Thursday, September 23, 2010

Skinnyman Tri Race Report - part 2

So I'm finally getting around to Part 2 - pre-race morning

I left off in part 1 leaving my car at my in-laws house in the village of Skaneateles. They live (well there house has sold, so "lived" will be more appropriate after the closing October 1st) only a few blocks from the park.

5:15 AM
So I unpacked the bike from the van and installed the front wheel, being careful to properly tighten the quick release so I wouldn't need to worry about it later. I had already pumped up the tires the night before and checked my repair kit to make sure I had 2 new tubes, a patch kit, tire levers, patch kit, and a new CO2 cartridge for my "pump." Once the bike was assembeled I grabbed my gear bag and my pre-race water bottle I had been sipping from since I got up that morning and headed down to the transition area.

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5:20 AM
As I approached the transition area I saw a couple of folks milling about, but not many.  I am a bit of a morning person, so I hoped arriving early would let me be relaxed about setting up my transition. I really didn't want to be stressed about my first tri. All the advice I had read and been given said show up as early as you are comfortable before the transition area opened so you can get a decent spot for your bike.

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5:30 AM
I'm a big guy and I really wanted a spot on the end of a row in the main isle through the transition area. Well, there were less than 20 competitors there when I arrived, so I got my wish! I didn't car about being so close to the bike exit, so I let the elite folks worry about being there. I chose a spot about half way through the swim to bike transition with my bike on the end of a row. The right side of the transition (facing the bike exit) was on a slope and I didn't care for that too much, so I picked the left. It was still pretty dark as you can see from the photo above, so I was really glad I had grabbed a headlamp (total afterthought, but I was sure glad I did and I'll use it again next time!)

5:45 AM
Since I had picked up my packet on Thursday evening at Syracuse Bicycles (the shop that was a sponsor of the event) I didn't need to go to the registration tent. I did, however, need to pick up my timing chip. I had never used a timing chip before so this was a new experience for me. I guess I fall outside the 90th percentile for the disposable straps they provide for the timing chip, I needed two to create a strap long enough to fit around my ankle. This surprised me, I know I'm a big guy, but I don't have "cankles" (calves that don't stop and reach down into my shoes.) But I guess skinny ankles is another triathlete physical trait I don't have! I had heard that people brought scissors in their transition bag, and now I understand why. The two straps together were WAY TOO LONG. That long excess strap annoyed me of and on the whole race. Scissors are now on my check list for the next Tri.

6:00 AM
People really started to arrive by this point, so I set out my shoes (bike and run), socks, and helmet. I remembered to continue to hydrate, loaded my race bottle on my bike (I had a third bottle for after the race as well) and put my gel packets in my Bento box. I laid my wetsuit (I borrowed a wetsuit from my friend Mark K. - Thanks again!) over my bike seat so it would be all set when it came time to suit up. I then went to find the porta-potties to get rid of the remnant of my coffee/hydration.

6:30 AM
I started seeing people I know entering the transition area to get their stuff set up. My friend Bob S. who is a pretty active triathlete and Brian A who has done the Skinnyman a number of times before were both encouraging, thanks again!

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6:45 AM
By this time I was thinking about getting my wetsuit on because things were getting a little hectic in the transition area. I needed to pee once more before I suited up, so I headed to the other row of porta-johns near the bike exit of the transition area. There was already a bit of a line so I queued up with Bob and Brian. The energy was pretty high and folks were obviously excited about the race.  I was trying to chill out and not let myself get anxious, that was pretty hard to do but I think I handled it well.  I went right back to my transition spot and sprayed on my Trislide, put one foot in a disposable plastic grocery bag (a tip from my older brother Henry Hidy, a much more experienced Tri and adventure racer, that worked great) and slipped one foot at a time into my wesuit. I invested in two pieces of tri specific clothing this summer. My first purchase was a pair of Craft triathlon shorts, which I liked ok but the pad left a little to be desired. My second purchase was a Louis Garneau Shark Triathlon Suit. I'm pretty tall and have a long torso for my height.  I wear exclusively bib shorts when I cycle so I should have known I wouldn't like my top riding up in back (or worse belly exposing front.) So the tri-shorts have been relegated to swim "jammers." The Louis Garneau suit has a nice fleece chamois pad, while not enough for my bike specific pad accustomed butt, was much nicer than the Craft shorts. The tri-suit fit easily beneath the wetsuit with no rolling and little adjustment needed. I had worn it once under my wetsuit in the past week to make sure there were no fit problems, thankfully I was able to reproduce this experience on race morning.

More pre-race photos to come.

