“The tides have caused the flame to dim…”

2021 Rumpus in Bumpass Olympic Triathlon

Race Report


 5/16 AG     30/144 Overall

April 24, 2021 – The Rumpus in Bumpass Olympic distance triathlon was my second tri of 2021. I’d done the race back in 2016, and I knew from that experience that there’d be a lot of fast athletes from northern Virginia and D.C. The race takes place at the Pleasant’s Landing Marina at Lake Anna, with a nice swim in the lake. The bike course is pretty much all rolling hills, as is the run. Its not the type of course to shoot for a PR, but its fun nonetheless.

There’s no direct route from my house to Pleasants Landing, and it seems like there are dozens of turns on backroads to get there. I drove up on the morning of the race, which meant that I left home well before dawn. When I finally arrived it was chilly outside, but it was supposed to be a nice day. I checked in and grabbed my race packet, and then got setup in transition. The water temperature was about 63 degrees, which doesn’t sound terrible, but that’s pretty chilly. Almost everyone had a wetsuit, including me.

After getting situated, I did a short run up to the main road and back, followed by some light stretching. I then checked in with my friend Jill, who was doing the race announcing and told her that I’d need some good shout outs during the race. She doesn’t disappoint. By then, it was time to line up for the self-seeded swim start. The Olympic racers were starting first, followed by the Sprint racers.

GPS Data

Swim- 28:15 (1:53/100 m) 4/16 AG                            

The swim was a self-seeded time trial start, with someone starting about every three seconds or so. There was a timing mat to cross just before entering the water, followed by a 50 yard swim from the boat ramp to a right turn buoy to begin the “out” leg of the course. I knew the water would be cold, but I didn’t think it was going to be a problem since I was wearing a wetsuit. I was wrong. As soon as I put my head in the water my lungs contracted and I had an “oh shit” reflex. My heartrate spiked and I couldn’t catch my breath. I pulled up, and after a few strokes of breast stroke, I stuck my head in again, only to have the same reaction.

The cold water was literally taking my breath away. I tried to keep my head in the water, but I just couldn’t breathe. I’d swim some breast stroke, try again, and kept repeating the cycle. It must have gone that way for about the first two to three minutes before I finally adjusted and was able to get going. I don’t know if other people were having the same problem, but I felt pretty embarrassed and could just feel the time slipping away from me.

Once I got accustomed to the water temperature things were fine. I tried to tell myself that it was a long race and not to dwell on the lost time, but it was hard to do that. Thankfully, the water was pretty calm, so the swimming was pretty easy once I got going. I prefer to breathe to my right, and the wind and waves were coming from that direction. It was still calm enough for me to breathe to the right going out, so I was happy about that.

By the time I rounded the final buoy to come back in I was feeling really well. I picked it up a bit to try to make up some time, and I resisted the urge to look at my GPS. I was shooting for a 27-minute swim, and saw it turn to 28 minutes as I was climbing out of the water. I was a little disappointed, but felt like I did pretty well, considering the dreadful start that probably cost me a couple of minutes. In any event, it was still about 1:40 faster than my swim time in 2016.

T1- 2:35 1/16

I knew that the transitions at this race are pretty long. My first order of business after getting out of the water was to shed the wetsuit, which isn’t easy by yourself. I ran to my rack, and had the wetsuit down to my waist by that point. I sat down and tried to pull it off my lower half, and struggled a bit with that. Once the wetsuit was off, I got on my biking gear and started the long run to the mounting line. That was all the way through transition, and then down and through a long grassy area, followed by a run up a hill. I guess I was motivated by my poor swim start, because I was 1/16 in my age group in T1.

Bike – 1:06:45 (21.6 mph)  5/16 AG

The Rumpus bike course is two loops, and barely has any flat sections. To be fair, none of the hills are terribly difficult, but its pretty much just rolling hills the entire time, other than the bridge crossing near the end of each loop. The bike mounting line is at the bottom of the hill leading up to the main road, so there is a slow slog up that hill at the beginning. There’s then a quick downhill on the main road, then the course takes a hard right almost immediately, followed by one of the steeper climbs on the course. I tried to carry as much speed through the hard right turn as I could, and then got out of my seat to climb the hill. I wasn’t going to go easy on the first loop since I knew that I had to go full bore in order to have any chance of making my age group podium.

