Sunday, June 19, 2011

Race Report: Topeka Tinman Sprint Triathlon

For a race that was originally scheduled to be my first triathlon, this was now a relatively calm week leading up to Topeka Tinman.  I got a swim and bike ride in (commute to work) but I didn't get a run in.  In fact, I don't think I had gotten a quality training run in since before Hospital Hill.  Frankly, I am fine with that.

Friday night Shane came over for some tasty Zucchini Carbonara and informed us Heather wouldn't be carpooling on Saturday morning but rather joining us at the race with their kiddos.  Shane brought his bike over to speed up tomorrow's departure as we would be leaving at 5:00am.  I was driving so I put the bikes on the truck Friday night.

Go Team Felt!

Friday night we had a nasty storm come through during the night and it woke me.  I checked the radar at that time and it looked like another one was coming and might hit Topeka just about the time we would be setting up transition.  This was about to get interesting.

This was taken around 4:45am
The alarm went off pretty early at 4:15am.  Toasted Bagel with Peanut Butter and Banana for breakfast.  We made it over to Shane's house by 5:00am and then hit the road for the 1 hour drive to T-town.  The sky was menacing as the sun lit it up from behind the clouds; however, the oncoming storm was on the north side of I-70.  I checked the radar and it looked like Topeka had some invisible power that split that storm in half.  It looked like it was going to be a dry race.

We arrived around 6:00am and parked in a large grass field.  From the field we could already tell things didn't go well with the storm that came through around midnight.  Even though we were parked about a third of a mile from the transition area, we could hear the Race Director (RD) announce over the PA system "We have finally opened up the transition area but we do not expect a delay to the race".  This meant the race was 45 minutes behind schedule.

Shane and I continued our last minute prep at the truck when we heard the RD announce "If you see our finish line while on the bike route, please record the GPS coordinates and let us know when you return".  Oh fun.  Well, off to the transition area!

Our Tron backpacks are fully charged!! (Joke via TKB)
The RD also told triathletes not to pay attention to the buoys.  Apparently the storm really ripped up all the work put in on Friday.  The buoys had gotten blown from their original placement.

The transition area was grouped together by of bib number.  In some twist of fate that I have yet to figure out, Shane's Bib Number was 283 and mine was 284.  We setup our transition area together and then off to get marked.

Shane... don't fart.
I should have told her to write the numbers smaller so my arms look bigger.
After we got marked we picked up our chips and then found the 10 or so port-a-potties.

Chip Pickup
Since this was the first time either of us had participated in Topeka Tinman, we scoped out the swim/bike/run entrance and exists.  It was very confusing but we chalked that up to the storm moving around/knocking over the signage.  We took comfort knowing that there would be plenty of people in front of us during the race that we would just follow their lead.

Walking around I found Mark (YoungEnough2Tri) in the transition area and chatted about the race and discussed this being one of our first triathlons.  Mark was hitting the short course like Shane and me.

What Up Mark!
By now it was 7:45 and time to head to the swim start.  I grabbed the white swim cap and traded the glasses for my swim goggles.  While there, Shane and I ran into another Twitter Triathlete (Twiathlete?), Travis (tberkley).  Travis was participating in the long course.

That's Travis in the blue swim cap.  Tricia had already separated from us so she didn't get a good group photo.
Yes, I'm still getting rid of "the plague" as I hold my cough in.

Swim - 400 Meters

Our wave (Males 30 - 39) hit the drink at 8:06am in the 76 degree water.  I was trying to be a bit more competitive in my swim start.

That's me right in the middle.

What you don't see is the shoreline is about 30 meters wide and people were starting from all angles.
I'm getting tired of fighting through slower swimmers (and yes, I now feel confident in saying that); however, I apparently did not.  I almost immediately got stuck behind a couple guys doing some weird breast stroke/doggy paddle variations.  I think my hand actually nailed some dude's butt crack.  HELLO!  I never got comfortable in the swim and amazingly I hit the 200 meter turn around before I knew it.

After the turn around, I did get into some kind of groove trying a 2 stroke, breath, 3 stroke, breath rhythm but it wasn't long before I ran into another dude who apparently took off too strong too early.  I even passed a guy from the first wave (we were the third wave).

Time: 6:42 / 1:41
AG Rank: 21 / 33

Transition 1

Being almost blind (a bit of an exaggeration) I keep my prescription goggles on until I get to my back to trade in the prescription sunglasses.
Coming out of the water, I definitely felt like I went through a washing machine.  A little disoriented and queazy.  I was breathing hard and the long run from the beach to transition didn't help.  Thinking through my transition there are two things that slow me down.  One is putting on my bike shoes and the other being my race belt.  Because I like to do the GPS tracking so TKB can watch me on the course, I have my cell phone in the race belt's pocket.  I have a tendency to fumble around with the extra weight of the phone in the pocket.

I doubt I will ever stop the tracking, so I need to practice putting on the belt with wet hands.  I also prefer to have the belt on during the bike as it is one less thing to worry about during T2.
Fumbling on the bike.. need to get much better clipping into my pedals.  Also, see that guy in a red/black jersey on the right.  More on him later.

Time: 2:12
AG Rank: 10 / 33

Bike - 13 Miles
I was breathing hard on the bike.  My heart rate was in the 170s and I would really like to see it in the 150s for most of the bike.  Fortunately the route had few turns and was mostly flat or slow inclines.  I was able to get it back down but it averaged 164.  I tried taking in extra hydration due to the humidity picking up but the temperature was actually comfortable.

The route was an out and back.  The course was not completely closed to traffic but there were policemen at the main intersections.  It had some rolling hills but nothing too steep.  Being the third wave, I had plenty of males and females under 29 to pass and was doing a decent job of it.  I had a few people pass me on their expensive tri bikes and race wheels (hmmm... maybe next year).

