Marineland Triathlon / Race Report

I’ve been training for quite some time (my guess is about a year and a half), but due to some unforeseen circumstances, this was my first triathlon. Last October, I entered this same event, but we had a crazy tropical-style storm that hung around for a few days and fetched up 17 foot seas, so the swim was canceled. I did compete in the duathlon though. This past June, I entered again choosing the olympic-distance event, but I caught a debilitating flu virus, which put me in bed for four days, and I missed the race.

For this October race, State of Mind Sports put on a really fun, low-key event at Marineland, Florida. I think there was about one hundred entrants or so, and everyone seemed to enjoy the day.

The Swim

Here I am in the foreground (shirtless). At this point, I had no idea what to expect. The photo was taken by Joe Carusone, Jr of State of Mind Sports. It’s a nice bonus to have open access to the images.

The conditions were perfect in the water. A fairly long-interval, small scale swell was providing for a few waves to navigate, and the water temperature could not have been better – about 78 degrees. Although I did see some rubber (suits were permitted), I doubt anyone was using them to keep warm. The course was a bit weird, which proved to confuse quite a few people. We had to swim around a buoy to the south, swim back north around another buoy, swim back south to a certain, unmarked point, come in, run around a third buoy back to the start and repeat. The problem I noticed was that many got out of the water too early and were running by me as I was still swimming. I did what I thought was correct, came in, ran around the buoy and had to pass the others in the water to regain the lead. I held it until the end when a few people got out of the water too early a second time. I finished the swim and passed them on the beach coming into transition, which had me winning the swim split.

The Bike

My wife, Jennifer, took this picture at the very start of the bike. I normally use platform pedals, but here I am getting into some cages I use when riding on the road. I still haven’t found the love for clipless pedals or a cycling helmet. Oh well. I guess I’ll just lose a few seconds.

Though I do just about all of my training off road, the road ride was quite good. I don’t have a road or tri bike, so I rode my mountain bike with my tires inflated to about 65 lbs of pressure. It was certainly not optimal, but I was able to keep a solid pace for the first 12.5-mile lap, and about three miles into the second lap, I picked up three guys on road bikes who were going slightly faster that me. When they passed, I felt the pull of the draft and knew that it was “now or never” for me, so I dug in and was able to draft them for the rest of the race. Thanks for not dropping me guys. We chatted afterward, and I was able to thank them for the help. I did pretty well – an average just above 19 miles per hour and about six minutes or so back from the split winner.

The Run

After the extra bit of work on the mountain bike, I wasn’t expecting too much from the run. By this time, it was not getting hot; it was just plain hot. I did not bring enough water on the bike, so I started slightly behind with hydration, and I felt a very slight cramp a couple hundred yards into the run. I knew that it was too much fuel (two gels and two home-made bars) without enough water, so I started pounding the water. It solved the problem, and I increased my pace. At the aid station, the water was not what I wanted (it had that plastic-cooler-in-the-sun taste), so I dumped it on my head each time to help cool off. There was no shade on the run, and the sun was now ragging overhead. Since I’m not accustomed to running on the road, I had injury on my mind and did not push it beyond my every day pace. It felt quite slow, but the report shows my pace was just under an 8 1/2 minute mile.

Time: 2:32:55. Feeling good after a burst of energy and a strong finish. Photo by Jennifer Newell

My total time was 2:32:55. By my count, I placed 13th overall. Not too bad for my first triathlon. Before the race, I had two goals. My fake goal was sub 3:00; my real goal was sub 2:45. I guess the fake goal was just in case I completely bonked. But all my training, my race and nutrition plan, and the podcast education I’ve received from Coach Brett of Zen and the Art of Triathlon and Ian Corliss of Talk Ultra helped me more than I can say. Thanks for putting out all the great advice, bringing on excellent guests, and being so encouraging to those at all levels.

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About Jim Newell

Associate Professor of English, Daytona State College / Thinker / Ponce Inlet Surfer / Improviser / Dad
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