Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gull Lake Triathlon Sprint Race Report




It has been a little time since I raced this race, mainly because I was on vacation (I'll recap that in a separate post) but I have photos this time and early because of the race director securing the rights to the photos, so I got a ton of them. So awesome possum! Let's get the meat and potatoes of this race report, shall we?

Well the interesting part of this race was the fact that it was going to be in my home state of Michigan and that we had to travel 14 hours to get there (good thing it was a vacation). First thing about Michigan is: it is A LOT cooler than North Carolina, and with a lot less humidity to boot! I really dig that! But on the flipside, the water temps are equally cold, so I am glad I brought my wetsuit with me!


My pre-race was fun, I got to the site and after setting up my transition, I walked around to re-orient myself with the site of my first ever triathlon, 18 years ago. It all looked like it did, way back when (it was a oly distance back then) and I even found the tree that I fell asleep under during the awards ceremony, only to get woken up and told I took 2nd in my AG (19 and under, yikes!). But the good memories flooded over me, but I needed to get down to getting ready, so I took the bike out for a quick ride to warm up and get the gearing I wanted right, then headed down to the lake to test the water. To say “BRRRR” was an understatement, but after watching two very fit women jump in to the water in bikinis, I still wasn’t warm enough, so I headed up to put on the wetsuit (the water was a brisk, wetsuit legal temp of 65 on race time, brrr, and yes, I am a wussy after living in the south for so long!). So I hopped into my wetsuit, went back to the water and swam about 200 meters to warm up and get ready.

While I was cleaning my goggles, I watched them put the buoys out and as they were boating out to the first turn, someone on shore with a megaphone was directing the boat to drop the buoy, he kept yelling “Drop it” and after a bit the boat finally dropped the buoy, as most of the folks I talked to after the race mentioned the course was a bit long. Well the waves were broken down into three waves, separated by 3 minutes each, with the first wave of 39 and under and elites, 40 and overs, and finally women. At least I wasn’t the only one in a wetsuit in the water.

Well the wave went off and I started a bit slower than normal to help combat my last “panic attack”, which didn’t even happen this time around, so I settled into a good pace and stayed out of everyone’s way. I could tell that it was a longer course, because when I reached the first buoy, I felt like it was about 300 meters, and that it wasn’t even the longest leg. So I motored my way as best I could and after I rounded the last buoy, I picked up the pace and dragged my tired butt onto shore, man I gotta start swimming more, or start doing duathlons instead! But after exiting the water, there was a short 150 meter run up to the transition area, so my time looks longer than it was, but still, wow I suck!

Swim time for 500 (ish) meters: 15:07 (55th overall, 10th AG)

Well, now I was back on dry land and ready to track down those swimmers, but first, I had to get my wetsuit off. My wetsuit is a DeSoto T1 two piece, and the bottoms are easy to get out of as compared to the top, but I managed to get the top off quickly, then the bottoms and turn my transition area in to the typical “yard sale” (I do keep it better and more neat than most folks), and got my cycling gear on. This time I went without socks even though I planned to have my shoes attached to the bike, I wasn’t ready for that quite yet. Got shoes, glasses, and helmet on, grabbed the bike and sailed out of transition in a rather quick (for me) 1:11, passing a few while running just before the mount line.


Once I got settled on my bike, I had to contend with a few folks who didn’t feel the need to heed USAT rules or common courtesy by ridding on the yellow line, which I suspect is because they wanted to ride the smoothest part of the road (all the potholes were marked and outlined), so not wanting to pass over the yellow (serious safety hazard), so I passed the offenders on the right while mentioning that they should stay right and not block. Man, it seems at least once a race someone does something to rile me up, and it is usually on the bike. But I put that behind me and made one of the only turns on the course and lo and behold, it seems the county road commission decided to chip seal the road before the race with little grey pebbles. Awesome! At least it was a few days old and there were grooves on the pavement near the right hand side that was smooth and it only lasted about a mile, so it could have been worse.

I continued to click off the miles and catch people who swim faster than me, and as the heat crept up during the ride, I felt fresh and good still as I cranked it near 22 mph, while those poor northerners seemed to be bothered by the heat. Mind you, it only got to about 83-84 that day, but that was a heat wave for them, while I got to “enjoy” temps in the 90s since sometime around April! Guess that makes up for the cold lake water! But I continued to pass folks as I got moving on the 10.2 mile course and before long, I was fast approaching the T2 and the dismount line. So I did my controlled crash flying dismount and ran my bike into T2 like a blur.

