Bassman Fall Sprint Triathlon Race Report
My first triathlon is in the bag and it felt incredible as I crossed the finish line! It’s definitely not going to be my last triathlon either.
Back in June, I had originally planned on and signed up for an Iron Girl event in Sandy Hook, NJ on September 7. But, ended up coming down with a virus and being in the hospital the week before it. My fever still wasn’t down by Friday before the race and I was devastated that I wouldn’t meet my goal. My husband came home on the morning of the would be race day to find me crying and, the problem solver that he is, had me looking to see if there were any other races I could do. That was when we found out about the Bassman Triathlon. I looked over the course information and took a look at some great course videos on View The Race and signed up.
The Bassman has MANY events (duathlon, aquabike, sprint tri, international tri, half-middle distance tri, and relays) but still is a smaller event so the transition area isn’t open until race day. There isn’t any sort of race overview meeting either but the race organizer was there at packet pick up on Saturday and he was more than happy to go over every detail with me and any one else who had questions. In fact, I didn’t even have to approach him. I think he saw the “Oh my God, I’m really going to be doing this” sort of look on my face and asked me if I had any questions and proceeded to go over the course in great detail for me. He also advised me to get setup early Sunday morning and go in the water to get acclimated to the water temperature which was actually around 70 degrees, quite unusually warm for October in New Jersey.
Race day morning began early, waking up at 4am so that I could have some breakfast (a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a greek yogurt) and get to Bass River State Park by 6:30am when the transition area opened. We stayed at the Clarion Inn and Suites Atlantic City North in Absecon which was only 20 minutes away. It was a very nice affordable hotel and I would definitely stay there again. Getting to the Bass River State Park was an easy drive up Rt 9 and we had no problems getting a parking spot in the park when we arrived but it was filling up quickly. I’m not sure how you would fair if you got there after 7am.
Getting there early and some luck helped me to get a prime spot on the rack too. They assigned racks according to ranges of race numbers. My number ended up putting me at the rack right next to the transition area at the swim entrance and since I was there early I was able to place my bike at the end of the rack where I had a nice bit of room to setup my stuff. I was really happy to get this location because I still haven’t developed the tough feet that triathletes seem to have and this position put me within 6 feet of the nicely carpeted runway that ran the 150 or so yards down to the lake. And I have to say – how nice is it that they carpet the whole way from the lake to the transition area?! I took a long time getting my things set up because I was so worried that I had missed something even though I had planned it out and gone over it days ahead of time. I definitely had the race day jitters. A woman the next rack over was having trouble getting the backs off of her swim cap race number and asked me if I could try. It was then that I realized just how badly my hands were shaking, making getting the back off difficult but I did manage. I had planned to listen to the race director’s advice and get down to the lake at least 15 minutes before the 8am start time so I could get some time in the lake. But, before I knew it, I heard the announcement that all Sprinters needed to be down to the lake in the next 5 minutes for the start.
I did a final quick check, asked my husband to zip up my wet suit and took a quick photo and quickly went down to the lake. I began to wade into the lake and when the water was only about up to my knees, the director asked everyone to get out of the water for the start. He did the usual thanks to everyone for coming out and did a quick overview of the race. Then we got into the water and within a few minutes we were off! I had told myself a million times not to start out too fast but I didn’t listen. I started swimming too fast and about 100 meters in got kicked in the head. By the time I made it to the first buoy I was completely out of breath and had to hang on to one of the kayaks for a minute. I was frazzled but knew I had to keep going so I started heading toward the next buoy. On the way though, there was some seaweed that my arms were getting caught up in (there’s no seaweed in the my practice lake) and that threw me so when I saw another kayak I decided to grab hold of that one too. There was another person holding onto the kayak as well. I still don’t know if this was true or if the volunteer in the kayak was just trying to motivate me to get to the end without any more stops but he said that you could only hold onto a kayak two times and if I held on any more times I would be disqualified. He also told me I could do it and to just swim breast stroke a bit if I needed to catch my breath. The thought of disqualification made me really determined to get through. So I took off and just told myself I would be ok and to just keep moving. I did make it to the shore but by the time I got there I felt like I was going to die. My time was 12:59 which was more than 5 minutes faster than I was expecting. As I got out of the water, race director announced that I was a first timer and there was a big cheer which certainly fueled me on. I also got a boost from my husband who ran up along side the ropes from the lake part of the way to the transition area yelling encouragement.
I unzipped my wetsuit down to my waste on my way up to the transition area. And used a tip I had read to pull my suit down to my knees and then use my feet to step out of the rest of it. It worked quite well. I had read a another great tip about bringing an extra water bottle to quickly squirt some water on your feet and get some of the dirt off before slipping on your cycling shoes. I think this worked pretty well in reducing blisters from the sand. I don’t think that the quick rinse added much to my time but my transition time wasn’t all that great at 6:59.
I headed down to the bike mount line just outside the transition area and out onto the bike course. The bike course was very flat and there were lots of volunteers and police officers helping with traffic and guiding us along the route. I had been second to last out of the swim and did get passed on the bike course so I didn’t really see any other racers until I was almost back to the transition area. The bike portion was quite serene actually. It was a beautiful, lightly populated wooded area and there was minimal traffic on the roads. I fueled with 2 GU gels on the bike. I planned on just using one but really felt like I needed the second. It gave me a boost of energy for sure to keep going on to the run. My bike time was right around what I was expecting at 53:14.
At T2 I had a decent transition of 2:05 and headed out onto the run course. By this time there were lots of runners out there from other races going on and lots of spectators too. Spectators and fellow racers alike were all very encouraging and motivating to me. The first 5 minutes I definitely had that lead in my legs feeling and ended up walking for about 30 seconds. After that I really got into a groove. I have never felt a run be so, I wouldn’t say easy, but so much where I didn’t doubt whether or not I was going to finish. Usually when I do a 5K by itself, it takes me a good 15 minutes at least before I settle in and it’s not until the last 1/2 mile until I know I’m going to finish without walking. I’ve decided that there are two reasons for this relative ease I felt. One, I was much more warmed up than I usually am at the start of a run. And two, which is probably the most powerful reason, I was already at least 3/4 of the way through the race and I think my brain finally gave in to the fact that I was doing this and there would be no stopping me so just go with it. The run was quite enjoyable as well. In some places you ran along the roads but in large sections you ran on slightly sandy trails within the park. There were some sections again, like the bike, where I was just out there by myself in nature and taking it in. About a quarter of a mile from the finish there was this sweet boy about 9 years old with his friend who decided to run a few yards along side me yelling “You’re doing great! You’re almost there!” That definitely put a smile on my face. My run time ended up being 49:54 which is a pretty decent run time for me.
I cannot explain how incredible it felt to cross that finish line and know I had accomplished what I had set out to do and had been training for months before. My final time was 2:05:13 and I was in last place but that truly did not matter. I can now call myself a triathlete!