This past Sunday, June 24, Hermes and I both participated in the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon (Olympic distance). I love this race because the route includes some of the most beautiful and interesting areas of Philadelphia. The .9-mile swim starts at the Saint Joe's boathouse, east side of the Schuylkill River, and ends on the west side of the river at the transition area. This swim is very calming thanks to the trees and greenery lining the river banks, causing you to forget that you are swimming in a river that divides a major US city.
The 24.8-mile bike leg of the race is two loops through Fairmount Park and includes part of the bike course used in Pro Cycling Tour race. Fairmount Park is a large urban municipal park system and is really beautiful and I like to think of it as an oasis in my city. The 6.2-mile run is an out-and-back on Martin Luther King Drive.
I had a great race and felt very strong the entire time. I admit I was somewhat apprehensive about my ability to recover fully after the grueling Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon only two weeks prior. The results speak for themselves -- consistency in training (remember, I wrote that consistency is key in my previous blog). My only hiccup was around mile 4 of the run; my right hamstring started to seize up so I slowed down a little and massaged the problem area as I ran. The pain subsided and I was able to resume my pace and finish strong. I placed fourth in my age group but even better... I beat Hermes by four minutes!
Hermes' penchant for adventure never ceases to amaze and entertain me. Before I go into details I will first set the stage -- how the transition area for a triathlon is set up. The transition area is set with racks for bikes and each row/rack has a specific set of numbers assigned to it. The biggest reason for this is so that everyone has the same advantage/disadvantage. One way to think about this: if your bike is racked right next to bike out/bike in you don't have far to go, but the guy on the other side of the transition area does. In order to put you and the other guy on a level playing field, the run out for you will be on the other side of the transition area and the other guy is right next to the run out. Each rack is lined with stickers in numerical order that coincide with the athletes' bib numbers. In Hermes case, his number was 630.
One of the first things an athlete does the morning of the race is to rack their bike in the designated spot and set up their gear in order of use. Bike shoes, helmet, and glasses are in the front and the running shoes, running belt and possible hat are right behind. You do not have a lot of room, think of an area that is a pair of shoes wide and two of pair shoes deep. The next thing an athlete does -- which is probably the most important -- is to look for quick ways to locate your bike rack when you are coming in from the swim and from the bike. There are two reasons for this: the obvious one is that there are two thousand bikes in transition, and the second reason is you are somewhat disoriented from exerting yourself during the swim and bike. I had a wonderful locater on Sunday -- a utility pole -- and it led me right to my transition area each time.
Hermes' adventure began when he finished his bike leg. He came into transition and found his bike rack but went up the wrong side! He racked his bike in the spot he thought was his and put on running shoes only to discover they weren't his! At this point he became very flustered and shouted out, "Where is my transition spot?" A sympathetic participant told him he was on the wrong side of the rack. He then had to quickly unrack his bike and rack it in the correct spot -- precious time was lost -- but not enough to say that was the reason I beat him!
Hermes often has transition adventures (he is not as obsessive as I am about setting up his area and preparing his things, and our daughter always reminds him that he should be). Once he pulled what he thought was an energy gel out of his backpack (not a good idea, the gel should have been set up with his running shoes) and took off on the run. About a mile into the run he tore the top of the "gel" only to discover it was a shampoo sample. I am always entertained by Hermes!
So ends the Mellet Tri Tour -- four triathlons in five weeks. I am doing the Philadelphia SheROX Triathlon (sprint distance) on August 5 but our next big one is the Poconos 70.3 (half ironman) on September 30. There will be many training stories!
Next Sunday, July 8 we are doing a century (100 miles) ride for the American Cancer Society.