Niantic Bay Triathlon

I had a morale boosting result at today’s Niantic Bay Triathlon. This is a fabulous race. I did it once before, but that was before I became a real triathlete. It was years ago and it was an experiment that I didn’t pursue at the time. Now that I am taking the sport seriously, I returned to take a crack at this neat course on the Connecticut shoreline. Much like the Ocean Beach Triathlon two weeks ago, this course has a lot of character. The unique features include the bay swim, the twisty undulating bike course on rough but pretty roads, and the zig-zag run with the finish across a bluff onto the beach.

More than 600 triathletes filled out the six waves for the 7:30 A.M. start at McCook Point Park. The weather was spectacular with sunshine and a pleasant temperature. Prior to the start, the view from the beach looking up at the hundreds of spectators on the bluff was impressive, and I imagine that the view of the six hundred racers below was just as good. The race attracted more than 30 relay teams and a lot of first time racers. I continue to be amazed by the popularity of sprint distance triathlons. It is a juggernaut.

I have been focusing on my swim technique. It is my weakest discipline and is a huge liability. If I could only improve by 10%-20%, I would get much better overall results. I would benefit both from the faster swim leg time and from the fact that I would be less fatigued for the bike and run. I felt like I was doing better, but the results don’t show a huge difference. My swim time was 2:08 behind John Babcock at Ocean Beach. Today, I was 1:30 behind Babcock,which does show some improvement in the less than two weeks since I received some better swim coaching. Obviously, the courses were different, but they were both supposed to be 1/2 mile, so I’ll take this as progress. It was suggested that I shave my mid-summer “race beard” in an effort to be more streamlined. My reply was that my boycott of the razor companies is soon to be over. Then I’ll start another one.

The other area where I am deficient is my transitions. This is almost a joke now. I’ve always been slow and I need some NASCAR pit crew advice on how to avoid wasted motion.  I could have moved up at least one spot in the overall results if my transition times matched some of the other guys. I rode the 12 mile bike course yesterday afternoon to scout the roads. They are known for being bumpy and the winter made them worse. I don’t really mind that because it puts a premium on bike handling skills. I also enjoy the turns and the hills. I used the little ring twice. Last week, I switched to a shorter stem and shortened my aero bars by an inch, so I’m getting much more comfortable on my new Seven Kameha SLX. I can’t wait to try it at some of the longer distance races, including Timberman 70.3 in two weeks.

I made up some ground on the bike, and was chasing one more guy before I ran out of road. My run was also pretty good. The 3.5 mile course winds its way through the beach community to the south of McCook Point Park. There were a lot of folks cheering for us and that was helpful. The more than 150 volunteers from the Hartford Marathon Foundation did a great job with all aspects of the race. The bike course was safe and the run course aid stations were nice to have. I picked up a few more spots on the run, but again ran out of road. The run finish is pretty cool. You leave the road, cut across a dirt parking lot and take a singletrack sand trail over a wonderful bluff. You pop out on the road for a final brief stretch of asphalt before hooking a hard right, running across the sand, and then taking a 90 degree left turn for the final 200 meter beach finish along the water’s edge.

John Babcock broke his course record with a super 57:06 time. I would like to know how he goes so fast. The gap between John and the rest of us is huge. He was followed by Staz Dawson in 1:01:11 and John Peters in 1:01:45. I was 6th overall in 1:02:56 and first in my age group. Between the swim and transitions, I know that I can pick up 90 seconds on this course. I think I can ride faster too. I’ll try again in the future. The first woman was Elise Vonhousen in 1:06:20. She was followed by Jen Lemieux in 1:08:13 and Christine Louden in 1:10:04.

Now I have to shift my focus from these short bursts to the longer distances. Building up my endurance is now my primary focus, but racing these sprints has been fun.

Race Results

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