AmeliaMan Olympic Triathlon Race Report: Not the End of Season I was Hoping For

My biggest goal for the season and the focus of the second half of the season.

My biggest goal for the season and the focus of the second half of the season.

This weekend marked the end of my triathlon season  with the AmeiliaMan Olympic distance triathlon.  Up to this race I had completed four sprint distance triathlons and I wanted to complete my inaugural season with a big challenge and Olympic or international distance triathlon.  The AmeliaMan triathlon is hosted on Amelia Island just north of Jacksonville Florida and utilizes the islands terrain for three triathlon distance races:  sprint, international and half distances, all running concurrently.  As this event was located in a beach environment I figured I would mix a tiny vacation into my race as well.

Heading into this weekend my biggest fear was swimming in turbulent, wave crashing ocean for a mile.  I swim in lakes, but not in bodies of water with currents, riptides and crashing waves.  To alleviate this fear I spent an hour on Saturday familiarizing myself with the ocean and swimming in this immense, uncertain body of water.  I discovered once I got passed the waves, swimming was similar to open water swimming except for the water tasting full of salt and a directional current.  After an hour and a quick out and back 600 meter swim I felt confident about swimming in a choppy ocean.

My transition setup-perfected after doing several races and trying different things.

My transition setup-perfected after doing several races and trying different things.

I followed my swim with a quick, slow, deliberate 12 mile bike ride and made sure my bike was operating properly.  As I rode up part of the bike course, I knew this bike route would provide some fast numbers as it was pretty flat and fast.  I checked everything over and all looked well.  Race day though, my bike would surprise me and throw me out of the race.

Gels all ready to go, taped across the top so they can be torn and consumed. More than needed, but it was a new distance.

Gels all ready to go, taped across the top so they can be torn and consumed. More than needed, but it was a new distance.

One of my favorite things about this race was the night before spaghetti dinner.  This was a time for all the athletes to get together, have a meal and get to know each other.  I wish more races would involve something like this as it was really a cool way to spend the night before the race.  After a couple of hours it ended and I went back to the wife and the hotel and went to bed, with everything prepared and ready to go.

 Race Morning: Pre-Race

Race morning I got up and prepared my breakfast.  I had packed specific foods with me as I do not mess with nutrition before a race.  I went downstairs to get a cup of coffee and to begin my pre-race mental exercises to calm the nerves and prepare for the day ahead.  I started doing this on the second triathlon I entered and have found it does wonders for my preparedness on race day.  Eventually I mozied over to the transition area and got myself setup.  Setting up transition at this point was a no brainer as I have done it several times this season.

After I was all set up and friendly with my rack mates ( another habit I got into was getting to know my rack mates as it makes everyone much happier and no surprises occur at your transition spot.  I checked the bike again and I was ready to go.  Turns out another blogger acquaintance grammadog/Mary (now friend) decided to do this race also and so we chatted a bit while waiting for the push to the beach and pre-race meeting.  It was great catching up and sharing stories and basically jut calming our nerves.

The sun coming up right before the start of the race.  That's me in the blue top.

The sun coming up right before the start of the race. That’s me in the blue top.

The Swim

While I calmed some fears the day before, I was still worried a bit by the ocean swim.  As we moved to the beach and each distance broke into groups, some of us started to immerse ourselves in the ocean.  I do this as its just part of my mental preparation.  I can feel the temperature so it does not shock the system and then I start running through the swim, transition and other parts of the race.  This calms and prepares me for the race.  At this time the sun was just beginning to come up over the ocean and I wish I had a camera as it was a very special moment.  All of us triathletes, brimming with nervous expectation as the sun rose lighting up the clouds and highlighting the athletic shapes.  It was stunning and emotional and probably my favorite swim start to witness.

They let the half distance go first followed by the sprint distance and then Olympic went last.  I was in the last group to go and got to see how different people handled getting pass the waves.  Overnight some of the buoys moved and we were informed that the only buoy we had to go around and keep on our left was the last of four heading out to the ocean.  The group before decided to cut to the left of the buoys.  This would have been good if the current was not pushing north, thus making going around the buoy a bit of a struggle.  I realized there was more strategy involved in this swim than most of my other lake swims.   I figured I would try to keep the buoys to my right til I hit the one that was out of line, then I would go to the right of it and straight over to the turn buoy, thus using the current to help push me around the buoy and towards the next buoy that would take me back to shore.

Maybe this is the one I punched!

Maybe this is the one I punched!

The horn went off and I away  I went.  I walked past as much surf as possible as I had seen previous waves start swimming too soon and have to pull up, walk and then start again due to crashing waves.  I found a good patch of sand that took me a bit of a ways to the first buoy and then I plunged in and calmly started swimming.  The first few minutes are very important in a swim for me as they help to calm me down and set my pace for the rest of the swim.  I got into my rhythm and began my stroke/sight swimming.  Sometimes I could not see a buoy over a swell, so I just continued to swim and sight til I could latch on to a buoy.

