Race Report: Ocean Shores Sprint Triathlon 2012

Date: 14 July 2012

Location: North Bay Park, Ocean Shores, WA

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My goal was to do 4 races this year but finding a way to fit in that many races into a 3-month timeframe was looking to be nearly impossible.

Then one day my sister-in-law calls up to talk about their planned trip from the Mid-West out to see us in Washington. In going down the list of things to do in our area (which in and of itself turned into a fun brainstorming activity for my boys) her teenage son Sam asked if it were possible to do a triathlon with me during their visit. I was intrigued and went to searching and found the Ocean Shores Tri & Foot Fest which fit neatly into their planned visit.

My nephew Sam (my wife's, actually...) is a tall, slender, natural born athlete, as opposed to me, a tall, not-so-slender, works-really-hard-just-to-finish athlete. I knew right away he would take this sport just like he has just about every other sport he has tried out.

So we did some email-based planning, borrowed a bike from a friend of mine (THANKS Lauren!), and packed up the family for a trip to the beach.

For those of you that have never been to the Washington coast it isn't typically "shorts and sandals" weather. Indeed the most common apparel worn at the beach in Washington is long pants and a parka. Perhaps even a rain slicker but don't bother with an umbrella because the wind will destroy it in a matter of minutes.

...but do bring your kites!


There would be 3 of us racing, Sam, myself, and my oldest son (Boy #1).

We arrived at Ocean Shores the night before and immediately drove to the park to check out the race venue. As expected the park was a very small park at the north end of a inland lake (i.e. we wouldn't be swimming in the ocean or Gray's Harbor). The water temperature was cool but tolerable (low 60's?). With nothing really set up for the race we spent some time on the playground and watched a few people doing practice swims in the lake.

After playing on the local state beach we checked into our hotel and picked up some dinner from Alec's By the Sea, a fabulous little seafood joint not a mile from our hotel. It was at this point that I realized we had almost missed packet pick-up! So off we went to pick up our race packets.

The Goal

This race has a slightly longer swim than my previous sprints (800m as opposed to 400m) so this one would be a bit different. My training this year has not been what I had hoped: consistency remains my biggest weakness. With this in mind I set a somewhat conservative goal for this race-

Swim: 20:00, T1: 2:00, Bike: 35:00, T2: 2:00, Run: 27:00, Total: 1:26:00

Race Morning

The morning of the race Sam and I set out early from the hotel on our bikes and rode the short distance to the race venue (about 1.5 miles). We arrived with plenty of time to setup our transition areas and get ready for the race but just as we were about to go "review the course maps one more time" the first wave for the sprint tri went off. Whoops, time to race!

Sam's transition area for the Ocean Shores Sprint Tri.

The Swim

Sam and I were fortunate that there was a second wave. }B^)

We waded out into the water and got set for the start. We didn't have to wait very long. When they sounded the starting horn I turned to Sam and said, "Good luck!" It turns out that I didn't see him again until after I finished.

The water was colder than I expected. When we arrived at the park the air temp was pretty warm and I almost didn't wear wet suit. Boy, was I glad that I did. After a few minutes I was into my swim rhythm and off to the races! As I did so, I passed a few people, a rare occurrence!

Here's something else you don't see during a triathlon: a woman doing the back stroke. Not just for a few yards but for the ENTIRE race. With the sky completely cloudy/overcast there were no overhead methods for sighting. Every few minutes she would turn her head sideways to sight off the shoreline of the narrow lake. In the last 50m she turned over and did the crawl stroke. How do I know all this? Because she paced me almost the entire race.

I came out of the water feeling really strong with only a little dizziness.

My Swim result: 23:04, OA: 61/93, AG: 11/12 (30-39)

Sam's Swim Result: 14:43, OA: 7/93, AG: 2/4 (<18)


T1 was uneventful and relatively easy. I looked around but there was no Sam. He was long gone. I told him not to wait for me in T1. Good thing too, because he would have been waiting around for 8+ minutes.

My T1 Result: 3:48, OA: 66/93, AG: 11/12 (30-39)

Sam's T1 Result: 3:26, OA: 56/93, AG: 3/4 (<18)

Transition Area Exit to the bike course.

The Bike

This was the FLATTEST bike/run course EVER, as evident by the GPS elevation profile-

Total elevation gain: fifty (50) feet. That's not an exaggeration or estimation, that is what my GPS recorded. The only "hills," if you can call them that, were a couple of little bridges over the canals. Once I found the right gear I didn't shift for the first half of the race.

Course difficulties for me started around mile 1 where I almost missed a turn. The sign was on the inside of the turn and I missed it completely. If the woman just in front of me had not turned I would have taken a bit of a detour. I passed her shortly thereafter and kept up enough of a pace to pass a lot of other riders along the way.

The ride was nice but very disoriented with no real landmarks to key off. The weather was overcast, so there no sun or clouds overhead. Even the shore was not visible so I really had no idea where I was on the peninsula.

As I headed south and then west there was a slight headwind which shifted to a tailwind on the way back. This helped me keep the last 5 miles right around 20 MPH (3 minute miles).

