This past weekend I participated in the Nashvegas Sprint Triathlon in Ashland City, Tenn., with fellow Triskraper (and husband) David Anthony. This was my fourth triathlon ever, and my last of the 2012 season. Of all the races I’ve done, this was definitely my least favorite, but in Ashland City’s defense, it had a lot to do with the weather conditions (chilly, which was good, but rainy, which was bad).
Distance: 400 yards | Location: Cumberland River | Start type: Wave by age group
This was my first wave start, and I was nervous going into it. I didn’t want to be a part of the chaos and the kick fest, so I hung out toward the back of my group and, I believe, ended up being the last woman under age 34 in the water. I think this strategic move cost me about 45 seconds, but having my own space in the water was worth it to me. There was a strong current that morning (did I mention it rained?) and from the sounds of all the distress calls, that made it really difficult for a lot of swimmers. Trying to focus on swimming while also hearing cries of “Help!” was distracting to say the least. Are they OK? Should I help? These were things going through my mind. Swim time: 12:23
It wasn’t raining when I ran out of the water, but it might as well have been, because everything I had left at transition was soaked. I saw some people had brought towels or buckets to cover their stuff, but I’m not sure if this would have been enough to keep things dry. Needless to say, my first transition was slow, as I spent some of it wringing out my socks and drying my sunglasses.
Distance: 14 miles | Course: Rolling hills
I took the bike a little slow because I was freaked out about the rain. I have never ridden my bike in the rain, and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do the race because of the prospect of riding in the rain. Things felt a little slippery underneath my tires, but it went fine. It was an out-and-back course that was mostly on a four-lane highway. We biked on the inside lane on the way out, and the outside lane on the opposite side on the way back. Cars used the other lanes, which was scary at times. There was only one mile marker (plus the turnaround), so I never had a good idea of where I was or how I was doing. Bike time: 53:02
Distance: 3.37 miles | Course: Mostly flat, but crowded
The run was an out-and-back course that looked nothing like the wooded trail shown on the race website. The course didn’t have much shade, but that wasn’t really a problem since the temperature was in the 60s or low 70s (the one benefit of the rain). One thing I didn’t like about the course was how much space we were given. The road was open to traffic, so runners (coming and going) basically had to run on the shoulder. This was frustrating at times, especially since participants in all three races (Half Ironman, Olympic and Sprint) were sharing the space. Since I’m a slower runner (and took a few walk breaks) I felt like I was annoying the other, more competitive racers. If we had been given more room, this would have been less of an issue. Run time: 36:12
This was my first triathlon organized by Start2Finish (the others had all been TeamMagic races), and I think I prefer TeamMagic races. It was really crowded and chaotic in the transition area, since by the time the Sprint started there were three races happening concurrently. There was a lot of yelling by officials — “Move over for racers.” Maybe they should have staggered the starts more so there wasn’t a lot of overlap. I also would like to complain about the lack of hydration immediately available at the finish line. I don’t know about you, but when I finish a race, I want someone to hand me something to drink. But on Saturday, after crossing the finish line, they handed me an empty cup with a finisher’s medal inside. It took me about 10 seconds to spot the giant water barrel up ahead (and uphill). It wasn’t clear where the food was either, so we just packed up and got the heck out of there. One thing Start2Finish does right is the speed at which results are posted. After showering at home, I scanned the QR code on my race bib and it took me to my results page. In contrast, TeamMagic results usually take several hours to post.