Rev 3 Maine – My First Tri

August 29th, 2012

Sometimes you read a book or see a move and it just clicks with you. It helps cut through the clutter of your daily routine and crystallizes your views in a way that you hadn’t been able to do on your own. For me, that movie was Zombieland. Beyond the post-apocalyptic, undead-rule-the-world story line, one of the themes in Zombieland is that your life can be guided by a few simple rules. These rules help you remember what’s important and keep you focused on your priorities.

Rule #8 – Get a kick ass partner.

Why settle for second best? Get a partner who can support you, work with you, inspires you and can cover your back. Cute is good too. Check. Veronica’s been competing in triathlons for a half a dozen years. When we found out that Revolution 3 was running a triathlon through our home town, we knew we had to compete. Unfortunately Rev3 scheduled the tri for the weekend after Veronica’s first full week of school. This meant that we would have to fly in, race and fly out in less time than it takes bread to get stale. With a schedule this tight, the stress that comes from juggling family visits, and the shear effort of a 7 hour race, we decided that instead of Veronica doing the whole event, we would do it as a relay. She would swim the 1.2 miles; I would bike 56 miles and she would finish up with the 13.1 mile run.

Competitive sports are a whole new chapter of riding for me. That inner drive that pushes people to challenge themselves and triumph over their competition – I didn’t get that gene. I’ve always been happy doing my own thing. Since this was the first year for Rev 3’s Maine event, we had no way to judge the competition? Would we get a top 5? Maybe a podium? There was no way to tell and we sort of let that go. You have no control over the strength of the field, so all we could do is put in a solid effort and see what happens.

Rule #1 – Cardio

The bike portion of the race is 56 miles over a beautiful, rural area of rolling hills and farms. The organizers did a spectacular job of setting up a course that had great pavement and good shoulders. Since I’d never ridden hard for 56 miles, I really didn’t know how fast I could be. We run and ride pretty regularly, so I knew that I could survive the distance, but didn’t know how it would feel. In the weeks leading up to the race I did some test 50 mile rides and decided that I could hold my heart rate at about 160 beats per minute for 3 hours. In a race against the clock like this, you can’t hold anything back and hope to sprint at the end. In 3 hours, an extra 30 seconds from sprinting doesn’t amount to much. In fact, if you can sprint, you didn’t go hard enough on the ride.

A little sunscreen never hurt anybody. (un-numbered)

Race day was beautiful. With a swim start shortly after the sun peaked over the Old Orchard Beach pier, we would be done before the day got too warm. Or rather, I would be. Veronica would have to run for almost 3 hours after I finished.  Since I left my arm coolers (sun-screening arm covers) in the B&B, I had to put on more sunscreen. I always feel a little bad if I get a burn, so we use a lot of sunscreen.

As soon as Veronica started in the water, I headed back to the transition area to wait for the hand off. While I stood around and waited for Veronica, I chatted with the other relay bike riders. I’m looking at these very high end time trial bikes and wondering how badly I’m going to get smushed in the ride. Oh, what’s that? The woman on my right (Relays are mixed teams.) is a Pro? Teamed up with her husband to relay? I guess I won’t win the bike. Oh,  that first relay swimmer out of the water – she just qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona. OK, no second place for us. And so it went down the line. Out of 6 teams (besides us, all of which had 3 racers) , we were easily the most casual athletes. If we did not podium then we would not have to wait for the awards ceremony – which meant we get to the post ride pizza event earlier.

#20 It’s a marathon, not a sprint, unless it’s a sprint – then sprint.

One advantage I did have over most of the other 440 bike racers was that I did not have to hold anything back for the run. Veronica was going to do that, so I was all-in from the start. Out of the transition area, mount the bike and up the hill hard. The organizers had all the road intersections monitored by the police and we had the right of way. I never had to stop (or even slow down) for a turn or a corner. Go. Go. Go. Heart rate too high, but I’m trying to get some space around me and get clear of the other riders around me. Settle in for a minute, judge the pace of the rider in front and make a pass. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. After 20+ miles, the frequent passes slowed down to an occasional pass. Time trial bikes may look great and be fast on the flats, but every time we hit a hill I moved passed another rider (or 3). So it went for another 20 miles. At this point, I had caught up with the faster riders, so I didn’t get too many more passes. I pushed harder than I had planned to, but it felt good – for now.

There are only 4 noticeable hills on the ride. On each of them I took the risk of pushing myself to the limit rather than just grinding my way up. We had done a course recon ride in July, so I knew how big each push would need to be and what the chance for recovery was. Around mile 42 Simpson road climbed steeply from a one lane bridge (with traffic control for us) to the toughest hill of the ride. This was a nasty sting in the tail of this ride, when most riders were starting to think they had it in the bag. Cheered on by my parents and relatives road-side, I powered up the hill maybe just a bit harder than I should have. At that point the legs were burning and they didn’t feel  good again until Veronica had been out on her run for a while.

After Simpson Road, the course was mostly flat, with just a few rollers. It was getting harder to hold my pace, but I noticed that the other riders were also flagging. Every little hill slowed us all down a bit. With 50 miles done, I was really hurting. I knew that after we crossed Route 1, we would drop back down to the beach, but the section leading to Route 1 was my slowest.

Inspired by the fact that when I was done, I was done, I shook off a couple of riders who were probably holding back for their run and plummeted into OOB. I didn’t have much extra burst to give on anything that didn’t have a gravity assist, but at the very end, I shot down the final hill onto a small side street, with the plan to break hard just before the 90 degree turn and the dismount line. That’s where I realized how fried I was. I came in hot and nearly misjudged the corner. Hard on the brakes, the back end skipped out as the rear locked up for an instant. I recovered (sparing myself the embarrassment of a crash in front of a huge crowd) and headed for the dismount line, where I locked up the rear tire again. Oops. I jumped off the bike and nearly collapsed as my burning legs tried to remember how to stand.

Looking down at my feet, so I didn’t trip over them, I ran down to the other end of the transition area, my bike shoes clop, clop, clopping as I struggled to keep my feet under me. We were lucky enough to have been assigned the best rack location – at the very end on the aisle. I didn’t have to look up to try to figure out where Veronica was until the last second. I stood there huffing and puffing while she pulled the timing chip band off my ankle, gave me a kiss and set off on her second part of the adventure.

#32 Enjoy the little things

The weather was beautiful and the course was magnificent. Most of the roads had good pavement and excellent shoulders. One of the roads was paved just a few days before the race. The traffic was light and ever intersection had traffic control so that we had the right of way.  Our families were on the course and at the start/finish line to cheer us on. They even chalked my name on the big climb of the day. I paced myself well and hit my target average speed and effort level. Overall, it was a great weekend.



  1. Cathy says

    Awesome job, Thom! Would love to hear V’s account as well. And are those MTB shoes/pedals on your bike???

    So sorry to have missed you on your trips back home this summer. I was really hoping to be able to work out even a short visit. Guess we’ll have to wait until next year :grin:.

    September 7th, 2012 | #

  2. Thom and Veronica says


    V’s report is here http://www.tandemhearts.com/wordpress/a-family-affair-rev3-maine/
    Yes – I rock MTB pedals everywhere. They fit me well and I can walk in them.

    September 7th, 2012 | #

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