Date: Saturday, August 28
Location: Maple Grove, MN
Results: Oly Results, Sprint Results
Personal results (sprint event)
Overall: 7th (301 total); top 2.3%
Overall Male Age Group (45-49): 2nd (16 total)
I'm honest to a fault. Sort of like old Abe Lincoln. This is currently the fav commercial in our humble abode at the moment.
I bring this up as in my race preview, I had openly taken task with this race promoting itself as one of the most sought after triathlons in Minnesota! My problem with that is simple.....the event has never taken place! One simply cannot go around touting things like that BEFORE you've even put it on. But I also said, I would give an honest assessment of the event AFTER I've done.
So, let me bottom line this for you, and Maple Grove organizers can quote me: This event will get my vote as Triathletes Choice Favorite Race of the Year at Minnesota Tri News. That's not to say the event does not have some warts it needs to address. and we'll get into that in a bit. But what first time event doesn't have things to work on?
The temps were fine. The water was a perfect 74 F. The sun was out and shining. And then there was the wind. Per weather.com the wind at race time was 18 MPH gusting to 28 MPH. That's when the Oly swim waves started. As I was warming up, it seemed the wind was starting to die down but that was probably just my own wishful thinking. The wind was a factor in the race and ruined what could have been a epic day.
I had been telling buddies all week that I was feeling like this could be the race in which all five aspects of a triathlon finally came together for me. I've been having a good season, but there still is no single event that I can point to and say, "Yeah, that was the race when it all came together and I put the stamp of approval on it."
And I'm still looking.
I was under my swim goal, under my T1 goal, under my T2 goal, and under my run goal. I ended up over a minute under my total time goal. But I did not meet my bike goal. And I'm sure it was the wind. I'm not using that as an excuse as all the athletes had to deal with it. But because of the wind I could not max out the 55 chain ring and let go for the entire course. I mean, look at my average speed (21.9 MPH). To give you an idea of how bad the wind was consider this. On the back side....a stretch of over 4 miles....I was cranking at 29-31 MPH. For another 3 miles with a cross wind I was motoring at 23-26 MPH. I'm not even going to tell you how bad I was when I was trying to slice the wind. You can do the math. Let's get into the race segments.
Swim - 0.3 miles
Goal - 08:48
Time - 7:54 (1:30 per 100 yds)
Overall Rank - 18th (301 total)
AG (45-49) Rank - 2nd (16 total)
I had a very good swim for me. The start was clean, I was clear within 75-yards, and was able to stay in clean water until about the halfway mark when I started to reach the previous wave. From that point in I had to change directions multiple times to avoid and pass swimmers. Once I had to stop my stroke altogether due to heavy congestion. You see, for whatever reason, the had launched the male novice wave 6-mins prior and the female novice wave 3-minutes prior to the 45+ wave. You seasoned vets can picture it...can't you?
Goal - 2:30
Time - 2:06
Really quite surprised at my T1 time as the run from the swim exit to the transition area is a good 75-yards...if not more. I used the time to strip the upper T1 Water Rover wet suit and strip down to the waist with the lower section (remember, this is a two piece wet suit). Mild panic when the brain fired "Was it row 3 or row 4?" but no issues. Found the bike and got out quick....for me.
Bike - 14 miles
Goal - 37:10 (22.6 MPH)
Actual - 38:23 (21.9 MPH)
Overall Rank - 9th (301 total)
AG (45-49) Rank - 2nd (16 total)
I think 14-miles is not accurate reflection of the sprint bike course. If anyone used a Garmin, please let me know. I'm guessing it at minimum of 14.2 miles and a maximum of 14.4 miles. Call it 14.3, I suppose. So that would put me at 22.35 MPH and my bike computer showed 22.3 when I came in.
The legs felt dead at first. This was my big worry heading into the event. Did I taper enough on the bike? I don't think I did. Hard to say because of the wind, but the bike legs just weren't quite there. I muscled into the wind as best I could and then tried my damnedest to make up time with the wind at my bike. As I said above, this was the only personal disappoint of the day for me. Especially since I had secretly been hoping to rip off a 23 MPH that I had been doing in training.
Goal - 1:20
Time - 1:03
No calf cramps. No issues getting on the LunaRacers. Went out smoking. I must have been motoring as even Jerry MacNeil made note of me on the race-blow-by-blow.
