2018 Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint Triathlon
4/12 AG 18/271 Overall
July 7, 2018 – Rev3 Williamsburg was hosting the Mideast Long Course Regional Championships in 2018, and the race weekend included a sprint tri on Saturday. I’d heard good things about Rev3 for years, but just hadn’t had the opportunity to do one of its races. I was more inclined to do the Olympic distance race, but that was being held on Sunday. Rev3 had a free kids duathlon on Saturday, and my kids had been wanting to do another race for a while, so I signed them up. It didn’t make sense for us to spend Saturday and Sunday in Williamsburg, so I signed up for the sprint so we could all race on the same day.
I knew there would be some stiff competition at Rev3, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. After four years of racing triathlons, two of which have been coached by Karen and Erin, I’ve managed to get to the point where I hope and expect to make my age group podium in most local races. I was blessed with some amount of athletic ability, but only enough to play varsity sports in high school – no college scholarships for me. Enough still though that with four years of consistent training, I’ve been able to do pretty well for a guy who took up swimming and biking in his mid-30s. Nevertheless, when I race against anyone with college-level athletic talent – I’m looking at you Danny Royce – I get humbled pretty quickly. No amount of training could ever put me in the same category as some of those guys. Perhaps the same age group, but that’s about it. As it would turn out, Rev3 Williamsburg would be a stark reminder of that reality.
Even though the drive was a little over an hour each way, I decided to drive down to the race site Friday evening to pick up my race packet. Heidi dog accompanied me from work, and she was happy to garner a lot of attention while we waited in the line. After grabbing my race numbers and my goodie bag, Heidi and I scoped out the lay of the land and then headed back to Chesterfield. It takes me a couple of hours to prep, even for a sprint race, and I like to be in bed by 9 p.m. at the latest since the alarm typically goes off by 4 a.m. on race morning.
Since I had a fairly long drive, the alarm went off around 3:30 a.m., and I immediately got my oatmeal and coffee and then hopped in the car to head down Route 5. I made it to the Chickahominy Riverfront Park before 5:30 a.m. and then got set up in the transition area. Interestingly, my bike was racked next to two other Cervelo P2s (see below), and our rack quickly became known as “Cervelo Row.” I was cautiously optimistic that I wouldn’t take off on the bike course on someone else’s bike.
I did a warm up jog down to the swim exit, which was a pretty long way from the transition area. There was going to be a long run from the river to my bike on asphalt, and I was hoping that I wouldn’t scrape my feet up on the way. Shortly before transition closed, I ran into my friend Erika Jurkowski in transition, and we ended up in line together at the swim start. Erika was racing the sprint on Saturday and the Olympic on Sunday, as she was preparing to tackle Ironman Louisville for the second year in a row. We wished each other well and then got ready to jump into the river.
Swim – 18:51 (1:35/100M) (3/12 AG)
The swim was a point to point in the Chickahominy River, and we were supposed to be swimming with the current. The wind was blowing out of the north, however, so the surface of the river was actually moving south. The race announcer promised that the current would still be in our favor, but there was a fair amount of chop because of the wind. The river was also warm enough that it wasn’t a wet-suit legal swim, which I actually welcomed since I’ve been swimming pretty well of late.
It was a self-seeded swim start, and I lined up somewhere near the 1:45 min/100M marker. The swim line moved slowly down a dock, and when it was my turn, I crossed the timing mat and hopped in. I did my best to keep my heart rate down as I began swimming, and I was very surprised by the amount of chop in the water. There were times that I had to time my breathing just right so I wouldn’t catch a wave in my mouth.
Thankfully, I was able to keep calm, cool and collected, and I made my way north to the right turn buoy. Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether you’re swimming better than your competition, but I did feel like I was passing a lot of other swimmers. After rounding the turn buoy, I angled towards the swim finish along the shore line. I found myself getting pushed to my right towards the shore by the wind or the current, and I had continually try to “swim left” to stay in deeper water.
After nearly 19 minutes of swimming, I ran up the boat ramp at the swim exit and formally entered T1. I was happy with my swim, having stayed in a good rhythm the entire way. I was also happy with my sighting, and felt like I’d stayed on a relatively straight line. My GPS had the swim course at 1176 meters, which equated to a swim pace of 1:35 min/100M. I can certainly swim that pace in a pool, but there was probably a little bit of a current assist for me to hold that pace in an open water swim, particularly one in choppy water. It was good enough for 3/12 in my AG, which would be my best leg of the day.
It was a long run from the boat ramp back to the transition area, and I was mindful of my footing since I was trying not to stub a toe on the asphalt. Once I made it to the transition area, I made sure I found my Cervelo and I put on my bike shoes and helmet. It was then a short run to the bike out area and to the mounting line.
Bike – 41:02 (22.37 mph) (4/12 AG)
The bike course was a 15 mile out-and-back up Route 5. Its pretty much flat, with the exception of the bridge that you have to cross at the beginning and the end. The bridge doesn’t look all that steep, but its longer than you think it is and it’ll put you in your small chain ring unless you really want to stand on the pedals to attack it. It also has some expansion joints that make me a bit nervous – particularly after my crash in 2017 on something similar. I did a little bit of bunny hopping across the expansion joints just to be on the safe side.
