Smithfield Sprint 2016 Race Report

Race Review

Apparently VTS/MTS races and myself have an issue, and the issue is RAIN! Similar to last year’s Colonial Beach Sprint (although not as bad of a downpour and no open water swim with gasoline fuel on the top), we were challenged with Mother Nature… and she did not disappoint.

The Smithfield Sprint is a pool swim start, because this early in the year in Virginia most lakes/bays/ocean is simply not warm enough for people to go out in open water (unless you are REALLY crazy and thik something like Norseman would be a good time). With a swim start you have to stagger swimmers in hopes that you won’t be impeded (slowed down because there is a large group in front of you, or force to let someone pass yourself thus holding on the wall) while everyone is in the pool. This dictates a one person start every 10 seconds. With over 520 people starting every 10 seconds, you can imaging that the first people will definitely finished before others get into the pool. Thank goodness this year I was able to do with fellow teammates from Speed Sherpa! Between Madi, Melissa, Peyton, and Will; we were able to pass most of the time (for me a 1 hour and 41 minute wait) chatting in the hallways while trying to stay warm and dry.

Now that I’ve began the race (officially starting at 11:41.45), here are my thoughts on each part:


  • The water was warm, but not bath water temps. The line was well organized and people fell into place without any issues.

Transition 1

  • OMG MUD! From the Rain that has not stopped since I arrived (around 8:00 am), there have now been almost two hours of racers going in and out of transition with their shoes and bikes destroying the grass and thus the ground is a mud pit of which “mud runners” would swoon. For how small the transition area is between the swim and the in/out parts for the bike and run, I should have been closer to a 1 minute transition, however, I decided to put on my water proof jacket for the bike because I’m a wimp when it comes to being cold and wet.


  • It felt a little windy, guessing around 5-10 MPH winds as I constantly felt that I had to lean one direction or the other on the “out and back” bike segment. The route was good in that most of the uphills were at the beginning, which allowed you to hammer it home on the back half.

Transition 2

  • HERMAGERD MUD!!! Just when you thought T1 was bad, T2 was MUDiculous. I almost lost my shoe TWICE just in transition for how much thick gooey mud was on the ground. Again my transition was slow, because now I had to remove the wet “waterproof” jacket.


  • I enjoyed the run. We zigzaged through downtown Smithfield to catch a road that led out to the country while passing a few subdivisions. The route peaked at the half way point, so again get half way and then it’s relatively downhill to the finish line.

Post Race

Smithfield Sprint 2016

After the race we were served some excellent Carolina Style BBQ (as there was no sauce but only a hint of vinegar) with some beans and slaw. The Speed Sherpa team found each other and shared some highs and lows (one crashed) from each other’s race experience, but quickly knew that one of the “sherpettes” was going to place in the top three of her age category. I decided to stick around so I could snap a picture of her on the podium, while she waited for the remaining racers to crossed finish line. Little did I know I placed third! I’m really surprised by this as I know VTS/MTS has some excellent racers and the Male 40-44 category is one of the toughest to compete (hello fellow mid life crisis friends). When I was looking at the results for my category, I thought I was fifth vs. third. What I then later discovered was the gender/age categories did not separate out the “Masters” and Aqua Bike racers.

I don’t believe I place again this race season so I won’t let this get to my head, but greatly appreciate the support from my coach, teammates, and family to get me this far. Here is to the next race, my first Half at Kinetic!

Race Results


Smithfield Sprint 2016

  • Overall: Placed 80 out of 521 (top 15%, and that is with College kids race teams and “Masters” (Age Group Pros) catgory).
  • Gender: Placed 67 out of 293 (top 23%, but still the above applies).
  • Male 40-44: Paced 3rd out of 18.

Among the Male 40-44 category, I was able to compete at a high level across all three sports for the first time:

  • Swim: Ranked 6th
  • Bike: Ranked 4th (1st and 2nd were “Masters”, and the 3rd was Aqua Bike)
  • Run: Ranked 2nd (by one second)


If you want accurate pace info for races, I’ve been using Running Free Online’s Triathlon Race Calculator.

