Doing More With Less Since 1972

Tag: swim

Ron Jon Cocoa Beach Sprint Triathlon 2013

Ron Jon Cocoa Beach Triathlon

This was a really fun event! Great turnout, with 80 first-time triathletes competing! How cool!!!

It’s really good to see the local scene grow like that. I know not everyone is going to get hooked and start training/racing a lot, but every little bit of growth is great. We have great weather for year-round training and a bunch of local and big-time events within a few hours of here, and that’s just the triathlons. The running and biking scenes are big too, so there’s always something to do.

If the turnout for the kids race is any indication, the sport is going to explode in about 10 years. And from what I saw, swim times are about to drop dramatically. These kids are fish…all of them. Competition at Olympic distance races is going to get tight. Hopefully that means there will be more of them soon. I love that distance.

Oh yeah…swimming. I didn’t do the whole race, but I swam on the Miles of Love relay team, and we won! I was definitely nervous because (1) I’m not a front of the pack swimmer, especially as a sprinter and (2) Everything changes when you’re on a team and the other two people are counting on your performance. It looks like the work I’ve been putting in on the swim (but I still need a lot more) is paying off. Luckily, the swim is by far the shortest leg of the event, so I didn’t have a huge impact on our time.


I picked out a kid in the same color cap (relays and 55+) I knew would beat me at the start. He was a real swimmer–wearing swimming gear instead of tri gear. He whooped me pretty good; about 40 seconds. Luckily I found the feet of the 2nd fastest swimmer in our cap at about the midpoint and followed him most of the way in. I think he beat me by about 3 seconds, so I feel good about how I executed that. It was hard hanging onto his feet, even with the draft. But it was nice to let him do the sighting and just focus on staying behind him. Side-by-side, he’s definitely more than 3 seconds faster than me.

The best part for me was that I got to swim at the front of a wave instead of the middle. I relished that opportunity–probably the only one I’ll ever get. What a difference it makes when you aren’t being pummeled from every angle! The only real difficult part was navigating through a group of swimmers from the wave before ours. That’s when I lost the guy I was following, but we didn’t have far to go at that point, so I just pulled as hard as I could.

Transitions were super-smooth for our team. It’s really nice when you don’t have to do anything except hold your foot out and let someone else move the chip. Our cyclist (Tom) KILLED it. He was wearing a Go-Pro camera–check out the video! I can’t report on his leg, but the video speaks for itself. He didn’t get passed by anyone and had one of the top bike splits over all. Pretty good for a guy jacked up on Sudafed with nasty chest congestion!

T2 was just as smooth as T1. I felt bad for our runner (Beth) having to wait for the two of us to finish before she could start. I know how anxious I was, and I got to go first. Tom and Beth are both really competitive, so there was a bunch of nervous energy going on. I’m sure she was relieved to get the chance to just run. After T2, we hung out in transition and watched the minutes on my watch tick by as we waited for other relay cyclists to come in. Tom gave us a huge cushion, and Beth brought it home strong! It’s pretty easy to report on Beth’s portion of the race: It was a 5k. 5ks hurt!


The most nerve-wracking part of the whole day was waiting results to be posted. That’s usually not something I even consider. I’m so MOP, especially since I’m not Clydesdale eligible any longer, that official results/standings just don’t have any meaning to me in individual events.


A huge thanks to the organizers, lifeguards, volunteers, and Brevard County Sherrif’s Department for keeping us safe, hydrated, and fed for this event!


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2010 Health First Triathlon Race Report

First, let me say that this was a very well run race. Everything went smoothly as far as I could tell, there was a small army of very supportive and helpful volunteers, and the course was set up as a great venue for spectators to view the race. I’m not sure about the accuracy of the distances, but I’ll get to that later. In the end, that doesn’t really matter–everyone has to do the same course.

Swim (1500m)
I’ve heard that you can’t win the Ironman on the swim, but you can lose it there. This wasn’t an Ironman, but I think that’s what happened to me today. I did a 28:22, which I would normally be very happy with for an open water race. I had a bad start because the water seemed to never get deep. I actually started swimming once, but my hands were dragging the bottom, so I got up and ran into the water some more. Running in water really jacks my heart rate up, and it took me a while to calm down from that. Throw in the usual punching and kicking and the fact that I didn’t do a single open water swim leading up to this race, and I probably got the results I deserve.

I found some really good feet to draft off of when we started the longest leg of the swim, which was headed north against the wind. This gave me a good chance to rest and settle down. That’s my usual goal for a non-sprint swim anyway–just take what the course give you, and don’t expect too much.

I never really thought I got off course that much, and my time doesn’t seem to say I did, but I ended up 96/195 over all and 6/9 in my group for the swim.

Weird results. Were there really 3 guys over 200 lbs who swam that under 23:00?!?!? In the past, I’ve usually in the top third or so overall on the swim and near the top in my group. This one has me a little flummoxed. Did I swim a really slow short course?

