Here it is – my last attempt to complete a full sprint triathlon for the year (remember, the first was a disaster and the second had the swim canceled). I guess the third time was the charm because I actually did it! I completed the Tri 4 the Chesapeake!
This was the second year for the race and the first time at this time of the year. It was held at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD. We were promised a nice swim, some challenging bike conditions, and a trail run and they certainly delivered!
Since this was such a small race (only 125 participants), everything was very low-key. I left my house around 5:30 for the hour drive to the race site to pick up my packet and get ready for an 8:00 start. Traffic and parking was a breeze. I walked my bike to the main building where I picket up my packet and then walked 15 minutes or so to transition. I saw my favorite sign along the way.
The transition area was by the visitors center. They were using T-Blocks instead of racks and that worked really well except I was on the end by the curb and I had a lot of trouble keeping my front wheel straight and not blocking my neighbor. The blocks were nice, though, and very easy to use.
There was bike support in transition and they helped quite a few racers before the start. There were real bathrooms inside the center as well as port-a-johns in transition. I leisurely set up and got my wetsuit halfway on and then listened to the race briefing at 7:45. After the briefing, we all made our way down to the water where there were two waves – men and then women (I told you it was small!). I was a bit concerned as to what to do with my glasses as transition was a bit of a walk from the water. One super sweet volunteer offered to hold them for me during the swim but I found a safe place to put them so she didn’t need to (but how nice was that??).
I had debated on the use of a wetsuit as the water was said to be 74 but, frankly, I could use what help I could get so I wore it. I’m glad I did because it felt colder than I thought. It was an in-water start so I had plenty of time to get acclimated before the horn blew. The swim was uneventful. There were no jelly fish or sea nettles and I had no problems. I didn’t really push hard as my top goal was to just finish the darn thing so I just took my time. The only two issues of note were that the buoys were pretty spread out so I was all over the place and there werenot a lot of kayaks or boats out. It was such a small group that I think they kept a pretty close eye on people but there weren’t a lot of rest options if someone needed it.
Before I knew it, I was out of the water and heading to T1. I stripped off my wetsuit as I
ran walked and was ready to go when I got into transition. The bike out was at the bottom of a little hill and I cannot clip in on an incline. I tried 3 times before I sucked it up and walked the bike to the top of the hill. After that, I had no problems. We were told that there were 3 speed bumps that we would cross twice (double loop course) and I was super nervous about that. I cleared the first one and felt a bit better, passed the second with no problem, and took the third just fine. I was starting to really get going when I noticed the group of racers ahead of me were stopped. Apparently, one of the access gates had closed and the guy manning it was having some problems getting it open again. We were just about to walk our bikes around the perimeter when it opened and we were on our way. I wasn’t doing this race for an PR but it was still annoying to have our momentum shut down like that. My next surprise was the hard right turn onto the shoulder of a busy road (I suck at hard turns) and then the rather large hill that was waiting for us. After that, I just had the stretch of potholed and badly paved road to navigate before I got to do it all over again! Luckily, the gate was open for the second loop and I successfully survived all of the obstacles.
The run was a nice 5K through the woods. I’m pretty used to trail running but there were many newbies so the race director had spray painted any big roots or other hazards white. It was pretty funny but very thoughtful. The trail was very nice and I liked it a lot. I only got into trouble once when I took a wrong turn and added a little extra loop around mile 2. The wrong turn was across a little bridge and up a steep hill and I guess the lure of that was just too much for me to resist 🙂 I was quickly turned back around by a group I had passed earlier. I was getting a bit tired so I tucked in behind one of the runners and just stayed with him until the last 1/2 mile. At that point, I told him I was going to go for it and did my best impersonation of a sprint finish.
I crossed the finish line in 1:52. Not fast but hey, I finished! I received a medal and went to look for snacks. Thankfully, there were real bathrooms inside the building at the finish line (the same one that held registration) because my face was covered with salt and my eyes were burning.
I hung out at the finish a bit and then made the walk back to transition to pack up, walk back to my car, and head for home.
Small race, well organized, fun venue, everyone was super friendly and helpful
The gate! Do something about that gate before next year!
The food at the finish was dry bagels and hot pudding cups. I would have killed for an orange or banana. It would also have been nice to have a canopy over the food so the water wouldn’t be warm and the pudding hot.
This was a fun race, once I got over the self-inflicted terror of the bike. I would do it again! If you race it, plan on having fun and closing out your season with an adventure – it is definitely not suited for PRs.