St. Croix Valley Triathlon Race Report

>> Saturday, August 30, 2008

Or, “Why am I running during the swim?”

Or, “Why not to watch ‘Jaws’ the night before a race.”

As I explained in my quick, short post early this morning, I signed up for the St. Croix Valley Triathlon yesterday because I realized that I hadn’t competed in an event this month. I’ve done an event every month so far in 2008, and I didn’t want to break the streak. So I had to do something this weekend.

I was up at 4:15 a.m. I had breakfast, had a good pre-race poop with PERFECT consistency, got everything loaded, and was off around 5:15.

I wondered when I would hit race traffic when I pulled into Hudson WI. I got to the exact intersection where the race said it was going to take place, and I saw nothing. For a moment, I thought I had the wrong day. But I got out of my car and saw the transition zone.

I walked by the main pavilion, and it was dead:

As it turns out, I was just SUPER EARLY. The event started at 7:30, and I was there at 5:40. When I first saw transition, there was only this ONE GUY getting his bike set up:

I grabbed my stuff and had prime pick-ens! I grabbed a good spot at the end of the rack. Big Rhonda was literally the 4th bike set up in transition. She was lonely for a while:

I went into the bathrooms and there was NO LINE FOR THE TOILET! This is why I like to be early!! I did my #2 #2 for the day (no, that’s not redundant). Then I went down to check out the water. This was going to be my first triathlon in a river! There wasn’t a noticeable current in the bay where we were, and it was shallow for quite a ways:

It was strange not seeing the buoys out yet

I got back to my car and grabbed the rest of my gear. I was completely set up just a few minutes after 6, with an hour and a half to get ready before the start. I waited for the body marking to start, and got marked (along with my smiley face that I always ask for):

Transition quickly filled up, and 529 athletes had their gear ready to go:

My spot is right behind the woman in blue at right/center

Under an hour before the start, the buoys got placed in the river:

The guy who placed them didn’t seem too official. The buoys seemingly just got put wherever he thought looked good. It didn’t seem too scientific or measured. He just dropped them off his kayak:

(This probably explains my upcoming unnaturally fast swim time.)

We had a pre-race meeting where we were warned about the hills on the bike. Super. They warned us that there was a fast, curvy downhill on the way back that we had to keep under control. They asked us to try to stay under 30 mph in that stretch.

After that, I hopped in the water. I was in Wave 1, which was new to me (I’ve never gone out in the first group). Wave 1 was pretty big: it was for males 35 and under. That’s a lot of people. I took a tinkle in my wetsuit, took a couple of strokes, got lined up (on the outside), and was ready for the gun.

1/3 Mile Swim:

The gun went off. I was going to try to stay calm early on. At the Chisago Lakes Sprint Tri a few weeks ago, I went out way to hard, and it hurt me on my way back to shore. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. I kept to that game plan pretty well.

When I got near the farthest buoy, I started seeing weeds under me. For some dumb reason, I watched “Jaws” on TV last night. When I saw those weeds, I pictured that scene when Richard Dreyfuss’s character is scuba diving when that head (missing one eye) comes bobbing out of the broken ships hull. That scene always makes me jump. Why did I watch that last night? I rounded the buoy to do the short stretch parallel to shore before turning back to head in.

When I was nearing the final turn towards the beach, I thought I better take a quick look at what direction I’d have to be heading: we were all ready to turn DIRECTLY into the rising sun, and it was going to be pretty much a blind swim back to shore. When I popped up to check on my angle, my feet hit the bottom. “What?...” I was at the farthest point out from shore on the swim, and I was running on the bottom in 5 feet of water. So I took 8-10 seconds to “run” as a little break before putting my head down to start swimming again. I noticed that I was “running” faster than a guy swimming on his back next to me. I was tempted to poke him and say, “Hey, it’s shallow here, so if you need a breather, just hop up!” But I didn’t. Anyway, it was awesome to be able to hit the bottom in the middle of a swim!

I made the final turn toward shore, and I still felt pretty good at how I was swimming. But I noticed the bottom of my right foot was throbbing a little. Without realizing it, I had cut it on a rock while I ran on the bottom a minute before. Crap. I hoped it was going to bleed out on the swim and be good to go for the bike and run.

