Inaugural T-Rex Triathlon

Last night was the first-ever T-Rex Triathlon, put on by Running Fit. All in all, it was a great race, with a great turnout.

The Distances

Swim 800yds; Bike 12mi; Run 3.1mi

I left work too late to get there on time, and in a vain attempt to skirt US-23N rush hour, we started off by taking some crazy backwoods way. Luckily, we missed one of the turns, and ended up at 23 & N. Territorial. We wisely jumped on the highway, despite fears of The Doctor™ running out of gas. Again, GoogleMaps screwed us on getting to Island Lake State Park (again!), so we had to pull a U-ey before pulling in and waiting in line at the Ranger station. “What are you doing, dude!?” I/we screamed at the Subaru ahead of us, with the car clock showing 6:24 (first wave was set to start at 6:30) as he exchanged first a credit card, then money, then a clipboard with the park ranger. We parked, ripped gear from the car, then went scrambling back as mental echoes of Joyce Donaldson emails “NO PHOTO ID YOU DONT RACE” lured us for wallets and purses.

Running across the road with bikes, bags and wetsuits slung over every carrying surface, the volunteers informed us: “Transition is closed… if you hurry up they might let you register.” We ran to the registration tent, in full view of the mass of green swimcaps on the beach, where the volunteers there recognized our plight immediately. “What’s your name?” She shouted. “Jonathan Woodard” I replied. As I began fishing in my bag for an ID, she said “No, I trust you, now go! Just don’t cross any mats!” “My chip is in here?” Indicating the envelope stapled to my race number. Affirmative. And we were off. Another volunteer held the fence out of our way as he inquired “Are you racing?” “In more ways than one…” piped the quick-witted Emilie.

We leaned our bikes against wooden stakes of dubious integrity along the edge of transition, and began the most furious transition setup in the history of racing, just as Wave 1 began high-stepping into the water amid cheers and the starting bell. Bike shoes: open. Running shoes: untied. Gu: with the running shoes. Swimcap: on. Goggles: on. Shred envelope, remove timing chip: wtf kind of timing chip is this? Who cares: on. Bike computer: no way. Waterbottle: crap. empty. oh well. Done: Wait! Race belt: number on. Whew. Sprint to the beach: “Don’t cross the mat!” Bound: Bound: Bound: Dive: Breath: Breath… whew.

I was hoping this wouldn’t be too long, as I hate reports with painful details of every Nuun tablet eaten or questionable drafting observed, and while I’ve failed at “not too long” already, I can still spare too much detail.

The Swim

While I’m not a fast swimmer, (really barely an average swimmer) starting “in the back” was an interesting phenomenon. Swimming among the breaststrokers and backstrokers, at one point while sighting, I spotted a woman actually facing backwards and treading water. Thoughts of “Did I screw up? Are these people warming up? What’s going on?” beget thoughts of “What did the Waves sign say? Something about 20-39? Was that ages or race numbers? I’m 84… hmmm. Lets just hope it was ages.”

The First Transition

Up the beach, and into transition, my (Emilie’s) bike was easy to spot — racking on the fence is actually pretty clutch. A sarcastic thought crossed my mind about Hunter Kemper’s “Transitions gone wrong” interview on NBC’s Olympic coverage site as I pulled my shoes on sandy feet. My helmet was still strapped to my bag, which I forgot about in the chaos before the race. Apparently Dave V. was screaming at me from the sidelines to hurry up during this.

The Bike

The course was great! Other than it being a little odd that the dismount line was in grass, necessitating a bit of off-roading, we were treated to nigh-on perfect roads with just the right amount of hillage. I kept to the aerobars as much as possible, and did some good passing. Managed to mostly avoid using the physical manifestations of fear, except for the 180° turnarounds and one blind corner through a tunnel. Apparently a lot of people cut part of the course by missing the second out-and back, but the blind-corner tunnel was on the second spur, so I know I wasn’t one of the culprits. Coming back in, I managed to get both shoes unstrapped, feet out, and jumped for the dismount. The grassy mount line was probably a positive factor in that.

The Second Transition

Bike down, helmet off. Tried to put shoes on, and found the Gu I’d left in one at the start. D’oh! Gu moves to jersey pocket, tied on my shoes; Reminded again of Hunter Kemper pointing out my abject failure as a triathlete for not owning yankz or their ilk. Yeah, okay, he’s probably right on that one. Forgot the visor, so didn’t get to shill for Jon. Ha! Probably did him a favor not wearing his logo for 8:17 minute miles.

The Run

The run was also on great paved State Park trails, but man did it feel long. For some reason (oh, say, failing to look at the map ahead of time) I was expecting a single out-and-back, so when I saw the first mile marker sign (facing the other way) I expected it to say “Mile 2.” Turns out it said “Mile 1,” and that sucked. As usual, I was passed by a bevy of other racers, and repeating to yourself “Heck yeah, I beat you on the bike, and YOU, and YOU” is only fulfilling so many times. Gotta work on that running pace. I choked back the tears of mediocrity with the usual hooting and hollering for fellow Tri Clubbers. (j/k, of course. Not about the hollering… just the tears.)

The Positives

Lots of great volunteers, fantastic course, dozens of fellow club members cheering and participating alike. Awesome turnout, and sweet prizes. Really professional looking transition area, and a lot of positivity from racers and a whole lot of first-timers getting off the couch. Rad!

The Negatives (or: My humble suggestions for next year)

Crappy timing chips… the strap design was weird, and I was afraid it would fall off the entire race. Also it cut up my leg. More cones and signs on the bike course, since (apparently) so many people cut part of it. More evenly placed aid stations on the run; 2.5 miles into a 5k is a little close to the finish line to be totally necessary (though I would have loved to have one half a mile previous!)

The Results

Overall AG Swim (rank) T1 Bike (rank) T2 Run (rank) Total
82 10 16:26 (143) :50 33:41 (60) 1:06 25:30 (123) 1:17:25.3

Full race results