Monday, May 20, 2013

Maritime International Triathlon 2013 Race Report - May 2013

I'd made the command decision to have a brief "off season" during the beginning of summer, thus breaking up the 2013 year into seasons Part I and Part Deux. On my schedule, the inaugural Maritime International Triathlon in Talbot MD, presented by the Maryland Triathlon Series, would punctuate the triathlon portion of Part I.

How I selected this particular race somehow escapes me, although I do recall some reluctance to shorten up the day by choosing an Olympic distance race, vice my usual half-iron distance preference. During my pre-season meeting with my coach we talked about where I might do well and which might be actually be...wait for it... fun!

No, don't get too excited, most all my races are awful, painful, and/or contain elements of "WTF?". I will forget things, I will break my things, or my tools will rebel against me. "Les choses sont contre nous" -- "Things are against us."

Preparing the noms.

With a 0800 race start comes a 0400 wake up to fit in a 0500 breakfast, a 90 minute drive, and ample time for transition setup. There was a little rain on the way in but merely wet roads once in Maryland. Balmy sun and moderate temperatures spoiled me over the last couple of weeks, leaving me with a touch of disappointment on the morning of the race. Don't get me wrong, I love racing in the crappiest of The Suck... when on foot, but not on the bike - but that's for another post. With several of my friends having close encounters with asphalt over the last couple of weekends due to slippery roads, I was slightly apprehensive about pushing on the bike.

What attracted me to the race was it's proximity to home (about 80 miles from the DC area), it's small size, and relatively simplistic course layout. The Calhoon M.E.B.A Engineering School hosted the race site, with the swim taking place in the brackish Miles River, a stones throw from the Chesapeake Bay itself. The bike course meanders through the country roads of Easton and the run course was a double loop over a mix of gravel and pavement. Gray skies meant amber lenses for both the swim and bike, but I wasn't sure about the run. Not that anyone particularly cares what colour glasses I wear.

Zip Up, Warm Up

I am contained by safety pins near my no-no area.
Most race morning I've got my schedule dialed in for all of my pre-race activities, even through warm up. Coming out of the still-fresh port-a-let I threw my arms through the shoulder straps of my onesie tri suit and pull the zipper up, however with too much ease. The zipper at the bottom of my one-piece tri suit has broken, and will not close up. I am now a full believer in resistentialism.
There were two obvious options I had since, despite bringing a spare wetsuit, helmet, cycling shoes, running shoes, and everything else I probably didn't need, I didn't bring a spare race kit: Safety pins to hold my skin-tight suit together or race the whole time looking like Fabio.

Somehow I managed to force the zipper to engage and close up my clothes. Guess I wouldn't be baring my pale chest on the bike afterall. I used two safety pins at the bottom to 1) keep the zipper from undoing itself from the bottom-up, and 2) to keep the zipper itself from sliding down far enough to become undone again.

Salty Dog swimming

Where the strippers at?
Jumping into the water was lovely, with temperatures a sweet 69 degrees with an overcast - perfect for a sleeveless wetsuit. What I hadn't thought of before was that the Miles River is fed immediately by the Chesapeake Bay, giving the brownish water a brackish, bitter taste, but not as saline as the ocean itself. Luckily, the water was calm and only had a slight current (unsure if it was helpful or against.) Now, normally I end up drinking a ton of water during my swims, so on this day I had to be especially careful not to do that. Having donned my amber tinted goggles to help with the low light, I worried it would make the orange and yellow buoys disappear (however that wasn't the case - whew!) The horn blows and we're off. I do a slightly better job this time around with sighting buoys and swim a bit more directly through the triangular, anti-clockwise steering loop. A few folks who braved the swim with their trusty-dusty Garmins told me the swim was a little long (almost 300m), which confirmed my confusion about my slow swim time. Still, it was a great improvement over my last oly, but I've been swimming a ton better than in years before. Which still isn't saying much - I still could have been off course again, as I usually am.

Bike - smooth sailing

After a seamless transition, the bike course exited the campus and sent us out onto rural, but pleasantly paved, roads. Torrential rains the night before race day, which had only ended hours before the gun went off, worried me of slick conditions, so I tried a more conservative approach to the course rather than the aggressive one I planned for. Having overtaken many of the quick swimmers while in transition, there were still a number of folks in front of me still to catch. Within a few miles of the relatively flat course I managed to move up to about 10th position, determined by counting riders returning from the out and back course.

