Race Report – Fort Ritchie Sprint Triathlon

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Yesterday, I returned to the Fort Ritchie Sprint Tri.  This sprint is no joke.  As we say, the swim is flat, but that’s the only flat part of the race.  This bike course is super hilly, and the run has its moments.  I hadn’t gotten a chance to ride the bike course again this year, but I was feeling pretty good about it.

A few days before the race, the Race Director sent out an announcement that the course was changing slightly.  Due to some bad pavement, the first few miles were changing.  I was hopeful about this – the part about the course that I hated the most was a short steep hill right after a sharp turn.  That was gone, so things seemed good, right?

Well, I’ll get to that.

Per Coach’s recommendation, I opted to wear my wetsuit if the race was wetsuit legal.  She calls it free speed.  The water temp was 78 degrees exactly, so I wore my wetsuit.  She was right, it was free speed, but I was a bit warm.  Not sure if I’d do it again for a race this warm.  Definitely not for a warm oly.  I do really need to work on my bilateral breathing though, because I’m really pulling to the right, probably because I’m breathing on that side.  I’m hoping bilateral will help me balance a bit.  I felt like I spent most of this race sighting.

Swim: 16:06

I may have gotten lost in T1.  Actually, it was just taking off my wetsuit and putting on my cooling wings.  It’s annoying, but worth not getting roasted.

T1: 2:44

On to the bike.  What this new course meant was that the race started with a hill.  A one mile hill.  That’s hard enough with post-swim legs.  The last half mile of the hill was between a 9% and a 13% grade.  It kicked my ass.  I was pretty close to the top when I really started to struggle.  Relatively close to the top, I gave up.  My heart rate was skyrocketing (194, when I try to keep it under 185 at all times).  For the first time ever during a ride, I got off of my bike and walked to the crest of the hill.  I probably was only walking for 3-5 minutes (my Garmin ate my data, so I have no idea of any of the stats) but it was a real hit to my mental game.  Not that there’s ever anything wrong with having to walk a hill, but I didn’t want the first time to be in a race, especially a race I have done before.  But the RD asked people for comments about the hill.  I certainly wasn’t the only one walking it, and I made it up a good bit, so that’s good.

And then there’s a giant downhill, which is super fun, and a giant uphill which isn’t so bad.  Long, but not a high grade, so it’s doable.  Just drop into an easy gear and pedal.

Bike (15 miles): 1:13:37

T2 was better than T1, but man my legs were shaky after that ride.

T2: 1:58

The run was tough, again, starting with a hill.  But I knew what I was getting into.  I settled into my intervals and just ran.  I was pretty much over the race by this point though.  My legs were shot and I just wanted to be done.  And as I ran, I decided that perhaps this race was not going to be repeated.  Great organization, wonderful race director, but this course kicked my ass and I’m not sure that there are ways to improve.  I can only do so much about my heart rate.

But I finished and it was great to be done.

Run (5k): 40:51

Total: 2:15:14.  A 5 minute improvement over last year, all walking considered.  Faster swim, faster bike, faster run.  So that’s a plus.

I think I just finished frustrated with myself.  I hate when my heart rate issues actually become issues.  Usually I can deal with them, and slowing down on the run isn’t that big of a deal, but having to get off my bike… well, it wasn’t great for my pride.  That said, now I can get off my bike on a steep hill if I need to.  I didn’t fall.  Points in my favor.

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