It was a beautiful day for a triathlon, 70 degrees and sunny. Once again Setup Events put on an awesome and very well organized event held at The Luter Family YMCA in Smithfield, VA…300m pool swim, 10-mile bike, and 5k run.
It was a late start race, 10am, so we drove down the morning of from Stafford. For 569 participants to embark upon a small town YMCA, you would think that the parking and traffic would be a nightmare, but not-at-all. We arrived at 9:00am and parked right across the street from the Y. Seriously… Setup Events has event organization down to a tee. I met up with my Training Partner, Jesse Mastrom (TriFitJesse), picked up my packet, and setup my transition area all within 30 minutes. My swim time was at 11:05am, so I had just over an hour before my start. Tossed down a pack of Power Bar Energy Blasts about 15-minutes before the swim.
For those who have not done a pool swim before, here’s how it’s done. During registration you’ll enter your estimated 100m-swim time, which, for this event, will place you into 1 of the 5 categories listed below:
0:50 – 1:20 : Super Fast: In contention to win the race and you swim competitively.
1:21 – 1:45 : Fast Enough: Still starting in the first 1/3 of the event. (my group)
1:46 – 2:10 : Average Swimmer: Swim well enough and don’t need to stop at the end of each lane.
2:11 – 2:44 : Novice: Still getting used to this thing called triathlon.
2:45 – 4:59 : Complete beginner: I want to start at the back.
Swimmers enter the water one-by-one, in order of bib #, and begin swimming every 10-15 seconds. After each set of 40 swimmers there is a break to clear the lanes. The swim is done in a snake pattern through the lanes and passing is allowed but can be tricky. If you are fast enough to catch the person in front of you, gently tap their feet to communicate that you want to pass. You’ll need to pass on left, but being cautious of the swimmer coming the other way.
My dislike about a pool swim is that there are those that believe they swim much faster than they actually do. I was #224. The person in front of me and behind me chose wisely, however I found myself having to pass two people during the swim and catching up with the feet of a third at the end. Your swim order, and the swim time selected by those around you can greatly affect your swim time, which in-turn affects your overall swim time. Swim Time: 05:32.
Hopped out of the pool and ran to the transition area, on the wrong side of the racks, went under the bar, shoes, sunglasses, helmet, out. That was it. T1 Time: 01:12.
Ran out of transition, hit lap on my Garmin 910xt, jumped on the bike, and then realized that my Garmin was in swim mode…WHAT?!?! For a girl who needs to know what her numbers are, this was not going to work. It definitely hurt my time on the bike when I slowed a bit to switch to bike mode. This was a quick 10-mile course with small rollers.
During the pre-race meeting, the event organizers note a steep incline after the sharp left turn onto Bethany Church, which is not quite as steep as made out to be. I pushed through the course, averaging around 20mph. A BIG mistake, however, was underestimating the need for water on the bike since it was only 10 miles. The air was dry and so was I. I took a Power Bar Energy Gel at mile 5 which also helped to soothe my dry throat. Bike time: 30:58.
My T2 was not as smooth as T1, which was not smooth either. I had too much going on. Normally it would be shoes, visor, and run out of transition with race belt in hand. However, I needed to drink some water and adjust the mode on my Garmin, adding about 15-30 seconds. Not to mention that my bib ripped on one side, so I ran the course with my number hanging. T1 time: 1:34.
The run was good, not great, but good. My legs felt loose, which I’m attributing to keeping a higher cadence on the bike (90-95), so that was good, but I really believe that I could’ve pushed harder. I wouldn’t call the course hilly, I would say rolling since there aren’t really any big climbs. The run was an out and back 5k, closed to traffic, and through a few neighborhoods. The locals are awesome and cheered as we ran past. Run time: 24:41.
Setup Events always puts on great events, I have never been disappointed. I was looking for a short and fast, early-season tri to work out the kinks, and I found it. It was a diverse group of participants too, including youth, collegiate, competitive age groupers, and first-timers. I placed 1st in my age group and I will definitely be back next year to PR the course.