2016 Hightstown Triathlon race recap

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On September 11th I returned to compete in this year’s Hightstown Triathlon. This was my third triathlon of the year and final one of the season. I did the races in the reverse order than I probably should have – Half Iron, Olympic and finally a Sprint. Maybe next year I’ll figure it out.

I enjoyed competing in this event last year and was interested in competing again. My brother-in-law had recently purchased a bike and we talked about this event as this year they were offering a duathlon as well as a sprint triathlon. We signed up and made plans to travel to the race together. I also had planned to meet up with a couple of colleagues who were also competing in the event.

Peddie Lake - the location for the swim and the transition areas

Peddie Lake – the location for the swim and the transition areas

Race packet pickup was on Saturday before the race at Peddie Lake in Hightstown, NJ. I traveled up to the race with my boys to pick up both mine and my brother-in-laws race packets as we were meeting him later that afternoon. It was a very hot afternoon and that bode well for the water temperature for the next day. I didn’t have a wetsuit for this race (it was a short swim and I didn’t have one!) and I would be racing in just a tri suit (or as my son calls them “pajamas”).

Me and my little guys at packet pickup.

Me and my little guys at packet pickup

Packet pickup was quick and simple. As we got there they were still setting up the transition area for the next day and people were taking practice swims in the lake. It was a really beautiful afternoon.

Easy and efficient packet pickup

Easy and efficient packet pickup

Setting up transition

Setting up transition

My boys appreciated the frisbees in the race bags...they aren't angels!!!

My boys appreciated the frisbees in the race bags…they aren’t angels!!!

We left transition and headed back for a family afternoon. It was to be an early start in the morning.

My brother-in-law met me the next morning around 5am so we could rack our bikes to my car and set out early to get a spot in transition. I remembered from last year that we had to park in a lot a few minutes away from the transition area. Hightstown is about 45 minutes away so we made sure we had plenty of time to get there, unpack, transport our gear to transition, get body marked and then set up.

Yes, it is still early enough that it is dark. I had my headlamp on to get to transition

Yes, it is still early enough that it is dark. I had my headlamp on to get to transition

If places are unassigned I like to set up right at the end of a transition so I have a little extra space on the side to set up my gear and also that I will only have one person next to me (I’m not anti-social, I just like space at races!).

My 'personal space'

My ‘personal space’

My brother-in-law and I set up next to each other (it was his first duathlon) and coincidentally we set up in the row next to my colleagues. Nice to see familiar faces at races. I also recognized a member of the Bucks County Tri Club setting up and had a quick chat.

With my colleagues Bryan and Steve

With my colleagues Bryan and Steve before the race

With my brother in law Mike

With my brother-in-law Mike before the race

After a quick pit stop, transition closed around 6:45am and we headed over to the staging area to hear the National Anthem and get race instructions. The duathletes would be running 1.2 miles as the triathletes swam 500 yards. We headed over to join our swim waves. I was with Bryan in the same swim wave.

There was about a 15 minute delay at the start of the race as the entrance to the water was blocked (the railing had to be removed so that swimmers could enter). Once the water entry was cleared the first couple of waves headed out. The swim starts in the water. This involves climbing down into the pond and treading water until the start signal. The steps in were a little slippy and slimy so I was not very sure-footed on my way in. Also, there are plenty of lily pads at the edge. I felt like I was trying to escape a net while starting to swim, I even had some strands of the lily pads attached to me until around mid race.

Looking a little awkward in my green swim cap

Looking a little awkward in my green swim cap

The swim was nice. I wasn’t going out too hard and just kept a steady pace. I was doing fairly well and my sighting was good. I got to the turn just as the fast women swim wave came upon me. At this point I got fairly well beaten up, kicked and stabbed by long finger nails. Needless to say I slowed down a little just to swim out of everyone’s way. Ultimately I got stuck behind a slower male swimmer ahead of me and whenever I tried to move around him he seemed to anticipate it and moved in that direction. Grrr…

The swim leg in Peddie Lake

The swim leg in Peddie Lake

Nevertheless, unlike last year, I got out the lake without falling over and grazing my knee. Success!!! Unfortunately I forgot to stop my watch so I wasn’t sure of my exact swim time and now my transition time was messed up. My watch said 14:15, my official swim time was 12:47.

