My Sullivan race report

Noon seems to be the standard for these indoor sprint races in the early spring.  The Sullivan Civic Center Triathlon started at 12:30.  It was a sprint race consisting of a 400 METER swim, a 13.5 mile bike, and a 3.1 mile run.  I have never done this race before, so it was a first.  John Lawyer talked me into, and like Jason said, It sounded like a good idea at the time.  We had a good  caravan of people going over.  Jason and I met up with Eric and John and Andy (my former nemesis).  We left at 9:30 from Springfield.  It took just a little over an hour to get there.  We pull up in the parking lot and before you could say, “Every Damn Day“, Eric and John had their bikes out of the van and headed towards transition.  We went and found a good wet muddy spot next to a sidewalk and racked our bikes.

We walked in and checked out the pool.  The pool looked really nice and big.  It was the shape of a “T,” a lap pool with a diving pool on one side.  What made this so odd was they had the lane ropes going against the lines on the bottom of the pool.  The lanes turned out to be a good 10 feet wide.  John said this made it really easy to pass.  And with close to 300 participants, we were going to need all the space we could get.

Before the race, Eric and I headed out for a short run to warm up.  Then I headed back to the car to changed into my tri-suite, and head to the pool.  The water was pretty warm, hot tube-esq.  I really don’t even know how far my warm up was the lanes were just messed up.  The first two, part of the “T” were short, then the next 5 or so were long, then one more short one.

I got out of the pool and made may way to the line up.  300 people all self seated, made for a mess.  I had turned in my time of 7:15.  I thought that would be a little conservative.  I figured I could do 45 second 50’s, and at the conversion rate of yards to meters that would put me in at 6:45 plus some change.  I really didn’t think I could hold that pace.

My number was 73, which meant I had 72 people in front of me and a bunch behind me.  I was really worried about catching the people in front of me and having to pass. But in the line a lot of people started moving around, hanging back.  So I was probably up a little bit further than expected.  Andy Peterson was number 69 and was just 2 spots ahead of me.

The gun went off.  Eric Sommer was number 2.  Man, that is some pressure!  I watched him go up and back.  On his second lane he went to flip turn and missed the wall.  He lost several seconds, because he had nothing to flip off of.  This was the problem with the pool.  You are swimming perpendicular to the lane lines, and there is no black “T” at the bottom of the pool to indicated the wall.  Pretty crazy stuff.

I started getting closer to the start.  I joked with the guy in front of me about one guy that just jumped in plugging his nose.  That is not the kind of people you want in front of you.

It was my turn, I paused a couple of seconds, just to give the guy ahead of me a few more seconds.  Started my watch then jumped in.  Things seemed to be going pretty well the first few laps.  But by the time I got to my second long run, I was catching the guy in front of me.  I pushed to pass him off the wall.  I could feel my heart rate going up.  I kept the pace, and then I found myself passing 3 more people.  At one point I was swimming 3 a breast and worried about on-coming traffic.  At this point, I only had one and a half laps left.  I was thinking to myself, I have never been this red-lined in the pool, but I stuck with it, climbing out in 6:40.

I ran out of the pool to the outside deck, and saw no one.  There were some people standing there, but nobody was pointing which way to go.  I found myself just standing there with my arms up asking where do I go???  Then Andy came out the door and I was finally direct to the left, down the stairs.  This was a crazy set up, but totally my fault for not going over this pre-race.  Andy and I ran down to transition crossing the mat in 7:01.  I put on my helmet and ran out in 36 seconds.

I was excited to get on the bike, but it was windy out there.  The way out was a tail wind, so I want to ride somewhat conservatively, because I knew the headwind was going to SUCK!  I made it out to where the first loop intersected. Eric pulled out right in front of me, and was flying!  He dropped me in the next mile or so, I couldn’t keep up, and I was going 28-29 mph.  By the time I turned to meet the headwind, I couldn’t even see him, and my speed was reduced to a crawl of 19-20 mph.  Then I took a right hand turn to complete the first loop.  This was a killer crosswind section.  I found myself leaning at a 45 degree angle just to stay upright, and my deep dish wheels were not helping matters.  This was a short section, and before I knew it I had a tail wind again flying at 30+ mph.  On the way back in it started to rain.  It felt like needles being stuck in your arms.

I headed into T2 racking my bike and standing in a muddy puddle.  I tried to wipe my feet with my hand before I put my Zoots on, just to clear some of the mud and gravel off of my feet.  I ran out with my visor and race belt.  My  legs felt great!  Running in the grass, I had one guy just a few steps ahead of me.  We turned on to the street and his feet just slid out from under him.  That had to hurt.  From that point on I took it easy around all the corners.

I headed up onto a crushed rock/gravel pathway for the next 2 miles through the park.  I ran and ran, and did not see any mile markers, I tried to get my garmin to switch screens, I couldn’t get it to work.  (I realized later thatr I missed one of my splits out of transition.)     So I was unning by feel.  By the time I had exited the park, I had passed a few more people, and I thought I was on the home stretch.  But it turned out I had 1.1 miles left to go.

I felt a lot better on the pavement and did the best I could.  I wrapped around to the finish completing the run in 20:38, with a 6:38 pace.  My final time was 1:04 flat, good enough for 7th place overall and 2nd in my age group.

We (Jason, John, Eric, Andy, David and I) all regrouped after the race, and headed into the basement of the Civic Center to eat and collect some bling!  So… If it wasn’t for the crazy pool swim, the muddy transition area, the 30 mph gust, the rain, and the gravel pathway on the run that was poorly marked, I would say sign me up for next year!  We’ll see…  Even with condition, I think we all had a great time. Nothing beats racing with a bunch of friends!

You can see all the result from the Sullivan triathlon here.