Sea Colony Make-a-Wish Triathlon

Summary: Sunday, September 21, 1998 - Bethany Beach, Delaware - 1.5 K ocean swim; 36 K bike and 10 K run. My results were a little slower than last year (2:37:52) but the conditions were quite different. This is a well-run and well-organized race for a very good cause. Excellent picnic afterwards. Highly recommended.

This was a day of firsts for me. When I checked in on Friday afternoon and got my bib number, it was #23. I thought there must be some mistake as I have never had a two digit number. I had just explained to my family that the first wave was for the elites and that I would probably go in the 4th or 5th wave. Well, they changed things for this race: they had us old folks going off in the first wave. This was the first time I had ever gone in the first wave. Appropriately enough, we were given white swim caps for our wave. Although I did not realize it at the time, the white caps were an omen of things to come.

The TRI-DRS shirts are great. They enabled Brad Speierman and Drew Wellmon and I to meet before the race. Brad and Drew were going to start in the fourth wave, twenty minutes later than me.

Race day morning was mild with low humidity, overcast skies and an easterly wind. This kept temperatures in the comfortable region; however, the easterly wind was kicking up pretty good waves. It was the roughest sea I had ever swum in. In retrospect, I was glad to be in the first wave. If I'd have been in a later one, I would have fretted for those fifteen or twenty minutes while watching everyone else get buffeted by the waves. I was so intimidated by the waves that I forgot to start my watch - I've never done that before either. I had a hard time keeping an eye on the buoys and so I know I swam more than 1.5 K. Earlier today, I found out that the swim took me 28 minutes and change. Last year it took 24+ minutes, but given the conditions, that's an OK time for me.

On to the bike with a T1 of 3:47. My transition times are getting better even though my race times are not. For the third tri in a row, I had a relatively poor bike ride. (I guess I'll have to compare last year's training with this year's. I suspect there must be something different.) The easterly wind was one of those cross winds that always seems to be against you. My time here was 1:11 compared to 1:04 last year.

The run was the highlight of the day for me. Two reasons. First, during the run both Brad and Drew caught up to me and it was great to share greetings with them first as we passed going in opposite directions and then again as they passed me going in the same direction. The shirts really make it easy to spot one another. Brad passed me at about mile 4 or 5 on the run. Drew caught up with me a few hundred yards from the end and he insisted on pulling me to the finish. So I picked up my pace a bit and he slowed his down. As we entered the finish area the announcer referred to us as the tri docs. Apparently, he thought DRS meant doctors. At the last instant before crossing the finish Drew pushed me ahead of him even though he should have gone first. The Drew Man is truly The Man. At this moment I had my first inkling of how the day went when I saw the official clock at 2:38 - 7 minutes slower than last year. I ended up with a run time of 52:25 which was three minutes faster than last year and I am very thankful for Drew's push at the end.

The second highlight was provided by one of the Delaware State Police's finest who was holding up traffic at one of the intersections at about mile 3 of the run. There were two cars in the line and when I was about 100 yds away the driver of the second car beeped his horn. The cop gave him a look. When I was about 25 yds away, he beeped a second time. The trooper wheeled around, headed for the car, and said in the loudest, most authoritative voice I have ever heard, "WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM? THERE IS A TRIATHLON GOING ON HERE" The driver opened his door and started to get out. "I WOULD ADVISE YOU TO PUT ON YOUR SEATBELT AND STAY IN YOUR CAR". A number of us started to cheer and applaud his performance. After the turn-around we all said our thanks to the trooper. The guy running with me asked him what he was like when he really got mad.

My wife, father, and youngest son were all with me on Saturday. It is really nice to have an audience like that. The picnic after the race was fantastic. The Sea Colony Make-a-Wish Triathlon is an excellent event and I recommend it to all comers. The Race Director is Robert Vigorito who is very well known for putting on top-notch events.

The race timing was done by Lin-Mark and, as always, they did a super job. I got my splits this morning and learned that I came in 11 out of 21 in my age group. That turns out to be the highest relative position of my tri career - at least for those tris with more than 5 finishers in my age group ;-). I guess that others had a rough time also.


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