Sunday, August 12, 2012

Steelman Triathlon 2012 Race Report

First thing first, I peed all over myself during this race. Details below. Second, this was my first race as a member of the Timex Factory Team, and I had a personal best!

I convinced two of my friends, Tim and John, to give triathlon a try, and they signed up to participate in the Steelman Triathlon sprint distance. I signed up for the Olympic distance, which took placed on the same day.

Over the past 2 months, I met up with them a few times to go over race preparation. I took Tim out for a training ride & swim. Tim also inherited my old road bike.


Getting There, Course Preview, and Set Up

The Steelman Triathlon took place at Lake Nockamixon State Park in Quakertown, about 50 miles away from Center City Philadelphia. The bib pick-up was uneventful. There were a few vendors. We got our bib numbers and our goodie bags, and started to survey the course.

We checked out the swim start, and asked a volunteer for the swim end area. The volunteer turned out to be the race director Dale's son, and he knew everything about the race. We walked from the swim end to our assigned bike racks. It was a small race so it was not at all overwhelming. I was in Wave 1, and I had the very last bike rack, which was closest to the bike exit/entrance.


We walked from the bike exit to our car to preview the bike course. I had done this race a few times, and I remembered not being ready for the first hill immediately after existing the parking lot. We rode from the parking lot out to the Rt 563 where most of the biking course took place. The bike course was not very technical. It had a few good hills but no sharp turn during descent (except the very last turn into the parking lot).

Since we wanted to arrive by 5:30 am, we decided to overnight in Quakertown at the fabulous Holiday Inn Express. We brought our 3 bikes and all our bags into one hotel room and immediately left for dinner. We stumbled upon Jay's Plain and Fancy Diner and shared the dining room with a bunch of seniors enjoying their early bird specials. The meals were decent and the prices were low!

Once we got back to the fabulous Holiday Inn Express, we set up our bib numbers, re-packed our transition bags, reviewed the course maps again, and went to bed at 9:15 pm. We got up before our 4:15 am alarm, and went on the road before 4:30 am. Arrived at the main parking lot by 5 am. It was about half filled up already.

It was still dark and I wished I had a flash light to set up my transition area. This race did not have assigned spot within a rack so I was able to claim the end spot on the outside rack. I laid out all my gear beautifully, and got in the long line for portable potties.

At 6:30 am, I went for a swim warm-up. The water was nice but once I got out, I was freezing!


I positioned myself near the front, and it was a battle in the lake to get to the first bouy. Hands and feet were everywhere. Water temperature at 80F was nice. No wetsuit, but I didn't really miss it. I was calm. I focused on gliding and I felt that I was moving well. I did veer off course a little bit until I heard a voice from a volunteer on kayak telling me I was going to the wrong way! That was my only mistake during the swim portion.
Swim time = 31:16 for 1.5k (182/380 overall).

I was hoping to swim between 27-29 minutes. It's a little disappoint to go over 30 minutes but I was happy to be out of the water. My barefoot run to my transition area was strong. I found my bike right away. I decided to wear socks this time, and surprisingly it didn't take me long to put them on.
T1 = 2:35

Since I previewed the bike course and memorized the course, there were not a lot of surprises during the bike portion. I was in the first wave, so during the first loop, there were no slow cyclists for me to pass. I got passed quite often. The main loop was long, straight, and hilly so it was a good practice of gear-shifting and being in the aero position. I ate a pack of gel and drank an entire bottle during the first loop. By the time I started my second loop, the bike course got a lot more crowded as many sprint athletes started to join. Many of the sprint cyclists were fast and they zoomed right thorough me. However, there were a lot of slow sprint distance cyclists that I passed on my second loop. The course got so crowded that I didn't feel safe to be in aero position too much. Many of the fast cyclists started to pass people on the left. That was supposed to be illegal but no one stopped them. I made a small error as I approached the transition area. I dismounted my bike about 20 yards too soon. I was either confused by the signs or got too excited.

Bike Time = 1:20:46 for 24.6 miles (pace = 20.0 miles per hour; 154/380 overall)

Since my transition spot is next to the bike in, I had my quickest T2 ever. Mounted my bike, took off helmet & sunglasses. Put on my Timex visor. Grabbed my run belt with bib number, and off I went. So fast that I forgot to take off my bike gloves.
T2 = 0:51 (under a minute!)

By the time I got to the run portion, the course was full. Many fast sprint distance athletes were finishing, and my Olympic distance athletes were ahead of me. I felt strong and got going quickly. A handful of runners passed me, but I was passing dozens and dozens of people. My first run loop took under 25 minutes. At the time, I didn't know how much under but I knew I was positioning myself for a personal best. Then NATURE CALLED. I had to pee. The 2 full bottles of fluids I drank on the bike course caught up to me. There were no portable potties on the run course. I did what I had to do. I slowly let out some piss. And some more. It was flowing out so strong, dripping down my legs. The run course was still full of runners in both directions. I was still passing people. I decided to pass people on the left by running on the glass so I won't leave a trail of piss behind me! I didn't even slow down a bit. In fact, I felt so good that I sped up. Didn't even bother to look down to my tri shorts to see if the wet spot was visible. I was going under 7 minute pace at this time. I was able to hold on to this fast pace after the last turnaround. I looked at my Timex again to verify that my personal best time was still in reach. I sprinted toward the finish and almost missed the left turn for the finish. I had my typical finish sprint: high knees, high kicks, arms flailing everywhere ... and throwing up a little bit as I crossed the finished line.

Run time = 44:21 for 10k (7:10 mile per hour pace; 55/380 overall)
Chip time: 2:39:47 (personal best for Olympic distance)
Overall: 115/380
M35-39 AG: 8/29


My triathlon virgins Tim and John did very well. Tim was in the top half of his age group. Swim was his best event; his bike pace was the same as mine, and he used my old heavy steel bike! John was about 15 minutes behind Tim. Both were in fine shape and wanted to continue with their triathlon adventures.


This was a very well-organized race. Smiling volunteers were everywhere. I enjoyed the outdoors shower in the finish area (to wash out my piss-stained tri shorts, socks, and shoes). They had pizza, grapes, cherries, watermelon and other food for athletes. I would definitely do this race again Lastly, thank you, Timex Factory Team! .

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