Smithfield 300m Swim T1 10 Mile Bike T2 5k Run Total
Goal Times1 5:30 2:00 30:00 2:00 23:15 1:02:45
Actual Times2 5:24 1:35 29:09 1:45 21:31 0:59:22

Updated 2016-04-05 (Race Photos)


  1. Times based on 1:50/100m swim, 20mph ride, 7:30 minutes/mi run.

  2. Official Race Results available at VTS/MTS Smithfield Results page

Reston 10 Miler 2016 Run Report

Reston 10 Miler

This is a long over due race run report for the “Reston 10 Miler” as this took place over two weeks ago on March 5th, 2016. The primary goal for this event was to get my legs used to a long run for the upcoming triathlon races, but not burn me out that would jeopardize races early in the season. One of my triathlon races that is scheduled in mid May will require me to run 13.1 miles after I complete the swim and bike sections.

For this race I had a good idea on what my pace should be with the previous month of doing descending runs (as planned by my Speed Sherpa coach Josh). For the past month I’ve been slowly increasing my time of descending paces that lated between 15 to 20 minutes at a time. For the Reston 10 Miler, I wanted to target 8:30 pace for the first and second “20 minutes”, 8:10 for the third “20 minutes”, then end with 7:30 for the remaining distance of the run. This would also prevent me from burning out early in the run as the course is very hilly. The plan also worked out well, as there were a few key downhill points just after mile four and mile 8.5 that aligned perfectly for the timing to increase my speed.

The pre-even atmosphere was great, and you could tell there were many well trained runners who have been doing this for many years, but also LOTS of smiling faces of first timers who were supported by their friends and/or families by participating in the fun of a long run.

Only complaint I have on myself is that I didn’t prepare for the full timeline of the run, and how much the weather would change. In the morning it was cold, so I bundled up with my sweats, thermal shirt, hat, and gloves. But after the first hour I wish I was running in shorts and begged for a way to ditch the gloves, as the combination of my body generating heat and the sun coming out to shine on everyone (as seen in the pictures) was becoming strong. Good to have these experiences to gain knowledge for my 2016 race season.


  • Placed 123 out of 937 runners
  • Placed 23rd in the 40-44 Male
  • Finished in 1:19:02 giving me an average pace of 7:54/mile (beating my goal of 1:20:00)

Amazing what one year makes; for the good or bad. This is the second time I’ve raced the Reston Triathlon, so I’m going to compare my numbers to see where there was any improvement.

What I remember about last year’s race was it was a nice warm fall day that made it great for the bike and run, but that my swim was horrible. Why? It could have been the warm water making it wetsuit illegal, or if it was due to the fact that I really don’t like swimming in a lake since you can’t see anything once your face is in the water. I believe I remembered my bike and run being at top of my A game for the race which helped me make up for my poor start.

As for this year it was a cool 65° and the water temperature was at 77°, which makes it wetsuit legal. The swim was awesome (you will see the time difference in a bit)! I haven’t been feeling well the past two weeks so my goal for the bike and run was to push myself just above easy-strong pace. Nothing fast, because I really didn’t know how much my body would handle.

Results, I beat my time last year (not that hard with a horrible swim), but I also beat my targeted time and it was all because of my swim.

  • Swim time was 27:48. I shaved off 11:06 from last year, ELEVEN minutes! That is where I got all of my gains when comparing to this year vs. last year.

  • Bike time was 1:15:59 which was only 13 seconds faster than last year. It is interesting that I almost got the same time as last year, even though I don’t feel like I’m at my peak fitness.

  • Run time was 52:30 which was 25 seconds slower than last year. Not really surprised, but again I didn’t push myself like I remember last year and I’m almost the same pace.

  • Transitions were damn near identical. However, since I had a wetsuit this year and did not have one last year, I’ll say I improved… somewhere.

