Winding Trails Summer Triathlon Series

This past Tuesday evening, I finally made it to the Winding Trails Summer Tri Series. This weekly off-road adventure is one of my favorite events though this is only the second time I’ve done it. I did one race in 2009, but I have raced (cyclocross, mountain biking, adventure racing, etc.) at Winding Trails many times. I love the venue and I love weeknight racing on gorgeous summer evenings.

It was a little warm and humid this past Tuesday, but the conditions were perfect for racing. Fortunately, I was able to get to the venue in Farmington, Connecticut without battling too much traffic. I would do more of these, but getting from East Hartford to the other side of the river during rush hour traffic is an absolute nightmare.

An amazing 194 athletes finished the regular course, which is a 1/4 mile swim/8 kilometer MTB/5 kilometer trail run. I’m blown away by that number. Nearly 200 triathletes on a Tuesday night!? The results are proof. There was a mini race too. The popularity of triathlons that are accessible to regular folks is amazing. I’m sure that many of these people will step up to a distance longer than the spring, which is very cool.

My race was pretty good. I’m finally shaking this mid-summer cold and the funk that came with it, but I’m still nicked up. I’ve got a long list of minor injuries. My right big toenail is ready to come off, I smashed my right middle finger in a door, and I have fresh wounds on my right and left knees (scrapes) and left hand (blood blister) from this race.

My swim was unremarkable. It was a tight course and was fairly rough in the first wave, especially for a “scrimmage.” I swam a straighter line than recent open water swims, but I was still slow. I opted not to use a wetsuit since it was short and I need to practice without it. My swim to bike transition was ugly. I opted to put on my jersey (again for practice) and I couldn’t get it pulled over my head. It was stuck and I was wandering around blind. I nearly had to call someone for help, but I got it on without tripping. I wish I had video of this episode. Flustered, I mounted my bike outside of transition cross style, turned left and immediately dumped it. I smacked my left arm, left knee, and jammed my left hand on a pile of rocks. I ended up with a nasty blood blister on my palm, right in the crease. Not good.

My heart rate was probably around 200 when I remounted and took chase. It was bad enough that I was so slow on the swim. Losing time between transition and the crash was downright hilarious. Eventually I settled into a rhythm and started making my way through the field. I think I passed all but ten or so athletes on the bike leg. The course was fast, dry, and sandy with some roots. My second transition was much better and I set out in pursuit of the remaining competitors. I really thought I could win this race, but I didn’t know how much of a gap the remaining guys had, and I didn’t ask. I just chased.

2/3rd’s of the way through the run, I had one of those falls that comes out of nowhere. One second you are running upright and the next second, you are not. I must have caught my left foot on a root because I went down so hard I didn’t know what happened. I drove my right knee into the ground and rolled. I popped right up, but a bit dazed. I collected myself and started running again, though a bit out of synch. By the end of the run, I had caught all but two guys and finished third.

Given the circumstances and my slow swim (33rd place), I was happy. It was a nice way to end a long day.  First would have been a real morale boost going into my heavy Ironman training phase, but I did this race for fun, and fun it was. I had the second fastest run, but it needed to a be a bit faster if I was going to catch Toby Kulas and Chris Winter.

Maybe next year…

Race Results

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