Review: 2012 Try Tri

An early season foray over to western Illinois.

Date

Sunday, May 6, 2012, 8:00 AM

Location

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

Distance

Super Sprint (official): 150 meter yard pool swim / 10 mile bike / 2 mile run

Long Sprint (official): 300 meter yard pool swim / 20 mile bike / 4 mile run
Long Sprint (measured, my GPS):  300 meter yard pool swim / 19.96 mile bike / run not measured

Put on by

RaceMaker Productions (Disclaimer: RaceMaker Productions is a sponsor of the St. Louis Triathlon Club, of which I am a member).

Cost

$60-65 individual, $90-110 team

USAT Sanctioned

Yes.

Swag

Lightweight long sleeved cotton/polyester shirt.

It’s all on the event website, dude

RaceMaker TryTri

2012 Try Tri Results

Race Day Weather

Sunny, 76 degrees at race time, over 80 by the finish. Moderate breeze.

Parking

Ample surface parking. Tip: The main entrances to the campus are on the east side. You want to navigate around to the north and get to the west side of the athletic complex (Vadalabene Center and the Student Fitness Center).

About the Race

The race is advertised as an early season opportunity to get out. The Short Sprint, in particular, is aimed at newbies. The event was well organized and volunteers were present at all important locations on the bike and run. Law enforcement was present to direct traffic on the crossroads of the bike route. I never needed to slow down for any of these.

One aspect of RaceMaker’s website that I find useful is the consistent presentation of their events. They have an interactive map of the bike and the run, and even a picture of the pool explaining how the serpentine swim is performed.

The Swim

Map (Select “Swim”)

The swim was very interesting. This was my first experience with swimming in a 25 meter pool rather than a 25 yard pool. (Update: Well, not exactly. We have confirmed that the SIUE pool is 25 yards, not 25 meters.) And, in addition, the pool has stainless steel sides. A few people who had jumped in and taken a few laps had a couple of suggestions for the rest of us:

  • It’s a bit harder to visually pick up the wall at the end of the lane, so pay particular attention to the markers on the bottom.
  • In a serpentine swim, you will always be pushing off of the wall at an angle. The stainless steel walls are somewhat slick, so be prepared to feel your feet slip somewhat as you push off of the side on the turns.

Transition 1

You go straight out the doors and have a combination of pavement and grass, it is a pretty moderate distance. The pavement was free of debris and I had no issues with it.

The Cycling

Map (Select “Bike”)

The route was a pretty straight shot north almost to Bathalto and back (for the long sprint; the super sprint was half the distance). Being new to this, I think this is what is referred to as “gently rolling”. It is gradually uphill to Bathalto. One thing to be aware of is that the SIUE campus itself is on a plateau. In the last mile, I was convinced I must have had a flat because it didn’t seem to be fair that I would be pedalling so hard to go 10 miles per hour!

Transition 2

This seems to be getting like a broken record. Get off your bike, change shoes, go run!

The Run

Map (Select “Run”)

(Note that I managed to put my watch on pause for about a mile, then forgot to stop it at the end of the race. But you can get the idea.)

The run course was very pleasant. The course was T-shaped, for the Long Sprint there were water stops at one and three miles. This was part of a trail system on the SIUE campus and it went through wooded areas so there was a good deal of very welcome shade. No extreme hills, generally gentle slopes. The finish did go up a short hill but it was not a big issue, being so close to the finish anyway.

Newbie Lessons Learned

  • My first Velcro-attached timing chip. (Photo by Brent Newman of St. Louis Triathlon Club)

    This was the first time I had worn a timing chip on my ankle. It was held in place with a Velcro™ band. I spent half the swim obsessing that the band was getting ready to fall off and, of course, would do so at the deep end of the pool. Having to think about that was perhaps a good thing as it took my mind off of the fact that I’m not a particularly good swimmer. Be that as it may, it never did come off, but I was told later by other competitors that this is a fairly common sensation, even leading some to reach down to check out a perfectly solidly attached band. It seems like the thing to do is to assure yourself before you start the swim that the chip is indeed firmly in place, and then remind yourself of that if you think otherwise during the swim.

  • This was going to be a hot day, and the week before I had learned about arm coolers. They appear very similar to arm warmers, but rather than being dark and warm, they are light in weight and color. They are advertised as providing sun protection, and also the wicking and evaporation of sweat gives a cooling effect. It seems to actually work! You can increase the cooling by putting a squirt from your water bottle on them. They do take time to put on (not much), but they made a hot day more comfortable to me. In addition, if you want to stop using them while on the bike, they are very easy to slip down your arm. I elected not to wear them during the run but expect they would be effective there as well.
  • Beach towel with alien on it.

    This being Stitch.

    It occurred to me that I spent a bit of time making certain I could pick out my bike after the swim (I am nearsighted but I do have prescription swim goggles). Of course, it should be easy to find your spot on the rack during T2 as you return from the bike leg. After all, I have my glasses on and just have to find my bike. Which I am holding. Oh. And, in all likelihood, the “Bike In” entrance is probably different than the “Swim In” entrance, for you are coming in from a different direction. So you need to make certain that there is something sufficiently different about your bike rack space to be able to find it. Fortunately, I lay out my stuff on my daughter’s “Stitch” beach towel (which I use because I cannot find a “Court of the Crimson King” beach towel). After overshooting  my rack, I had the presence of mind to think “Where’s Stitch!?”, and all was resolved quickly.

  • Sometimes being a data geek can be disadvantageous. Somewhere towards the beginning of the run, I accidentally hit pause on the timer on my watch, and didn’t realize that until a mile later. And from that point on, I was distracted by having lost all that valuable data, that my split times wouldn’t be recorded, etc. So, I completely lost focus on the race. So the moral to data geeks is to be prepared for having that happen, and remembering that in the end, it’s the final time that they will be computing for you that counts!
  • I had not considered running this race until the Thursday before (it was a Sunday race), and actually signed up on Friday evening. I had done duathlons the previous two weekends and had been warned about overdoing it. But I realized I needed to do a 20 mile bike/5 mile run on this particular day, so I figured I might as well do it with other people, not to mention trained medical staff 😉 This was an interesting lesson, I learned the ti could use a triathlon to train for another triathlon, and could use it as a matter of fact event rather than something to obsess about for weeks. I felt like I had crossed over another threshold.

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