2012 Winding Trails Tri Series

This past Tuesday, I finished race 10 in the 10 race Winding Trails Summer Tri Series. This off-road triathlon (1/4 mile swim/5 mile MTB/5 kilometer run) has been a real highlight for me. I’m proud to have done all 10 races because doing all of them was the goal I set for myself before the season. It felt good to punch my series card for the last time at registration, and I made it official when I crossed the timing mat for the final time in 2012. I kept me luck #44 the whole season and the last body marking is almost faded for good.

The sad part of the story is that the days are getting shorter and I’ll miss this great event until next June when the 2013 series kicks off. Seven races into this weekly series, when I was beginning to tire, I was thinking that I would cut back in 2013. I lose some production at work when I leave early,  the I-84/Route 4 traffic is a bear, it’s hard to come back to a Tuesday race when you just had a race on Sunday, and some weeks it would be better to simply take a break. Most of the nights, I was also giving up some family time, though Debbie and the kids joined me on at least three occasions. All reasoning aside, my 2nd place (tied) overall finish got me free entry for next year, which I very much appreciate.

So, we will see how my 2013 sporting goals shape up, but barring a big shift in my approach, I’ll aim for 10 again. Of course, I didn’t have travel this summer, and next year, it could be different. Debbie has some big races planned and I may opt for a big event or two that requires travel. The Tuesday night stuff is just for fun, but it gets me fit, and I love the low-key vibe. It’s also great to see the same friends week in and week out. This race consistently attracts nearly 200 athletes of all ages and abilities. The weekend stuff will always take precedence, but 10 races for $175 is a great value and the cumulative 500 minutes of racing can’t be beat for workout impact.

At times, you wouldn’t know that it was a scrimmage. I battled with the same guys (and gals) all summer and nobody was relenting. Some people joked that this is our version of the “Tuesday Night World Championships.” I agree. I pushed as hard in these races as I push in any. There is no “going easy” in my mind, so whether it is Tuesday or Sunday, you lay it all on the line.

Since they score your best 8 finishes for the series awards, you really have to get to all of them if you want a shot at the podium because you are bound to have at least one or two off nights. I had five 2nd place finishes, four 3rd place finishes, and a 13th. I went hard in all but that one race because the Pat Griskus Sprint was the next night and it was an “A” race for me. That was the only time I backed off. A couple of times, I went into the race with cooked legs. The toughest one was two days after the Wilderness 101 mountain bike race. I was fried and it was a painful evening, but I salvaged a result.

Matt Chisholm took the overall series title. He won seven of the eight races he started. Peter Kuth won the other three. Matt had our number every week after week one. He is only 16 years old and hasn’t even scratched the surface of his amazing talent. I would love to have fresh legs like him and the chance to run free of the other things going on in “life.” Despite getting my clock cleaned on numerous occasions, I got in my shots. A few nights, I really made him work for the win which felt good since I’m 24 years older. My best race against him was in week #7. I was on and he was off. I tried to get in his head by catching him on the bike and surging ahead at the start of the run. He recovered to catch me and I pushed the pace like never before in a last-ditch effort to break him. Instead, I’m the one who broke, but I hung on and he only got me by 20 seconds. That is a race I’ll remember.

I also pushed Peter on several occasions. Though he beat me to the line in both of the races that Matt didn’t start, I got the best of him on several other occasions. We had a supreme battle in week nine when after catching him on the bike, we traded blows throughout the run. It came down to a sprint and he went so hard that he wiped out with a total face-plant 30 meters before the finish. At race #10 earlier this week, I never saw him, but I still pushed like a maniac because I had a slim overall series lead over him going into the final race. Matt couldn’t be caught, but I wanted to retain my second position and keep Peter in third. I had a bad run, but still thought I got it done.

At the award ceremony, they said that Peter and I had tied with 611 points. I have no idea how series points are scored and haven’t seen the final tally yet, but it doesn’t matter. The “secret formula” somehow factors both your weekly place and time. The tie is pretty amazing and pretty cool. I ceded him the 2nd place goodie bag because he won the last race and he had a total of three wins to my zero. I may have been more consistent, especially on the fast nights, but he earned his podium spot fair and square. I’m happy with my results. The only time I beat Matt was in week one, when the weather was bad, the course was slick, and that played into my favor. Peter won that night, which was also the only time that he finished in front of Matt, who has the course record.

Every week, those guys started the bike at least a minute up on me. My swim is my weakness and when you do the same course 10 times, you can really analyze your performances. I experimented with several transition strategies, but ultimately the one I settled on yielded me some of the fastest changeovers. I’m glad I improved that part of my game because it matters in sprint tri’s. I was happy with my riding on most nights. My Seven Sola 26er is a great bike for the course. My running was up and down. I’m not going as well as last year and had trouble closing on some nights.

Looking at the stats is kind of fun.

Fastest time: 48:12, week 7
Fastest Swim: 7:44, week 7
Fastest T1: 0:12, week 10
Fastest Bike: 20:44, week 7
Fastest T2: 0:15, week 10
Fastest Run: 18:43, week 2

If I took my fastest splits and added them up, my best virtual overall time would be 47:35. That would have been the perfect race!

There were many strong performances. It wasn’t just the top three guys. Awards went three deep in every age group. The overall female winner was another 16-year-old, Rachel Rosow. Like Matt, she was getting stronger every week and proved it in week 10 with a course record. She even ran faster than me in that race. That is awesome. My tri club, the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes, had a huge presence all season long and we were a factor in many of the age groups. Like I said, many of them enjoy the racing as much as I do.

Race Results

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