Run - 3 miles
Goal - 20:06 (6:42 per mile pace)
Time - 19:23 (6:28 per mile)
Overall Rank - 8th (301 total)
AG (45-49) Rank - 1st (16 total)
As I said earlier, I did not expect hills on the course so I was surprised to be greeted by a small incline right out of the chute....which had a number of people walking.....and two "Hi, I will kill you now," hills right at the end. All short, but all ill-timed making the run course a little more interesting. The first mile was probably the hardest and then I got into full swing and the stride become easy. Just a matter of holding on. I'm most confident right now in my run. I'm starting to gear up for fall running races and the miles and hard work are starting to show. I really felt good. So good I gave a car of punks some back talk as they snickered something as they passed of few of us near the finish.
Let's get back to the event itself and break down the typical components, discussing what was done well and what needs improvement.
Packet Pickup - Early packet pickup was done the day before at a local Maple grove restaurant. Parking was horrible. And it took me nearly 20-mins from the time I entered the door to the time I left. This is by far the longest I have had to wait for any pickup in the last three years. In addition, we were told to fill out a USAT Waiver clause. Had we not already done this when we signed up for the event via Active.com? I could not figure out why this was needed again. If anyone knows, please enlighten me.
Grade - C Minus
Suggestion - Move the packet pickup to another location with more ample parking. Also, have the goody bag already full. Having to go from station to station to get each item (swim cap, shirt, maps, etc) was not efficient.
Volunteers - Simply the best. I did not run into one volunteer who was not helpful or not smiling. They thoroughly enjoyed their duties. And since the Well Kept Wife™ is the Volunteer Coordinator for the City of Plymouth....I know great volunteers when I see one. Top notch!
Grade - A+
Suggestion - Just repeat in 2011
USAT Officials - When you have Bill Nevala as the lead referee for the day, you know you are going to have a very good event. Bill's one of the best in the business.
Grade - A+
Suggestion - Get Bill to commit for 2011
Swim Course at Weaver Lake - I was a little apprehensive here. I had heard the lake was famous for being, um, slimy. Color of pea soup. But this was one of the better lakes I have swam in this season. From what I was able to gather, the city has been implementing various strategies to clean the lake up. It showed. Weeds were few, the clarity was pretty good, and the start area very sandy. I would give this a better grade, but the wave seeding was not ideal. While it is nice to have gender equity, alternating men waves with female waves will equal body contact as the faster male swimmers come up from behind of the slower female swimmers (and vice versus as I know there are plenty of fast female swimmers out there!). Also, do NOT put the Novice wave dead smack in the middle of the waves. Tail end, please.
Grade - B-
Suggestion - A few more buoys would have helped swimmers sight better. I'm speaking for the sprint course which had a total of 3 marking buoys. Some smaller ones would have helped keep everyone on course. And, of course, the wave recommendation as above. Anyone have suggestions for the Oly course?
Transition area - Basically, it was the entire parking lot for Weaver Park. Ton's of bike racks, assigned by age group. Nice. Plenty of biffy's, also important.
Grade - A+
Suggestion - Same for 2011
Bike course - The wind will not affect the grade here!! Not much anyone can do about that. Traffic control was very good, especially at the key intersections. My thanks to the law enforcement officials as always. The roads are either newly paved or in very good shape. Minimal hills. Without the wind, I think we would have seen some exceptional times.
Grade - A
Suggestion - Mileage markers would be nice. and maybe some more directional signage. From what I could gather, there may have been a few issues with people getting lost on the Oly course. I do not blame race officials for this. It is YOUR responsibility to know the course.
Run Course - You are greeted by a little hill right out of T2. And there are some nice surprise hills at the end. You wind through the nearby residential section and this is why the run course receives a low grade. There were a number of right turns, left turns...you know how it can become confusing very quickly when running through an unknown neighborhood. And since the run course is part path and part road, I was not able to drive it before the event. At one point, I would have kept running straight had I not noticed a runner taking a right way ahead of me. A number of the Oly folks got turned around.
Grade - C
Suggestion - While a good effort was used to indicate turns by spray point on the road, these can be often missed by a tired athlete. I would suggest to put a volunteer at EVERY turn and also include upright signs at every turn. Also, there were no mile markers that I could see.
Awards - Every finisher, Sprint & Oly, received a finishers medal. Top three finishers in each 5-year age group received wonderful ceramic bowls. Mine are pictured below.
Grade - A+
Suggestions - I'll be interested in what they come up with for 2011. A repeat of the bowls will be fine with me.
|2nd place in 45-49 Men's AG Award|
|2010 Maple Grove Sprint finisher's medal|
Next Event - Cy-man Triathlon in Des Moines on September 12.