Rhode Warrior Race Report

Last Sunday I participated in the olympic distance Rhode Warrior Triathlon.   I did the foolish thing and woke up at o’dark thirty and left my house at 4:10 am in order to get to there nice and early.  I was a bit anxious about finding parking after seeing how crazy everything was at the Surftown race.  I opted to pay $15 and park across from the state beach lot.  (Side note, later in the day they where charging  $13… annoying)  I’m not sure how fast the lot filled up, but at 5:36 in the morning there were a handful of cars.  By the time I got my tires pumped and left there was a pretty steady stream of cars coming in.  The free parking option was to park up at Walmart and ride 4 miles to the start.

I live about an hour and a half from the race, so I didn’t make it to packet pickup ahead of time.   The largest shirt they had left was a mens medium.  This is a bit of a pet peeve for me since they asked my shirt size ahead of time and didn’t have a women’s Xl, or even a women’s L available.  I’ve never actually gotten a women’s shirt in the size I wanted from this organizer.    However, she did send out an email about doing a second order of shirts because a lot of people didn’t get one that fit.  I’m not going to bother since I have so many tee shirts anyway.

Other then the whole t-shirt thing packet pickup went quickly since there was no line that early in the morning.  A helpful volunteer helped me find my bike rack and I set up my area and chatted to some of the people around me and choked down half a PBJ.   I wondered around killing time and eventually lubed up and put my wetsuit on up to my waist.  According to my watch it was a 1 mile walk down the beach to the swim start.  It was around this time that I remembered I don’t actually like honey stinger waffles.

I swam out to the first buoy so I could check out where the next buoy was and do some visualizing.   Then I noticed I was drifting backwards.  The packet pickup said that the director would check out conditions race morning and set the course to swim with the current.  I’m not sure if she just checked out which way the finish bouy was pulling, or if the currents changed, but it was definitely against the current.   The bouy’s were being pulled by the wind, which would have given you the wrong idea about what the water was doing.   I hope that if this was the case she’ll take a better look at it next year.  If the currents changed then thats just tough luck.  I know she probably took a lot of flack for the swim, but her races are constantly well run, and I don’t think the flack was really warranted.  If you want perfect conditions every time you race you should probably check out some sort of indoor sport.

The swim was parallel to shore, and the buoys were really close to shore. The half iron people started further down the beach ahead of the olympic folks.  There was a newbie wave for the half iron group that hadn’t made it past “our” buoy by the time the olympic men started.  Anyway i went out the first buoy pretty easy and after the turn I felt like I was really alone.  There were only 4 buoys on the olympic course, so they were pretty far apart. This meant siting was interesting and I seemed to be closer to shore then a lot of people.  I also prefer to breath to my right which meant I was looking on the beach and didn’t see anyone to my left.  The current was stronger in some spots then other and you really got the treadmill feeling a few times.  The little bit of a rip current pulled me back and forth in a few places too.   My garmin says I did a pretty crappy job of swimming in a straight line which didn’t really help me go any faster.   I spent a lot of the swim concentrating on taking nice long strokes and contemplating weather or not I would have been better off without my wetsuit.  I have a really strong kick (seriously I lap most of my masters group on kick sets despite not being a particularly fast swimmer) which really gets screwed up by my wetsuit.   I did do some breast stroke to see if it would work better in the nasty current, but it didn’t’ seem to help.  I was starting to feel hot by the time I finished.   You could really tell how much the current was messing with people because everyone was finishing way to the right of the finish.  Anyway, 57 minute swim.   I was expecting to be under 30 minutes.  That means I spent an extra 27 minutes in the water.   I went up to T1 where I took my sweet time getting the sand off my feet, downing a gel and getting my bike stuff on.   My splits got screwed up on my garmin and from the timing company, so no idea how long it actually took.

The bike ride was longer then a standard olympic, 30 miles with  around 1200 feet of climbing.  I had a really hard time getting comfortable on the bike.  There was never really a flat section, and my shoulders were angry from the extra long swim which made areo interesting.   It was mentally though for me.  I felt very alone on the course after the first couple of miles, and I suck at climbing.   The turns were marked with bright pink arrows followed by additional arrows after the turn.   I liked the arrows after the turns because I knew I didn’t’ screw anything up.  There were cops at the bigger intersections.   I had another gel at mile 15.   T2 was also pretty slow.  I really need to put transition practices back in my training plan.  I had a caffeinated gel and tucked another one in my jersey pocket.

I had a hard time with the first mile of the run.  I started having some GI cramping which led to a bunch of walk/running.  After the first mile I settled into my nice slow run and walked the water stops.  It was really humid out and I drank water at all the stops and was dumping it on my head.  I took some skittles at one of the stops, but never had my gel.  Somewhere around mile 4 I started to notice my knees hurting, mile 4.5 I started to walk running again.   I’m not sure why my knees started bothering me so much.  They never bothered me in training.   I must have looked pretty miserable when I crossed the line since the nice ladies asked me if I was OK.

The post race food offered a nice selection of sweet and salty snacks.  I went and sat in the ocean for a while to help my knees feel better.  Then I watched the awards ceremony.  The results seemed to be missing some age groups and people.   I’m not sure what happened with the timing company, but they got it sorted out and announced the missing people about 10 minutes later.   I thought about hanging out at the beach for a while, but opted to head home instead.
There where a lot of challenges for the race director in this race, but all in all I think she did a good job.   I did find it to be a very challenging race for me between the tough swim and the rolling bike course.    There were not a lot of people competing in the Olympic distance which added a whole new level to the mental game.

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