Last night, I returned to the Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon for the sixth time. I missed last year’s race because of my injured foot, but had raced the previous five years since I made my return to triathlon in 2009. Griskus is probably my favorite triathlon. I just love the format and the vibe. The sprint distance is perfect for me, especially during a year when I’m not going “long.” I love the course around Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury, Connecticut, and the idea of a mid-week race in July is great.
The only significant change since the last time I raced Griskus was the swim. They used to start the men and women simultaneously on two parallel courses. Now they do a wave start and instead of an out and back, it is a rectangle. I insist the swim was longer than the 1/2 mile that they said it was. It was certainly longer than past races. The longer swim relative to the bike (10.5 miles) and run (3.1 miles), was not good for me, but that’s life.
I conceded 3-4 minutes to the other top competitors and that is hard to make up. I passed a lot of folks after my 14 minutes in the water, but there were still eight in front of me when I reached the finish. One minute less on the swim could have helped me pick up for more spots in the standings. Regardless, the placing, whether it be overall, or in my age group, is not why I do these races.
I saw so many friends. This was my first USAT race since August 2013. Last year was a mess with the plantar fasciitis and stress fracture that plagued me all year, and then got worse when I fractured my scapula Labor Day Weekend. I’ve done several weekly “scrimmages” at Lake Terramuggus and Winding Trails, but Griskus was my first race against some of the best triathletes in Connecticut. This race is great for beginners and there were more than 30 first timers. Rookies are celebrated at this race, so it is a great way to experience triathlon. The post-race festivities are always a lot of fun.
I ended up 9th overall and 2nd in my age group, though I was technically the third 40-44 athlete. Chris Thomas was 2nd overall and the top 3 don’t get to “double dip” in the age group awards. I gave it my all last night. My bike and run were solid. I rode my new Zipp wheels on my Seven Kameha SLX for the first time. Unfortunately, I had to give up my Zedtech 8 (front) and 10 (rear) when Zipp had a major hub recall earlier this year. They replaced my wheels with a new 808 (front) and Sub-9 Disc (rear). It’s a fast setup and felt good. I had one mishap on the bike course. I had a late arrival at Quassy Amusement Park and had to rush my preparation in transition. I did a sloppy job at putting my frame number on my bike. I used electrical tape and it came loose during the ride. With three miles to go, the number and a wad of tape got jammed in between my rear wheel and the chain stays. I rode it that way for a mile or so, but it was loud, annoying, and was causing drag. I stopped, hopped off and pulled it out before getting going again. That cost me 30 seconds or so and was a rookie mistake. I picked off a few guys on the run course, but ran out of time to make up more ground. I was still very pleased with my effort.
Next year will be the 30th anniversary race, and I’ll likely return.