Jun 19

Race Report: Johan’s Tri Fest Olympic Triathlon

On Saturday, I had my second triathlon of the season, Johan’s Tri Fest an Olympic distance race.  My training scheduled called for either a 1h15m/20m brick or a sprint tri.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a local sprint that fit my schedule, but this one did.  I spectated this race last year while my co-worker raced and it looked like a good one.

The Quick Review

Overall, this race was a roller coaster of emotions and pain.  As much as I wanted to (and should have) treated this race as a training day, I knew that I was going to get caught up in the race atmosphere and push too hard.  I’ve only done one other Olympic distance. It was the Grand Haven Tri in 2009.  My time was 2:54:31 and it was the longest tri I had done to date.  I knew that I was going to beat that time if not simply because the Grand Haven Tri included a .75 mile run between the swim and transition area.  No joke.  It took 8 minutes to run from the beach to T1.  Anyways, this race was not only a better course than Grand Haven, but I also had two more years of training under my belt.

I ended up finishing in 2:23:55 for 5th out of 21 in my age group.  The run was the most disappointing leg.  I had hoped to pull out a 7:30 pace but had stomach issues and ended up walking quite a bit in the second half of the race.  Despite the disappointing run, it was a PR and an overall great race.  The bike course was on the more challenging side of races I have done which was a nice change.  I like to work for my bike split and a flat course just isn’t as rewarding all the time.

Now, the long version.  Enjoy.


On Friday, night Jennie and I went out to dinner at Founders with The Redhead, Spike, Jen B, and her husband Jeff.  What a great time.  They are all great people and fun to hang out with.  And despite The Redhead not being able to run for the past 17 weeks, as soon I mentioned the new 200 mile Fred Meijer White Pine Trail Relay, her eyes lit up and she said, “We have to do that next year!”  Depending on when it falls next year, I may be able to join in on the fun, but it might be too close to IMMT.  There is no word yet on whether or not Spike will be running the whole 200 miles solo or not.  Spike, if you are reading this, 100 miles is only the 3” extension.  If you want the full 6”, you gotta do all 200.


We parted ways with the gang after Founders.  On the way home, we decided to stop by The Greenwell for round two of drinks.  This round was to celebrate 5 years of home ownership.  Woohoo!

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Needless to say, it was a very fun evening.  We finally made it to bed around 11:30.

Race Morning

Totally was feeling the late night when I woke up on Saturday.  I was slow to get moving.  Thankfully I had packed everything up the night before and just had to eat and get dressed.  Eating didn’t go so well.  I just couldn’t get anything down.  I ended up shoving down half a bagel and a yogurt.  My stomach just was not happy at all.  After three visits to the bathroom, I was finally ready to get out the door.

The race was only about 40 minutes away and we got there with no problems.  I picked up my packet, racked my bike, and setup my transition area. I looked at my watch and still had almost an hour until race time.


As I was racking up my bike, I had another blog “creeper” (his word, not mine) come up and introduce himself to me.  He’s been racing for a few years and his goal is Ironman by 50.  Richard, If you are reading this, good luck, and let me know how your journey progresses!  I also ran into a friend from college and a couple other familiar faces.  My co-worker, David, was doing this race again for the second year in a row.


I was in the first swim wave of the day with all the other 39 & under men. It made for decent sized wave.  You had the option of a floating start or standing start if you were in the back.  I chose to move up towards the front and float before the start.  I was talking to a guy next to me at the start and he was saying that last year they didn’t do a good job announcing the actual swim start and everyone was confused.  Low and behold, we almost missed it this year. It was just a guy counting down from 5 and yelling “Go!” – no megaphone, air horn or anything.

For some reason, I could not get comfortable for the first quarter mile or so.  My breathing was labored and I felt like I wasn’t moving.  I didn’t feel panicked or anything and there really wasn’t anyone around me, so I don’t know what was up.  I eventually go into a bit of a groove as I rounded the buoys to head back in. 


My time was 25:17 (about 25-flat shore to shore).  While this is an improvement over last year, it is a slower pace than I managed at my Half IM.  I was thinking that I would have been closer to the 24 minute mark.  I am inclined to believe that my return leg was just poorly executed.  The problem was that the buoy line didn’t really line up with the swim exit.  Sometimes I would catch myself sighting off the buoys and other times I was sighting off the exit (which was further to the right).  So, I think I ended up zigzagging back and forth the whole way.



