Today, I returned to the Niantic Bay Triathlon for the first time since 2013. Sadly, I missed last year’s race. The course is one of my favorites. It was the 6th time that I’ve done the event. Today was the 17th edition. My first was back in 2002.
The course is 10 minutes from my parents place in Old Lyme, and where I spent the summers of my youth at Old Colony Beach. I enjoy the 1/2 mile ocean swim, though its more like a bay swim with a nuclear power plant warming the water! The 12 mile bike course is also a favorite with its undulating roads and several tight turns. The fun 3.2 mile run no longer includes the scenic Bluff (Superstorm Sandy’s damage caused serious erosion), but the twisting course winds its way around the beach community before finishing on the beach.
I had heavy legs today, and knew it before the start. I was in the second wave and had to deal with a lot of traffic on the swim. It was shallow and the water was dirty, but everyone dealt with the same conditions. I was just slow. The current wasn’t bad as the tide was low. I made up a lot of ground on the bike. I did a lot of passing and didn’t get passed. I moved up, but was limited in how much I could improve my position. I felt good on the run, but the time was nothing special.
I finished strong, but know that my time was about three minutes slower than 2013 and my 2nd slowest time ever. I still managed 5th overall and 1st in 40-44, so I’m pleased.
Spencer Ralston crushed us again. I love his exuberance. He lives less than 10 minutes from us in Hebron, so I’m really rooting for him. He has major upside. Debbie and I were joking with him after the race. She rode her bike from Old Lyme to cheer me on. When we finished, he was asking me about Debbie’s insane Speedgoat race in Utah last weekend. I said that he ought to talk to her himself and pointed her out on the other side of transition. He ran over yelling to get her attention, “Mrs. Livingston!”
I loved that moment. I quizzed him about his goals. He has the XTERRA World Championships on tap plus several ITU style road triathlons this fall. He is working towards a spot on the USA Triathlon Olympic training squad. His swimming and running are his strengths. If he improves his bike skills, gets in to some regular group rides, builds his cycling strength, then he has a shot. I think he said that he has to be able to swim a mile in less than 18 minutes and run a mile in less than 4:37, which is nuts. Go Spencer!
He made us laugh when to further highlight his upside, he said that he “grew an inch last year.” He further noted that his Mom isn’t happy because he no longer fits any of his pants. Oh, to be 20 again! All kidding aside, he really put the smack down today and had the only sub-60 minute time of the 412 finishers. He was followed by Brendan Atkins and Gilles Benjabauer. Special note that fellow Hartford Extended Area Triathletes clubmate, William Schumann, was in front of me. He is a very strong 50+ triathlete. He put more than three minutes into me on the swim and I only eroded a minute of that gap between the bike and run.
Leading the women was Elise Vonhousen. She was followed by Caroline Pierce and Meghan Pagliuco. Niantic is also known for beginners and first timers. There were a lot of great performances. Nice beach road courses like Niantic take work to put on, and with the HMF staff, volunteers, and local police, there were more than 100 people supporting the racers. There were lots of marshals and even though I know the course by heart, I appreciated all the help.
I’ve got a quick turnaround to Winding Trails on Tuesday night where I got beat last week. I wasn’t happy about that, but also had dead legs and didn’t feel good in the heat. I’m hoping to avenge that (unless Spencer shows up!) but in the end, I’m just happy that I’m racing near the front again.