I hit the beach. I ran up to T1 and my watch read 9:15. That’s freakin’ fast for me! That swim may have been a little short, but I DID swim it pretty well. (But not THAT well.) Anyway, I was happy.


Nothing fancy here. Normal T1 stuff: off with the wetsuit, struggle with my shirt, get everything else on, pondered the growing divide between the middle class and upper class along with what our next presidential administration can do to remedy that, etc, etc.

10 Mile Bike:

Yes, only 10 miles. But it was going to be hilly. About a mile into it, we were riding into the sun, and there was some nasty glare. A biker just 50 feet in front of me misjudged his distance from a parked car and ended up nailing the back corner and flying off his bike. It was dramatic, and it looked nasty. The guy right in front of me couldn’t react, and he ran over the bike (but thankfully not the athlete). The guy who jumped the downed cyclist’s bike asked if he was OK at the same time I did. We both slowed up. He shouted that he was OK (and he sounded a little embarrassed). We kept going.

I didn’t feel too great about the first half of my ride. I hit the turn around at mile 5 with a slower time than I’d wanted (17:52, which is around 18 mph).

But then we got some hills in our favor.

I was coming up on the big downhill that we were warned about, and there were 2 guys in front of me. I figured I’d do what they do. They both stopped pedaling and just tucked into their bikes. I did the same. I figured, “If they don’t wipe out, then I won’t wipe out.” When we hit that turn near the bottom, Big Rhonda was a little shaky. I had gotten a bit too fast. I tapped my brakes, and everything was OK. (Later, I looked at my bike computer, and I had hit 40.1 mph on that downhill. Oops. That’s faster than the 30 mph that they asked us to go.)

About a mile past the bottom of that hill, my chain fell off the front set of chain-rings. SUPER! I slowed up, quickly hopped of my bike, got it put back on, mounted (hee-hee) my bike, and was off. I figure I was only off my bike about 7 seconds, and it probably took about 20 seconds from when I started slowing down until I was back up to speed. But 10 people passed me in that time, which was a little depressing. Oh well.

I saw a piece of seaweed stuck under my watch from the part of the swim where I thought I was going to be attacked by Jaws. I smiled. I grabbed it and ate it. Just kidding. I threw it on the road and kept biking.

I made it back to transition in 14:24, and that made me feel better about my poor performance on the way out. I’m not taking credit for doing so much better on the second half; I just realized that it was more uphill on the way out than I thought. I had raised my average to 18.6 by the end of the ride.


Normal T2 stuff. Almost fell on my face when I took off my bike shorts.

4 Mile Run:

The run is my event. This is where I rock. I took off and passed a group of guys right away. I kept pegging them off. I felt GREAT!

Mile 1: 6:38

“OK, good ‘mile 1’ time. Now try to hold on to that.”

Mile 2: 6:14

“Sweet! Now what can you do over the next mile?” At the turn around at mile 2, I had counted that I was 30th from the front (as it was an out-and-back run, and I kept track of the runners going by). I picked off 5 runners in the first half-mile after the turn. There were 2 more runners in front of me that were 200-300 meters away. I had them in my sights.

Mile 3: 6:03

“Holy Cow! Nice mile!” I was nearly at those 2 guys in front of me. I caught them soon enough. But now I was feeling that 6:03 mile. Overall, though, I still felt GREAT on the run! There was one more runner that I could see in front of me with about 300 meters left. He saw me, and kicked it up a gear. I tried to chase him down. I never caught him, but he gave me a great run.

Mile 4: 6:11

Before the race, I had hoped to finish under 1:15:00. I hit the finish line in 1:11:10. I can’t complain about that! I had a negative split on the bike (due to hills) AND on the run!! And I was very happy with my swim performance! It was a good race!

Official Results:
• 1/3 Mile Swim: 9:15 (probably short)
• T1: 3:04 (ouch)
• 10.0 Mile Bike: 32:18 (18.6 mph - hilly)
• T2: 1:26
• 4 Mile Run: 25:08 (6:17 / mile)
• Total: 1:11:10

• Overall Place: 39 out of 529
• Age Group: 8 out of 29

• Kept to the game plan and felt GREAT in the water!
• Had a hard time on the bike, but followed it up with a run that felt spectacular!
• Had the 11th fastest run out of all 529 athletes! (and didn't get passed once!)

