was best to be gentle with the foot. I reached transition and miraculously got my wetsuit off without much trouble. Helmet on, grabbed my bike and again gingerly ran/limped out of transition.

After a slow process getting my feet in my shoes and tightened (rust shows up in the minor details), I began to put the gas on a hammer on the bike. Rapidly picking off other riders, I felt the lack of focused training and speed work seeping into my legs, but was dedicated to burning all my matches on the bike knowing I would shut it down on the run.

The bike course was well marshaled, had great markings and directional signage, and a killer fast section on an airport runway. Flat, fast and fun on the bike I could not help grinning ear to ear with enjoyment.

I hammered back to transition and dismounted very satisfied with my efforts and felling surprisingly fresh. I wanted to finish the race. I pulled on my running shoes and gimped out of transition on to the run course.

I had a tough time getting my head around not picking up the pace as I felt great and my legs were eager to go. I heard the footfalls of approaching runners and moved over to let them pass by knowing I just could not risk it, besides, the growing pain in my foot was a stark reminder of the injury.

The run course was a loop through the wooded campground on dirt trails, some wide jeep trails and some singletrack. The markings on roots and rock obstacles were amazing. Great volunteers and course directions made for an enjoyable and beautiful run.

Having guys overtake me and run off into the distance was tough on the psyche. I knew a solid run (like the one I put down at the June race) would put me in a solid finishing position, but today was not the day. I soldiered on with a smile, and few pained grunts, determined to enjoy the moment and be happy to finish.

Crossing the finish line I was happy to have persevered and eager to find some ice and get off my feet. Unfortunately, there was no ice to be found, the medical tent had one ice pack and I opted not to take it should there be someone in more need then I. I did jump on the massage table to have the masseuse workout my calf and Achilles.

Once transition was opened up to get back in I sat down got changed and got my foot back in a brace. I found my friends as they came out of the finish area and we shared our experiences and accolades for the course.

In the end, a good race performance on a great course and a well run event. I look forward to next summer and being healthy to do it all again.

Now for some rest and serious recovery. Maybe I can get healthy and find some form to get in one late Fall race...


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