Culpeper International Triathlon

My first triathlon post epic road trip was the Culpeper International distance with VTS/MTS.  Unfortunately Tracy wasn’t feeling great the morning of so I headed down on my own at 4:45 in the morning.  My stomach was going through it’s typical race day uneasiness, but this seemed worse than usual because I couldn’t even get down a pop tart.  I did manage to get a breakfast shake down on my way to the race, but that was it.

I arrived at the parking lot just before 6, and headed down to the registration table to pick up my race packet.  I didn’t have time to come down the day before so it was a morning pick up for me.  Once I had all my stuff I headed back to the car to get changed into my tri suit.  I still couldn’t get any food down, and after getting changed I grabbed all my gear to get set up in transition.

They had a strange set up this time where as you were bringing your bike into transition they did your body marking there.  It just seemed like an odd way to do it since you have a bunch of people with all their gear on them trying to get set up and you stop them to do body marking.  I got through it rather quickly though since I was early, and then got my transition area set up.

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Getting there early allows you to pick the better spot on the end which gives you just a little more room should you need it.

While we were all waiting around for the swim to start they made the announcement that the race start would be delayed, but I didn’t hear why.  They also announced that the olympic distance bike course would be shortened due to road conditions.  Apparently the storm the night before had washed out a couple of roads on the course.  This meant we were doing the exact same bike course as the sprint distance racers.

I was in the first wave of swimmers which I liked since there wasn’t time sitting around on shore watching the waves ahead of me go, and giving my nerves time to act up.  At the sound of the horn we were off and going.  I still haven’t gotten completely comfortable with mass starts in open water so I did my usual and hung back a little to give myself some room.  My arms did feel a little off at the beginning of the swim, but just before the first turn that went away.  After that it was just a matter of keeping the sighting the buoys and churning away at the yards.  I’m not the strongest of swimmers so a lot of people passed me as we went, but I am proud to say that no-one passed me once we hit the final turn buoy and headed for shore.   After getting there it was a short run into transition to get my bike and head out.

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My one complaint about the race has to do with the bike out exit area prior to the mount line.  You had to run up this steepish hill to the road and mount there.  The problem was that all that rain the night before that washed out part of the course also drenched the grounds, and that made for a very slippery hill.  I stumbled a couple times on my way up, but got mounted and on my way.  Unfortunately my clips were caked in mud and grass so it took a few tries to get clipped in so I could put any power down.

The bike course was a little rough in spots, there was a semi washed out spot along the course, and there was one hill that was a bit of a pain.  Other than that it was a nice and enjoyable course.

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I passed a few people, a few people passed me, and before I knew it I was closing in on the dismount line.  There was a downhill that led into a right turn and back up another hill to the dismount line.  I was already out of my shoes and pedaling on top of them when I got to the downhill.  I downshifted and powered right up the next hill to the dismount line.  I got a good semi flying dismount done and stepped onto the grass to jog the bike down to transition.  That’s when things went sideways, or more accurately down.  I slid on the wet grass, went down and my right foot went into the front wheel.  Let me say it’s rather painful to have your toes split by the spokes of your wheel and your knee to get banged against the fork.   I took a couple seconds to collect myself while disentangling from my bike and then walked/limped my way back to transition.

I racked my bike, ditched my cycling gear, and threw on the stuff for the run as I limped my way to the run exit.  It took a couple hundred yards before my foot was either numb or feeling better, (I’m still not sure which it was) and I could get into my stride.  Despite the pain in my foot I was really enjoying myself as you can see from the pic one of the photographers got on the grassy section just before we hit pavement.

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I could feel that I was just on the edge of cramping so I made good use of the water/gatorade stations to stave that off.  Thankfully I stayed on the edge or was totally fine and didn’t have a repeat of my cramping at Kinetic.

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About a quarter of the way into the run I found myself next to the gentleman that I did the run with at Kinetic.  His plantar fasciitis was feeling much better, so we stuck together and did the remainder of the run together.  We didn’t stop at all the same water/gatorade stops, but we both would catch back up to each other after one where the other didn’t stop.  Since I had finished just ahead of him at Kinetic we agreed that he’d get to edge me out here.  He had started in one of the waves behind me, so he’d already beat me time wise, so I wasn’t worried about the finishing position.  As we hit the grass we both picked up the pace and crossed the finish line in full stride.

I can say without a doubt this was my most enjoyable triathlon to date.  I wasn’t injured, sick, or had a serious complication during the race.  I was able to put it all out there, and at the end definitely needed a couple of minutes to collect myself.  Next race will be my second half iron of the year, and I’m hopeful based on this one, that I’ve figured out my nutrition and won’t have to deal with the cramping issues again.

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