This will probably focus on the pre race then the race itself and that is where I had the most fun. I hindsight I should have never done this race as I just wasn’t in it from the start. In the weeks leading up to the race bike and swim course were late to be finalized and the bike was very convoluted with tons of turns. Plus reports from locals had roads in rough shape with segments still needing paving and made worse by flooding and heavy rain from tropical storms and a near certainty the swim would be canceled.
I took Friday off work and drove up early which was an uneventful ride. I got there around lunch and was one of the first people to pick up my packet. Because the swim was in a different location from the bike finish the athletes guide advertised a shuttle bus for spectators to get to the swim start so I was surprised when I went to buy two tickets for my parents and was told the bus wouldn’t be running. When I asked why I was informed the swim had been canceled. Oh
After getting my packet I went to the park where the swim was suppose to take place and was totally fine with the swim cancellation based on how the river looked. We drove the bike course and all my concerns about the race were confirmed and I was not looking forward to Sunday especially with more rain in the forecast.
We went to the hotel to check in and got a nice meal at a restaurant on the river.
Saturday I had a couple of quick workouts to do in the morning and then walked around downtown taking pictures of whatever I found interesting.
I especially liked the Aardvark mascot for the local running store.
And I was very concerned that the bridge was out
I found the thought of a small town detective agency interesting
We grabbed some lunch and dropped my bike off.
The rest of the afternoon was spent driving around the area enjoying the sights which included a stop at a local orchard that had some awesome apple cider.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped in a town that had a feeder to Delaware River to see the strong currents and high water levels.
And yes that is the side of a restaurant with the water level up the side. I think almost everyone in the town had a pump set up and was getting water out of the basement.
It started raining AGAIN Saturday afternoon and went all night so any hopes of dry roads went away.
Being a two transition race I had to take a shuttle bus from the high school (T2) to the swim start (T1). I had my drive me the 1 from the hotel and got dropped off and on the bus with plenty of time.
Easy section, the swim was canceled due to high water levels and a
strong current. That was totally the right call based on the
conditions. It did leave a lot of time to kill before my time to go off on the bike. So I found a quite space under a gazebo and just zoned out until it was time to warmup.
The one thing I will say is I don’t think a swim course like the proposed one will every work well for this venue. I talked with hotel staff a bit on Saturday while this September was extremely wet they usually get a lot of rain this time of year. So having a large portion of the swim upstream would cause issues for a lot of weaker swimmers.
This was my bike gripe with the race. I know they can’t control
the weather and that roads get slick. But the road quality and course
layout were unacceptable for a race that’s suppose to be of this
caliber. The scenery was nice and it’s a hilly area the potential is there for this to be an awesome bike course just not on the roads they used this year or with this many people.
With the swim cancellation and they went with a time trial start by race number, and being in the 1800s that meant I was one of the last people to start the race.
The first couple miles were ridiculous. Because some of the original
roads flooded due to heavy rains that week the director
decided to do a 3 mile out and back section in the park. Being one of
the last people to go off I found this section extremely crowded and
the u-turn at the turn around was a complete mess. People were bunching up and I even saw a few low speed crashes of people not able to navigate the turn. But even with this section they didn’t get to the full 56 miles for the bike course so I’m wondering why even bother with this section?
The course went through the park for a few more miles and up a couple
of steep climbs before making what would be the first of many left
hand turns on a downhill. The rest of my ride was mainly worrying
about staying upright and not crashing. I found the course to be on
very hilly and twisty narrow roads and as crowded as the roads were made
passing and riding aggressively very dangerous for me. I think my longest stretch of uninterrupted riding in the aerobars was about 4 minutes during the straightaway back into town at the end of the course.
I was also not a fan of several sections that had the roads closed by the bikers on the “wrong” side of the road. This made passing especially dangerous as about half the people were staying to the right and passing left and the other half doing the exact opposite. This was far and away the worst bike course I’ve done and was just happy to be finished and in one piece.
I was happy to be done with the bike course and start the run. The run started in town and went through some neighborhoods get out of town. I felt good coming off the bike and moving along and building my heart rate into zone and got through the first 3 miles in under 22 minutes. I was suppose to up the effort and when I did, stomach problems appeared again. I made it through mile 5 keeping up my same pace before stopping to use the bathroom and see it would help relieve some of my stomach problems but it didn’t. I stopped again around mile 6 with no relief and then I started throwing up on the side of the road. Unfortunately that didn’t help either and I ran /walk until I stopped to throw up some more and spend about 20 minutes contemplating dropping out of the race.
I decided to tough it out and started walking back. I didn’t wear any armwarmers or coat so I was getting quite cold walking. I tried running again ever few minutes but couldn’t go for long without my stomach being a mess again.
I got back in to town and was able to hold it together long enough to actually run down main street to the finish line. The street was lined with spectators and was a great finish area for a race.
This was a really frustrating day for me. I felt like I didn’t get a chance to race the bike and take advantage of all the hard work I’ve put in. The run was another disappointing 1/2 IM performance with stomach issues. My legs were ready to go but my stomach said no.
I think this picture sums up my general feelings about the day. Blah
I’ve been doing triathlons for four years now and this is the first one that I would truly say I will never do again unless major changes are made. It just was not an enjoyable experience and is not worth it when so many other options are available.
I was talking to my coach a couple days after the race and I didn’t feel beat up at all, no worse then a weekend 4 hour ride 30 minute run day. So because of that I’ve decided to jump into the Philadelphia marathon with the goal of Boston Qualifying and going sub 3-hrs.