Race Report: Challenge Almere-Amsterdam

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This race is the big one. My first half distance triathlon, and the one I have been training for for the past year. The race will be on saturday, so I took the day off on friday to get everything set-up.

Friday it all started with the briefing at 12 PM. This covered the basic rules that would apply, the use of the transition bags (more on that later). They also explained the swim, bike and run courses.

After the briefing was over, I quickly left to head down to package pickup. There are two lines, one for the full distance, and one for the half distance. Things went smooth, first, they would write your bib on your hand with a marker, as a precaution, and then give you a paper bracelet, indicating you are an athlete that will race. To give you access to transition. Then you walk over to the desk next to it, and they give you a big envelope, and a red bag. The envelope contained some flyers, your swimcap and some wristbands. The red bag, contained some other flyers, stickers with your bib number, a green bag and a blue bag. Exactly, you receive three bags.

The bags are for every transition.

The red bag is for T1, you leave your bike gear in here, including your helmet.

The blue bag will be T2, containing your running shoes and the like.

The green one is your after race bag, In my case it contained an energy drink, a towel and a shirt.

After I checked out the contents, I had to wait for about an hour before I could rack my bike. So I wandered around the city a bit.  They set up some tents, from the bigger brands like Powerbar and Cervelo. Racking the bike was done quickly. As I was there I checked out “the basement” where all transition bags would be, so I knew what to expect. Then it was time to go home, and pack all the transition bags.

Next morning the alarm went off at 5 AM. A quick breakfast, and it was time to get ready. This consisted of changing into my trisuit, and put on my race number. A kind of “tattoo” as they have for kids, but then it looks way more awesome. I bet you can’t tell that it was early..

 

A bit later and we were off to Almere. Around 6.30AM we arrived at the transition area. The atmosphere is amazing. There was a lot of activity as the full distance would start at 7AM (pro’s) and the age groupers at 7.10AM.

Time to check my bike. Inflate the tires, put my shoes on the pedals and put as much nutrition on as I could. Then, the waiting game began. Half an hour before the start I attempted to eat an energy bar, and drink some energy drinks. By this time I was so tense, I almost had to throw up from the energy bar, but managed to keep it in.

If I was nervous? Nah..

5 minutes before the start, I spoke with some club members which made me more at easy. While all the half distance were waiting, the leader of the full distance was already out of the water, with a huge gap to the chase group. Then it was our time to hit the water.

A bit sudden the cannon was shot and we were off.

I managed to swim into a bit of a gap, to avoid getting kicked or hit. Short after it was time to round the first out of two buoys, as the course was one big triangle. A quick glance at my watch told me I reached it in 11-12 minutes. That was the first 700 meter done!. I couldn’t believe I was that fast. Either way, still 1.2 km to go, so I pushed on. My swim time ended up being around the 33 minute mark. Transition was auto-pilot all the way, I noticed some clubmembers, friends, family and The Girl all cheering.

Onto the bike I went, this would be the hardest part of the race, as the bike is my worst leg. The first 10K went smooth, barely any wind, and if any, it was a tail wind. In this part I learned two lessons:

1. My new repair kit mount system failed miserably. It fell off, so I had to get back to collect it. I stuffed it in the back of my tri suit and continued.
2. At the water stations they handed out half banana’s. Trying to grab one of them while going 35+ km/h proves to be quite a challenge. Hence why I found banana everywhere short after.

From about 10K’s in the bike, things made a turn for the worst. This was a 30-40km almost straight road, without any form of protection against the elements. Of course on this part of the course, there was a headwind, more powerful then expected. This is what I feared the most. My pace dropped, and one by one I got overtaken. Sometimes even by entire groups of 10-25 people. The judge motorcycle drove past, but nothing happened with the groups. I kept pushing on. At the end there is a sharp right turn, from here on out, things went better and better.

You can see the sheer flatness, in the area we bike.

 

My pace quickened, and I started overtaking people again. My nutrition went better, was able to eat and drink more. My bike time: 3.02 hours, 2 minutes slower then I estimated.

In the final results it showed that I lost about a 100 places during the bike.

Once again, transition went really smooth. Within minutes I was out on the run course. This half marathon was spread out over 3 laps around the lake we swam in. I felt good, and continued where I left off, overtaking people. I clicked off one after another. At the end of every lap we would come through transition, being cheered on by lots of people.

Really nice motivation boost! The laps became more and more heavy. About 5K before the finish line, my feet were on fire, and my thigh’s felt like there were hit with hammers with every step I took. I pushed on, and the last 1.5K I got cheered over the finish.

In the end I finished in 181th position out of 490, passed 77 people on the run.

 

Swim: 33.46
Bike: 3.02.24
Run: 1.45.26

My finishtime: 5.28.44

The event was amazing, and I am VERY satisfied with this result!

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