  • Placing was an improvement, but also noticed that my age group is much more deeper. Last year I was competing against 29 people in my age group, while this year I’m against 54. So with the larger field of competitors it’s hard to say that my placement percentage of the top 37% is measuring against apples to apples when looking back last year. However, in terms of overall placement there were 440 racers vs. the 426 racers last year. A little more, but not by much. This time I came in as 99th top racer which puts me at the top 23% vs. the top 33% last year. A significant improvement, and again all due to my swim knocking off 11 minutes from my time.

Wisdom Oak Winery (WOW) Sprint is a 750 meter open water swim (OWS) in a lake, 16.6 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run that is hilly.

For those of you outside of the Virginia area, the race is actually in Walnut Creek Park located “… in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and just a ten minute scenic drive outside of the City of Charlottesville…“1, with the primary sponsor Wisdom Oak Winery (hence the title of the race).

Pre-race game plan

  • My race plan was to just stay calm. My killer at Colonial Beach was during the swim, and my issues were all mental. As I pulled up, I met three ladies all doing the Sprint distances too, and this was their first triathlon. They were asking me questions and I would try to answer to my best knowledge, but little did they know they helped me stay calm. Plus I was able to spread a little positive triathlon vibe!


  • Prior to the Sprint start, the Olympic distance male and female racers started first (as they had to do two laps vs. one)2. This helped because I could watch and get a comfortable idea of sighting cues (ability to find the next buoy) throughout the lake course, but also to size up my competition (it’s a race, hello!). This helped me alot! I kept myself calm. Another bonus was the water temperature was measured at 77 degrees prior to race start, which meant I could use my wetsuit FOR THE FIRST TIME! Usually you never try something new during a race, but I wasn’t looking at WOW as my “A race”, but a learning experience for OWS and hopefully how to use my wetsuit during a race. What I found out is sighting is so much easier when using one of these things! I did have some slight issues with breathing around the 600 meter mark, but I think that was due to a poor morning nutrition plan of a second 1/2 bagel and peanut butter.


  • I always love the bike, and this time we have hills!!! I used every single ring during this race as climbing up the hills required me to drop to the lowest ring on the crank (violating rule #90), to not having enough gears on the rear cassette for the downhills to get full top speed (even though I had a top speed of 45 mph for two seconds).


  • OMG the first 1.2 miles is all up hill. So I don’t like running up hill as much as I like biking up hill. At one point I simply power walked as I didn’t think my “run” was any faster. After going up, there was a short flat spot to get to the half way point, then you turned around and return where you started by going down the same hill. This was nice to have some speed where I was pacing a 7 min mile for 800 meters. The bad thing about downhill is it really beats your feet and knees. I need to improve on this for next year.

Results Here are my thoughts after reading the results.

  • Overall 13 of 132. Top 10 percent, but only a third of the racers when you compare it to Colonial Beach. This does exclude the Relay teams and the Olympic racers in the total account (so there were more racers present en mass), just measuring myself to the Sprint racers.
  • Males 40-44 was 1 of 7. Yup, I won, but again the depth of racers was not that deep. If you look closely, the individual who won 2nd beat me in the bike and run, but the killer was he had a bad T1 of 4:17 where I only took 1:44 (which is long for me but I’ve never had to get myself out of a wetsuit)
  • Swim was 14:31. Amazing what happens when you are relaxed and can see the buoys.
  • T1 was 1:44. This is is all due to getting out of the wetsuit, and that added an additional 45 seconds for me to get out of transition.
  • Bike was 55:11 to cover 16.7 miles averaging 18.2 mph. The hills really killed me towards the end, as I was almost wishing for a compact crank (only for a second, I swear), but then I wouldn’t have been as fast on the down side of those hills.
  • T2 of 0:42 is nice!
  • Run was 25:38. Not the best, but between a high heart rate from the swim AND the bike, with a mile uphill I would only be able to shave off another 45-60 seconds at most. The run was hard.
  • Total time 1:37:48. Now this is slower than Colonial Beach, however, the bike distance was four miles longer so I actually beat my padded expected time!
    • padded time was calculated by 2min for 100m pace (SDI of 1.07), 18 mph bike pace, 8 minute mile pace; thus 17:20 + 55:40 + 24 (+ 4 minutes for transition time) = 101 minutes.


