After about 10 months of triathlon training, I took a pretty big step yesterday: I competed in the Hartsville International Triathlon. The first two triathlons I completed were challenging and a lot of fun. Both triathlons were Sprint distances. The Hartsville tri is an International or Olympic distance race. The International distance race is, generally, a 1.5k swim, a 40k ride, and a 10k run. For the Hartsville race we did 1500m, about 28 miles on the bike and a 10k run. In general, a sprint is a 500m swim, a 12 mile bike ride and a 5K run.
Overall it was a great day at Hartsville. The weather cooperated, it was cooler than previous years, and the run course was a bit improved from previous years. I competed as a Clydesdale, which was a great decision. More on that later. I was also very honored to race in support of the Lymphatic Research Foundation.
I started in the second wave, heading out from the shore for a triangular shaped course that was very well marked. The water was hot and murky; you couldn’t see the person in front of you until you were less than a foot from them. It took me a bit of time to get into my stride, but by the first turn, I felt good about the swim. After the first turn, I got into a pack of folks that seemed to be flailing a bit and I got a tad freaked out. I chalk this up to never being in the water with this many people before. I made the second turn, lined up for the finish and tried to go a bit wide to get out of the pack of other swimmers. The final stretch of the swim is directly into the sun, so my clear goggles might have been a bad idea… I had to breast stroke a few times to make sure I was still heading in the right direction, but nothing too serious. I hoped to finish the swim in 30 minutes but it took me 33:07.
The ride was a pretty good course, a bit hillier than I’m used to, but that’s the curse of living in Beaufort. Thank goodness for spinning class. The ride was a bit long, about 28 miles total, versus 40k for the standard International. A two lap course with plenty of rolling hills and a handful of serious hills. I averaged 17.4 mph, a little short of the 17.5-18.5 I was shooting for, but not bad for the first International tri. If you’re planning to do this race, make sure you’re comfortable on the hills, comfortable standing up in your pedals, and comfortable on slightly rough roads. After two laps on the well marked and well staffed course, I returned to the transition area, turning in a time of 1:35:33.
After a 28 mile ride, I was worried having to stretch out before starting the run. My battle against plantar fasciitis is going well, but I didn’t want to push it. I made sure to stretch in the final miles of the ride and made it to the transition area feeling pretty good. Without any tightness in my legs, calves, or feet, I headed out without stretching much. Leaving the transition area, the run starts out on a slight hill, just as the bike did. However, after an hour and a half on the bike, the hill seemed a bit more daunting. A left turn, 1.55 miles out to the first turn around, also the halfway point if you were doing the Sprint distance tri. The route had plenty of aid stations and tons of volunteers, no reason not to stay hydrated, but was in full sun and very hot. About a mile later the International course turns left to add the additional 5k missing in the Sprint course. This spur has a bit more shade, but is still pretty hot. By mile 5, I was pretty tired, but thankfully the last mile was downhill, literally. As I made the right turn towards the Finish and tried to pick it up as much as possible, sprinting to a 1:07:07 finish. Not record setting, but not shabby for a first International tri.
My total time, including T1 and T2 was 3:20:18, good enough for a 3rd place finish in my class and less than 7 minutes behind the 2nd place finisher.
I can’t finish without saying what a great job the Setup Events folks did on this tri. There was plenty of staff, plenty of volunteers, tons of aid stations, and a well marked course. Thanks also to the Hartsville YMCA for providing volunteers and financial support.
I just looked at the Setup Events site and it doesn’t look like this tri is on the schedule for 2010. I’ll update you if it comes together or if I’m wrong.