Okay, so the Vineyard Warrior Tri was a decidedly mixed experience. The day was beautiful, I had fun, and I got a good workout. It was also, decidedly the worst run race I've ever participated in
The swim course is a very pretty piece of beach near the Oak Bluffs ferry dock. I went for a swim the day before, and felt pretty comfortable. When I went to register, the swim course on the wall was different from the one posted on the web -- two laps of four buoys, rather than two laps of three buoys. Okay, whatever . . . This turned out to matter on race day. Before the start, I did a warmup swim out to the first buoy. A group of us reviewed the course, and folks were confused about whether you had to go around all four markers both times. When the race started, I was very pleased. Contrary to my usual situation, I stayed with the group, okay, the back of the group, but considered drafting a few people, sighted well, and kept my head on straight. There was a very strong current on between the first and second buoys on both laps, but I just kept my rhythm and didn't worry about it. I got pushed a little to the outside going around the second buoy on the second lap, but kept the gang in sight. Then something odd happened. The group split. Half the swimmers swam for home, taking the hypotenuse, while a few of us set off for the third buoy, to complete the square. All of a sudden I was alone, and confused. Doubt is not a good thing in this situation. I slogged home, and got out of the water, feeling as if I'd swum pretty well (for me), but also confused about where everybody had gone. The confusion was reinforced when I looked at my watch and it read 45 minutes. 35 I'd have believed. 39, even on a bad day with the current, but obviously I must have been wrong about the course . . . Grumble, grumble, bonus swim, grumble, grumble. . .
Off to the bike. I set off on the bike wondering where everybody was. I usually ride through the field, and everybody seemed to be long gone. I passed a few riders, and then I was pretty much on my own. Clearly, I'd messed up. I had an okay ride. I was hoping for a super fast ride. My training rides have been going well, and the course was not too hilly, and mostly straight. I wanted to break my time for the NYC Tri. It turned out to be quite windy on the outbound leg, along the water, and then no tailwind on the inbound leg, which was more inland. I got buffeted a fair amount riding from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown. Basically, I was alone with my heart rate monitor the whole way, and I kept a steady effort, but not super intense. I do better when there's somebody in the distance for me to chase. Anyway, it was an okay bike leg averaging 20.1 mph, but I expected better.
The run was a fiasco. The signage was terrible, there were no volunteers, and when I found myself a t an ambiguous sign and asked which way to go, I was sent in the wrong direction. The end result was that three of us were going counterclockwise on a clockwise course. We figured this out 2.7 miles in when everybody started going by us in the opposite direction. Thank goodness for my Garmin. We ran to 3.1 miles, turned around, and when we got to mile 4, the Garmin and the course were in synch. I, however, was thoroughly out of sorts. Between the swim fiasco, and the route fiasco. I was thoroughly confused about the day. My heel was sore, though not horrible, but I was _not_ going very fast on the run. My form felt better than in the NYC tri, but I was definitely a bit slower, at least in part, due to the aforementioned grouchiness. The best thing about the run was that I slowly came up behind the one other person from the Brooklyn Tri Club who was running the race. She was doing the Sprint, and we finished together. There might be a good photo, but given the way the race was run, I'm dubious.
As it turns out the best things about the day were only discovered after I'd finished. First, I confirmed with an organizer that I had swum the proper course. Second, my Garmin measured the swim at 1.16 miles. So, as a time for a half iron man length swim, 45 minutes is not out of line with what I usually do. Third, when I got home and looked at the bike after we'd gone out for brunch, I noticed the front tire was soft. I looked at the tread and found a big honking piece of glass. When I pulled it out, the rest of the pressure came out of the tire. I am very happy that I did not flat on the course. That would have put me in an even worse mood.
Oh, did I mention that the race shirt had a logo that was left over from 2012, and then a legend, screened on the bottom that said "Oak Bluffs 2013?" And, did I mention that rather than paying volunteers to handle each of the turns, or at least make sure that the signs didn't blow over in the wind, they invested in an inflatable Kraken that you were supposed to run through?
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I'm a fan of small races, but in the past, the small races have been well run. This was not a cheap event, and it was not well run. I sort of wonder where the money went . . .