Revolution 3 Triathlon
Heading out to Connecticut last week for the inaugural Rev3 Tri, I was truly looking forward to the event. I had heard so much about the challenging terrain; I was anticipating a great battle with a world-class field; I was interested in seeing the cutting edge technology of the TRAKKERS devices; and, of course, I was anxious to reunite with Amanda!
My first few races this year have been solid, and my results have been good. However, each of them has had some sort of strange circumstance that somehow defines it as a less-than-ideal race situation. Just prior to California, I got a nasty stomach bug; three days before St. Croix, I had to build up a brand new bike; and I drove 1200 miles from Austin to Boulder in the days prior to Columbia. I don’t feel like the circumstances affected me too much for the worse, but I admit I was looking forward to a drama-free event.
But then again, does a drama-free event really exist?
My brilliant plan to connect with the wife in Charlotte, en route to Hartford, was foiled by a late departure out of Denver. Nonetheless, I found Amanda waiting for me in CT, eager to make the journey to our hotel; better late than never.
Day one in Connecticut was a bit dreary. The temps were low, the skies overcast. It seemed like the perfect day to rest up, while driving the bike and run courses. After covering two miles of the bike course, it became evident that Rev3 was going to be an honest test of strength and perseverance. There was not one single flat stretch of road on either discipline’s route.
By Saturday morning, the sun came out and the perfect June weather was in full effect. Amanda and I headed down to Quassy Amusement Park, the venue for Rev3. We took a dip in the Quassapaug Lake, and were pleasantly surprised to find the water clear and cool. Shortly after the practice swim, we handed out a few medals to some deserving participants of the Kids’ Race. Each youngster swam and ran a mini version of our race.
After a short jog and a spin on the bike, we headed down to the expo for the Press Conference and Pro Panel. A stellar panel was assembled for the talk, and we were lead through the paces of an entertaining yet informative chat. Looking at four past world champs on the ladies’ side, I figured Rev3 accomplished its goal of drawing one of triathlon’s most competitive fields. A few of our fellow hombres bailed out of the challenge ahead of time, and I can only suspect it was for fear of the wicked New England hills we were to face.
Race morning was clear and pleasant, a welcome contrast from Columbia, where we set up transition in the rain and cold. The wife and I were running a tad behind, so my planned swim warm up (of about 15 to 20 minutes) did not happen. As soon as I entered the water, I heard the call for swimmers to return to the beach. I got a couple strokes in, and turned to head back for the pre-race introductions and the Star Spangled Banner. I was a bit worried by having so little warm up, as there tends to be a pretty direct correlation between my swim performance in a race and the length of my warm up preceding it.
Once the gun went off, we sprinted out through the shallow water. Beach starts can be hectic, but this one was a bit mellower. We all plunged into the lake, and I positioned myself behind Richie Cunningham. I knew he would put himself in the right spot to have a good swim, and my plan was to stick with him. About four hundred meters into the swim, I found myself displaced from the main pack. I had a good group around me—Paul Amey, Leon Griffin, and the Rappstar—but I was no longer with the main contenders. I felt pretty comfortable with the pace, which was further confirmation I was losing ground to the leaders.
Exiting the water, I felt completely winded and whipped. I’m not sure how that came about, but perhaps it was due to overheating a tad in the water. Thankfully my swim cap flew off with a few hundred meters to go, and I did cool off a bit toward the finish. One of these days, I’m going to pull off a strong swim!
Out onto the bike course, I knew I had my work cut out for me. From the outset, I began applying a bit of pressure. I passed a handful of riders early in the game, one of whom was Luke Bell, who had evidently snapped a piece of his derailleur off his bike. Not good.
Nearing the 25-mile mark, and just about to make a move to catch the fifth place rider, I ran into a bit of a problem. I had just swept down a long, fast hill, turning left into a town. Within the small town, there were a few cars going about their Sunday business. The driver of one of those cars decided that the best time to make the hard right into the convenience store parking lot, presumably to pick up a pack of smokes, was just at the moment I was passing in front of the convenience store parking lot. Not good.
Being the defensive rider that I am, I had already come out of the aerobars, and was sitting up on the handlebars, brake levers in hand. And suddenly, with no signal, she turned. I hit the brakes and attempted to make the turn with her. Slam-o, wham-o, I hit the side of her car as hard as I could (actually, I probably could have hit it harder). Due to my partial turn, I managed to make contact with the side of her car, with the side of my bike/ body, instead of the far more painful alternative of slamming head first into her passenger side door.
I fell to the ground, managed to unclip the remaining clipped shoe, and bounced back up from the awkward “dead cockroach” position I had landed in. Amidst the driver’s screams of apology and shouts of innocence, I checked for damage to my bike and to my legs. (Yes, in that order.) Finding no broken parts, I jumped back on the Airfoil, and pedaled like hell to catch back up.
The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, with the exception of the following activities: I rode up a long hill; I rode down a hill; I rode very hard up a hill; I rode down a hill; I rode very hard up another hill; I rode very hard down a big hill; I turned; I rode past two riders; I rode up more hills; I rode down more hills; and I rode hard again.
Arriving in T2, I was in fifth place. The Rappstar was close behind for much of the ride, but in the closing miles he had suffered a slow leak of the tire, and lost some ground. Despite my impression that I had finally dropped Richie, somehow—like a ghost—he magically appeared in transition in front of me. In front of me! How is that even possible? I figure he put at least 40 seconds on me, and by the time I hit the first 200 meters of the run, he must have put another 40 seconds on me. I was moving like hell to keep up, but the legs were telling me they had a different plan for me. Their plan, evidently, was to cruise along more comfortably until I got loosened up from the bike… and the bike crash.
Somewhere near the first turnaround, and after climbing what has to be one of the steepest run hills in all of triathlon, I found my stride. It’s not to say I was not running as hard as I could, or that my labored breathing couldn’t prove that, it’s just to say that I found a bit more of a natural run rhythm once I reached that five-mile mark. From then on, I continued to run hard up, up, up, and then harder down, down, down each and every hill I faced. I was feeling pretty strong, but the left side of my body was a bit tighter than it would have been, had I not tried to steamroll a Buick.
Finishing the torturous final loop of the run, which took us away from the finish line, I realized I was deadlocked in sixth place. I was happy to have pushed through the day, and even happier to have done so with zero broken bones, and very moderate bloodshed.
My goal of competing against some fast athletes on a challenging course was, of course, realized. In fact, the Rev3 tri was one of the most challenging half iron triathlons I have ever done. (And had it not been for the near perfect weather, it would have easily topped the all-time hard list.) My goal of experiencing TRAKKERS’ debut of their devices was thwarted by what can only be described as user error: I could not manage to switch the power on pre-race. And my dreams of a drama-free event will have to wait until next time!