Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Race Report: The Bassman Half Distance Triathlon

Well, it’s a week and a half late, but here it is. My overall impression of the race itself was very positive. I thought the race directors did a fantastic job and I was very impressed with how organized it was, considering the fact that there were sprint, half distance tri, half distance du, aqua bike and relay events. I was mildly confused only a couple of times on the run course and I'm frequently confused for no good reason at all, so that’s probably worth disregarding.

In terms of my own race, I did better than expected. I went in hoping to do the swim in an hour (sounds slow, but it actually took me a bit longer than that during my first half attempt), the bike in four hours (mostly I just wanted to make the cutoff) and the half in two and a half hours (going in, I thought this was optimistic). All that would have put me at 7:30 for my overall time, excluding transitions.

The swim was two .6 mile loops around Absegami Lake. The water was chilly but not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. After a few minutes of swimming, temperature wasn’t an issue at all. Honestly, aside from a general lack of enough experience with open-water swimming, I didn’t have too many issues at all. Sighting went, if not well, better than expected. I did a lot less weaving than I recall doing in past races. Bottom line: I have a lot of work to do in my swim, but this was a decent start. I completed my swim leg in 53 minutes.

The bike was definitely the most challenging part of this race and not because it was a particularly difficult course. I finished in 3:53, which was just under my goal. The course wasn’t especially hilly or tough, but I had issues with the nutrition and hydration. I’ll discuss this in more depth at the end. On a frightening note, one woman actually took a spill and broke her arm. It’s always scary to see something like that happen and to realize that, at a certain point, the only reason it wasn’t you was some measure of good fortune. Luck, as it were. Realizing that injury is something of an inevitability can be daunting and is something I’m wrestling with on the bike.

Finally, there was the run. The glorious, wonderful, final-stretch run. Although I went into the race believing all would be fine if I could just get through the bike, I began to doubt myself a little bit at mile 59.2. I worried that I didn’t have enough energy for the run. Fortunately, I was very, very wrong. The run was amazing and I was in the perfect frame of mind for it. It energized me, and I took it one mile at a time, knowing that only my favorite race distance stood between me and a half iron finish. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a better mood starting a half marathon. It was especially interesting observing other runners. Judging from the looks on nearly everyone else’s face, I may have been the only one enjoying myself on that last leg. But then again, who knows what my face looked like. I finished the half in 2:14:16.

I achieved my goal, which was to finish. I made all the cutoff times and even did 22 minutes better than I hoped. Ultimately, though, I should have done better. I attribute part of this to a general lack of experience. I wasn’t totally certain when and how hard I should push. I attribute a much larger part to my poor nutrition/hydration plan. First, breakfast wasn’t nearly caloric enough. When I did my long bike ride the week prior I consumed double the calories I did before this race. And that was only for a bike ride! That was mistake number one. Number two was not consuming enough on the bike. Or the run, for that matter. It’s a good thing I was in such a good place for the run or I might have suffered more for that. Basically, I had a bagel for breakfast, four gels, some Mike and Ikes (don’t ask) and Gatorade. I know what you might be thinking:

Don’t look at me like that! It’s a learning process. And boy, did I learn. I realized just how bad a job I did with this when, the day after the race, I wasn’t sore at all. That can only mean that I had a TON left in me and just didn’t have the energy to tap into it. So that’s why I say I should have done better. I think I really could have.

But you know what? There’s this:

Mission accomplished. I'm on the right track, even if I have a long way to go. 


  1. Good job on finishing! That pic pretty much sums up my thoughts. Haha. You might want to give Infinit nutrition a try for your bike nutrition/hydration. Hammer Perpetuem is great but gets nasty in warm weather.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion. Yeah, it was pretty poor. It was also poor on the long bike I did before this. Do you use a water bottle between your aero bars? I kind of feel like that might help.