I quickly dried off and got my feet into socks and my new bike tri-shoes. (I had recently upgraded my pedals and this was my first ride outside with them). Then just as I was putting on my helmet the strap came away in my hand. NOOOOOO!!!! With adrenaline running through my body my hands were shaking as I was trying not to rush and delicately thread my helmet strap back through all the loops in order to get my helmet back together. Ugh. Eventually I got out of transition and onto the bike.

Out on the bike

Out on the bike…finally

The ride was fairly none eventful and enjoyable. I wasn’t killing it but I wasn’t going slow. My average speed was around 17.9 mph according to my Garmin for a time of 37:40. My official time was 37:43 at a speed of 17.8 mph.

The ride leg of the course

The ride leg of the course

Interestingly I saw Mike as I was heading back for the last few miles. I thought it strange that he was so far behind me. It wasn’t until later after the race that he told me there had been a mix up on the duathlon. There was nobody at the turnaround on the first leg. While the duathletes were supposed to be running 1.2 miles they actually ended up running the full 5K course for their first leg. Oops. That would explain the distance between us.

Heading back to transition at the end of the bike course

Heading back to transition at the end of the bike course

Jumping off and re-racking my bike I quickly headed out onto the 5K course. My luck was continuing from the transition. This time my race belt came apart as I started my run. This was going well!! A quick fix (while running and not tripping over) and I started out on my run. Thankfully it wasn’t as warm as the day before. Last year I had run with a water bottle and I had mentioned to my brother-in-law that it might be a good idea to run with water as I remembered only one water stop on the 5K course. I was right about the one water stop. Unfortunately I didn’t follow my own advice and forgot to bring a handheld bottle. Thankfully it was just a 5K and was fairly flat and not too sunny at that time of the morning. It would warm up for later runners.

Feeling good out on the course

Feeling good out on the course

The run was the final leg of the race

The run was the final leg of the race

The run felt good. It wasn’t anywhere near my 5K PR and I think I ran slower than last year’s 5K leg but I came in at 27:19 according to my watch with and official time of 27:15 for combined total sprint triathlon of 1:25:10. This was a couple of minutes slower than last year. Maybe it was down to the bike helmet issue but I think all three of the legs were 10 to 15 seconds slower. Nevertheless I was happy with my finish and proud of my 3 triathlons this year.

Heading home

Heading home

Enjoying my finish

Enjoying my finish

Another fun race

Another fun race

A special medal to commemorate the day

A special medal to commemorate the day

The finish line was on the main street of Hightstown this year, different from the prior year and a much more fun finish. I felt good. I was a couple of minutes behind Bryan who was waiting by the finish line. We grabbed some refreshments and headed out to wait for Steve and Mike.

At the finish line with Bryan and Steve

At the finish line with Bryan and Steve (you cannot see it but were were standing on the podium….before the real winners arrived)

I went back out to cheer in Mike and watch him finish.

Mike heading in

Mike heading in (note that he has a water bottle!)

Happy with our medals

Happy with our medals

After grabbing some refreshments we headed back to transition to pack up our gear. As I was cleaning up I found all the missing pieces to my helmet and thankfully I was able to put everything back together for real. My helmet is good. It will live to ride another day.

It was another fun race at Hightstown and a nice end to my triathlon season. Mike enjoyed his first duathlon and mentioned that he would definitely do another next year. From now through the end of the year I’m pretty much into marathon training. I have the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon also in September, the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in October and the Philadelphia Half AND Full Marathon (The Rocky Challenge) in November.

Thank you for reading.

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