Philly Tri Two years later...
Racer: Kenrick Smith
Division: Elite Amateur
Hometown: Schnecksville, PA
Lodging: Home - Yippee!!
Race Location: Philadelphia, PA - Fairmont Park
Travel Distance: 65 miles - 1hour 15 min drive
Cost of Entry: $190.00
"go hard until you can't go anymore and hopefully you will be at the finish line"
The last triathlon I raced in, where I could sleep at home the night before the race, was August 7th 2011, so it was nice to be able to bunk at home. The only downside was the commute to the race site (65 minutes) and an early transition closing (6:20am) due to the shuttle over to the swim start. But it is what it is and I got to sleep in my bed. Ahhhh. It felt odd since I didn't have to pack everything I might need for a weekend of racing. I just had to get my stuff together for a day of racing.
I raced this triathlon two years ago and had a blast finishing 3rd overall age grouper, not too bad. This year I decided to race as an Elite Amateur to see how I matched up with the competition on the next level.
The morning started at 3:00 am as my alarm began to BEEP!! I rolled out of bed and started to get the troops up because they are like walking zombies so early in the morning - can't blame them I was right there with them. I started getting my K17SPORT kit on and gathered the rest of my gear that I hadn't packed yet. I put my # tats on the night before so that was something I didn't have to worry about but I did need to pack my breakfast which was a little different. I didn't want to eat so early since my wave didn't go off till 7:00. I still had 4 hours till the gun goes off. We cruised down the PA Turnpike, through the humid, thick 75 degree air, without any issues and pulled into a parking spot pretty close to the site. My family and parents stayed in the van until it was closer to "go time."
I needed to get down to Transition a little early because the race organizer had told us that they were going to be checking every bag going into transition (stepped up security do to Boston). Was a little annoying but understand and wasn't that big of a deal, it is just a shame that it has come to this.
I walked over with my Zoot wetsuit, TYR Velocity goggles, and water bottle in hand. I navigated my way through the mass of buses inhaling the diesel fumes from the exhaust. I picked a bus seat in the second seat on the left. It was hot as balls in there and getting hotter by the second as other athletes started to fill the bus. A couple minutes after I sat down, my friend John Potter sat down alongside of me and we BS'd all the way to the swim start. It was pretty cool we had Pro Matty Reed (ended up finishing 3rd) sitting in front of us. I felt kind of bad, the guy sitting with him was talking his ear off when all he probably wanted to do was concentrate on the day ahead. I must say he was very nice and was willing to engage in conversation with his new seat mate. I got off the bus and had an hour to kill, so I went to the bathroom, and just relaxed. We watched the pros start and then we were next. I threw my red swim cap on, checked and tightened my goggles, and got ready for the swim start. We jumped into the warm 75 degree water and as I opened my eyes and submerged into the Schuylkill River all I could see was a dark green/brown color. The beautiful color of the notoriously dirty Schuylkill River. The water clarity was about a foot and a half - OK maybe 2 feet but no more than that. The swim was completely straight with the current for about 1400m then we banged a right and swam to shore. Pretty straight forward.
The gun went off, and I started kicking and clawing to get myself up to speed and into a groove. In the previous two Elite races I have done, I noticed that the other racers are pretty good at drafting and keeping a straight line, so a couple of times I hopped on the wave of another swimmer and tried to have him pull me with but it was difficult since the water was so murky. We would keep bumping each other and couldn't get into a good groove so I pulled myself away and decided to swim on my own. Things were going good, my only issue was my goggles fogged up but it was so sunny out I could still see. Then I went under the bridge at about the 1200 meter buoy and entered the shade. It was like the lights went out on me. I thought maybe my eyes just needed to adjust but that wasn't it, my goggles were just too fogged up. I went 100 more meters and I had to clear them out. I stopped which I had never done before and rinsed them out and was off again. I felt like during the entire swim I couldn't get into a rhythm and I think I tried to force the issue, which forced my effort to increase. I climbed out of the water exhausted. I was huffing and puffing like nobody's business. I tried to focus, concentrate on my breathing, and trying to locate my bike. Luckily K-Krew was standing right next to the bike, I had an end spot next to the fence, that made it easy.
I headed out to the two loop course pushing as hard as I could while trying to regain my composure. It took me a good mile or two to get myself under control and then I kept pushing as hard as I could. I just kept pushing the bike and driving the pedals around the ring. After having my bike fit earlier this week, I felt like I finally competed on the bike and didn't get passed by everyone on the course. I believe I only got passed by one person in my division. I was happy. I grinded up the three uphills per loop and cruised by Boathouse Row right before blowing by the Philadelphia Art Museum (always think of Rocky when I see that awesome building).
The race was awesome. I would definitely do it again and recommend it to others looking for a high energy, competitive race. The race has a big time feel to it. I was actually surprised how small the pro field was. For having to coordinate so many athletes all weekend and especially for shuttling everyone to the swim start - it seemed to go pretty much flawlessly.
I want to thank my family - wife, three kids, and parents for getting up at the buttcrack of dawn to come cheer me on. They are amazing and I must say that I know I have the best support Krew of anyone out there. They put up with a lot and I am forever grateful.
I also want to thank Fitness Central and PX Triathlon for everything they provide me and for being such a great support to me and my cause.
To read more about Kenrick Smith and his adventures of racing please go to www.K17SPORT.com