  1. Taken from the WOW website, available at

  2. I don't know if I would do the Olympic in the future as the swimmers had to exit the lake, run on the beach to get a clear spot that was not obstructed by life guard equipment, and then jump back in for lap #2. It seemed odd.

I know my usually audience is not interested in Triathlons, however, still not sure how to incorporate knowledge gained at my new job to my past audience. So, to make sure everyone knows I’m still around I’ll post my race report for the 2015 Colonial Beach Sprint in Virginia.

2015 Colonial Beach Sprint Report

Writing down my thoughts before I find true analytical data on how I performed.

Colonial Beach Sprint is a 750 meter open water swim (OWS) (not a pool), 14 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run that is mostly flat.

For those of you outside of the Virginia area, this morning was 100% rain the entire time. I’m a fair weather endurance person. I bike and run outside to enjoy the time outside, not to fight mother nature. So when it’s raining at a race, the “fun” aspect of racing wears off quickly.

Pre-race game plan

  • I was stupid and didn’t do any of it. It was raining badly and VTSMTS announced that a decision to cancel the swim or the race entirely would be at 6:00 am. Once that happened couldn’t really concentrate. I was more worried about trying to keep my shoes dry for the run (by placing setting up my transition area) vs. properly warming up and getting my head into the race.


  • The PA system was horrible. They were trying to relay information throughout the morning, but I always seem to be in the wrong place to hear anything. Needless to say I was in waist high water, well behind were I should be for the start of wave one, as the air-horn signaled “GO”. Have I mentioned how much I hate OWS? About 350-400m I started panicking (not fun while swimming). Actually raised my arm for assistance, but none of the paddle boaters moved to help. So with pour route choices and panicking, I got back into finishing the swim by doing a side stroke (vs. freestyle). Horrible. HATE HATE HATE OWS.


  • Bike was good except for the very start. Just out of Transition 1 (T1) and running to the bike mount point, I realized something was wrong. My seat had become loose and was now flopping up and down. I lucked out and some spectators offered help and got their allen wrench to tighten the seat, and I was then on my way. With such a crappy job on the swim, it wasn’t hard to pick off people one by one on the bike course. The two 90 degree (or sharper) turns in rain were extremely dangerous! The second one I was lucky that cops had stop traffic, because I would have head-on collision with normal traffic patterns. Speaking of traffic, PEOPLE OF COLONIAL BEACH; Virginia has a new law of giving cyclists three feet of space! Please obey for the safty of riders.


  • Wet shoes are heavy. I wanted to be faster than 24 minutes, but 20 steps out of T2 and my shoes were waterlogged and heavy. I did have enough energy for a last kick at the end about 100 ft from the turn to the finish line.


  • So, you feel like you had a poor race… how can things get worse. Somebody stole my bike shoes. I can’t use my bike anymore until I get some new bike shoes. Awesome.

Results Now I’m done bitching and making excuses, here are my thoughts after reading the results.

  • Overall 107 of 324. So top third.
  • Males 40-44 was solidly 12 of 23. Bottom half.
  • Swim was 24:31. WTF
  • No T1 and Bike time. WTF
    • Doing some math my bike was 43:33 w/ T1 (which included fixing a bike seat. Easily top riders of age group)
  • T2 seemed decent. so I got that going for me
  • Run, it was under 24! Some light in this mess of a race
  • Total time 1:31:39. Did not beat my padded goal time of 1:30. disappointed.
    • padded time was calculated by 2min for 100m pace, 18mph bike pace, 8min mile pace; thus 15 + 46:45 + 24 (+ 4 mins for transition time) = 90 mins (rounded up).