Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gateway to the Bay Sprint Triathlon Race Report ...

3:30am .... beep, beep, beep

Yep, that is the time the alarm clock went off this morning.  Knowing it was race day I sprung right out of bed as opposed to my normal reaction of smacking the snooze button rather violently multiple times!  We wanted to get on the road around 4:30 so I had some time to eat a whole wheat bagel, indulge in a splendid cup of fresh coffee and even answer some emails for work (yes, I have issues).

We left right on time!

I will break this RR down into sections and include the pics that Annie snapped throughout the morning.


We found an awesome parking spot a couple of blocks away from the transition area and I took this time to do all the necessary bike prep work.

Still a little sleepy!

Getting my game face on

We ran into Stu and Leah from my Tri club and talked to them a little while and then I went and got my transition area ready.  Leah was racing today and Stu was down for some clinics that Matty Reed and Andy Potts were doing and he was then racing the Oly distance tomorrow.  Of course I left my sunglasses in the car so I had to run back and get them.  That was my warm up!


The swim was in the bay and the transition was a good quarter of mile from the swim exit. This first image is from Google Maps and the yellow line shows where we exited the water and how far the T1 area was from the exit:
Carpet was down on the street for us to run on -- nice touch!

Time to Race!

This next picture is from the race website and it is a picture of the swim start area:

Looks nice and peaceful, eh?

Here are two pictures I took 5 minutes before the start:

If you think the water looks rough, you are correct- nuttin like the pic above!

Ramp to enter & exit the water.

My Age Group was in the 2nd wave so we got to start early. They combined the 30-34 and 35-39 Age Groups so there were a lot of us in the water battling it out.  I love when we start in one of the first few waves, nothing worse than standing around waiting.  So, we meander on out to the starting buoys about 50 yards from the shore.  The water is only waist high and the first thing all of us notice is that the waves are pretty aggressive.  The gun goes off and I start swimming.  First thing I notice is that an extraordinary amount of effort is being exerted and this amount of effort is not even close to being equal to the amount of forward progress?  The good news is that everyone else in my age group is experiencing the exact same thing.  The bad news is that saltwater does not taste very good and I am taking it down.

Lots of knees and elbows were a flying and due to the the waves and overall choppiness of the water sighting was darn near impossible.  I triangulated the rising sun from my position and basically just swam towards the sun. I eventually found the turn buoy and made my way back to the shore.  The trip in was much better with the current and waves now at our backs.  It was still choppy and hard to see but I realized I was passing quite a few people.  Even some people in the first wave.  This is an unusual occurrence for me considering my swim ability is rated somewhere between poor and bad.  

Overall, even though the above paragraphs sound tough, I actually enjoyed the hell out of this swim!  It was brutal and hard but because of this it was even more rewarding than usual to complete.  If it was easy everyone would do it.

I exited the water feeling very fresh.  My overall splits were:

Split Time:  12:34
AG Rank: 19/40
Wave Rank: 36/83

These are pretty slow swim times and for me to be in the middle of the pack shows you just how rough the waters were this morning!  

Very cool pic of me coming out of the water.


Transition time after the longish run was 3:30.  This was a decent time because of the long run to transition but I ran right past my rack.  Really need to pull my head out of my butt sometimes.  Probably only lost a few seconds but it is still frustrating to do stupid things.

I get my bike to the line and head out to the course.  You make a right hand turn and start heading right up the Kemah Bridge.  This is a big step bridge that Ocean vessels go underneath and it was a steep climb.  The hard part really was not the climb it was that you just jumped on your bike and your legs are still in swim mode.  Then you go down the north side of the bridge and I got up to 35 mph at one point.  You make an immediate right hand turn and swing under the bridge on a utility road and come out on the other side of the bridge and climb back up the other side.  Yes, less than 1.5 miles in and you are already doing two huge climbs.  Then you start on a pretty flat and straight road which was directly into a head wind.  It was this way for 7 miles.  I was maintaining about 18mph in the head wind and I was working hard.  The good news was that when you completed the turn around the wind was at your back.  The next 5 miles I averaged about 22mph. I ended up averaging 19mph for the 12.5 miles.  I got passed by a few guys and also passed a few guys so overall the bike was rather uneventful.

Had a smooth dismount and found my rack position right away.  Tossed on the Brooks shoes and Brooks visor and took off for the run.

My overall Bike Splits were:

Split Time:  39:40
AG Rank:  15/40

With the wind and bridge it was hard to have an awesome average.  Considering I really only have about 5 months of riding experience I'm extremely happy with how my bike splits are getting better each race.

Coming into T2.

Ass shot!


My T2 time was much better at 1:17.  My rack was at the opposite end from the run start so this is a good T2 split.

So the run starts and my legs are still feeling very fresh.  I start off strong and immediately pass about a dozen runners.  About a half mile in the left side of my lower back begins to tighten up. It isn't really hurting but it is aggravating nonetheless.  The run course takes us literally right along the Kemah Boardwalk.  It is very cool to be running on the boardwalk but there were a ton of turns on this sucker. I felt like we were in a maze at one point.  About 2 miles in my back is really getting tight and since I am not wearing my Garmin I am thinking my run split is going to be awful.  Then, just like a light switch, the tightness just turns off?  With about a half mile to go I let it fly and sprint my way into the finish.

