Thought I’d report on the Eastern Shore Tri Series for those of you who are Sprinters, if only because of a limited swimming ability, c’est moi.
The Series was held on the Maryland eastern shore, and included three individual sprint triathlons held during the months of May and June.
As an added bonus, registration for the Eastern Shore Tri Series offered a discounted entry fee rate for each individual triathlon in the series.
Entry fee for the series: $150 (individual events would be $65 each)
•Nanticoke River Swim and Tri: Sunday May 3, 2009
•Pocomoke Triathlon: Saturday May 30, 2009
•Assateague Assault Triathlon: Sunday June 21, 2009
Always the bargain shopper, I thought, “what a great deal!” and signed up because the events were “on sale.” (Hey, I couldn’t afford NOT to sign up!)
Nanticoke was held about 20 miles east of Salisbury in this sweet little community – the river was straight out and back, swimming parallel to the barrier rock thingy, so it was relatively calm. However, too cold for me…72 degrees from what I was told, but still too shocking for someone who practices in a pool heated to 86 degrees. I survived, though did primarily backstroke on this one…started up front…by accident…what a horrifying experience.
Note to self: Start to the side and wait 5 minutes. Try a sleeveless wetsuit, since the full sleeves were way too restricting for me. At least if primarily doing backstroke.
Bike course, like everywhere on the eastern shore was fast, flat and windy as was the run course. I was pleased that even with my netted tuna swimming style, I placed 4th in my age group…O.K., there were only 12. I rather like being the big fish (i.e., floundering tuna) in a small pond.
BONUS: Nice “Finisher’s Medal” for all participants. Cute little pee-wee tri…and they swam better than me…without a wetsuit.
Pocomoke: I love Pocomoke…its 20 miles northeast of Crisfield where we have the “crab shack,” and I frequent the YMCA when I’m there for their glorious indoor heated pool that no one ever uses. The swim was a circle around a pond out behind the YMCA…water was 76 degrees, but still wore my John (re: sleeveless) wetsuit. Boy, did I swim this one! Not fast, but continuous without stopping or flipping or floundering. It’s a stupidly fast course…if it was any faster, it would be all downhill. One big 14 mile loop – beautiful farm country and the occasional chicken farm…not too smelly this time of year though. Finished with my fastest sprint time of 1:27:23…2nd in my age group.
BONUS: Full locker room and showers available at the YMCA to use after the race. Sweet little old ladies handing out food, marveling at these crazy tri people.
Assateague Assault: And Assault it was, on everything that was holy. This was the first time they held this event, and I signed up because it was part of the tri-series bargain. However, I wasn’t sure where the swim would be held. It would start in the northern part of Assateague State Park, and looking at a map, there was a bay side and an ocean side. I thought to myself…there’s no way they’re going to start us in the Atlantic Ocean. That would just be wrong. Without a further thought, I assumed Bay.
The day prior to the race, Becky, fellow DC Tri Clubber, recent Half-Ironwoman, and trusty sidekick with cowbell (for cheering me on, mind you) and I ventured out to the race site to check things out. The guys setting up the transition area point us over some dunes to the swim start…Becky and I started walking…with trepidation, and it dawned on me…wow…it sounds really wavy. I didn’t think the bay was supposed to sound wav y. Sure enough, the swim would be in the Atlantic Ocean.
Never one to shrink from a challenge, Becky and I don wetsuits and fight past the breakers and current to get to where the first buoy would be for a straight line swim. I hadn’t even made it past the waves when we were called in by the lifeguards due to a little ol’ thunder and lightning. As we’re walking back, I’m talking with Jason, the lifeguard, who would also be present the next day. He’s giving me “pointers” on how to bodysurf coming in from the last buoy. Bodysurf? Don’t they say don’t try anything new on race day? Bodysurfing would definitely fall in that category. I listened politely, and considered for a moment not even showing up.
But we did show up…Becky, with cowbell in hand, looking as nervous for me as I felt. I was trying not to hurl my Cheerios prior to the start. It didn’t help watching the previous groups fight to get through the waves, some diving under, some getting pummeled.
