Monday, October 30, 2006

Suncoast Sprint Tri

Lesson 1 Learned: In very rough waters, it's best to pull swim cap over your ears. We started the morning with steady downpours as a cold-front was passing through. Those rains kept quite a few folks home Saturday morning for this race that had about 500 folks registered. Looks like about 375 actually competed - understandably, since the conditions were pretty tough. For the bulk of the competitors, the winds started as steady at 14 mph, gusting to 19, then as the front passed by, the winds picked up to a steady 21 mph, with gusts to 29.

Lesson 2 Learned: A gusty day is NOT a good time to try out your new wheel covers. Granted, at 245 lbs, it's going to take a heck of a gust to blow me off the road, cover or no cover, Hed Jet 90 front wheel or not. There were a few instances where I was afraid I was going to lose control, but it was more of a front end issue than the rear wheel covers. I had to bear down pretty hard on the bars to keep myself straight - but, I didn't crash, and more importantly I didn't cause anyone else any problems.

The Suncoast Tri is part of a series that is usually very well organized and a lot of fun. Even with the wind and rain, we managed to have a good time. Diana (my lovely bride) couldn't keep the camera steady enough to take a non-blurry picture, and she's pretty good with a camera, and it's too bad since I just got her a nice zoom for her birthday (sorry to fotojack for the cut and paste...).

Because the gulf was a torrent, the 1/3 mile swim was moved to the lagoon (which was just a little better...) and the distance shortened to about 1/4 mile. The water temp was about 75 degrees - wetsuit legal and there was plenty of rubber out there, but I did a little warmup and didn't really think it was cold enough for me to wear one. I should have paid better attention to the swim route - heck, Clydesdales were the last of 5 waves, as there was a pretty long and shallow sand bar at the end of the swim just inside of the buoy line. I was swimming amongst a big group of black caps and just knew I was having a decent swim until all of a sudden I noticed there were way fewer caps around. I looked forward and saw a bunch of people running in, but from water level it was hard to tell if they were out of the water or in. As I approached the last buoy, and since I normally swim a bit outside (to the left) of the line, I finally noticed that folks to my right were up and running! I changed my course and swam hard to the right - shoot, people were cutting inside of the last of the buoy to stay on the sand bar - well, that oversight on my part probably cost me a minute or so (based on where some of the other Clydes that I usually beat on the swim came in ahead of me) - but no biggie (see the folks behind me, they are not running in, they are running to the last bouy). The run to T1 was a hike - total T1 time was over 3 minutes but before I knew it I was out there in the wind on the bike.

Even with the control issues, the bike was a blast. It's an advertised 11 mile bike, but I'm consistently at 9.5 miles on the GPS for the course. On the "downwind" side I averaged over 25mph, but by the time I got done fighting that wind coming back, my average had slipped to an even 21mph. With a time of 27:08 there were only 30 other folks total that had a better bike split (23:53 was the best). The roads were newly paved, which made for a very comfortable ride - not really much faster, as the roads were not "slow" before, and since the place is about as flat as a pancake, the wind was the only excuse you could muster for a slow ride.

The run was typical for me - slow and steady. My 29:12 managed to get me a 5th place plaque for the day, and I know of at least 2 or 3 missing fast Clydesdales who usually race and around here and are consistently in the top 3 - but I'll still take my 5th and be happy about it. The GPS had the run at 3.18 miles, which put my average pace at 9:11 - a PR on a course that was out on pavement and back on the beach, into the wind.

The location is awesome, the after-race refreshments were great: pizza, subs, fruit and BBQ chicken sandwiches were among the many treats. The volunteers did a great job - they even had someone giving out water bottles at the finish line, which is a pet peeve of mine as a race requirement. The shirt design was cool and was nicely missing all of the advertisements on the back. They had an option for a cool-max version of the shirt which I opted out of not knowing about the neat new design. Would have been worth it. If you find yourself in Central Florida this time next year, or are thinking about racing in one of the races in this series, go ahead and treat yourself - Ft. Desoto is a great place for a sprint. Now if we could only convince him to organize an Olympic here...


S. Baboo said...

Congrats on taking the 5th spot and good luck in your upcomming 70.3!

I know what you mean about clydes always ending up in the last or nearly last wave. This next season some teammates and i are going to do the Duce Man in Show Low, AZ and in that race the first wave consists of Pros, Elites, Relay teams, Clydes and Athenas. It's going to be interesting taking off with that wave.

Here's a link just in case you ever work your way out here:

Tri-Dummy said...

Sweet wheelset. I'm jealous...I wish some of our local tri's would offer the coolmax shirts. Bad logo or not, I'd be all over it.

Great race report, brother.