After crossing the bridge, it was a straight shot up Route 5 to the west. I could feel a little bit of wind coming from my right out of the north, but nothing too severe. I passed some riders early on but found no one to work with. There were a few angry motorists wondering why all the bikers weren’t on the Capital Trail, but they probably should have put 2 and 2 together given the fact that we all had race numbers on our bikes and helmets.
A few miles before the turnaround point, I saw the first two bikers coming towards me in the other direction. It looked suspiciously like they were illegally drafting, but I could have been witnessing a pass. It was tough to tell in the short time that they were in my field of vision, but hopefully they were riding legitimately. Shortly thereafter, I hit the far end of the bike course, rounded the cone in the middle of Route 5 and then headed back to the east.
I was feeling good and my speed was in the 23-24 mph range in the flats. Erin has improved my biking a ton in the past two years and I really enjoy being able to turn in respectable bike splits. My speed was cut as I headed up the bridge on my way back in, and the wind was really whipping on the bridge this time. I was getting shoved to my right pretty hard thanks to the disc cover and it was a little nerve racking. I crested the top of the bridge, and then it was a short downhill to the left turn that would take me back into transition.
With the mostly flat course, I’d been able to average north of 22 mph, but that was still only good enough for 4th in my age group. The M40-44 age group had some really strong bikers in it, and the winner of my age group beat me by five minutes, which is a tad disheartening.
T2 was a lot faster than T1 since there wasn’t a long run from the dismount line to my transition spot. I had to rack my bike carefully to keep it from falling over (not a fan of the Rev3 racks) and swap out my shoes. I then grabbed my race belt and was off to the run-out area.
Run- 22:29 (7:14 min/mile) (4/12 AG)
Mile 1 (7:33)
The 5k run was an out-and back on the Capital Trail right next to the bike course. There was a fairly long run on wet grass out of transition, then a hard right turn to get on the Trail. That also meant that we got the fun of going up and over the bridge going out and then again coming back in. It was windy enough on the bridge that I had to make sure that my visor didn’t fly off.
I’d expected the bike course to be 12 miles instead of 15, and I could feel the extra three miles in my legs. I was actually glad that the course was longer, but it does make running a little tougher. I was hoping to do the run at a 7:10 pace or faster, but I knew pretty early on that that wouldn’t be in the cards, particularly as I slogged my way up and over the bridge. My GPS read 7:33 when it tripped the first mile, so I knew that I was off-pace a bit, even though my GPS isn’t always super accurate on the run in tri-mode.
Mile 2 (7:22)
I was able to make better speed in the second mile since the course flattened out, but it seemed like I would never make it to the turnaround cone. It finally appeared in the vicinity of a water stop, but I rarely slow down for water in a sprint triathlon. I rounded the cone and headed back in, trying to pick up the pace a little more in the process. I was doing just fine in that regard until I hit the bridge again. As it had been on the bike, crossing the bridge to the east seemed harder than crossing it going out in the other direction. I was encouraged, however, by the fact that I only had about one mile to go and that it was downhill from there.
Mile 3 (7:15)
After cresting the bridge I tried to throw on all the speed I had left, and I took the left turn off of the Capital Trail and ran through the wet grass around the transition area. Then it was back on pavement again as I headed towards the boat ramp. I felt like I was supposed to be done at that point, but the last bit seemed to go on forever. I finally got to take a right off of the pavement and run through the finishing chute. My overall pace was 7:14/mile, which was pretty close to my goal, so I was okay with that. My GPS was a little short at 3.05 miles, so that pace is based on the official distance of 3.1 miles.
Interestingly, there was a timing malfunction, which listed my official run time as 17:52. I’m pretty sure I didn’t run a 5:45 pace, but I like the thought of running a 5k in 17:52. The malfunction affected everyone equally, so no placings were fouled up.
I did a cool down run prior to checking the standings and was disappointed to see that I’d finished 4/12 in my age group. That was actually after one guy in my age group moved up and out since he was in the top three overall. As I mentioned above, my age group was crazy fast, and we had 3 out of the top 6 placings overall (3rd, 5th and 6th) in a race with 271 participants. I was 1 minute and 19 seconds out of third place in my age group, so I got smoked pretty well. By and large, the three guys ahead of me out-swam, out-biked and out-ran me, so it was pretty humbling.
By the time I checked my standings, it was getting close to the time for the kids’ duathlon to start. Leigh Anne had left her purse at home, so they had to turn around and go get it, so they were running a tad late. Thankfully, they made it in time and the kids had great races. Their race wasn’t timed, but they both had fun.
The next race on my calendar was the Patriot’s Olympic Triathlon in mid-September, and I was (silently) hoping to qualify for Nationals in that race. My season was set to culminate with the OBX 70.3 Triathlon the following weekend in Manteo, NC, where Leigh Anne would also be doing her first Olympic distance race. My training regimen for 2018 was centered around those two races, but as it would turn out, issues would arise with both . In fact, I’m still reeling from the what went down at the Patriot’s.