I wrote this blog post right after the AC Tri in Mid September. I’ve only recently gotten around to adding in the oh so important photos:-) Better late than never, right? Here you go!
It just makes me so giddy that there is a triathlon in Atlantic City, so even though I don’t live there anymore, I do my best to make it back to support the tri community in the town which I never, ever would host a triathlon- let alone two in one season!
This is my third time racing the four-year-old AC Tri (I only missed in 2012!) and I must say that every year I walk away commending Delmo sports for putting on an exceptional event. This year was no different.
I headed up to Jersey on the Friday before the race. My trip started off by picking up my bike from the Tuckahoe bike shop- in Ocean City. When I arrived, the bike was still in the bike stand, with one aero bar on. Uh. Oh. The guy at the shop told me that the ones they had didn’t fit. He also seemed a little frustrated, because their store really doesn’t deal with tri bikes, they mainly do cruisers. This bike was the only high end road bike they had. He called the guy from the other shop (the one actually in Tuckahoe), then went upstairs, returning a few minutes later with a brand new set of aeros. Phew. Mom and I went to lunch at Manco and Manco pizza (a must when in Ocean City!!) while he installed them. Unfortunately, this shop didn’t have a trainer for me to hop on and get fit properly on the bike, so I just figured I’d go with it, and adjust what I could on my own. Lesson: go to Tuckahoe if renting a racing bike.
At least there was pizza.
Friday evening, I went for a run on the boardwalk. A nice little 8k shake out after a morning of travel was just what I needed. Then, Saturday morning I got to meet one of my SOAS Racing teammates, Maria. She’s a total rockstar, and qualified for Kona at Louisville this year. Ah. Mazing. Check out her story here and help her fund raise here. I was really hoping for an outdoor ride, but the threat of rain kept us inside in the “pain cave” on the trainers for a few hours. I only stayed for two, while she had four. That woman is dedicated!
After the ride, I headed down to Bader Field to check in for the race. Check in was a breeze, and I met a blog reader while getting my shirt. Hi Mary! I racked my bike, covered it in trash bags to protect it from the impending rain, and went to the pre-race meeting. After a pretty standard meeting, I went home, relaxed for the night and completed the oh so important pre-race pedicure.
I woke up a few minutes before my alarm and immediately checked the weather. 58°F, 13mph winds. Brr. Definitely a sweatshirt kind of morning. Warm oats were the perfect breakfast, and I made myself a cup of coffee. Well, I used my parent’s coffee maker and made a small pot that was entirely too strong (it was as dark as the muddy water I would swim in later in the morning), and I could only handle a few sips before throwing it out. Well that was a bust.
(Photo courtesy of Delmo Sports)
We left the house with plenty of time to get to transition before it closed at 6:15. We had been warned to get there early, as there is only one way in to Bader field, so we left the house at 5:15 (my parents live 2 miles from Bader Field). We hit a little bit of traffic, and pulled in to a spot a little after 5:30. My biggest complaint about this race is probably this, though I am not sure how to fix it. There has to be a way to open a second entrance- hundreds of cars descending on one entrance does not ease the nerves of anxious triathletes!
I got myself set up, hit up the porta-potty, and then put on my wetsuit. I headed down to the swim start to line up, still bundled in my long sleeve and sweatshirt. I was thankful for the wetsuit- it was keeping my legs warm! As I checked out the water, I noticed a whole bunch of college kids, and learned that it was the Northeast Collegiate Championships. Welp, I guess I’m going to get schooled by kids 10 years younger than me.
My Jamis rental
Swim: 1 mile, 28:23
The swim is seed yourself, so I placed my self close to the front of the pack. I didn’t want to be one of the first people in, but I definitely wanted to be one of the first 10% in the water. It was low tide, and they had us jump off the dock one at a time. It went by fast, and soon, I was jumping in to the muck. Yes, it was muck. The floor of the bay is some of the mushiest, stickiest, grossest material I have ever felt between my toes. Ick! And of course, because of all the athletes churning up the floor and water ahead of me, the water was BLACK. I could not see a thing in the water, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not…I immediately started passing people and realized that I probably could have hopped in sooner. And as per usual, there were people who should NOT have seeded themselves where they did (backstroke, in the first 250 yards, really?). I was feeling pretty good on the swim, but halfway through the long, straight leg of the swim, it just started to feel really long. I’m not sure if it actually was long (anyone with a 910 want to confirm??), but I think the tide had turned and started running in, so we were heading in to the current. I was happy to make that final turn before heading in to the dock. I actually reached the dock at the same time as another girl (college kid!) but I beat her out on to the dock. Yes, the competitive side of me came out- I will not be beat out of the water!