I see Annie and and our friends from the Tri Club, Suzy and Todd and thier kids, all cheering me on.  It is always nice to hear cheers when you are finishing!  I found all the guys and slammed some water.  I felt awesome after the race which to me means I left something on the course.  I really think I could have pushed a lot harder on the run and just used the tight back as an excuse.  I told everyone that I probably averaged an 8 minute mile on the run and was disappointed with my run performance. Well, I guess I was justing being the eternal pessimist because the run split was pretty decent:

Run Spilt:  21:25
AG Rank:  5/40

Running Hard at the finish.

Crossing the finish line.

Post Race and Summary:

This was the inaugural year for the Gateway to the Bay Triathlon and the organizers did a very nice job and it went off pretty much without a hitch.  They had awesome volunteers and great crowd support.  A job Well Done by Aaron and the OnUrLeft Team.  I will definitely do this race again next season and make sure all my friends do as well!  Unfortunately the skies opened up and some serious thunderstorms came through the area as we were pulling out of the parking lot. It probably ruined what was a real nice post race party.  I will never post a weather snapshot on my blog again like I did earlier in the week -- Big Jinx!

As for my performance, I was hopeful that I could complete this race in a time of 1:20.  My actual overall time was 1:18:26.  So, I did a little better than what I expected.  Overall I was very happy with my swim and my swim ranking.  It was hard but it was cool.  I think I could have hammered a little harder in the beginning of the bike leg.  Still being relatively new to triathlons I sometimes have trouble gauging how hard to go and when to reserve, but with each race I am getting much better at this.  Even though I had a very strong run ranking I am still disappointed in my time.  I was targeting a 21 minute run and I did that but deep down I know I should have been around 19:30 on this run. It was flat and fast and I held up some because of a tight back.  Also I will never run without my Garmin again.  I just ran using RPE but if I would have been tracking my pace I know I would have pushed harder.  Live and learn my friends.  

Overall it was a very fun race and I finished with a very respectable time.

Overall Time:  1:18:26
Overall Rank:  79/750 ?
Overall AG Rank:  15/40

I made Annie stick her head in this cutout as we were leaving - love it:

Thanks for Reading,



  1. Nice job on the race + a great recap as well. My 1st race this year is next weekend...hopefully the Atlantic isn't nearly as rough as the Gulf was for you today.

  2. Hi Jeff,
    Yea, thats what I am talking about!! Congrats on a fantastic finish:) You did good kid and I am proud of you!! Annie, you took some great pictures:)

  3. Great job on the race! I also liked your race recap. Quite enjoyable to read. I would have freaked out in choppy water like that!

  4. Well done! Really great race and very good report with nice pics.

  5. congrats on a strong race!

    now that the winter is over and you triathletes start racing again, i start being (almost) convinced to try out triathlons... but usually my brain kicks in and reminds me how much i dislike swimming in lakes/oceans :) i am always amazed at those who can do it!

  6. Sounds like the swim was super tough, great split time fighting the waves. They really tricked you with that nice, calm picture on the race website, huh? Awesome bike and run too - you should be psyched! Great race report and congrats on the first tri of the year!

  7. Congrats on first tri of the season!!!! Great times for the first tri this year. Also great race report and pics...and to turn around such a report in so little time :)

  8. great start to your season! gotta love beating your personal goal! keep up what your doing and it should be a great year!

  9. Way to go Jeff! You KILLED the run!

  10. The water looked rough. Kind of like an open water Hawaii swim. However, you did well and have improved quite a bit. All the time in the pool has been paying off. Dude, your run was awesome 5th in AG is decent. Like you mentioned, if you knew your pace you probably could have been under 21. Jeff, you are going to podium one of these races in the near future.

  11. Looks like a really strong race for you! I saw on Misszippy's blog (your comment) that you grew up in Columbia, MD. So did I! I went to Wilde Lake HS.

  12. I just lived in Columbia for 3 years ... Grew up in Western PA south of Pittsburgh. But I do know right where Wilde Lake HS is!

  13. OMG, you are so freakin ripped...look at you in the wetsuit! The picture of the water 5 minutes before and then after is insane. What happened to the serene, smooth water surface? You did really well Jeff! Congrats! A few more under your belt and you are gonna be a force to be reckoned with. You have improved by leaps and bounds in just the short amount of time that I have been following your blog...very impressive! Obviously, the OWS's you did recently really helped you on a day when the water was so choppy. Nice race report.

  14. I think you had a great race! Way to go. Glad your back loosened up for you at the end. So nice to finish strong.

    So if you used to live here, when will you be coming to do Columbia? It's an awesome race, albeit challenging!

  15. Nice run.
    Your a little quickie on the run, aren't you?
    The other stuff will come, running is the one thing that's God's given and it appears you've got that down.

  16. Great race!

    Congratulations Jeff!

    Cheers from Hong Kong!

    "XTB" Xavi.

  17. cool race report, Jeff. Keep it up.

  18. Great race Jeff! Way to knock it out ont he run! A few more pushups and you will be crushing through those waves and whoevers else is in your way!

  19. Awesome job Jeff, you did super.

    It is a small world. I live in Florida now, but grew in East Palestine, Ohio right on the PA line.

  20. Woohoo on a great race! You did awesome! I think I probably would have drown our puked swimming in conditions like that...yikes! :)

  21. Patrick WimberlyMonday, 12 April, 2010

    Great job, bro! Good seeing you out there.

  22. YAY! Thanks for the comment. I have been wanting to buy p90x forever now. And from the looks of it - I should not wait another minute. I'd love to do a triathlon - if I could just figure out how to swim without dying. ;)