–By Todd Anthes
My season started slow due to a few injuries and other anomalies. So, I find myself in mid-September still racing triathlon to meet team obligations, when I normally shift to a mountain/cross bike focus.
I have heard great things about the Allendale Triathlon, including a flat and fast bike, a top-notch race director and staff, an indoor transition area; #sopro bike racks, and a cross-country type run. All were true and the event was well-run, had great volunteers, and everyone was very pleasant. Who would have thought that a massive green house/store (i.e., Countryside Greenhouse) would be such a great venue?
I came into the race with no taper, so a really long warmup was necessary, but it still was tough when the heartrate spikes at the swim start. The nice part of the swim is that it is never more than 3 – 4 feet deep. The swim is in what appears to be a water retention pond. So, if you freak out on the swim, or your heartrate spikes, or both, you can simply stand up; and I did. In fact, I found myself in a pack of swimmers from the prior wave with no immediately apparent way out, so I simply stood up, got a different perspective, and took off again.
My swim was pretty slow as my sighting was abysmal. The only other time I was in the open water this season was the Grand Rapids Triathlon in June. This is not recommended if you want have a good open water swim time. Check out the swim file and have a good laugh (note that the swim was pretty much a rectangle).
It felt pretty good to be ripping around on my tri bike; I have only been on it a handful of times this season. The course is a big rectangle and really easy to follow, and I know the area pretty well. Regardless, I screwed up the course. I turned too soon when traveling south. I had my head down and was pounding away, and when I looked up, I saw spectators on what I thought was the east-west turn road down a ways, so I made the turn. It was too early. And I didn’t realize it for a while, when I didn’t see anyone ahead of me (i.e., I was the last wave). I did look behind me and saw that a couple bikers followed. I felt horrible.
I took a left on the first paved road and got back on course. I did the same distance, but I ended up disqualifying myself after the race. Also, I won’t write about the second wrong turn I took, but a volunteer got me back on track quickly this time.
I can’t stress enough that athletes know the event course. Even if they *think* they know the course. Driving the course ahead of time is a best practice. Knowledge of the turn corners is essential for the participant, and other athletes who might be following. At race pace not everyone is thinking clearly, and a mental reminder of turn is very helpful.
The run reminded me of a high school cross country meet. All dirt around a corn field. I certainly didn’t empty the tank given my decision to disqualify myself, and race CX the race day.
After the race I spoke with the race director and timing official about my bike course error. We all decided it was best that I be disqualified. I didn’t complete the same course as all the other participants, and I felt bad about taking other athletes off course.
My disqualification was the right decision for a number of reasons. In fact, an athlete asked my after the race if I went off the bike course. She knew the course and witnessed my error. She told me she saw some athletes follow me. I told her that I felt horrible about the matter and told her that I disqualified myself. If I hadn’t done that she could have rightfully questioned my integrity, especially if I accepted an award. Remember that you are always an ambassador of your own brand, and if you are on a team, an ambassador for the team and all of its sponsors. So, do the right thing, even if no one is looking.
All in all it was a good training day. I was about 3 minutes off my projected time. And I clearly gave back a minute or more on the swim, at least a minute on the bike, and a few minutes on the run.
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