As I expected, the bike course was pretty sparsely populated on the first loop, but I passed a few people who’d started the swim ahead of me. I actually started pretty far back in the swim line, so there were some people to pass. One or two guys passed me on the first loop, but not many. I pushed the pace as hard as I could on the first loop, and came back past the marina a little tired, but feeling decent.

I quickly noticed the increased bike traffic on loop two since the Sprint racers were now out on the bike course, and I passed a lot of people on the climb after the hard right turn just past the marina. The bike traffic wasn’t really too much of a problem though, and I was happy to get a little bit of a draft benefit was I went past other bikers.

The only real problem of the day on the bike came on the back side of loop 2 around mile 20. Vehicular traffic had backed up some bikers ahead of me due to the winding 2-lane road. I wanted no part of getting caught behind a truck pulling a boat, and as I came up behind it (and the bikers riding in its wake), I made a quick move to pass it on the left near the center line of the roadway. Of course, as soon as I committed to the pass, I saw a vehicle approaching in the opposite direction, so I had to be quick about it and cut back over to the right. It wasn’t a near-miss by any means, but it was pretty dangerous and definitely got my blood pumping a little more.

There was a headwind when I got back to the bridge, but thankfully, I was able to tuck in behind another rider (at a legal distance) to save some energy. The last climb of the day followed the bridge, and I out climbed the guy who’d helped me across the bridge and then turned left into the marina to complete the bike. I’d done the bike course in 1:07:55 back in 2016, so my time of 1:06:45 was 50 seconds faster.

T2- 1:58 2/16 AG

T2 is a long run down the hill from the dismount line, through the long grass chute, and finally into the transition area. You then have to run out the back side of transition and wind around the outside back in the direction you just came from. Its not a quick process, but I didn’t have any trouble and was 2/16 in my age group.

Run- 46:18 (7:27 min/mile)   4/16 AG

Like the bike course, the Rumpus run course is nothing but ups and downs. You run up a muddy trail to start the race, and then you finally get dumped out onto a gravel road, which connects to the main road. There’s two loops of that, and then back down the muddy trail to the finish.

Miles 1-3 (7:42)(7:51)(8:03)

My primary goal for any Olympic distance run is to go sub-50 minutes. From there, I just want to go as far under 50 minutes as possible. I decided to shoot for 7:45 – 7:50 miles and then see what the day gave me. The first mile was actually pretty fast given the muddy trail, and I was feeling good as I got out onto the paved surface. Before I knew it, I was at the turnaround point of the first loop, and was then headed back towards the gravel road. I felt really good. So good in fact, that I thought I was going to overrun it and explode at the end. I felt like I could speed up, but was afraid to do so. I kept telling myself that I had a second loop to run, and not to blow it by going out too fast.

Miles 4-6 (7:33)(7:45)(7:41)

I was still feeling good at the turnaround cone to start the second loop, so I did pick up the pace a bit. Things were still going well, but I was still concerned about the wheels coming off in the last couple of miles. Its mostly uphill from the far end of the run course back to the gravel road, so I needed to save something in reserve for that. When I hit the turnaround to come back in, the hills did kick my butt a bit, but not as bad as I was thinking. I kept telling myself, “just make it to the gravel road and then you can run down the muddy trail to the finish.”

There were a lot more runners on my second loop, and I was glad to be headed back in, when so many people were just starting their first loop. I got to the gravel road, and then took a left onto the trail to head back down towards the lake and the finish. It was pretty wet and there were lots of roots, so I had so watch my step a bit. I finally made it off the trail, and took the last right turn to head to the finish.

I tried to throw on as much speed as I had left, but running through the damp grass was tough on tired legs. I got a nice shoutout from Jill as I finished – final time – 2:25:52. Sadly, that was only good enough for 5/16 in my age group – two and a half minutes off the podium. Even if I’d had a perfect swim, I probably still wouldn’t have made the podium. I’d been weighed, measured and found wanting. Still, I was almost five minutes faster overall than I was in 2016, so that was something positive to take from the race.

Next up for me was the Jamestown Olympic Triathlon in June, which was almost derailed by a soccer injury that knocked me out of commission for several weeks.

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