Thursday, May 21, 2009

Boathouse International Triathlon

When I looked at the race schedule last winter and I saw the Boathouse International Triathlon, I knew I had to be there. A race of this caliber right down the road in Oklahoma City? That never happens here. Normally, I would have to travel out of the state for something like this. It’s great that the folks in Oklahoma City are putting the sport of triathlon on the map.

Since this race was just two weeks after St. Croix, I just planned on training through it and making it a hard workout. I have IM Kansas coming up and I plan on focusing more on it. Saturday, I went down to the race venue and watched the mens elite race. The venue is located in downtown Oklahoma City at a facility called the Boathouse. The Boathouse is in close proximity to a cosmopolitan part of town called Bricktown. It has a baseball stadium, nice hotels, and quite a few arenas for conventions and events. The area seemed to be thriving. I see why Tulsa is trying to emulate this.

The swim took place in the Oklahoma river. Spectators could stand on Lincoln Ave bridge and watch the entire swim. The bike course was four loops around the capital building. This also offered quite a few opportunities for spectators to watch the race develop. The run was four loops. From the bridge you could see the entire course. 

It was inspiring watching how fast those pros can run. Drool hanging off their lips, gave me a good idea how hard those guys were hitting it. I was born 20 years too late. I would have loved to race like this. When I was young, I was a decent swimmer and I could run a 5K under 16 minutes, so it would have suited my strengths. 

Mary Beth Ellis won the women’s pro race and Matt Reed broke away on the first loop of the run and eventually won the mens race. Hunter Kemper came on strong on the last loop of the run and almost caught Matt as he celebrated with the flag at the finish. Kemper finished one second later. That would have been embarrassing if Hunter had snuck by.


There weren’t as many spectators out on the course watching the race as I thought there would be. If this race were in Europe it would have been a freckin’ madhouse. However, I did notice after it was over, the parking lots of all the restaurants in the area were full. Oklahomans have their priorities. “The next meal”

The age groupers competed on Sunday. I stayed at the Econolodge motel about a mile down the road, so that morning I just hopped on my bike and rode down to the transition area. I love not having to mess with parking a car. Google Earth comes in handy when planning race lodging. 

The race had four heats with over 200 competitors overall. I went off in the second heat.  Fortunately, my heat had the best swimmers. Christian Ballard, Jason Newland and I had a nice group going. The Oklahoma River reminded me of the chocolate river in the movie “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory” The water was a milky brown. Apparently no one has swum in the river before this weekend. Some folks came out with chocolate mustaches. I see why it’s not a popular swimming hole, however I swam in worse places when I was a kid. 

Christian is a former Cal Berkley distance guy so he established about a minute lead on Jason and I by the finish. I was surprised they had wetsuit strippers. That was a great touch. I always have trouble getting out of a wetsuit after a cold swim. The run to the transition was about a quarter mile. I made a fast transition and was out on the bike in less than 40 seconds. It wasn’t as fast as the ITU guys but they inspired me. I’d say the swim time was around high 19 minutes for the 1500 m excluding the transition run. 

The bike was four loops, and it followed the same course as the ITU race. I really enjoyed hearing the cheering spectators at the turnarounds. I was unable to get to the watts on the bike that I was hoping for because I was still a bit tired, but it was a hard workout for me, so it served it’s purpose.

The run was four loops. Again, I couldn’t get myself to dig too deep on it either and ran at a half ironman pace for most of it. I thought I had the masters category locked up. Then I saw Jon Everets gaining ground on me with each loop. On the last loop I noticed that he was just getting too close so I flicked the switch with just 1.2 K to go. It was probably the fastest part of the run for me. With just 400 to go, I looked back and he was right there, just behind me. I’m glad coach Phil has me doing those 400 threshold track intervals. I was able to kick it in and hold him off at the finish by just one second. It was a thrill to have a sprint finish like that. Jon had a great run, kudos to him for making me work for it.  Hunter Kemper was there at the finish to give me a pat on the back and a high five for that one. Classic ITU finish. I’m thinking I need to do more of these Olympic Distance races. It was a blast. 

I ended up 5th overall, and won the masters by just a hair over Jon. Jason Newland won the race with a 2:07. A few of my coached athletes participated as well. Kara Cassel was second overall with an awesome 39 minute run. Sean Stevens finished just ahead of me in 4th. Michael Krupka was 28th overall. Go over to Tulsa Iron and take a look.

I hope this event continues to grow and flourish.  I will be back next year for sure. 


tomdog said...

Great job at the race. I wanted to come over after the Aquarium Run to watch the pros, but it just didn't work out. I can't even imagine how fast the pros go. Kudos on the new blog, looks great and it really inspiring. Keep up the good work!

Rob Chance said...

Tom, You have to get there next year. It's not often we see races like that in our own backyard.