Overall, it was a great venue. The only issue that kept coming up at the race was that some of the longer bike racks kept tipping over:

As I was cleaning up my area in transition, I took a look at the bottom of my foot. I had a bit of a gash, and a little blood from my cut while "water running":

The inside of my sock just got a little blood on it:

It could have been much worse. It didn’t hurt during the run, and it still feels OK right now.

After the race, all the athletes got a cup and a lei:

And then there was a Hawaiian-style beach party, complete with a hog roast!!!

So good!!

You can see the red finish line at the far right

Walking around afterwards, I ran into MN rockstar triathlete Cathy Y. We chatted for a bit as her step-daughter was out on the run. Good luck at Nationals, Cathy! And then I talked to another Cathy, Cathy Q, from the Y that I go to. She got 2nd in her Age Group! Nice job Cathy Q!

Well, that was it. I headed back across the border into MN and was home by 10:30. Then I went to the Y for a quick upper body workout. What a great morning!

And don’t you all forget: next weekend I’m doing the Square Lake Half Ironman with Pharmie. And I will be doing the full 13.1 mile run dressed as the Grim Reaper! What a race that will be!!


Gotta Run..... 6:42 PM, August 30, 2008  

How cool is that to sign up at the last minute and then be one of the first to arrive.

You run was sick!!!

Kelly 7:18 PM, August 30, 2008  

Awesome race. Sounded fun and easy (for you, Mr. 6-minute mile!).

Molly 7:23 PM, August 30, 2008  

If you like hitting the bottom during an OW swim, you should come out and do Vineman. I was able to stand up in thigh-deep water at the turnaround of the swim!

JenC 7:23 PM, August 30, 2008  

Sounds like we had similar races, except I didn't run 6 minute miles!

I haven't had time to read blogs, so just caught up with yours. LMAO over the Olympics post!

Liz 7:57 PM, August 30, 2008  

I wish you had eaten the seaweed.

Judi 8:25 PM, August 30, 2008  

Awesome RR! I love it! That was hilarious! You should have totally ate the seaweed!

And that race venue has to be way more hillbilly than HFP Racing! The bouy guy part was hilarious - he was probably like "hmmm...this looks about right"....

You had a great run too!

triguyjt 9:17 PM, August 30, 2008  

awesome run mr. 6 minute man...

ahhh geee..he got blood on one of his socks... ahhh...maybe he can just...throw those out and use any one of the other 900 pairs he was sent!!!

da na..dah na. da na da na da na.....whooooo ooooooo.(little jaws music for ya)

holly 10:01 PM, August 30, 2008  

Maybe the cut on your foot was from a little baby shark - the river dwelling kind :P

Your run time was killer!

triblog carol 10:35 PM, August 30, 2008  

Nice race. You forgot to shave your legs.

Hey, those looked like North Carolina BBQ pork sandwiches. 'Cept you have to put coleslaw on them.

KK 11:01 PM, August 30, 2008  

I fell off my chair laughing at your pondering of the socioeconomic gap and presidential hopefuls while in T1-hilarious, but it looks like it cost you some time there :).

Great race, good luck next week.

P.S. Will you be my running coach?!?!

Mike 11:30 PM, August 30, 2008  

Great race and great race report as always. Great pictures! Good luck next week ... can't wait to see those pics :)

chia 11:44 PM, August 30, 2008  

Goodness you're swift. Great showing there!

brendaj 11:50 PM, August 30, 2008  

Great job...that was very impromptu of you!

Dan Seifring aka "OBRATS" 5:50 AM, August 31, 2008  

Would have been funny if you asked one of the 3 guys that was racked before you if they minded moving down, because that was your favorite spot to rack.

IronTriTim 7:27 AM, August 31, 2008  

Could your smoking fast swim time been because of your Jaws vision?

Would have hated to come back and seen my bike collasped under the racks.

Eric 9:54 AM, August 31, 2008  

Sounds like a great race. I believed you at first about eating the seaweed until I kept reading :-)

Dave M 11:50 AM, August 31, 2008  

Good job, Steve! Could you have caught that last guy if you didn't get that boo-boo on your toe? :-)

Amytrigirl (aka Amybee) 12:19 PM, August 31, 2008  

Congrats on a great race Steve.