The plan worked well and I caught up to the wave before.  I felt great swimming so far out and in such a wild ocean environment.  At one point in my swim my hand came down and pushed off of something squishy and rubbery.  i did not let it bother me, just pushed on.  My swim felt great, even though there were times I struggled with the tide while moving sideways to the shore, I just had to angle myself at those points to get the tide to help push me.  By the time I ran over the timing mat, out of the water my watch registered 33 minutes.

20131012_095624Bike: Where everything blows up

The transition was pretty standard and I am not sure what my time was.  I made good progress as I got everything on and got going pretty quickly.  As I mounted and turned at a corner my back tire swayed and immediately felt funny.  A ways down the street I knew something was wrong and got off to inspect the tires.  The back stem had separated from the tube.  I worked to replace it with my spare.  As soon as I put air in the tire though, the replacement tube blew up.  I had no other option but to head back to the bike start and the race officials.

After a little bit of a walk, I was about to hang up my day when some people I met the night before saw my plight and began to rally around me to find me another spare tube.  After about 45 minutes I finally had a replacement tube on my bike and I had air and all seemed good.  I had a good deal of time to finish before the bike course would close.  After a quarter mile my back tire made a loud bang and I knew my day was over, my bike had taken me out of the race.  A spectator gave me and my bike a ride back and I informed race officials I was a DNF for the race.

Final Thoughts: On DNF and Other Things

This was not the way I envisioned my final, fifth, triathlon for the season and my first Olympic distance race.  While I was irked, oddly I accepted that these things sometimes happen and there was little I could have done about it.  I had a spare tube.  I checked and triple checked the bike the morning of the race and the day before.  I felt great and ready to race on race morning, I had done everything in my power to prepare physically for this race.  It just was not my day.  It sucks that it ended this way, but I have learned to accept that these things happen.

Besides the DNF finish, I had a great experience on the swim that I know I will always remember and cherish.  That ocean swim was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had as a triathlete.  Seeing the sun come up over the ocean just before starting the race and surrounded by other athletes was incredible.

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Me reflecting on the season after the DNF and getting a fish sandwich.

Also getting to share some time catching up and swapping stories with granmadog was awesome.  Later on Sunday after the finish of the race we got together to discuss the race, unfortunate outcomes, her old Kona memories and share a bit of bubbly over the race and the season.  I could have talked with her for hours as she is an amazing tough woman who I admire and respect even more now that I got to share some time with her.  Also, I want to thank her for she is the first person I have discussed triathlon with that I feel truly made me feel like I was an athlete in my own right.  She truly understands what all this craziness means and she treated me like I am an athlete in my own right.  Thank you.

So not the race I was hoping for, but a great experience nonetheless.  I will be back next year to finish this race, for now its some time to reflect on the season and start planning the next.  For now its time to do some healing, rest and recovery.  Til next time.

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42 comments

  1. Sorry to hear that you had a DNF… the bike is the one leg where you have to rely on something other than your own body to get you through the race. At least you know that it was out of your hands and purely mechanical…but always a bummer never the less.

    1. Yup, I was almost mad at myself because I thought I should be more upset initially. Then I realized I had nothing to really be upset about, I had a great swim, good experience and an awesome season. Can’t let one bad race experience drag a good season down. Irks a bit that I checked and triple checked the bike.

  2. You had a great swim Chatter…there’s a take-away for you. Your swimming has really improved over this summer!
    Already planning for AmeliaMan2014…we’ll burn up that course!

    1. It was a fun swim, caught up to you and your group! I have no regrets, actually really enjoyed myself. Gonna be back there in 2014!

  3. The ocean swim is never one of my favorites. The first ocean swim I ever did in a triathlon I almost pulled out of and it was only 250 meters. You did a great job and I’m sorry it ended the way it did. Get em next year!

    1. I loved the ocean swim and cannot wait to do another!!! Three blown tubes, it was not my day!

  4. Sorry about the DNF, but as you said it clearly wasn’t your fault. You were prepared physically and mentally for the race and it was the equipment that let you down. You are fortunate it didn’t happen while you were blazing along on the bike resulting in a crash.

    I know its way too soon to say, but what are you thinking in terms of number and distances for your races next year?

    You have had an amazing year and I know you will just build upon the successes you’ve had and do even greater things next year.

    Dan

    1. I totally agree. It scared me a bit I was not more upset, but I did what I could to get there. Next year I was thinking about sticking with mostly Olympic distances,and then shoot for a half the year after. That would give me a chance to build up some more speed and endurance before tackling the bigger distance. My wife might put a limit on my racing next year and I might only get four races instead of five. This one will be on the list as I have unfinished business. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. Your swim was outstanding!! The bike is the most risky, as you have experienced, because the mechanical issues can control your destiny. You did not quit, you did not even go easily. After two attempts to come back the bike decided not. Buy YOU would have gone on, even after you knew the bike would be delayed 45 minutes. Much to be proud of! Next year you will come back even stronger!

    1. Thanks. I was more mad later that I was not super upset by it. But I realized that these things happen and I did everything in my power to prepare, including checking the bike. Its another bizarre lesson on how things might not go as planned with triathlons. Thanks for the encouragement, I march on!