It’s a short run in to transition, and I had a great end spot on the third rack from the end. The toughest part of this transition was putting on arm warmers while wet. Oof. That is not easy. Once they were on, and my helmet, I skedaddled out of there!
Bike: 20 miles, 1:00.26
Two minutes in to the ride I was grumbling about the bike, wishing so badly that I was on my own two wheels. The saddle was uncomfortable, which I had noticed on the trainer, but knew I could suck it up for 20 miles. The thing that was really bothering me was the fit. I hadn’t realized how bad it was, but I was in a terrible position- I wasn’t getting any power. I was so far back on the saddle because it was so uncomfortable, and it was too low. Aero was definitely not aero- my chest was up too high. (See photo above!) This was NOT ideal considering there was a 13mph head wind that we faced every time we headed out of the city (which was twice).
My morale was not helped when I kept getting passed (mostly by men, but there were a few women in there- at least two college girls) or when I dropped my water bottle right after I had gotten on to the expressway. It was my Osmo, and I decided to sacrifice some time and pick it up. Thankfully I was in the shoulder and there was no one around me. Speaking of the shoulder, that’s where we had been explicitly told to ride during the pre-race meting by the USAT official. I didn’t see anyone else in the shoulder except for me on the entire ride. This became a problem as I was on my second loop, leaving the city. The International athletes on their second lap merged with the sprint athletes on their first loop, right after Exit two. All of those sprint athletes were in the lane, not in the shoulder, so passing got a bit hairy at times. I had to slow down a few times so that I could safely pass. Had they all been in the shoulder, the passing could have happened in the lane, much further away from the traffic. I think they probably got confused because we were reminded to stay on the left while on the Black Horse Pike. There was one other hairy part of the ride. This year, we crossed back over the Pike at the ACHS ramp, rather than riding all the way in to Bader field with traffic, and then crossing 4 lanes right before turning in to Bader field. This was definitely a safer way to do this, but right at the end of the ramp the pavement was really uneven. I hit it a little fast, and was thankful I didn’t get a flat, but I saw at least 3 guys with flats right there. There was signage to slow down, but if there’s any other work that can be done to fix that up, I’m sure the athletes would appreciate it!
Edited to add: After the race, Steve the RD posted this video, recognizing the fact that so many athletes had issues with this ramp. As a result, he offered free entry into next year’s race. Um yes, talk about a stellar race director. Can there be more RDs like that?
I enjoyed the rides back in to town- the tail wind was a nice boost- but was thankful to be back in transition and ready to run!
Visor, shoes, racebelt, Go! I was pretty quick (or so I thought) getting in and out of transition, but T2 doesn’t end until you are WAY out of transition, and almost on to Albany Avenue. I saw Maria, gave her a wave, and set out to have a strong run.
(Check out my tongue LOL!)
Run: 5 miles, 38:39
This year, the run was shortened from a 10k to 5 miles (8K), which I was not unhappy about. A shorter run? I’ll take it! I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the boardwalk is one of my favorite places to run. You just can’t beat the springiness of the boards under your feet and the ocean to your side. I was feeling pretty good, and my Achilles was only a little sore. Right after I got on the boardwalk, one of the college girls I actually had passed on the bike, passed me right back. I tried so hard to keep up with her, but she really picked it up on the turn around and I lost sight of her. I got passed by two other 21 year-olds on the run, but I was able to pass a few guys :-) Despite taking the run out too fast (4:27/km whoops), I stepped it back and was fairly consistent throughout the rest of the run. On the way in to the finish chute, I hopped behind a college kid, and I was able to reap the benefits of his draft for about 100 yards before he took off for his finish. I finished strong, and was proud of my finish.
Number three is in the books!
Overall time: 02:13:13.7
And of course, I have to highlight some of the benefits of doing this race!
- hot breakfast
-comprehensive results at the end
-long sleeve tech tee
-free race photos
-Paired with Seafood festival
-And a fantastic race director who puts athletes first. Thanks for another great race Steve! Hopefully, I’ll see you for TWO races next year!
Finally, a big shout out to my mom for being my personal photographer and sherpa for the day. Couldn’t do it without you!
And a big huge shout out to SOAS racing, who makes just the best tri kits out there! I am so honored to be a part of the team!