St. Croix is a pretty good race...

Glad the shark did not get you.

(Did you hear about the dead one they found in Lake Michigan?)

Jim Smith II 1:02 PM, August 31, 2008  

Nice RR and congrats on a great run. BTW - You forgot about fresh water sharks... (Kidding!!) BTW2 - I'd echo what KK said, you're report on T1 almost made me spit out my coffee.

Now, if I could just find a race out here where I could stand up at the swim I'd be fine...

Trishie 4:25 PM, August 31, 2008  

Steve, you really need to work on getting to races so you have some time to spare ;) Great race and AWESOME run, dude!

J~Mom 5:07 PM, August 31, 2008  

You got there soooo early!!! Great job out there!! Sorry about your owie!

Anonymous,  6:09 PM, August 31, 2008  

Another great race report - congrats. However, I suspect that the next one will be the best one EVA! I hope you have arranged a photographer, because it is something I really have to see. Good luck with your final week of "prep"

Brian 8:42 PM, August 31, 2008  

should have brought the sickel to test out running with it for next week. your T1 was a little odd. I usually ponder middle east politics during that and T2 go with American. Seems to work well. ha

Erin Leigh 9:44 AM, September 01, 2008  

You are such a brat. You sign up the day before and kick ass.

The seaweed would have been better for you than all the crap you normally eat ;)

Michele 9:55 AM, September 01, 2008  

And I thought I got to races early!!
Great job on the race.
love the RR had me laughing out loud.

RBR 3:21 PM, September 01, 2008  

Christ! You are fast! Nice work!

BTW, I read your Jaws reference 15 minutes before I left for my open water swim clinic in the OCEAN! Thanks buddy!;o)

Can't wait for the 1/2 report! I will make sure I empty my bladder before I read it!

sunshine 7:08 PM, September 01, 2008  

Great (detailed) race report!

Love the photo of the kayak guy... totally random, but it seems so funny to see him randomly placing them out in the water. :)

Sunshine 8:03 PM, September 01, 2008  

Thanks for that last picture... I think that is a pleasant setting for a finish area.

Jennifer P 8:47 PM, September 01, 2008  

So if you take off your shorts, what do you run in? Topless is one thing...

RobbyB 9:23 PM, September 01, 2008  

Sweet run, Steve!

We need to get together to swap some of my swim speed for some of your run speed. Then we could go on tour and dominate the local sprint race circuit and take over the world!

I wish I could cheer you on next weekend and yell, "Go Death, Go!"

Sara 1:40 PM, September 02, 2008  

You never seem to be without adventures!! Sounds like a typical race for you, an awesome one!!

I'm going to go cry in the corner depressed with the fact that your 4 mile sprint run was 10 min faster than my 3.1ish mile sprint run!! What a run!!

Kim 1:40 PM, September 02, 2008  

woohooo speed demon!!!! dont you wonder how those damn kayakers know for sure where to place those bouys? sweet race steve!

Runner Leana 3:17 PM, September 02, 2008  

Congratulations on your great impromptu race! That post race food looks yummy...

Fizzgig 3:23 PM, September 02, 2008  

i cant believe how many bikes were there, after seeing the first one, compared to the last one!
good job on the race recap too! I always feel like im there! Minus the injuries!

Once i did a walk for MS was 9 miles and that was a lot for me. at the end? we got a banana. all the food was gone cus we were too slow.

I still earned money for MS so whatever. I starved.

CoachLiz 7:50 PM, September 02, 2008  

Lol, a cup, a lei, and a hog roast. Races in Texas cannot match that!

Mendy 8:26 PM, September 02, 2008  

You're soooo right - the run is yours! wow. that's such a stinking fast pace. good job!

I didn't think you were kiddng about eating the seaweed. You got me there.

Joe V 9:04 PM, September 05, 2008  

Okay, so I'm catching up on your blog, and see the pics from the St. Croix Sprint. My initial thought was that I thought the St. Croix sprint was in November, 6 months after the half. Then I wondered why the h3ll you're wearing a wetsuit coming out of the water in the Caribbean. Then I read this post and realize you're talking about the St. Croix VALLEY Sprint. In Wisconsin. Not the Virgin Islands. Dopey me...

Anonymous,  4:24 AM, February 24, 2011  

thanks for this tips

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