Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Hunter and the Hunted

So swim start waves have been posted for both the Inside Out Sports Beaver Dam Olympic Tiathlon being held this coming weekend and, more importantly, for Ironman Raleigh 70.3 in June.  Do I prefer to be the hunter or the hunted?

For those of you less familiar with triathlons, in most (but not all) races, the swim starts are staggered so as to avoid the chaos and confusion of hundreds or thousands of triathletes plunging into the water at the same time (as illustrated in the below pictures of Ironman starts in Coeur d'alene and Canada.....)

You can be absolutely sure that I would be one of the guys standing on the beach and waiting for the chaos to subside!
Beaver Dam this weekend is a smaller event (~350 people) so there are only three waves:

Men Under 40 at 09:30
Men over 40 (i.e. me!) at 09:34
Women at 09:38

No worries at all about this one.  It's very much a "C" race for me and I'm using it as a training opportunity rather than going out to try to break any records!   Starting in the middle will give me the chance to get the feel of a crowded open water swim again and (hopefully) give me some targets to chase down on the bike leg as I'm simultaneously being swallowed-up by all of the fast ladies starting behind me!   I'm pleased to be able to report that this group includes Compass, who has signed-up at the last minute.

The Ironman Raleigh 70.3 is a whole different kettle of fish!   I'm taking this one seriously!

At Rev.3 70.3 in South Carolina last October my start wave was the first among the "age groupers" and immediately after the pros.  Clearly unless one of them had some sort of medical incident or a SPECTACULARLY bad day, I wasn't going to catch any of them, so I had no one to chase all day and had to put up with being continually overtaken by the younger speedsters from the following waves (well, as I described in my race report, there was that one guy with a puncture and the other one who stopped to answer a call of nature!)  :-)   In general, I like to have a few people to use as "targets" to chase during the bike (and, now-and-again, during the run).

Here are the waves for Ironman Raleigh 70.3 start (which is a much bigger race with ~2,600 registered  competitors):

So....    it appears that I will be wearing a natty orange swim cap and again starting close to the front.  At first I wasn't sure that I liked this - I would rather have the opportunity to occasionally be a hunter rather than always being the hunted - but now that I think about it, I'm OKwith it for this particular race for a number of reasons:

1.   I do at least have the men 55 and older in front of me.   Surely there's someone in that wave slower than me?  There may also be fast swimmers from the waves behind who are less strong on the bike.

2.   Less time waiting at the start and less opportunity for nerves to take hold.

3.   It can get HOT in central North Carolina in June.  It's not going to be an issue for the swim, but it may very well be uncomfortable by the time that late morning rolls around and we're running 13.1 miles.   Better to get there sooner rather than later!

3.   If I'm not doing much overtaking on the bike there is little chance that I can pick-up an inadvertant drafting penalty - those roads are going to be pretty busy in places.

4.   High motivation to stay ahead of the likes of Compass, Snort, Flipper Ass and Rabbit, who will be starting about 45 mins behind me!

5.   With any luck I will have the opportunity to stand at the finish line after I'm done and cheer in some of my younger friends, training buddies and acquaintances who are starting behind me.

So.....   I'm OK with being "the hunted".   Bring it on and catch me if you can!

Hopefully I won't be carrying my bike, but it's the best picture I could find!  :-)

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