King Pine Triathlon was an addition to my race calendar this year. The bike course features a 32 mile route, longer than the standard 24 mile (40K) Olympic bike. The benefit of the longer than standard bike was preparation for my A race at Ironman Syracuse 70.3 two weeks later.
On race morning it was cold, warmer than the New England Season Opener race, but still in the 50’s. The water was chilly although once the gun went off it was the best I have ever felt in a swim leg. The course was an angled out and back and I was able to take a good look at half distance and focus on my form and breathing for the rest of the swim, being well ahead of the trailing swimmers. I came out of the water a few minutes ahead of the 2nd swimmer. All systems go.
On the bike the race place was to push between 310 – 320 watts, drink 2 small water bottles and eat 2 gels. As with most plans, it was interrupted when one of my bottles ejected about a mile in. I readjusted my pace of drinking and made sure to grab an extra bottle when water was available.
Early on, I realized I was having a great day and the power was coming easily. I was still on top of my breathing. As I made my way through the du-athletes who started ahead, I focused on staying under control and relaxed.
Once I was in the lead, I had a motorcycle escort ahead of me for the remainder of the ride. Unfortunately, as much fun as it is to follow a motorcycle, the driver was not familiar with the figure-8 nature of the bike course and I had neglected to memorize the bike course map. At mile 32 and beyond appeared on the Garmin, it was clear something was awry. Instead of taking the second loop of the smaller figure-8 course, we were doing the bigger first loop a second time. At mile 34, I waved down the motorcycle driver, compared notes and we determined we went right when we should have gone left at the second loop. Oops.
Mistakes happen and thankfully I had a nice easy 30 min ride back to transition where I was able to cool off and manage my frustration. It was a strange end to the lead the race and then suddenly DNF. The upside was I was secretly very happy with how I felt on the swim and bike. Checking bike power and effort were part of the day’s race goals, along with swim effort and both of those were achieved. And lesson learned: Always know the bike course map as even the moto-guy may not know it!