The turnaround was a sort of cul-de-sac which was rather small and unattended by race volunteers. Close to the bike finish I was passed by my new friend Charles, also from DC Tri Club, who looked to be having a superb day on the bike. I'm not sure if it was the cloudy day or what, but I just didn't feel at all....powerful.

Nutrition was bang-on, nearly finishing the one bottle I took, plus two gels, so I at least felt confident that by conserving more on the bike that I'd be able to do well on the run. The course was fairly flat, but wet in some spots, with a little gravel at turns, and a few rough spots on the pavement (depending which road you were on).

Run - 10K+

Immediately out of transition I followed Charles, who was following someone else, who was directed by some official to turn left. This was not part of the prescribed course for the day, it turns out, so a handful of us ended up with an extra quarter mile to run (yippee?) I really, really don't know how this keeps happening in my races.
"Go left," he says. "That way," he says...
I was reminded of the last international distance race I did last April that started off pleasant, but turned to gravel for about half of each loop. The course winded through a confusing, not so well marked campus (they really needed more course direction) before sending us down a road with packed rock along farm fields. Honestly, it wasn't bad to run on, even with race flats. I saw some people running just off the road on the dirt, but I found the road itself to be more consistent. The two loop course was at least exciting with a few turns here and there and not just a straight, boring road.

By the turnaround I caught Charles and ran with him briefly until I felt my urge to chase down the rest of the pack. I knew I led my Age Group by the turnaround, so I had only a few more miles to catch as many other runners as I could to secure a good overall finish, knowing full well that the top 5 folks were out of reach. During the second loop most of the field was out on the run and it was fun to see so many other happy competitors, however it made it difficult to spot how far the leaders were in front of me. I'd like to say it was a thrilling chase, but really it wasn't. I ran. I passed people, and managed to sneak in a 7th overall, and an Age Group win, my highest finish in a triathlon overall and AG, and a swim/run PR (despite the run detour).

Kicking to keep position. My big toe was hurting.
While I'd like to think I could have done better if I hadn't been mis-directed by course marshals, I don't know that it would have gotten me more than another place or two. The top guys out there were flying, and looking really on point.

I race against giants.
One of the best parts after coming in is that all of the top finishers just hung around at the finish line congratulating each other and other finishers as they came in. I'd met some of these guys before at other races, so it was good to see familiar faces!

After all that hard work it was time for some grub - some 'za and some chocolate milk from Rockin' Refuel/Shamrock Farms, of course! The pizza was from a local parlor, which I never got the name of, but was incredible! I wanted to take home a whole pie!

Closing notes
For an inaugural race, the Maryland Triathlon Series did a bang-on job. A slight delay in posting results at the finish was due to a new timing system, but the data was eventually recovered and available. The Volunteer staff, as always, were incredible, and the Race Director was doing his things to make sure everything could go as smoothly as possible.

Overall I liked the course. The swim was great, with easy in and out. The bike was smooth and no hard turns, only a few rollers, definitely a place to PR if the wind behaves, and virtually no cars on the road. The run leaves me with mixed feelings, but was still nice because there weren't any complicated turns once you get off the campus, the scenery was pretty, and it was pretty pancake flat.

Would I recommend this race? Definitely. It's a nice, small race, but I expect it to grow quickly.

Thanks to support coming from Damon for the disc; my sherpa extraordinaire, Elaine, and Adventure Geek Racing, and Bike Pro Shop in Alexandria.
I don't really know what's going on here.


  1. I am highly amused by the podium. I wonder if the guy who ended up in 3rd place let the other guy past him so that everyone could be the same height on the podium.

  2. After they sent the first of us off the bike on the wrong run course, they should have steered everyone that way. Then again, maybe I should have memorized the route a little better myself. Oppppps.

    1. We all should have been more aware... But for tomorrow's race, I'm definitely studying the maps more closely!! Thanks for racing with me!

    2. Anytime! It was a great race and a great venue. Like usual, Setup Events put on a great show. If I hadn't just moved up to Michigan, I'd put it on my calendar for this next year!