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Philly Insurance Triathlon Race Report

I don’t want to get to all emotional about this whole thing, but this was the first race I decided to do back in December, some 40+ lbs ago and I’ve known all along that it was going to be my A race. This was the culmination of all that training that has been taking place since the day after Thanksgiving. I’d been pretty nervous for the 36 hours leading up to the race, but found myself calm on Saturday morning.

Pre-race: I had a great night of sleep and woke up at 4:00 am. I took my dog Shannon for a short walk and came home and had breakfast consisting of: 2 slices whole wheat toast with peanut butter, a banana, glass of H2O, bottle of accelerade. I was out the door by 5:00 am and was parking my car by 5:40. The transition area was about a ten minute walk down a big hill from where I parked. I made it just about all the way down when I realized I left my helmet in the car. I had plenty of time, so no big deal. Once I got body marked (this was a first for me, my last tri didn’ do it— pretty cool!) I set up my transition area and had about 80 minutes to kill. I got to talking to Wes, the guy next to me who was doing his first tri and it was cool to feel more experienced than someone. He had a lot of questions for me as though I actually had any relevant experience to speak of.  Before long the process of corralling 1000 athletes into the swim start began. Unfortunately I found myself wearing my wetsuit with no shade to be found and it got pretty hot, pretty quick. The second to last wave was M30-34 along with Clydesdales. Ironically, I qualify for both groups…. anyway….

Swim: Having had rough swims in my last two OWS, my goal was to get through this and still maintain my composure and an effective stroke.  The start was pretty violent, but I didn’t let it fluster me too much. I maintained my cool and focused on a long stroke. Before I knew it, I had a nice lane to swim in, and I was passing the first buoy. As I got to the bridge, I could feel myself slow down a bit as the current is a little quicker there, but I was through and around the second buoy in no time, still feeling composed. As I approached the third buoy, there was a little traffic jam as earlier waves were still making their way around and it was here that I had to deal with a little anxiety. Not that I got panicked, or anything, but I was excited about feeling good and didn’t want anything to get in the way of that. It took me a bit to settle down and by the time I did, I was making the turn for home. The last stretch of the swim, it seemed as though two other swimmers were trying to stop me from passing them. Whichever way I swam to get around them, it felt like they swam towards me. Eventually, I had to give up on the idea of going around them and just went over them. Oh well…..

T1: Real smooth transition, it was great to see Julie and my kids. Molly had a shirt on that said, “Go Daddy, Balcer #1” and nobody cheered louder than Luke. Seeing my family there meant the world to me. I don’t always have someone with whom to share my enthusiasm for this sport and even if they were faking it a bit, it was great to see them there.

Bike: I set out on the bike feeling like I was in pretty good shape so I decided to start hammering right away. It wasn’t long until I was passing people left and right and only found myself getting passed by the occasional tri geek with the aero helmet etc. But I was happy that I was passing far more people than were passing me. I loved the course which was two loops, and had more hills than I was expecting. We got to cross over the river on the Strawberry Mansion Bridge which was awesome! and coming of the bridge there was a big decent where I was really flying. Right after I started my second loop, I looked down and noticed that my timing chip wasn’t there. I figured that it had come off with my wetsuit during T1.

T2: As I entered transition, I told an official that I lost my chip and he said that there was back up and not to worry. I made it out of T2 in no time because my inexperienced self has no bike shoes, so there was no changing required. I racked my bike, threw my helmet down and took off.

Run: The run didn’t go as well as I had hoped. It was hot, and although I had felt great on the bike, I really hammered it. By the time I got to the first mile marker, I hurting; my legs just didn’t have much left. I managed to keep running the whole way and was grateful for the ice water soaked towels they were passing out along the way. With about 1/4 mile to go, I saw a guy ahead of me with a 32 on his calf. I decided I wanted to reel him in. I picked it up and passed him with some ease. I felt like I was going to pass out when I crossed the finish line and waited a few seconds to stop my watch.

The unofficial time was 1:37:52

Final Thoughts: I had a very comfortable swim which was an accomplishment in itself! The bike was great, the whole way. I need to become more of a runner. It doesn’t, nor has it ever, nor will it ever come natural to me, but I’m determined to work on it. When I finished the race, I wanted to collapse, which makes me feel really good. It was important for me to “Race the race” and make sure I left it all out there today.I missed my goal time by almost 8 minutes. This generates positive and negative feelings: 1. Obviously I didn’t meet my goal, that sucks. 2. I didn’t meet my goal, I challenged myself and didn’t set a soft goal that was too easy. I am a little disappointed with my time, although it still puts me in the top 20% of all competitors and 7/23 Clydesdale, 22/101 AG, 192/995 OA.

I hope to hear from Timberline Timing soon about my official time and any split info they may have.

It was only my second tri and it’s still my first season. I need to be mindful of that and not let the competitiveness get me too crazy. I know I drove Julie nuts leading up to this race and I’m lucky that she puts up with my BS.

I’m gonna end this here, I’ll probably have more thoughts in the coming days, but for now….

Thanks for reading!


About paddyb76

Aspiring triathlete and endurance athlete. Husband, father and teacher. Always seeking a better life.


3 thoughts on “Philly Insurance Triathlon Race Report

  1. Dude, you killed it. Congrats.

    You will become a runner and just remember running in a triathlon is not like running in a run only race. You have many things to deal with before you start running.

    One of the lessons I am still learning is dealing with a higher cadence on the bike and a better run, but that is me. You will figure out what works for you in terms of the bike/run combination but keep at it. You are killing it and it is great to watch your transformation.

    Posted by Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race | June 27, 2011, 9:30 am
    • Running is on tap for the fall. I have the Philly 1/2 mary in November and am determined to run sub 2:00. It was interesting reading K. Neuman’s post about the WIBA and one of the pros said that triathletes need to train to run with tired legs and that the majority of our runs should be coming off the bike. What do you mean about dealing with the higher cadence on the bike and a better run?

      Posted by paddyb76 | June 29, 2011, 9:26 pm


  1. Pingback: A Season in Review After All « 3sportjourney - October 4, 2011

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