I love the Alabama Coastal Triathlon. Might be an odd statement for me. For those who know me, they know the swim is my weakest event. As such, it would make sense for me to stay away from an intermediate event that emphasizes the swim. Yet, every year I find myself registering for the race. Like eating vegetables, I tell myself it is good for me. Suffer through the swim, expose the weakness and vow to get better at it. Triathlon, like life, should be about constant self improvement.
Unfortunately, this year a series of unfortunate events led to me racing the sprint event for the first time. With the new course for both races, a sinus infection that made swimming fairly painful (more than normal for me) and this being my first time racing the sprint, I wasn’t sure exactly what the day would hold.
Race morning began with Hurricane Irma on many people's mind. The weather was a little cooler and definitely windy as a result. As it became light enough to finally see the Gulf I can’t say I was disappointed I was not swimming 1500 meters. This was confirmed as I was batted around by the waves swimming a warm up. All that aside, the sunrise was beautiful and racers were lining up getting ready for the time trial start. Much like when I race the intermediate distance I was starting at the rear. When my turn finally arrived I was pleasantly surprised at the space the time trial start provided. I was tossed around by the waves, but was not crowded one bit by other swimmers. After a quick sprint up the beach you are in to T1 and out on the bike.
Although anticipated, the stiff tailwind was still a shock (a fast one) once moving on the bike. It became quickly apparent this would be a tale of two races. One with the wind, and one against it. The 12.4 mile sprint out and back course (which the intermediate does twice) was flat and fast with little traffic. The turnaround came as no surprise and it was a battle 6.2 miles all the way back into the wind.
A quick trip into T2 and back out onto the run. Unlike the bike, the run headed east and into the wind first. The sprint distance covered the first mile, out and back, of the intermediate 3 mile out and back course. Battling the head wind directly after doing the same on the bike was tough, but the turn around this time provided a welcome tailwind to bring you home to the finish.
Overall it was a good day of racing in tough conditions. The new course is simple, well designed, and fast. A plus is the two loop bike course and central location of the host, The Hangout, makes it great for family and friends to spectate. I finished the day feeling blessed to have raced with great people, on a good day, with my son there to cheer me in. Most days don’t get any better than that.
Full results: http://www.amatteroftiming.com/images/results/2017/actinteroverall.html