Bike time was 28:29, good for an average of 21.1 mph, which seemed faster (11th overall and 1st in my AG :) )

As I ran into T2, the person who was behind my rack had left a bigger mess than I did, so I racked my bike and kicked their stuff closer to their gear bag (which could fit a small family inside) and took off my cycle shoes, put on the socks (soon I will go sockless), slid the shoes on and grabbed my race number and headed out of T2 in 57 seconds, again, not bad for me, still needs to be faster thou…


I have gotten pretty good at multitasking while running, since I put on my garmin, reset the bike, change it to run and hit start without losing too much time is kinda funny. I tried the multisport part, where you hit lap each time and it changes it to the next event, but I like knowing my running pace and distance, so outside of getting a bike computer (I hope!), guess I will keep this up. I settled into a good pace and finally found someone to run with / pace off of. We passed a few folks and I stayed right in his blind spot, but after about a mile or so, he started to yap and yap and yap, about everything and anything. Mainly it was about lack of water on the run course, I mean really?! It’s a freaking 5k for god’s sake! I am sure that your bike had a water bottle on it! As we reached the turn around, he kept talking to anyone who would listen and one of the spectators told him to be quiet, because he was generating more heat by talking and if he was too hot, slow down. I turned while running and gave her a big smile and a double thumbs up and decided to test this guys to see if he was really cooked, so I took it up a notch and breezed past him, and started to roll on the power. After a minute or so, I looked back and he was gone, so I kept up the pace. I only had a few more guys that I could see, so I set my eyes on them and even towards the finish line unleashed a kick that I haven’t seen in many years, and best of all, didn’t puke. Wow, maybe I need to run a bit faster earlier in the race, but I felt good, even like I still had stuff in the tank.


Run time was 22:01, good for 19th overall and 1st again in my AG. Wow, even with the mystery hip ailment and not running in a while, my running legs are still there. Kind of like the line in The Hangover that Stu says after Allen is knocked out by Mike Tyson, “Wow, the champs still got it”.


After I got rid of my timing chip, which seemed to like me, much to the dismay of the poor kid who had to take it off my sweaty leg, I walked around and got some water. I ended up running into a few folks who knew me, or my family, which was cool, and talked with Jason Sinke, who won our AG and we chatted for a long while. Again, it confirms that most triathletes are awesome people who are not stuck on themselves and make races a great “family” event. Good people.

I headed up to clean up my little natural disaster in the transition area, and I noticed a lady who was having a tough time racking her bike, so I ran over and gave her a hand. She was kind of small and thin and had a huge mountain bike, which was heavy, even for me (time to hit the weights again I guess), but I helped her out and got her headed out of T2. Come to find out, she is 74 years old (I hope I can motor like she does at that age) and this was her first tri. She had done many marathons before, but wanted to do a tri, so god bless her heart, she went out and did one! Awesome! I had a few folks thank me for helping her out, but I just told them, “this is what we do, triathletes help each other out.” So I think that was a good piece of good karma for me, if you keep track!

Unfortunately, I heard that the first 3 guys who were racing went off course and were complaining to the RD about poorly marked route and that they wanted their money back and things like that. I’ll tell you what, the course was properly marked, and just like in the USAT rules as well as common sense, it is the athlete’s responsibility to know the course. Period. I didn’t follow the guy in front of me, I followed the huge freakin’ arrows made of white tape. If you are too zoned out to not follow that, then you deserve it! Besides, I looked at the course maps online, and even google earthed the routes (yeah, I am a geek, but I am in the military and I always like to know the lay of the land!) so I know the area even without going over the route on foot. But it is a few knuckleheads who make waves. I hope that the RD didn’t cave to them, they were in the wrong on this one!


Ok, soup box time is over! Alright, I ended up finishing 2nd in my AG and 23rd overall in a time of 1:07:46, so not bad, just need to work on the swim. But overall the race was good, I had a great time and brought back many memories to my first ever race. A big tip of the hat to Dan Kalaward the race director, there are a few minor things to fix, but overall, this is a race that I would put on my “must do” list, mainly because I like the venue. So, all in all, a great race given my condition, hope that this MRI comes back and gives me an idea what is up with my neck and hip and I get well for the 2nd half of the tri season. I still have some work to do to get better!

Sorry this is so late, but again, I’ve been on vacation! Take care all!

1 comment:

Ken said...

Congrats on your finish. Nothing like racing at home. I hope your MRI is positive and you get to 100%.