Smithfield Sprint Triathlon

Monday, March 29, 2010

Since I didn't get around to writing a race weekend preview before I left for the weekend, I'll make this post sort of all encompassing including preview and race report.

I decided a few months ago to sign up for my first triathlon, it's something I've been wanting to do for awhile and finally decided it was time to man up and challenge myself with something new. I began "training" with a group called TriAdventure, who's goal was to help individuals of all fitness levels complete a Triathlon and introduce them to the sport. My interest in the group was solely the swimming aspect with a mission to improve my swimming abilities.

Throughout the 8 week course I attended only the swim practices on Wednesday night, since Friday evening swim practices conflicted with ACC cycling travel. I enjoyed the practices but often found myself exhausted from training for cycling and really wore myself down trying to do too much too fast.

As the race grew nearer, I was confident in my cycling (10 miles) and running abilities (5k) but nervous about the swim portion, having never successfully completed 300m without stopping for a break. I also only had one transition practice before the race, which is an area for improvement after seeing my times from this weekend.

A preview of the race is as follows:

It would begin with a 300m pool swim, each participant starting 15 seconds apart based on predicted swim time. The race began at 10:00AM sharp, I went in the pool at 11:27:00AM.


Following the swim a 10 mile bike ride on an open road course with a few small rolling hills and undulations:

Bike course.

Finally a 5K (3.1 mile) run leaving through downtown Smithfield which was setup as an out and back style run:

Notice where the course ends in this map and the Garmin map below of the actual run particularly the turn around.

Or that's how it was supposed to go...

My friend Andy let me borrow his aerobars and TT helmet for the weekend which either made me look really fast or look like a tool, either way though I was glad to use them.

The gear, minus my Oakley's which got back from warranty last Tuesday and my mom brought them.

My bike looking super fast with aerobars.

Michelle and I headed to Richmond Friday afternoon to stay at my aunt and uncles house, before traveling to Smithfield on Saturday. On the way we made a quick stop at Pop's Ice Cream Bar & Soda Shop where we enjoyed a delicious grilled cheese and milkshake, proper pre-race fuel of course!

Michelle got a bike so we brought it along and rode some on Saturday after the race.

Pop's special of the day, grilled cheese with red beans and coleslaw with a side of cheddar popcorn.

Saturday morning came early with my alarm going off at 5:15 for an early start to the ~2ish hr. drive, arriving early enough for a pre-drive of the bike course and to pickup my race packet. My grandmother and mom both came along for the day which was awesome to have family and Michelle there supporting me during the race. After I picked up my shirt and number I headed toward the transition area to snag a decent spot and layout all of my stuff.

(If you notice any discontinuities in my transition area it's because I changed my mind of where I had my stuff setup and moved it in the last 5 minutes before the area closed, put on my power meter and un-clipped my shoes.)


The first iteration of my transition area.

Towel was on the opposite side of handlebars so I moved it to the other side.

After my area was all set I headed over and got marked with my race number and age, which is pretty funny because you basically strip down to nothing while they write all over you in 40 degree weather. Then the waiting game began, about 2.5 hours of it, we decided to walk into town and get breakfast. I headed back early to put my PowerTap head unit on my bike which I had left in the car, and decided to change around my transition area while I was at it, after that I sat around in the warm gym for about an hour trying to relax.

Killing time in the gym, obviously a little excited!

Around 11:00 we were called to get in line for our swim start, more of the hurry up and wait business, while we all stood in line around the pool slowly crawling forward as swimmer after swimmer entered the pool at 15 second intervals.

Agonizing waiting to start.

A guy in the water counted you down telling you when to start.

first 25m, feeling strong still.

The swim portion didn't go very well...it was atrocious...I nearly drowned...lots of room for improvement right? I predicted a 6 minute swim assuming no break and swam freestyle the entire time, well I swam back stoke for about 75m of the swim and finished in 7:16.

Out of the pool fiddling with the Garmin which wasn't cooperating.

After the swim I quickly hustled over to my bike and began my transition, I had some trouble with the Garmin 310XT not starting my transitions when I hit the lap button on my watch, so I wound up not having times for them.

Rolled the socks, not sure I approve of the method or whether unrolled would be faster.

Look where she is now.

I put this picture in there because this lady in the purple shirt must have cost me 15 seconds, granted this is a friendly triathlon for athletes of all abilities but move out of the way, she literally walked the entire transition and right in the middle might I add. In the next picture you can see how far I made it before she even crossed the mount line.

Still hasn't moved much.

I replaced the battery in the PowerTap head unit the night before the race and didn't reconfigure it with my computer prior to the race, so I only had the Garmin data for power and the ride, but was pleased with how the ride went and finished with a time of 28:32, 35th overall for fastest bike split and fastest novice men's bike split. Complete Garmin data Here for the bike leg.

PowerData from the bike leg.

Satellite image of the bike course.

Returning from the bike.

My second transition was pretty quick except for the fact that I forgot my number belt and had to go back into the transition to get it adding time to my run since I had already crossed the timing line.

Switching over to running shoes.

This was my Oh Sh*t moment, where I turned around for my number.

Try 2, got my number this time.

The run hurt, period. The course was much longer than I expected and I forgot to hit my watch until .3 into the first mile. Once I reached the halfway point, which differs significantly than the race preview details I felt pretty good and picked up the pace on the way back. Total time for the run via timing chip was 23:01 including my dash back into the transition area for my number, placing 65th overall in the run. Garmin run details Here.


Mile splits for the run minus .3 miles that were included in my transition time.

Notice the extra distance down the street where the turn around occurred, what gives?

Striding out the finish line.

Complete first triathlon. Check!

I finished with a final time of 1:01:16, 1:16 past my goal of 1 hour, but none the less pretty decent for my first triathlon. The preliminary results had me at 75th of 538, but the final results posted online place me at 68th, not too shabby.

I entered as a Novice Men athlete and placed second in my category, received a fleece hat for my place.


I had a great time and really enjoyed the atmosphere of the race compared to cycling races which are much more high-strung. I went out for a fun time and an arbitrary goal time, almost made it had I not forgotten my number and nearly drowned. I'll be back for more, hopefully with a faster swim and longer distances!

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