The St. Pete Mad Dog Triathlon Club holds an annual Triathlon as part of their fund raising and recruiting, held at Madeira Beach, Florida. As usual, the event was a hit - great expo, awesome weather and a beer truck and rock band waiting at the finish line. The Mad Dogs, one of the oldest and largest Tri Clubs in the country, really know how to throw a Tri, with plenty of volunteers and great post-race food and activities. They forgo the finisher's medal - if it's because of the party budget, then I'm all for NOT getting hardware just for finishing the race. Five of us friends met to race in this event, from left to right we have Excel Man aka Curt, Lukey Luke, Rob (a friggin fish), the Bigun, and Lil Clyde, aka Jeff from Michigan.
The course is a ocean .5 miles swim that is set up perfectly for novice Triathletes, like my buddy Jeff - Lil Clyde - who came down from Detroit to race with us this weekend. The buoy turns from the beach start are just a couple of strokes out, then it's 8x100 yard buoy lengths along the beach to the final turn with a short 100 yd tops swim to the beach. You could easily stand at any point along the way, and the water was calm and crystal clear.
The Clydesdale start was one of the easiest in the history of triathlon - I seeded my self in the back and let the wake of 55 Clydesdales drag me out to the first buoy. I turned down the shore and started swimming, and 16:35 later, behind 21 other Clydes over 40 (and 11 Clydes under 40 yrs old), I was running to T1. My 1:53 per 100 yd swim is not a PR, except that it was without a wetsuit, so for that distance, and no pickle suit, it was my best effort. Still hard to fathom that I got out of the water 32 places back, considering that I felt really good and really fast today. Oh well, back to the pool for me! And, of course, Luke and Excel Man (Excel Man shown to the left battling it out at the run finish with a 17 year old girl...) both stomped me on the swim, my only real chance of being competitive with their skinny behinds, Luke beating me by 5 seconds, and Curt grabbing the swim split nod by an impressive 30 seconds.
The Bike Course is a gently rolling, mostly up hill (Ha!) 15 mile ride that took the inside of two to three lanes for most of the course. There were police at all the major intersections, and I felt safe for the entire event. I did see motorcycle umpires out on the course - hard to believe they only got 4 folks drafting out there, but it's probably harder for the refs to see the violations than for the athletes to see them. In a race with so many new folks in it, I'm not surprised by the number of folks I saw drafting and blocking.
I had a painfully slow T1 - but I did take time out that I usually don't to throw on a shirt - I don't like swimming with one on, but I don't like racing topless. My goal was to finally break 22 mph for the bike - and I came close, finishing the 15 miles in 41:12 for an average speed of 21.84mph. This tied me for 4th best Clyde bike split over 40, and only 2 younger clydes were faster. I even managed to tie my racing buddy Luke (who is 37 and weighs about a buck-70), and open up a can of woop-ass on Excel Man by beating him by 7 HUGE seconds! So I had a race day bike PR, and stomped on Curt really hard (whom I still owe dinner for kicking my butt at St. Anthony's, by the way).
I was back in form for T2 and got through it quickly amidst the sounds of cowbells and loud cheering from our support crew (that's part of the crew to the left - Diana, me, Jeff's wife Carrie, and Lil Clyde). Even Jetpack was there snapping away with his high-speed camera and reminding me to take short strides to get my legs back. The run course is an out and back 1.55 miles for a 5k total, with the first half on the street, and the second out on the beach. I finally managed to reel in Rob (coming out of the water to the left, Photo Credit Diana), a phenomenal swimmer/Clydesdale friend who had the #1 Clydesdale swim split of the day at 12:22 (congratulations, Rob on that - your 1:22 pace per 100 yds is the stuff of Clydesdale legends...). I had tried to catch him on the bike, and watched him from about 200 yards away as he dismounted from his 20.06 mph average bike split - so instead I had to reel him in on the run.
The entire run split, all I could think about was Excel Man running me down and passing me with a 5 minute head start. That thought haunted me for 26:57, and fortunately I came in ahead of him. I actually ran down a few Clydes with my 8:41 pace (I didn't get this guy though, on the right...)- coming across the timing mat, through 200 yards of deep sand, in 12th place and a total time of 1:28:03. That was just 3:15 out of 5th place - the medal group, but I have to say, I don't think I left anything out there on the course today.
Cool thing about this race - last year I did the swim in 18:40, taking 2:05 off with this year's effort. I did the bike at a pace of 20.35 mph, an increase of 1.5 mph, and the run sped up this year by 25 seconds per mile. Last year Luke beat me by 6:52 - this year, only by 3:38 - watch out, Lukey Luke, the Bigun's a coming (he doesn't look too worried to the left)!
Excuses? Sure! Lil Clyde being in town over the weekend meant lots of food and beer on Thursday and Friday, and a really late night before bed on Saturday (plus a day at the beach, in the sun!) - but the whole point of the Mad Beach Sprint is to have some fun...this year a race seemed to get in the way of drinking a lot of beer.
Lil Clyde did his first ever triathlon today - hooray for Lil Clyde! He beat 18 Clydes with his 1:40:30 time, with a 2:17 pace on the swim, 19.1 mph average bike split, and an 8:53 run pace! Awesome job today - we hope he races again with us soon...and maybe even train this time!