Kevin Sprouse - Hammer Olympic Triathlon Report

So, I told everyone that it had been 10 or 12 years since I last competed in a triathlon.  That was a lie.  I started doing the math, and it turns out it was probably more like 14 years...but who's counting?!?  Suffice it to say, I was a bit rusty.  The Hammer Olympic Triathlon was a fun way to jump back into the sport, though smarter person would've signed up for a sprint first, maybe one with a pool swim.

I started with a goal of simply reintroducing myself to the sport.  I had no competitive goals and didn't care how I finished.  My goal was to finish, to pace well, to experience transitions again, and to explore whether I might be able to be competitive.  Of course, the competitive juices start flowing once the gun goes off, but I was able to keep those goals in mind.  In fact, I feel that the race was quite successful from that point of view.  My pacing was pretty good, I took my time in transition (even sitting down to put on socks!), and truly approached the event for the experience rather than the result.  Even still, it's been a long time since I was that nervous before a race.

I was able to sign in and get my race numbers, but I couldn't remember where they should be placed.  I also forgot to get my swim cap.  But some help along the way from some friendly teammates and competitors got me back on track and to the start line fully numbered and equipped.

The water was balmy for April, and my new Synergy wetsuit was fantastic!  I'd tried it out the day before while swimming at the boat ramp on Cherokee Boulevard.  The water there was MUCH colder!  It was so cold that I only stayed in for about three minutes.  Race-day, seventy-two degree lake water was a pleasant surprise.  I went out a bit fast on the swim (expected) and then settled into a comfortable pace.  I'd not done an open water swim yet this decade, and I'd only recently been back in the pool regularly.  I figured I'd hold about a 2min pace, so my time of 27:15 was better than expected.  My sighting could use some work though, as my Garmin says I swam more than a few extra meters.

My transition was slow...both of them.  We'll just get that out of the way here.

I used my road bike, as I don't have a TT bike.  Granted, my Cannondale SuperSix EVO is a faster bike than I deserve to pilot, but an aero setup may have just made its way to my wishlist.  That said, I felt like I paced well and had a good ride with a 21.4mph average on a hilly course.  For an Olympic distance race, you really don't need (or shouldn't need) many calories.  The entirety of my fueling took place on the ride, which consisted of 300 kcals (THIS and THIS from TheFeed.com) and two bottles of amino acids.  No bonk.  No cramps.  All good from a nutrition standpoint.

Then the run...oh, the run!  It was two laps on a 5K course.  My goal had been to hold a 7min pace for the first lap then turn it up for the final lap, if there was anything left.  But my legs did not like trying to run after that ride.  I was able to keep it close to my goal pace, as long as there wasn't an incline.  But the legs eventually opened up after a couple miles and I was good to go.  On my second lap, I did maintain a sub-7 pace and felt great by the end.

BUT!...The run course was kind of chaotic.  People were running all over the place, in different directions, and confusion was abundant.  On one lap, a volunteer at one intersection pointed me to the right.  On the next time around, they insisted I go left.  At another spot, I was told to round one cone near the dam.  On the next lap, I was told I didn't need to go to that cone if I was returning from a lap.  There were runners walking around just asking for directions.

When I got home and reviewed the files from my Garmin, my watch registered me as about a quarter mile short on the run.  This made me uneasy given the chaos on the run course, so I emailed the race director asking to be removed from any results.  It's unfortunate, but with all the confusion, I couldn't confidently say I didn't miss a turn or get routed the wrong direction.  Let's be clear...the job of race directing is a thankless one, and I don't blame him or the race volunteers.  I'm just thankful to get to go outside on a beautiful spring day and play triathlete.  But I'd feel terrible if my misdirection cost someone else a podium spot!

All in all, I consider my first foray back into the sport to be a semi-success.  I've got a lot of work to do, but that's what makes it fun!  Thanks to all of the Podium Racing sponsors for making team a reality, and thanks to the Podium athletes for their support (and telling me where to put my race number).