Let me just say that both of my transitions were really bad so I don’t spend any more time on them. I spent enough time on them during the race.

Anyway, I didn’t have my watch on for the swim and didn’t know what to expect from my time, but coming out of T1 I heard the announcer say “We’re now starting to see a more steady stream of swimmers arriving to transition.” That had me thinking I was right where I usually am–top 1/3 or so. Wrong.

Bike (27 miles)
I jumped on and quickly accelerated up to ~20mph, when “wirrrrrrrr’ a guy zoomed by me with a disc rear wheel. Oh well, not catching that guy anyway, right? I was soon passed by another cyclist, which had me (again) thinking I had put in a pretty good swim–all the guys who are fast on the bike and weaker on the swim are passing me. However, I passed that guy back in the next mile or so. I was a net +17 passes on the bike. There may have been a couple more, but once the sprint distance racers were in the mix it was harder to keep up.

The heart rate monitor I’d spent so much time putting on was completely non-functional. I probably gained back all the time it cost me to put it on just because it wasn’t working, and therefore wasn’t holding me back at all.

My strategy was to push the northbound sections of the course (into the wind), take it easier on the southbound sections (wind at my back), and blister the causeways. If you are from the area and are reading this, let me apologize, but…Those. Are. Not. Hills. I knew I would have a psychological advantage biking and running those causeways because I’ve spent most of my life riding and running big hills and mountains. I know a lot of people here train by riding the causeways, but I think my method of getting on the spin bike and doing 5-8 minute intervals of “hills” on there is a much better training method.

The one hiccup on the ride was at the water bottle exchange. I had about a third of my water left, and threw it to the side. I then dropped, 1, 2, 3 different bottles the volunteers tried to hand me. Oh well…only 10 more miles to go–hydrate more in T2 than planned.

I have to say, that’s the best ride I’ve ever had during a race. My time was 1:13:55, 35th overall and 2nd in my group. I put in a lot more time training on the bike for this race than I usually do, and it really paid off. I didn’t care if I cooked myself because my run hasn’t been that great lately. I wanted to have a good bike.

Run (6.2 miles?)
My run definitely isn’t at it’s all-time best right now, and I knew I was going to tear it up on the bike, so I didn’t have very high expectations for the run. Strategy was to start off slowly and try to build something decent–no use trying to run fast off the bike anyway, because that wouldn’t happen. I estimated I was doing 9:30 miles, but when I clicked my watch at the first mile marker it said 8:30…huh?

Mile 2 was 7:48…what? Mile 3 was 8:4x…ok, maybe. But the next two miles were down into the mid 6:xx range…no way. My 5k PR is a 6:50 pace, and I clearly remember my entire body being on fire for that entire race. That isn’t what I was feeling during this race. The last 1.2 didn’t feel especially long, but my watch said I ran it at 9:36, and I know I was going faster than that. Probably closer to 8:00 miles at that point. I felt pretty good the whole way, and I followed through on my plan to push the causeways, where I think I gained some good ground. There were lots of people walking up.

Final run time was 49:43. Being honest with myself, I think that’s about what I could run right now in a stand alone 10k, but not in a tri. Regardless, we all ran the same course. My time was 2nd in my group and 78th overall.

My overall finish was 2:35:52–65th overall and *gulp* 5th (?!?!?!) in my group. Swim really killed me. I still have a hard time believing I finished in the top third overall and in the middle of the Clydesdales. Two and a half minutes out of the money. Ugh. Probably could have pulled another minute of that back from the transitions as well.

That’s the cool thing about triathlon though. You focus on one thing (bike) and slip someplace else (swim). You don’t practice transitions, and you have bad transitions. And that’s what keeps you coming back–there are so many should’ve and could’ve situations you can improve on.

I’m dropping down below 200 lbs for a while to do some running, but I think I’m going to be back with the fat kids next year to vindicate myself!

What Is Your Swim Goal?

The plan for today’s swim was to warmup with a 300sw/100kick/100sw. Then some sprints, 4×200, and a 200 swim down. The warmup was so atrocious that I changed my plan–technique was all over the place and I felt like I was kicking to stand still on the kick part of the warmup. Instead of the 4×200 I decided to do a straight 800 and try to find an even stride. I sort of zoned out for the whole middle portion of the swim, so I guess it worked.


When I finished my 800 and was checking my HR, the lifeguard at the pool asked me, “What’s your swim goal?” He was asking because he noticed my soft kick off the side at the end of each length, and once I told him I was training for open water tris he understood why I was taking it easy on the turns. But still, it was a good question, and it gave me some things to think about and focus on during my swim down.

What are my goals, really?

  • keep my heart rate at 120-130 during the race
  • find someone to draft as much as possible
  • make it through the swim with as few strokes possible (stay on course)

Ultimately, I would like to duplicate my best in-race swim ever if possible. The only thing I really remember about that swim was getting out of the water with a huge smile on my face and thinking, “This is really going to happen!”

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