Finally, our gun went off and we ran from the beach into the water…what felt like an eternity, I fought and paddled my way to the first buoy. The cold and anaerobic start kicked up that asthma, and I found I just simply couldn’t breathe…and there he was…my tanned, chiseled angel on a surfboard – Jason. All I can say is, I had no shame hanging onto that surfboard. And neither did about 4 other people. He was great, calmly talking to us as we tried to catch our breath. I started the straight line swim, but still found it difficult to relax and breathe.
Note to self: I really need to learn how to breathe on the left side. It didn’t help that the waves were coming from the right. As I flagged another surfer dude, he screams out at me, “You need to relax and breathe every third stroke.” I was too exhausted to laugh. What he didn’t know is I’m an every-stroke breather when my heart rate is 110…I’m surely going to breathe every stroke when it skyrocketed to 180. Maybe I should work on that as well.
Another sweet surfing angel came up alongside me, and pretty much stayed with my group. I guess I was the leader of the Floundering Tunas. I sighted off her the whole way, and finally was able to relax, knowing I had a surfboard at arm’s reach if I needed it.
I made the turn at the final buoy, and attempted to catch a wave and do that whole “bodysurf” thing. It’s embarrassing that I grew up on the shores of Pensacola Beach and don’t know how to do this. It was a pathetic attempt, but I managed to trudge out of the water. Becky said everyone trudged…no one was jauntily running up to transition, so I was in good company.
Bike and run was flat and windy, but after that swim, bring on the wind. I didn’t care at that point. Slowest sprint to date of 1:40:33, but fast enough to place 1st in my old lady age group.
BONUS: Four Assateague horses walking down the middle of the road during the run.
ADDED BONUS: Having another tri buddy to share the joy of my Atlantic survival.
So there’s the recap. The Maryland Eastern Shore is beautiful outside the boundaries of Ocean City. If you’re looking for a good Sprint next year that’s small and friendly, you might want to consider one of these. As a fairly new triathlete, I can say they were wonderful for a semi-newbie. I did two Sprints last year, but figured they weren’t really indicative of my performance since I was freaked out about being “clipped in” and did my first two in Keen sandals and big knobby tires.
To the other newbies out there, Triathlon is a process – your own personal challenge, and the growth curve is steep. Don’t be afraid to try something you think is a little far outside your comfort zone (re: Atlantic Ocean). There are people who will make sure you don’t drown, and you will feel proud of yourself for doing something that very few people are brave enough (or crazy enough) to attempt.
I will close with this thought – Eleanor Roosevelt said it best:
“We gain strength, and courage and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.”
Thank you for letting me share…I’ll see you at the finish line!
I was happy to be your trusty sidekick with cowbell in tow! I don't care if it was "just" a sprint (I say that mockingly because as far as I'm concerned a tri is a tri. No matter the distance, all athletes deserve kudos for lining up and doing their best), that was one hard core race. From what I can tell, it was a workout for everyone! That swim was simply insane! I got tired watching (and cheering). You rocked it!
I did both Nanticoke and Assateague...and what a difference Assateague was. I finished 2nd in the run overall...with a 19:45! How is that possible? There were horses...campground bbq smoke...lots of turns...but not that much wind... shouldn't have slowed down 5Ks that much, especially on a flat course. The fastest runner ran it in 19:24...he and I usually do sub 16:30s! Managed to get top 10 overall, but it was definitely a race to forget, especially with that Atlantic Ocean swim.
I really enjoyed Nanticoke... got second in the run again, 13th overall, and there was great competition there.
Thank you for the race reports... you jogged (pardon the pun) fond and not so fond memories of both races! :)
Nice job on your races...you're speedy!
It's nice to know that even the Dolphins struggle with some of the swim locations. You guys just make it look so easy!
Try Pocomoke next year...they actually had the better T-shirt (a poly-blend) and a great course to PR. Nothing to slow you down!
See you around,