The King Pine Tri was a 'must do' race that I actually registered for in December. Yes, I was that committed. This was my home turf - I grew up going to summer camp at King Pine and learned to ski there. I suppose my first triathlon / duathlon experiences were here at Purity Lake - We swam the half mile across then ran back along sunset road (that would be more fun than the out and back on 153!). In April, I actually moved to East Madison, two miles up from King Pine and on the bike course.
The logistics for this race are quite easy - Vince at Tri Trek Events always does a great job - I picked up my registration packet on my way home the day before (Friday). This was the second year they offered the olympic distance and I did my homework. I rode most of the course with Josh Flanagan in late April, the day before they started paving Rt 41 which was a nightmare. East Madison Road was equally a nightmare but we'd have to settle for spray paint circled potholes until next year (it is actually on the summer paving hit list for Madison). The swim and run didn't require much attention as both are straight forward.
The morning of we set up in the transition station in the King Pine parking lot. This was my second triathlon, and it had been a while. I forgot how much prep it took to get things arranged. Mentally, I had to go over the transition sequence a few times to remember what I was doing. Case in point, I started to put my wetsuit on with nothing under. That would have been a GREAT transition.
Once we were all set up we headed down to the camp waterfront for our pre-race briefing. The water had warmed up quite a bit over the past week so I opted for a short sleeve wetsuit. In hindsight, I should have gone full suit since I seem to swim faster in mine but I didn't learn that until putting in more water time. I also should have done an easy 6 minute warm up. This is what I adopted for later races but again, learning with experience. After a slight start delay, we were counted and sent into the water then started. There was no game plan for this swim. I just wanted to swim steady get more experience in this leg. At least 10 swimmers were in front of me by the first buoy. A few draft lines were forming and I was on the outside. I just did my own thing with no one to draft off of and quietly moved up as we approached the far buoy. On the return to the King Pine beach, I moved into 4th and I opened it up when the exit came into clear sight. I came up on 3rd place and passed him on the run to the transition area. Now in 3rd, I quickly made my transition, unknowingly moving into 2nd.
On the bike I knew it was going to be unseasonably hot. May is a weather wildcard and today it was doing its best mid-August impression - mid 80s? I had two water bottles with about 300 calories in cytomax plus a couple gels taped to my frame. The bike was going to be tough, 32 miles with a stout hill climb by my house. I had very little time in the saddle leading up to the race. Add to that, I really didn't have a benchmark in terms of effort so I just tried to put in a good effort, whatever that meant! My HR monitor wasn't working which didn't help the cause plus my back brake might have been rubbing slightly. Not set up for success, that's for sure.
The course heads south on 153 and quickly climbs within the first 3 miles before descending to the turn for Bennet Road. Once on Bennett, the car traffic subsided and it opens up nicely - a few rolls to start then mostly flat until you hook back up with East Madison Road. Just before the turn off Ossipee Lake Road on to Rt 41, John Spinny passed me and I passed him back right after but knew this wasn't going to hold. He again passed me but this time for good. I kept him in sight though, and as we climbed East Madison Road, I attacked the hill and saw him as he crested. That would be the last I'd see him until the run. While I coasted back down to 153, he hammered and hit 50mph+. I almost thought that he must have turned left back to the transition area instead of taking the extra 12 mile lap because I didn't see him on any straightaway. Cramps started to creep up on the extra lap of the bike and I did my best to stave them off. I made sure to drink all my water and while I thought they were due to the heat, they were most likely due to my lack of fitness. There wasn't much to note about the rest of the ride. The section of Ossipee Lake Road that we turned left on from Bennett was pretty fast but the return up 153 was slow with an additional climb that we had bypassed the first loop.
I came back into the transition zone in 1:26, averaging 22.2 mph. I'm sure I could have nipped a few minutes off that with a little more training but I was happy. However, I didn't do any runs right off the bike to prep for the race. Legs certainly felt like bricks and wanted to cramp up but I was surprised that I was hitting 6:30 pace right out of the gate. The running course is and out and back north on 153 to the rope swing pull out on Crystal Lake. It's rolling but nothing significant. I continued at 6:30 pace and was content. Within a half mile of the turnaround Jason Frank (the winner) came into view, cruising by in the opposite direction. Not too far behind him was John Spinney. As I hit the turnaround, Adam Raphael snuck up on me and slowly passed me. I hung on his back for the next mile and could hear his labored effort loud and clear. With 1.5 miles left I made a move to pass him and held it and was pushed hard to the finish.
I was very pleased with the result. I clearly didn't have enough training or experience heading in to even compete with Jason or John. I did enjoy the battle with Adam at the end though and the course in general was a lot of fun. It's an early season event so I can't complain about the swim. The bike/run could definitely use some work.