Thursday, 24 July 2014

NJ State Olympic Triathlon 2014

 NJ State Triathlon 2014

Last week was the New Jersey State Triathlon, so I've been wanting to get this race report out while it's still fresh in my mind. To me, this race was especially cool because it was my first since getting married, and was also my first in New Jersey. The race, organized by CGI Racing,  is the largest in NJ, and is split between a sprint and Olympic distance races on the Saturday and then Sunday. 

Expo and Pickup
Packet pickup for the Olympic distance was made available on Friday, Saturday, and on race day if pre-reserved. I had initially reserved race day pickup, but thanks to a change in my schedule I was able to get out on Friday afternoon. I don't really love that I had to drive all the way out to Mercer Park for it, but it was just under each way so not horrible. The bigger trouble than I ran into, and so did many others that I met en route, was that the location was not easy to find through my GPS. I had to actually follow the GPS location through a link in one of their emails before being able to direct a small caravan of athletes to the race site.
Overall, everything was pretty organized, I walked up to a desk, signed a release form, flashed my USAT ID, and was promptly handed a plastic sac containing my timing chip, athlete bracelet, bib, tech T-shirt, and leftover Finisher mugs from the Love Run (a Philadelphia based half-marathon also organized by CGI). 
The Expo was fine. There were a couple shops selling triathlon related products, as well as a few health-oriented companies with booths.

Race Day
Transition opened a little before 6AM on race day, and there were plenty of volunteers on hand to assist with body-marking. The transition area was pretty large, well organized, and each athletes space was big enough to comfortably rack a bike and have shoes neatly laid out next to it. Fun note, I had somehow forgotten to bring water, but a quick holler to nobody in particular and a fellow athlete handed me a large jug to fill one of my bottles with,  Another funny moment, is that close to when transition was closing, someone anounced over the loudspeaker that a bike tire had blown. Ok not so funny for that athlete but overall pretty nice of someone else for getting it announced. After setting up my stuff, I headed over to visit the Central Jersey Triathlon Club tent for a quick chit chat. Another nice thing about this race is that CGI provided space for any club with more than a certain number of athletes racing, as well as (most excitedly) a DECICATED PORT-A-POTTY!!!.
A couple minutes later and I wandered to the lake to get in a quick warm-up.

Due to the water temperature, the race was not wetsuit legal. It was allowed, but would remove eligibility from awards. Even though I had no expectations of hitting the podium, I felt like I didn't want to be both overheated and constricted so opted to go sans wetsuit. I only had a few minutes to warm-up before the started singing the national anthem. I made my way and towards the start corral, since I was in the first wave. Not long after I was wading out for the open water start. After what seemed like too long of a wait the race started and we were off! OK, most people were off. I kinda just went. I'm not a great swimmer to begin with, and I chose to not wear a wetsuit in a race for my first time, and I got a lovely kick to the head early on that dislodged my goggles. Anyway after about 40 minutes I emerged from the water  happy to be done swimming and in a hurry. UPDATE: Apparently the swim WAS westuit legal. I guess I never got the memo. Oh well.

Sampled from
Luckily, transition area was just a short distance from the water, and I wanted to get through T1 as fast as possible. I grabbed my pre-Body-Glided shoes, sunglasses, and helmet and was out in 2 minutes flat. The bike course covered two loops of mostly flat terrain. It took me a little while to get my legs moving comfortably, and I held off from taking in any nutrition until about 15 minutes into the bike. I had frozen a bottle with 3 scoops of Hammer Perpetuem mixed in, and it was still perfectly cold but melted at this point. I also had my aero-bottle filled with water, as well as my secret weapon; sticks of gum tucked between the elbow pad cushion and metal. Why do I need gum during a race? I have no idea but I find it keeps me focused. I wanted to try to push on the bike, but for whatever reason I was feeling the burn and couldn't keep my pace as high as I'd have liked. Still my total time for the bike was 1:23.


The course had aid station about every mile that carried a mix of water, Hammer Heed, Hammer Gels, and at two aid stations, wet towels. LOVED the wet towels. Also I should point out that the volunteers here really rocked and were cheering plenty. 5K in I was feeling pretty pooped, so I kept sipping on Hammer Gels, and slowly squeezed the towels over my head when I could. My finishing time on the run was 50 minutes, giving me a total race time of 3 hours flat. Not great, worse than what I wanted, but not bad considering my recent injury, and general business what with getting married and moving to a new country and all.

After crossing the finish line I was handed a medal ( a HUGE medal), a bottle of water, had my timing chip removed, and was released back into the expo. A catered tent was open for athletes with chicken breast, grilled veggies, some fruit and drink. Nearby, a local company was offering athletes free chair massages, which I signed up for as I always do after a race. There were also a few other food vendors handing out free samples, and an ice cream truck. A massage, free food, and Drumstick later I was satisfied and went back to the CJTC tent to pick up a few things, wish congrats to other athletes, and head home.

I totally recommend this race to others, and definitely plan on racing it again in future years. It was well organized, fun, a nice course, and pretty close to my home. 


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