Mass State Olympic Triathlon Race Recap

This past weekend was, somewhat impulsively, dedicated to racing, starting with bike racing on Saturday and then the Mass State Olympic Triathlon on Sunday.  An 8 AM swim start meant an early departure to get to Lake Dennison in Winchendon, MA.  I had planned to arrive at 7 AM to give myself a fair amount of time to settle in and get ready, but of course that never happens as planned, which leads me to my one and only issue with the race – parking.  At least when I arrived, about 7:10, parking was organized as a single file line on one side of the road, meaning we all queued up and had to wait as the volunteers directed each car into the next spot in line.  It took me roughly 15 minutes to park once I got to the park.  From parking, it was a quick bike ride, albeit on a rough road, to the start area.  The parking was frustrating, but not the worst of things, just be aware of it should you be doing this race in the future.

The check-in process was a breeze from number pick-up through marking up.  I did hear some complaints about rack space in the transition area, but the people around me were quite courteous and I didn’t have any issues.


After a quick pre-race information meeting on the beach, the race started and I waited…and waited…and waited.  For some reason I was entered as a Newbie/Beginner, which meant starting in the last group.  It was less than ideal to have to wait 20 minutes in a wetsuit on the beach for my wave, but there wasn’t much to be done about it.


Finally, us white caps were able to get in the water for the swim start, which involved 3 turns with sighting buoys in between.  Water temp was 74 degrees, pretty perfect for me and the conditions were fairly typical New England silty water, offering very little visibility.  I could tell fairly quickly this was not going to be my best swim ever.  For whatever reason I just didn’t feel smooth in the water.  At times I even felt like there was a current going against me, which I’m fairly certain was not the case.  I suspect that part of the issue was that I did not eat much before the race, and could feel the lack of energy.  I did manage to pass some of the people in the wave ahead of me, but I took little solace in that.  I struggled with sighting (and swimming) and know I can put in a better swim.  I climbed out of the lake with an official time of 36:28, which put me in 401st place out of the water overall out of 455 racers and 25 of 30 in my division.  UGH.  I suck at swimming.

Given the debacle that was my Pilgrimman Olympic run in 2014, my strategy for the bike leg was to try to be conservative and make sure I had something left for the run.  One of the benefits of being so far back from the swim was it gave me a good amount of people ahead of me to key in on during the bike, which took my mind off the heat and hills.  I wouldn’t say that any of the hills on their own were too tough, but they did seem to come fairly frequently in the middle section of the course.  Total elevation for the 22 mile leg was 778 ft.

Bike Map


I have a feeling the previous day’s racing was still in my legs, but I felt good for most of the bike, passing a lot of people in the process, including 8 on one hill alone.  I can’t lie, that made me feel pretty good about the bike training I’ve been doing as I’ve always considered myself an exceptionally slow climber.  Although it was an open course, traffic never felt like an issue, with generally fairly wide bike lanes and roads in good condition.  In the end, I wound up with an 18.8 MPH average, slightly faster than Pilgrimman, though Pilgrimman’s course was 6 miles longer, but with 300 fewer feet of elevation change.  For fuel, I took a handful of Skratch Labs chews after the swim and a PowerGel at about mile 15.  I had one bottle with me filled with Skratch Labs as well.  For the bike leg, I placed 263/455 and 22/30.

Rolling into the transition I didn’t feel like I had spiked my HR or that my breathing was labored, which I took as good signs.  I didn’t exactly rush through the transition, taking the time to recover a little for the run and downing an UnTapped maple syrup packet.  Unlike the Summer Solstice Sprint, I went my New Balance Zantes for the run, wanting their slightly firmer ride over the Skechers Performance GORides.


I hadn’t done any reconnaissance on the course, so you can imagine my surprise and dismay when I set out to find it immediately started with a climb.  After that initial climb, it continued to climb, and then climb some more with no hills ever being too steep, just long.  There was a short dip to the turnaround point before heading back to the finish.  I had the elevation total at 149 feet.

Run Leg Elevation



Given how poorly I ran/walked at Pilgrimman, I was quite nervous of a repeat performance this race.  I’m happy to report that I ran every step of the leg, even through the aid stations, a major mental victory for me.  I did my best to keep steady forward momentum, even as my pace slowed, and took water from two aid stations along the way.  I passed a good number of people on the run, and wasn’t passed by anyone in return.  Other than the challening hills, I liked the run course itself, which was nicely shaded and closed to traffic.  Moreover, there were great volunteers on course handing out ice cold water and sponges to squeeze atop baking heads.  I finished the run with an 8:03 pace, a far cry from the 9:26 pace of Pilgrimman.  I think the combination of being more mindful of effort on the bike and just better conditioning made a substantial difference.


My placing on the run: 181/455 and 19/30.  I ended up jumping from 401 out of the water to 279th place overall, not exactly where I’d like to be, but the field did seem fairly stacked compared to your typical small sprint.  Generally speaking, this was a great, well-organized race with fantastic volunteers.  I also have to give a shout-out to their swag, which included a tech t-shirt, nice running cap, and even a race belt!  Not a bad haul!

Timberman remains on tap for August, here’s hoping for continued progress!




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