I felt pretty good in T1.  I struggled a bit getting my wetsuit off because my right foot got caught in the hole I ripped in it and I was afraid of doing more damage.  I took the time to wipe off my feet and throw on a pair of socks as well.  This isn’t really necessary in a short race, but I was treating these transitions like I plan on transitioning at IMWI and there is no way I am going sockless there.

2011-06-18 07.41.45

The Bike

As soon as I got on the bike, I started to have issues.  I have a lingering problem with my left ear clogging up when I am exercising hard.  Not sure if this happens to anyone else, but when I start breathing really hard on a long run or hard ride/swim, my ear plugs up.  It is sort of like water in the ear but it normally happens during activities where water isn’t involved.  It usually ends up lasting nearly the entire rest of the day before it goes away.  Add to that the fact that I had water in my right ear that I couldn’t shake out and I couldn’t hear a damn thing.

2011-06-18 07.42.49

I kept trying to free up the water in my right ear so that I would have at least one good ear, but nothing worked.  It took almost 20 miles before it started to clear up and it wasn’t until I was off the bike and could give my head a good shake that it was completely better (at least the right ear, the left ear was hopeless).

2011-06-18 08.48.57-1

Overall, the bike was uneventful. I was really hoping to hammer it on the bike and while I did maintain a solid average, there really wasn’t anyone around to pass.  In all, I ended up breaking even, passing 3 people and getting passed by 3 others.  Kind of boring if you ask me.

The course itself was awesome.  Probably 50% of it was fresh pavement while the rest was year or two old pavement so extremely smooth.  It was a bit hilly which made for a good workout.  At the GR Half IM, I stayed in my big chain ring the entire time except for one hill on the second half of the course.  Here, however, I was using every gear I had.  Small ring climbing, and then winding it out on the down hill with the full 50-12.

The worst part of the bike ride is that I have no data from it.  My Garmin was going crazy the entire time.  I don’t know if it couldn’t find a satellite fix or what, but it would show my speed at 24mph, then 12mph, then 0mph, then it would auto pause, resume, and start all over.  And to top that off, the race’s own timing system missed my bike and T2 splits for some reason.  I did wear my “old fashioned” Timex stopwatch which showed a split of 1:06:54 (22.3mph).  The Garmin data actually seems to have collected fairly well, it just didn’t show the correct data in real-time which was annoying.


2011-06-18 08.49.23

I was pissed in T2.  I almost dropped out.  I don’t even know why.  I got off the bike and my left knee really hurt.  Not really a pain hurt, but a tired sore.  I don’t know why, but this really bothered me.  I started to run and realized it was going to be a long run in my bike shoes so I stopped, popped them off and ran in my socks.

2011-06-18 08.50.07

How’s that for a pissed off look?  I didn’t even attempt to hurry through T2. I took my time putting on my shoes and visor before walking (yes, walking, I didn’t even feel like running) out of transition.  I grabbed a cup of water to dump on my head and took a few sips from another before I started to run.

2011-06-18 08.51.09


I actually started to feel a bit better as I started to run.  My knee started to feel better as it loosened up on the run.  I hit the first mile in 7:00 and was shocked.  It totally reversed my mood and I was optimistic all over again.  I hit mile 2 with a 6:51 pace and was feeling good still.  However, by mile 3, I was starting to have stomach issues.  It was just not happy with me at all.  The crappy thing was that there were no port-a-johns on the entire course (pun intended).  And, after the first 2 miles, we turned into the park (which is basically a giant campground/resort) so I couldn’t even use a tree unless it was in front of someone’s cottage.  The final 3 miles were spent running when I could and shuffling through the worst of the stomach pain.  At one point, I forced up a burp which helped a bit but then it made me feel like I was going to puke.  I almost thought about sticking a finger down my throat to make myself puke thinking maybe it would make me feel better, but decided against it.  Miles 5 and 6 came in at 8:54 and 8:36 respectively – better than I thought they were going to be, but still not what I know I am capable of.

On the final stretch, I couldn’t even muster up the strength to push it to the finish and just slowly jogged across the line.