The last half of the bike course was me playing leapfrog with another athlete (the dude from above).  He had a fancy tri bike and a storm trooper bike helmet (aka, aero helmets). I caught him on the hills and he eventually caught me on the flats.  We kept passing each other right up to the dismount.  He passed me coming up to it but I was more prepared for the dismount.

About to jump off the bike!
 My guess is I was going 8 - 9 mph when I jumped off the bike.  My feet slid a bit.

See ya, buddy!  (frantically trying to slow my roll)

Time: 40:29 / 19.3 mph
AG Rank: 6 / 33

Transition 2
Pretty straight forward.  Bike racked.  Socks, Shoes, Hat on.  GO!

Time: 1:10
AG Rank: 15 / 33

Run - 3 Miles
The run was an out and back with a small u-turn on the 8 foot wide path.  In T2 I really wanted to take another swig of gatorade but decided I'd get one at the first aid stations.  I poorly assumed there would be one within the first quarter mile.  In fact, there wasn't one until the turn around.

The humidity was picking up and I had a hard time breathing at the start because it was coming on thick.     At least it seemed like that to me.  The route starts on the road but then follows a path through the park.  You run past a campground (mmm....  campfire smoke) and then a golf course (FORE!).  The course had some hills to it but, again, nothing to steep.

I kept an eye on my Garmin trying to stay sub-8 for the course.  I really want to see that dip to sub-7:30 for my next triathlon but that will definitely take some work as it is a long distance.  The body was feeling good, I just didn't have the steam in me to chug along at a faster pace.

Woo Hoo!  Almost there!
Shane flying through the chute.
Time: 23:43 / 7:55
AG Rank: 13 / 33

I really enjoyed this race and I'm thinking that I would enjoy sticking with sprint distances.  We'll see.  At this point in my triathlon career, I'm feeling like I'm getting into a groove.  I see where I need to improve, such as the run after the bike, but I know everything could use work.  I know it's only been three triathlons, but I'm still waiting to have a better swim component so I can really find out what kind of swimmer I am.

For Tinman specifically, it turned out to be just a wonderful day considering the threat of storms in the morning.  The event was put on pretty well, but it was confusing with where the entrance/exists were.  We saw one long distance athlete leave the wrong side of the transition area on his run.

Follow-up on the dude on the bike.  He apparently made it out of T2 faster than I did because I passed him on the run.  The reason he made it out faster?  He was running in Birkenstock type of sandals.  I chatted with him after the race and he apparently only brought one of his running shoes.  Oops!

Time: 1:14:17
AG Rank: 8 / 33
Overall: 50 / 201

The Breakdown
  • The Good
    • Finishers Award - A pint glass.  I'm not a huge fan of the logo as it was etched in the glass but I love having a "free" pint glass to add to the collection.

    • Post-Race Grub - They had kids handing out PowerAde and cold water but Hy-Vee was grilling hot dogs and hamburgers.  While they weren't grade A meat, it was a nice switch-up from the standard fair.  They had Gatorade there with apples and bananas.  No chocolate milk though.
    • A suitable amount of volunteers to help out and cheer you on.  They all had their work cut out for them reassembling the transition and finishing chute from the storms.
  • The Bad
    • The Emcee on the microphone (which I am assuming is the Race Director).  I know it was a crazy day with the storms and he did a decent job discussing how things were going to take place but there were a few times he was making fun of the athletes (such as those short course athletes in wetsuits).  Not cool in my book... even if it was deserved ;).
    • Confusing transition area.  We eventually gave up trying to figure it out. For instance, if you see in the photo where I am jumping off the bike, the sign says "Bike Mount"; however, that was actually on the other end of the transition.
    • The swim exit (entrance into the transition area) was the same Bike In area.  This meant people on the swim (disoriented) and bike (exhausted yet speedy) were potentially crashing in together.
    • The post-race food was quite a ways from the chute.  This might have been by design because they were actually selling the food to non-athletes (which was poorly designed as I just grabbed an extra hotdog for the little lady while I was there).
  • The Standard
    • Packet Pickup. 20 minute wait for less than 10 minutes in line.  Seemed like they could use a few more computers.
    • Goodie bag.  Hammer Gel and Tech T-Shirt.  Nothing special.
    • Communication.  I registered a week before the event, so I only received one e-mail communication.  I couldn't find a twitter/facebook account other than the Ultramax social media.
    • Aid Stations: Only one on the short course.  Even KC Corporate Challenge had 3 and it was only 2.4 miles.
    • Post-Race.  I touched on that above.  Not bad.
    • Parking.  Sufficient for the size of the participants but a decent hike to the transition area.
    • Porties.  8 or 10 plus flush toilets near by.  I never noticed a big line.
    • Volunteers.  Sufficient.
The Proof
The Garmin Button Press and One Legged Pirate Pose -- Out of the water!

Shane out of the water!

Running out of the transition.

Shane readying his bike dismount.

Shane walking on air.

This is why TKB comes to triathlons... dog watching.

This is the GPS tracking that I do.  I'm headed back to the finish chute, so TKB better start watching for me!


Proof that the $5,000 finish line did exist at some point.  Apparently they found it half a mile away. Taken from the Ultramax Facebook page.


  1. Apparently coming out of the water I had time to ask Tricia, "How you doing?"

  2. I would've liked to see more pictures of Mark.
    Otherwise, great job!

  3. Great recap! I'm sure we'll probably run into each other at a few races in the future. Next up for me is Midwest Mayhem on July 17th.
    Oh, and I hate running with my cell phone in a race annoying. You ever try one of those arm bands? That's worked out pretty well for me when I've had to carry mine.