As the course entered a new-looking subdivision I saw a sign announcing "100' to turnaround" with a guy who said something to me that I couldn't hear. A little further was another sign,"50' to turnaround," and then nothing. With no other riders in front of me as far as I could see I had a decision to make. Where was the turn around? Do I turn around now or ride to the next turn and hope for another sign? There was no turn around sign, no chalk-paint in the middle of the road, no sign marking the exact turnaround point. I decided to turn around about 100 yards past the 50' sign.

I looked for Sam during the entire bike ride, expected to see him as he came back on the out-and-back course, but I never did. Perhaps he was fast enough that I missed him along the way? He did beat me by quite a bit on the swim.

Total distance advertised as 12.4 miles, GPS clocked 12.92.

Felt great coming off the bike and my speed/splits combined with HR show it: negative splits in the last five miles and a downward trending HR through the entire ride.

My Bike Result: 42:32, OA: 29/93, AG: 8/12 (30-39)



As I entered T2 I immediately looked for Sam's bike but it wasn't in his spot. I guess I didn't miss him on the bike. I changed my shoes and went out on the run.

My T2 Result: 1:58, OA: 70/93, AG: 12/12 (30-39)

The Run

I felt strong as I left T2 on the run (running is never easy for me) but it was obvious that I was doing well.

And the stats hold up that assumption: I negative split each mile. I even passed several people on the run, something I rarely do.

The run turn around was WELL marked with a volunteer right there. Why wasn't the bike course similarly marked/manned?

I came back to the finish feeling great! I tried something new this year and purchased a "finish line video" from the race organizers. Was it worth $10? I guess so, since my family missed seeing me at the finish line by only a few seconds. }B^)


My Run Result: 29:25, OA: 43/93, AG: 11/12 (30-39)

My Total Time: 1:40:45, OA: 41/93, AG: 11/12 (30-39)

Finish line!

Post Race

After crossing the finish line I immediately went to the transition area to look for Sam: still no bike. that meant he was still somewhere out on the bike course? I grabbed some food and waited. After about 15 minutes he finally came into T2, big smile and all-

Sam finally arrives in T2 after a LONG bike ride.

It turns out that Sam and 4 others missed the bike turnaround completely and went all the way to the well-marked Olympic Distance turn around point, doubling their bike distance unnecessarily. Whoops. That took Sam out of the running for his AG podium. He would have no doubt picked up at least a 3rd place spot, perhaps even 2nd.

He went out on the run in high spirits and came back barely breathing hard (at least by my standards; I'm usually gasping for breath at the finish line).

Sam getting de-chipped at the finish area.

Sam's Bike Result: 1:34:43, OA: 90/93, AG: 4/4 (<18)

Sam's T2 Result: 2:12, OA: 79/93, AG: 4/4 (<18)

Sam's Run Result: 26:33, OA: 25/93, AG: 3/4 (<18)

Sam's Total Time: 2:21:35, OA: 81/93, AG: 4/4 (<18)

Lessons learned:

  1. Rerun: TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN. At least in a more consistent manner. Will I ever learn?
  2. No warm-up swim, should have arrived earlier to allow for this. I avoided a disaster by wearing my wet suit.
  3. Arrive earlier to allow for a course review. May have helped Sam avoid his bike mess.
  4. T1 continues to be too slow.

Kids Triathlon

Boy #1 decided to try the Kids Tri but this one was not your average splash-and-dash: the swim was at least 50 yards through deep water.

Boy #1 listening to the pre-race instructions and getting set to get wet.

As they got into the water for the start it was obvious that the kids didn't like the cold water. Boy #1 kept saying "It's cold!" but eventually he started swimming. 

The kids were supposed to swim across the channel, touch the kayak, and return to shore. More than half the kids turned back at some point without touching the kayak. Boy #1 was slow but he eventually made it, swimming on his back for part of it.

He eventually got a pretty good stroke going and made it back to shore.

According to Boy #1 the bike and run courses were "quite short and easy." He finished strong and in good spirits.

Me, Boy #1, and Sam after our races.

Interesting things seen at Ocean Shores

I have never seen an Ellipticycle until this race (ElliptiGo?). Apparently the race officials let him ride it.

The best place to buy touristy type stuff: SHARKY'S! (That's our hotel in the background)


There's nothing better for race recovery than sitting in a car for several hours. *cough* *cough*

We stopped off overnight in Tacoma to visit the Grandparents and took a nice trip around the Chambers Bay Golf Course. The ride up the hills really helped burn off the lactic acid and kept me from getting overly sore.

Overall recovery was quick and easy due to the relatively easy nature of this race: it was fast and flat which means I could have pushed harder. If I do a race like this again I'll know that I can push harder than I do on other courses.

What's next?

For me: The Federal Escape Olympic is coming up in 2 weeks followed by the Grand Columbian Half-Iron Tri in mid-September. 

For Boy #1: He wants to do yet another kids tri at the Federal Escape. This will help judge if he is ready to start training for a real race next year.

For Sam: Not sure yet. I asked him to write up a race report and I'll post it when I can. I think he did exceptionally well and would excel at other races in his home state of Minnesota.