Racer: Eric Remoy
Age M40-44: 19/117
Pre-Race Prep: I may have scheduled too many races the last two months and have raced four times since the beginning of May (two Sprints, two Oly). I was either in a taper or a recovery with no time to fix anything or improve in any event, so I have planned to spread things out better for the rest of the year. I couldn’t find an elevation profile for the bike course, so I created one with Garmin Connect and was able to get a good idea of the climbs and flats. The benefit of that was that I was unable to drive the course prior to the race and see it first hand; Philly has some strange traffic laws and the course went up some one-way streets that were inaccessible on a drive through. Garmin Connect gave me a good idea that the course was not even close to the challenge of Columbia, but was more technical with sharp turns and short climbs that would sap momentum and cost some more energy to re-build speed. I also was concerned about TT bike over Road bike for the course given the technical nature of it. I opted for the Road bike with some clip on aero bars for use on the flats since it would give me greater confidence in the sharp turns and short climbs. At the end of the day I could have gone either way; the hills were not that much of a concern and the TT bike could have handled the turns easily. I also would have been more comfortable in the bars than I was and probably have generated some more speed and power.
Swim: The course layout was a point-to-point swim which required an earlier arrival and about a 90 minute wait at the swim start. They marked the course with distance buoys every 100m. The start was also a time trial start in waves of ten which seemed to work pretty well. The only congestion I noted in the swim was at around 1200m it started to get jammed up as swimmers drifted to the right in preparation for the swim exit. You also ran into slower swimmers from earlier waves and there was a great mixture of cap colors; I had to stop several times to avoid swimming over somebody and find another route between or around other swimmers. I thought my swim went very well; I got into a good rhythm early, breathed comfortably, and sited well during the swim. I was lucky to draw the far right slot in my group of ten and was able to hug the buoys with nobody to my right the whole way.
T1: Transition was very linear and long. It seemed like I ran 100m or more to get to my bike. I got my helmet and glasses on, took a shot of drink from my “ready bottle” I keep on the mat and took off. Another 75 meters it felt to the bike mount line and executed a flying mount with my shoes already in the pedals. I got clear of traffic at the mount line and then worked on getting my feet in; probably about 200m of road gone and we’re off on the bike finally.
Bike: The preparation was a good preview even though I didn’t get the chance to physically see all the course. The climbs were indeed short, but a little intense and there were people walking up some of the hills. The roads were closed to traffic so we had the whole road to work with. I had laid out in my race plan to “ride safe and legal” and tried to focus on riding right and passing left. There were some spots where there were riders four and five wide across the road because the space was there. It made for some interesting passes on the course, including one where I almost ran out of road in a right downhill sweeper at 35mph because everybody was drifting to the left in the curve. The course was marked with signs every five miles so that gave me a good trigger to take a Salt Stick tab every 10 miles or so, drink fluid, and chew on some Stinger gels to make sure I was set up for the run. The second loop on the course was faster than the first once I knew what to expect. The traffic was a little heavier on the second loop, but the width of the course was a bonus factor and I wasn’t blocked anywhere.
T2: The challenge at the dismount line was that it was 180 degrees out from the entrance to the transition area. No flying dismount here, just get off, get over the street curb, turn around and run to the rack. Same 75m to the rack, socks and shoes on, shot of fluid, and we’re off…which way to the run start? The Run start was at the opposite end of the transition area from the direction of the run. I was a little confused, ran the wrong direction first, and then turned around and followed another racer out.
Run: My goal for the run was to have a more consistent pace this time. I have blown up the last few runs, so I just wanted to run an even pace and have some gas at the end. My splits ended up being: 7.45, 7.54, 8.01, 7.54, 7.52, 7.42, 7.07. I felt really good about it, thought I ran hard and was not able to sprint the end but just picked it up to leave everything on the course. It was hot, the second half of the run was without shade and the temps were in the high 80’s. There was an aid station every mile, and ice towels at mile 4 (awesome). I have a tendency to over pace coming out of T2 and I thought I controlled that much better this time.
I was disappointed a little to miss breaking my 2:30 goal by 32 seconds…for about 10 seconds. Then I was elated that I had fully executed my plan, met my objectives for the race, and actually finished better than I was shooting for. It was a great race, I had a great time, and I learned a few things which is the intent every time:
1) Space the races out more for the Olympic distance. I knew better, but still should have planned for 4-6 weeks between Olympic races without jamming a Sprint in between. My performance has been consistent, but hasn’t improved because of not taking the training time to tweak myself and apply what each race exposes.
2) NEVER underestimate the walk-through of transition. I didn’t walk the route from my bike to Run Exit and it caused a few seconds of delay and I kicked myself for that. I also didn’t have an appreciation for the distances in the transition area because of that.
3) I stuck to my food plan this time and I think that helped considerably. I fueled based on time/distance and came back into T2 with maybe 3 ounces left in bottle #2. You gotta drink and eat your way to a lighter bike! If you’re gonna load it on, you might as well consume it.
Philadelphia Tri was a great event. I think the TriRock folks did a great job with the organization and venue. The mistakes were mine and not caused by course lay-out, wonky marshalls, or car traffic. It was a great atmosphere and I would race it again.