For me, the first race of the season carries the same anticipation and weight as the last. As I venture out of my dark dim basement, looking for this “sunshine” that so many once spoke of, this first race allows me to gauge my fitness level in the real world.
Like most of North America, this winter has been a mess. We here in New England were hammered by 4 nor’easters over 3 weeks in late Feb. and March, one of which also happened to morph into a bomb cyclone. Basically what that meant for us on the East Coast, was that we had snow, and sleet, and a shit ton of it at that. One of the not-so-fun effects of all that snow and junk laying waste to our racing grounds, is all the cracked pavement, potholes, and debris strewn about.
Early last Sunday morning I lined up with my fellow triathletes for the 2018 Wrentham Duathlon. Buzzing at the starting line, we listened to the National Anthem while mostly searching the park for a flag to face. The race director then jumped on his horn and jokingly asked who’d been outside riding recently? Not many hands went up. The area had just thawed from another glorious spring snowstorm a few days before. Jokes aside, the race director then proceeded to warn us of the dangers we might face on the road. Particularly how after the last storm hit, the town plowed away the snow and then seemingly decided to dump what remaining salt and sand they had left over from the winter season. Watch the corners. Also, he cautioned, watch out for the potholes and cracks in the road on the final descent and turn back into the park.
Finally the ‘horn/gun’ sounded and everyone blasted off down the road. No really, this group was fast and itching to go. I self seeded myself towards the back of the pack, allowing these speed ninjas the space to jostle their way to the front. Taking a moment to look down at my watch, I was shocked to find myself running a 7min mile. I shut that shit down quick. While this Dad bod and its limits may still be an enigma to me, I absolutely know I can’t sustain a 7min mile. I pulled back, settled into a comfortable pace and still found myself running faster than expected. Up and around, off we went.
Run 1 - 2.96 Miles
Time: 25:43 - Mile 1 8:24, Mile 2 8:37, Mile 3 9:05
The Crackerbarrel Fairgrounds in Wrentham, MA (not far off from Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots), hosted the transition area, tucked between some baseball stands, the main road, and a parking area. While the transition is perfectly situated next to you cars and the oh-so-holy port-o-potties, the path into the transition is about a 200ish yard run (or bike) across a unkempt soggy field.
During T1, I was not entirely worried about my time. I fueled up, geared up, and hopped on my new old 2011 Felt B12 tri-bike - which prior to this race I had only rode outside once; in a Tucson Target parking lot at the time I brought it. So as I clipped in without the security of my Kurt Kinetic trainer, I was nervous. Luckily the bike is a beaut and through spending time on it in the basement, I had found that sweet spot of mild comfort on top of a bike.
The single loop bike route through the towns of Wrentham, Franklin, and Norflok, covers just enough varied terrain to keep you amused. Bike support and water stations were not provided, so I brought my tire/tube kit and all the drinks to be drank.
The course rode as expected, hills for days the first half followed by descents and turns through the last half. While I pushed through climbing the hills, I was pretty reserved coming down off them. The roads were chewed up through many sections, and the parts that weren’t were covered with shadows from overhanging trees. The course was also open to traffic and with my Plymouth crash still fresh, even after 18+ months, I had no desire to eat it on my new old bike during this race. The bike felt great, my brakes worked even better.
Bike - 10.76 Miles
Elevation Gain: 528ft
Elevation Loss: 522ft
Average Speed: 16mph
Max Speed: 29.3mph
Coming up to the transition area across the field was pretty sketchy, but I made it across the mat without eating it trying to get my clips out in front of the DJ. Win.
I took my time as before, sucked a GU, laced up, and took off with a few people in my sights.
Feeling pretty worn while waiting for my GU to kick in, I didn’t even bother looking at my watch. I was tired, and again I didn’t feel like going home with a new injury. I picked a few people off, glanced down at my watch and was pleasantly surprised by my pace. The 2nd loop was a mile less than the first, and it was nice to be able to run past familiar scenery.
I coasted up to a guy who kept pace with me and we chatted about how chopped up the bike course was. He informed me how a distracted driver pulling onto the course from a shopping area almost smoked him. He asked if I wanted to push to the end. I glanced over my shoulder, and with no one behind us I asked his age group. Not being in the same group, I wished him luck and he sprinted off. Soon after the final bend came into view and I could clearly see the finish off in the distance. Pushing myself, I finished strong.
Run 2 - 1.94 Miles
Time: 16:47 - Mile 1 8:43, Mile 2 8:24
2018 Race Season – Race 1 – Done
The real highlight of the race came after it was all over, when I realized that for the first time ever I had placed. My time of 01:26:37 was good enough for 3rd Place in the Male 35-39 age group. That time also happened to beat my 2017 (01:30:28) time. Hooooray for progress. Go TUSA!!!