“Its so hard to get old without a cause, I don’t want to perish like a fading horse…”
2022 Patriot’s Olympic Triathlon
2/19 AG 30/220 Overall
September 10, 2022- My final triathlon of 2022 was the Patriot’s Olympic in Williamsburg. I’ve raced Patriot’s nearly every year since 2015 at all of the distances they offer – Sprint, Olympic and Half. I didn’t train for long course triathlon this year (by design), so I settled on the Olympic distance race. Honestly though, I wasn’t as trained up as I would have liked to have been, mostly due to a completely hectic schedule at work and with the kids’ activities. There were a lot of nights getting home late from various games or practices. I generally do my best training in the morning before work, but its hard to burn the candle at both ends. It seems to be getting harder every year. I got in enough training to stay relatively fit, but definitely not where I wanted to be.
The Olympic and Half races were on Saturday morning, and I got up at 3:50 a.m. to make sure that I was at the race site by 5:30 a.m. when race day check in began. Leigh Anne was nice enough to ride along with me, and since my friend/neighbor Clay Westbay was doing the Half, she’d be able to hang out with his wife Michelle while we raced.
I’d gotten my bike loaded on the bike rack on my car Friday night, but when I checked it on race morning my front tire was flat. I pumped it up before leaving and it seemed to be holding air, but I grabbed my backup wheels just in case. Good thing, because when I got to Williamsburg the front tire was flat again. I didn’t have time to mess around with changing the tube, so I swapped out my Flo wheels for my Zipps. I preferred the Flos since I had a 90/disc combo, which was perfect for the Patriot’s course, but the Zipps would have to do.
I got set up in transition and found Clay, and then did a short warmup jog. By then, it was time to head down to the river for the start. The Half went first at 7:00 a.m., so I saw Clay off and then had a long, boring 30 minute wait before the Olympic start at 7:30 a.m.. It was finally go time, so I seeded myself in the first 25% – 33% of field for the time trial swim start.
Swim: 29:24 (1:58/100 m) (3/19)
The swim is a roughly rectangular course in the river, which begins and ends on the beach. Due to the warm water temperature, it wasn’t wetsuit legal. The river had been super rough the last three times I’d raced at this venue, but it was surprisingly calm on race morning. I felt oddly confident about the swim prior to starting, and for some reason, I just knew that I was going to have a good swim. My gut was correct, and I felt good from start to finish. I never looked at my watch until I crossed the timing mat on the beach, and I was pleased to see that I came in under 30 minutes. A good start, but I knew I had work to do to make the age group podium.
T1: 2:29 (1/19)
T1 takes forever since there’s a very long run from the beach up to transition. I make it a point to run very hard since most people take it easy. I figure that its free time on the field, and my effort paid off this time since I was 1/19 in my age group in T1.
Bike: 1:05:11 (22.9 mph) (3/19)
The bike course is pretty fast and flat, with the exception of the Route 5 bridge, which has a decent climb, and is generally fairly windy. There’s actually a decent run to the bike mounting line after you cross the timing mat to start the bike course, which hurts your official bike pace a bit. Then you have a relatively slow section and a couple of turns to exit the park and to get on the main road. Once on the road though, its pretty fast.
Since I didn’t seed myself at the front of the swim, I had some bikers in front of me to pick off and get a little slingshot effect as I went by. I also passed some of the people at the tail end of the the Half bike course. Unfortunately though, I really couldn’t find anyone to ride with to get a sustained (legal following distance) draft effect. I rode hard over the Route 5 bridge and was able to stay in the big chain ring over the top. I then flew down the backside. A few miles past the bridge, there was a right turn which led to a turnaround cone after about a mile or so. I went around the cone in a 180, then headed back towards transition. 12 miles to go.
I was thinking that the wind would be at my back on the way back in, but it seemed like a slight headwind. I did have a guy pass me just after crossing the Route 5 bridge again, so I went along with him for a few miles, riding about 4-6 bike lengths behind him. I got caught up behind some vehicular traffic near a turn though, and he was able to pull away from me and leave me behind. There were only a couple of miles to transition at that point, and they were uneventful.
I turned back into the park, but there were a couple of turns to make on iffy roads, which slow you down quite a bit. There was also some loose gravel in some spots, and I was hoping not to flat so close to transition, If I had, I would have just run my bike back in. On the last stretch of road to the dismount line I heard Michelle calling my name, but I didn’t see her. Apparently, she and Leigh Anne were in Michelle’s van in the parking area to my right, but I missed them completely. I dismounted just before the line, and was happy to see that I finished in about 1 hour and 5 minutes. Pretty spot-on for what I expected, and good enough for 3/19 in my age group. Time to run.
T2: 1:10 (2/19)
I ran my bike back to my transition spot and got it racked pretty quickly. My helmet was swapped out for my ProK hat and I put on my running shoes. I grabbed my race belt with my bib, and snapped it on as I headed out of T2. It hadn’t felt too warm on the bike, but as I went to start my run I started noticing the heat. It wasn’t unreasonably hot for for early September in Williamsburg, but hot enough that I knew that it was going to be an unpleasant run.
Run: 50:55 (8:12/mile) (5/19)
My goal for the run was anything sub-50 minutes. The Patriot’s Olympic run course is pretty flat, but its mostly in direct sunlight. Maybe 25% is shaded, and it can be a pretty hot run. As soon as I came out of transition I began feeling thirsty, but it felt like my stomach was already sloshing – not a good sign. Sometimes the run feels better after the first mile, but this time I was feeling worse. I felt like my heartrate was jacked up and as much as I was trying to take in fluids at the aid station, the more I took in the worse my stomach felt. I struggled through the first half of the run and was over my goal pace.
By the time I got to mile 4 I was feeling really bad and thought that my run was about to blow up. Somewhere during that mile I hit an aid station and tried to take in some fluids. As soon as I did so, the nausea hit me hard and I ran off the side of the trail and puked up a bunch of liquid in the bushes. As gross as that was, my stomach immediately felt better and less sloshy. I was able to rally a little bit for the finish.
With about a mile to go a guy in my age group ran by me – I could tell by the age Sharpied onto his right calf. I knew that I couldn’t re-pass him, but that I couldn’t let him get too far ahead of me. Due to the time trial start, I might have been ahead of him in total time, even if he was ahead of me on the course. I picked up the pace as much as I could, trying not to let him get away. The last mile really sucked, but I was able to keep him in my sights. When I made the final turn to the finishing chute, I sprinted with everything I had left since I knew that every second counted for the podium.
After crossing the finish line, I got my medal and a bottle of water and collapsed on the ground for a bit. I was pretty overheated and definitely dehydrated. When I checked the results I saw that I was 2/19 in my age group. Most importantly, the guy who passed me in the last mile actually finished nine seconds behind me and took third in the age group. If I hadn’t tried to maintain contact with him after he passed me, he would have beaten me for sure. After suffering through the run and puking in the bushes, that made me very happy. First place beat me by almost four minutes, so first probably wouldn’t have been in the cards for me unless I really crushed the run.
And with that result, my 2022 tri season came to an end. It was a solid year, with two seconds and two thirds in my age group (in four races), but no firsts. For a variety of reasons, I trained less in 2022 than any year since 2015, so I couldn’t really complain too much. After the Patriot’s, I took about six weeks to recover and clear my head. 2023 was set to bring some changes, including a return to long course triathlon, which had been absent since 2019.