7:00 AM
My wife was home sick with pneumonia and my daughter was also sick with a mild cold and wasn't prepared to come early with me.  So my sister, Lynn, was home visiting our mom and to attend the "Great New York State Fair." She had gone to the "Rush" concert on Thursday night and I hadn't expected her to come. But she decided that since my wife and daughter wouldn't be there, she would accompany our mother. I was excited to find them right before the start. Lynn was great and took a few photos before the start, in each transition, and after the finish.  Our dad had headed out to Lincoln Nebraska for the SCCA Solo National Championships (an auto racing event) earlier in the week so he couldn't be there either.  I also met up with Jordan and Chris B., friends from church who were racing as a team with another friend. Jordan swam, Chris rode and their friend ran. I had decided to swim with the "novice" group as it was my first Tri, and I didn't want to try to keep up with more experienced folks on the ride and burn myself out. Since the teams were placed in the novice group wave we would be swimming together. Jordan and I had similar time goals for the swim so we spent some time chatting before the start. Although I was able to swim a bit faster than Jordan but missed Chris as he exited the transition faster than me and didn't see them again until after the finish!

7:15 AM
There was supposed to be a "meeting" before the start, and there may have been, but I never heard anything they were saying. Being in the novice wave, we were staged at the end of the line of swimmers.  The north end of Skaneateles Lake has a rock retaining wall. There is a swimming area with stone stairs leading down to the water. The start to the swim was in the water, between two buoys.

7:30 AM
Each wave waded into the water, line up and started at 3 minute intervals. There were 5 waves, and with 3 minutes between them, that meant our novice wave would start 12 minutes after the first wave. The swim was 800 yards and the fastest time was just over 10 minutes. That meant we saw the leaders getting out of the water before we even started!  It was a bit hectic as the organizers hustled the novices down the stone stairs. They were quite slippery with a thin layer of algae on them so it was a little disconcerting to have them hustling us along!

7:40 AM
As predicted, we watched as the first swimmer exited the water soon after we made it down the ramp. So I swam a few yards to get some water in my wetsuit, made sure to get my swim cap and goggles just right.  I had volunteered as a kayaker last year and learned that competitors are allowed to swim inside the buoys marking the course except for the turn buoys. So I lined up to the right of the right hand start buoy so I could sight straight out to the big turn buoy about 300 or so yards out. I explained the rule to a couple of other novice competitors and they were thankful to know they didn't have to worry so much about going "off course."

7:42 AM
We were off!

More to come in Part 3 - the race!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Skinnyman Tri Race Report - part 1.

Well, I have not been very good about posting regularly. Nothing posted in July or August. It's now September 5th and I did finally decide on a race way back in early July. I ended up signing up for the "expensive" but local Skinnyman Sprint Tri in Skaneateles NY. I decided on this race for a number of reasons.

  1. I live 5 minutes from the start so I would have an easy time getting there on the morning of the race.
  2. I know the course. Well I knew the bike course very well as I have ridden it many times with friends. The swim is pretty straight forward from the north end on Skaneateles Lake, right in the village. The run on the other hand was changed fro previous years. Due to road construction on the previous run route, the run was completely moved. The new run was on roads I a familiar with, but I did not have the opportunity to run the route due to the short period of time before the race that the revised route was announced and my tapering before the race.
  3. My friends and family would easily be able to see me race, and I would also know many of the competitors as they would be friends, neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances from the area.
  4. The reality of the cost differences disappeared when considering transportation and lodging for races that were farther away.
I prepared pretty well for the race. Would have liked to have done more running but my knee severely limits the amount of training I could do.  My bicycling was my strongest area prior to my decision to compete, so
I did not focus heavily on bike training. Swimming is my second strongest event, so I worked pretty hard to develop my swim. I made a conscious decision to train only in open water. I think it paid off.

Thursday before the race:
I went and picked up my race packet at a bike shop in Syracuse. They were offering 15% off of accessories and nutrition products.  I needed to pick up a Bento box and some Gu. When I picked up my packet, they forgot to include my swim cap to indicate the wave I would be starting in.

Day before the race:
I decided to take the off of work on Friday. Mainly to ease my anxiety of getting my gear bag organized with clothing and nutrition and going over my bikes mechanics.  I also needed to pick up my swim cap. I also wanted to ensure that I got to bed early.  I was able to think through each step of  my race and organize my gear bag appropriately. Everything worked out nicely and I was able to get to bed early!

Morning of the race:
I had been given advice to eat breakfast at least 2 hours prior to the start (7:30am) but the transition area opened at 5:30.  So I was up by 4:00am, showered and dressed by 4:30. A leisurely coffee (1/4 caffeinated)  and breakfast of organic oatmeal. I had loaded up my bike in the van the night before, so all I had to load was my gear bag. I left my house shorty after 5am and arrived at my in-laws (they have a house in the village of Skaneateles) where I would be able to walk a few blocks to the park where the race would be starting.