Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 Cedar Beach Triathlon - Expectations Take Backseat

After an 8th place finish here last year, I was hoping to crack the top and get in the groove before PPD Beach 2 Battleship in two weeks...With my build up to this event being more about finding fitness and some endurance after a summer of indulgence and no racing, this was as good a time as any to incorporate some speed and work it into the legs...


Mirror mirror on the wall...

AGAIN! Good old mother nature can sure make events more difficult and give event directors fits.
Events and event directors who deal well and adjust appropriately are few. 

The Cedar Beach Triathlon crew and volunteers did an exceptional job dealing with some rough water in windy conditions this past Sunday.
I was impressed with the event the Competitive Events Group put on last year in nearly the same conditions, it was time to try it again.

Sign-up/Price:  Easy sign-up. I was a lat sign-up and paid the premium price, but fair for a professionally run triathlon.
Pre-Event Communication:  Very good email communication from the event group with a detailed event guide delivered via email the week of the event.
Packet Pick-Up:  Simple and straight forward at the event site on race morning.
Goodie Bag:  Much less than last year's nice fabric backpack,this year was the Hammer Nutrition supplied plastic death bag. Disappointing that race directors still use or accept the plastic bags from sponsors. Very nice long-sleeve t-shirt. Assorted inserts.
Venue:  Nice. Fairly easy to find, good parking, ample room for transition, spectators and gorgeous sunrise over the water.
Course:  Nice course. With the swim shortened due to rough surf was a bummer. 
Pretty, hilly, somewhat technical and rough pavement in spots, two loop bike course. 
Run was two loops as well and mostly along a winding path and road with less views, flat and fast.
Course Markings & Volunteers:  Fair. The weather conditions presented a real challenge for any markings on the swim. A better start line/first kayak to go around this year and a few more sighting buoys than last. A good presence of lifeguards and water safety personnel. 
Transition 'in's & out's' were a little off with all bike & run entrances/exits on one side. 
Bike course markings pretty good, (could have been a few more signs in high speed/technical areas and paint on road highlighting dangerous and rough pavement/potholes) and a good number of volunteers/police stationed in the right places. I would have liked to see volunteers more vocal and assertive at intersections to feel safer when going through fast/technical intersections. 
The run course had good markings with two aid stations and easy to see mile markers. Good finish area and PA announcer.
Finisher Medals: Exact same as last year (the date on the fabric is the only change). Great quality. Better than most, but unfortunate that it did not change from last year.

Post Race Food:  Crappy. A few bananas, pastries and some type of stew in big vats. 
The offering last year was much better  (A well done catered affair from a local restaurant, very good food and plenty of options). 
Medical:  I saw a number of medical volunteers and the med tent. Since I had no need for it I assume it was adequate.
Race Photos: Not available yet... 
Post- Event Communication: Nothing as of this first post...A missed opportunity.
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. Does not impact my willingness to the event again, but misses the opportunity to capture registration while people are still in the 'after glow' of this year's event.

OVERALL: I give this a race an excellent mark and I look forward to doing it again when mother nature cooperates (or doesn't...sometimes fun to battle the elements...but a full swim would make this a better event).

Doing a four-week prep for the PPD Beach2Battleship half in Wilmington, North Carolina, this event fell two weeks out and gave me a good opportunity to throw in some speed training and sort out my transition/gear choices.

Race day came with clear skies, cool temperatures and some solid wind. Arriving at the race site the wind was whipping and the water in Long Island Sound was rough.

Checked in and gear in transition I retreated to the car for some respite from the howling wind and cold air. From what happened last year I anticipated a swim, but shortened again. I was correct, the wind and waves were too strong for the buoys to hold, the swim was shortened to 500 meters.  

I got ready and headed down the beach with the rest of the participants.

When our wave, the 3rd wave, was called up I was focused on just trying to get out through the crashing surf waves and around the kayaker as quick as possible. The horn sounded and I went all out. I turned at the kayaker and was in front with a couple of other guys; I tried to find some sort of stroke or way to battle the heavy surf, but found no rhythm and had difficult sighting the next buoy. I felt like I was in a very dirty, salty washing machine being tossed around, swallowing sea water by the mouthful. I started to feel some fatigue creeping into my shoulders and kick as I had done a hard 90 minute sprint masters session the morning prior.

Finally exiting the water, I had swallowed my fair share of salt water, completely disoriented with numb hands and feet. A quick run to transition into the stiff wind while stripping my wetsuit. A shaky transition, at best, and quickly out on to the bike.

Poor anticipation of what the cold water would do to my feet, I had my shoes already clipped into my pedals, again (note to self - read the previous year's race recap before the next year's race). I could not get the feel to slide my feet in easily with the numbness. After struggling with reaching down and getting my feet secured into the shoes I was set to pedal hard in pursuit of whomever exited the water before me. 

I remembered the bike course from last year and was able to anticipate and use my effort correctly through the opening hills. The course is somewhat technical and at the first hard 90 degree turn I felt softness in my front tire as it slid a bit through the turn. I sat up and bounced the front to find my front tire was losing air. I coasted/limped the bike until the tire was completely flat. Watching people race by, I knew my day was done as I don't carry a spare in a sprint race. I started walking it back toward the transition area (I had about 3 miles of walking my bike ahead and hoped a sag vehicle would arrive). 
Resigned to call it a day and get home, I was bummed that the race had gone this way, but focused on the half in North Carolina ahead. About 10 minutes into my walk, a support vehicle pulled up and, at first as cold as I was, I just wanted to throw my bike in the bike and get a ride in to my warm car, but I said to myself  'if I can get a change and ride the bike out and go hard on the run, I can chalk up a decent 'brick' training session'. I also thought about all those pros I've seen quit when a race was not going 'their way' and I didn't ant to be a quitter like that. Back on the bike, I tried to get my legs warmed up and back into a rhythm. I settled in and just rode hard. I was picking people off unconcerned with my position, I just wanted to go hard and get as much out of the effort as possible. 

Fast dismount into transition and ready to test the run legs. 

I started out at a good clip and hit the first mile marker feeling some fatigue and a real lack of speed training, but mostly feeling the salt water and fluids sloshing around in my stomach. I pushed hard not caring, just wanting to lay down a hard 'fast'effort. I felt like I was running hard, not as fast as I've gone in the past but doing a good job of getting all I could out of my body.

I hammered to the finish line, returned my timing chip,grabbed a water and kept jogging through the crowd back to my car. 

Getting changed into some warm dry clothes. I was proud of myself for not quitting and being able to tell my son that even though things did not go my way today, I fixed the problem, got back into the task at hand and gave it my all to finish.

Now a couple more tough sessions before a mini-taper into PPD that will be a test!


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