  6. Wow, 33 minutes! Holy moly, that’s AWESOME! And way to not give up on the bike portion! Most people would have quit at the first flat, much less keep trying after the second. But wow. I’m so proud of your effort, determination, and the amazing experience that you had.
    You said that the swim was what you worried about the most–and you kicked its ass. GOOD JOB! Next year, piece of friggin’ cake! 🙂
    I bow to you!

    1. I have learned from practice and all the blogs I read to be resilient and to push on. It was sorta cool to have some of the sprint finishers there trying to help get me back on the road so I could finish. I have come a long way in the water and in preparation. I dare say I am the same chatter that started this blog. Now all I can do is look forward to my run season and start thinking of next year. Thanks for the praise, I love all my blog friends (maybe we could get a group for next years?)

      1. Me too. I would love a blog land get together!

  7. Sorry to hear that brother. There will be another.

    1. Yes there will, yes there will. I think I would have had a harder time with this if I had not progressed and trained so much this year. I know I will have another day and another time to race.

  8. What a great season regardless… It amazing what you’ve done over the course of a year and just to think of what this next year will bring. The DNF happens to everyone at some point and your attitude about it is spot on. Keep rolling and lets put together another fantastic year!

    1. Thank you, it has been a very special year. I really think the maturation as an athlete plays a huge role in how the DNF was handled and my attitude about it. Maybe you will come to the other side of the peninsula next year and join gramma dog and I!

  9. Congratulations on an amazing season! Your progress has been fantastic – even with a DNF finish (which you handled amazingly). You must be really happy with it! Enjoy the down time and R&R. You’ve earned it!!

    1. I think I handled the DNF easier than I am handling down time, its hard not having a training schedule, sorta don’t know what to do with myself. Thanks for following along. Oh and yes I am super happy with how this season played out.

  10. […] back home and to work the following day.  While my race had detoured as far off track as possible (read about it here), the remainder of my trip proved a necessary restful vacation I was desiring at the end of my […]

  11. Sorry to hear about the DNF. However, equipment does break at the most inopportune times. I know you would have well….33 mins in your first open water swim is something to be proud of

    1. That and the 5 miler on the beach were both highlights of the trip. Looking towards next year. thanks.

  12. […] over a week ago I concluded my 2013 triathlon season at the Amelia Island Olympic triathlon (details here).  While it had a disappointing conclusion, I can honestly say I have had a great first season as […]

  13. Great season brother!!!!! Keep that positive attitude up! I’m sure you are doing about what I am now, plotting out the 2014 season. It’s gonna be another great year ahead too!

  14. kruzmeister · · Reply

    Sorry to hear about the DNF Chatter, but you should feel victorious in that swim. That is a great effort and a smoking time to boot for your first ocean swim, well done! There will be plenty of other oly distance events, it’s a shame the season had to end that way, but think more of just how far you’ve come. You are most definitely an athlete mate, an inspiring, motivational, determined triathlete! I am honoured to share your journey with you! Cheers to a great season!

    1. Thanks Simone, that was an awesome compliment coming from one of my favorites from down under.

  15. Ack, I never commented – so sorry about the DNF but you did everything to be prepared and it was out of your hands. Glad you had some positives out of it.

    1. I believe its important to try and always find a possitive. No worries, I appreciate the comment, you have been swamped lately. Thank You.

  16. […] AmeliaMan Olympic Triathlon Race Report: Not the End of Season I was Hoping For (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com) […]

  17. […] AmeliaMan Olympic Triathlon Race Report: Not the End of Season I was Hoping For (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com) […]

  18. […] AmeliaMan Olympic Triathlon Race Report: Not the End of Season I was Hoping For (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com) […]

  19. Thanks for taking your readers through your race experience. That itself is of great value, particularly your ocean swim. Echoing many here and you too, a bike issue is just that. When an event has not gone as planned, or I have fallen short of an objective sought, the shortfall day I chalk up as a training event or training day for the objective. Like you, I look for insights, understanding, and takeaways as to why I missed my objective. When I read your post I wondered about your rims and whether something on your bike repeatedly destroyed your tubes somehow. I am looking forward to reading on. Your posts contain good observations, sequencing, and details.

    1. I really feel like my voice has been coming out more these past few months. It is a large change from when I first started.

      1. Cheers and courage in never ending discovery…

  20. […] AmeliaMan Olympic Triathlon Race Report: Not the End of Season I was Hoping For (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com) […]

  21. […] to finish at least four sprint events and had a disappointing finish at my first Olympic triathlon(details here) caused due to equipment […]

  22. […] AmeliaMan Olympic Triathlon Race Report: Not the End of Season I was Hoping For (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com) […]

  23. […] AmeliaMan Olympic Triathlon Race Report: Not the End of Season I was Hoping For (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com) […]

  24. […] AmeliaMan Olympic Triathlon Race Report: Not the End of Season I was Hoping For (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com) […]

  25. […] AmeliaMan Olympic Triathlon Race Report: Not the End of Season I was Hoping For (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com) […]

  26. […] and athletics as my bike developed three blown tubes in the first miles of the bike course(read it here).  While last years race did not go as anticipated, my wife and I fell in love with the island and […]

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