Saturday, August 3, 2013

Butler YMCA Triathlon Race Report

On July 13, 2013 my training partner Shannon and I headed north to Moraine State Park for the Butler YMCA Triathlon. This sprint-distance event has been held for 30 years! I am amazed people in western Pennsylvania have been doing this race since I was seven years old, since the San Diego Track Club claims to have hosted the first ever triathlon in September 1974.

I was eager for this race. I had made big strides in swimming and biking, including a half-mile open water swim and a 27 mile bike ride. A sprint distance triathlon is the perfect distance for me and this race offered a 400 yd swim, a 7 mile bike and a 3.1 run.

Saturday's weather was gorgeous, sunny and warm. We got there a little later than we hoped because the email directions left out one important turn off the exit but luckily Shannon was familiar with the area and got us to the race location.

This race does not use body markings and frankly that bothers me. I like to know if the woman in front of me is in my age group. But it also doesn't use race numbers, or at least it didn't this year, which eliminates one step from transition. I didn't mind that.

We had very little choice on the bike rack area because we arrived late but claimed spots next to each other basically right next to the bike exit, but very far away from the water exit and run exit. The transition area stretches along a paved road which means no muddy feet. The drawback there is that all the bike racks were on gravel and that was pretty uncomfortable on my bare feet.

Race time. I pulled on my short-sleeve/short-leg wetsuit and my red wave racing cap. The water felt great and I decided to enjoy myself. Race announcers used air horns to launch the first two waves and then I was face-first in the green water of Lake Arthur.

Swim

Somehow I finished the swim in 7:50. There were moments I did the breast stroke for sighting and believe it or not I passed people in the water. Pretty shocking. I was worried it would be rocky in the water but it wasn't too bad. I was happy with my time but focused on getting on my bike and out on the course. T1 took awhile, and since that race I've stopped wearing gloves on the bike. I did take the time to put on my HR monitor. I'm so clumsy getting on the bike but I've been practicing that, too.

Bike

This is western PA, so why was I surprised by the hills? Who knows, but I was. There were some decent hills on this course. 
My overall time for the bike was slower than I had hoped, but this was my first triathlon on my new bike (nicknamed Skedaddle) and there were some weird glitches. Somehow my bike computer sensor got twisted and was hitting another spoke or the fork the entire race. I was basically ticking loudly for 31 minutes. I passed other women riding hybrids who were walking up some hills. I cheered them on and remembered many of my difficult experiences in my first races last summer. I did drink and eat during the ride even though it was short. I know the point is to be prepped for the run, so I did it. This was also my first triathlon in clipless pedals and bike shoes and that part was fine. 

Run

Finally returned to the transition area and hopped off my bike. I had minor jelly legs so I sat to change to running shoes. I decided from now on I'm bringing a yoga mat for transition area. A few more chews and a big gulp of water and I was off down the long transition area to the run exit. Here's where I really passed people! When I exited the swim and finished the bike I was basically in 118th and 117th place. By the time I finished the run I was in 93rd place. My pace wasn't cruising fast, in fact it was about a minute slower than my races last summer. But I tried to remember I was training for an Olympic in about a month, and if I could maintain this pace for another 5K it would be perfect. I ran a 25:15 at 8:25 pace. 

Overall, my performance put me in 2nd for my age group. My time was 1:11, and of course as a Type-A Virgo I thought, 'Could I go under an hour next year?' The snacks after race were nice, the team putting on the race was friendly. The course was fun and challenging. I'd definitely do it again!

Note the gravel! 

2nd place 35-39!