2011-06-18 09.39.20 2011-06-18 09.39.25

When I looked up and saw my time, I was super surprised.  Despite the disappointing run, I was really happy with my race.  It wasn’t necessarily what I was hoping for (my secret goal was 2:20), but it is a PR and I am proud of myself for pushing through the hard parts on the run.

Post Race

After finishing, I found Jennie and David’s son Connor who was his one man cheerleader and photographer for the day.  David’s wave started 6 minutes after mine, but because of the shape of the bike course, I saw him a couple times and he was looking strong.  In no time he came cruising across the line beating his goal of 2:32 by 4 minutes with a 2:28.

2011-06-18 09.49.48

After that, it was time for some grub.  They had a post-race BBQ and my stomach had finally settled down so I dug in; pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw, baked beans, and potato chips.

2011-06-18 10.26.45

Final Thoughts

This was a very unique venue.  It is called Sandy Pines and it is a cross between a campground, resort, and cottage park.  While there are some campers, a large portion of the community is permanently installed units – usually campers or small mobile homes.  The community includes all sorts of amenities for the residents like a golf course, splash pad for the kids, a remote controlled car race track, arcade, ropes course, mini golf, etc.  The funniest thing about the place is that pretty much everyone gets around by golf carts.  Golf carts every where as witnessed by the following:

2011-06-18 07.47.18 2011-06-18 07.54.19

2011-06-18 08.52.21

The venue made for a very unique race.  Unfortunately, at the start of the race, they announced that this was the 10th and final year for the race.  No reason why, just that they were thankful for 10 years.  I really hope that another group picks up the race for future years.  If they do, I’ll definitely be back.

Official Results

Total Time: 2:23:55
Overall Place: 39/209
Age Group Place: 5/21
Swim Rank: 11
Swim Time: 25:17
T1 Time: 1:30
Bike Rank: 5 or 6?
Bike Time: 1:06:XX??
Bike Pace: 22.3mph
T2 Time: 1:45
Run Rank: 5
Run Time: 48:29
Run Pace: 7:49 min/mile

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2011/06/19/race-report-johans-tri-fest-olympic-triathlon


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  1. Jon

    Bummer about the stomach! Great swim and bike. Your biking speed has taken a HUGE leap this season. Too bad you won’t be able to seek revenge on this race next year. Strange that they are calling it done after 10 years. I betcha you could go a 2:15 next year!

    Rest up! I think you really deserve it.

  2. Mandy

    Great RR. I hate GI issues!!!

    Hey, you are training for a freaking Ironman, try not to be too disappointed with that run. You are going to be fatigued and the run is the hardest on us.

    Great job, you are so fast!

    PS. Do the rest. You will totally benefit.

  3. Matt Smith

    Nice work with the PR! Sorry that your stomach was so jacked up. That’s a bummer. I would have been pissed to not have the data on my bike, but it sounds like the Black Rock came through for you again. That’s fast! You look so pissed in the one picture, and I think I would have been too. Great race report, and enjoy the rest and recovery.

  4. BDD

    Congrats on the race, despite some of the issues you had. Sub 2:30 at an oly is impressive!! And only 4 minutes off your secret goal, think how you would have crushed it if you were feeling good. It happens, we all understand

    As for the Garmin, from experience, its isnt your Garmin, its your cadence sensor, its dying on you, I had the exact same problem and drove me nuts. Garmin tech support is no help, if it under warranty still, send it back for a new one

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      The weird thing about my Garmin is that the cadence was the one piece of real-time data that remained constant. That never fluctuated the entire ride. And to add to that, when I pulled the data off the Garmin and into SportTracks, it is nearly perfect. The route is dead on – there are just a couple of spots where it auto-paused for 1 second intervals. I have the GSC10 sensor on both my roadie and TT so plenty of ways to try diagnosing. I’ll let you know if I figure out my problem.

      Both sensors are less than a year old so hopefully still under warranty. I may have just bumped the sensor loading/unloading my bike. I need to add “check garmin sensors” to my transition setup checklist because last race I bumped it and had no cadence info logged.

  5. lindsay

    i’m just glad the orange shirt made pre-race attire.

    you weren’t far from a 2:20… i’m confident you would have hit it had your stomach not been acting up!

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      The orange shirt was just for you. haha

      I didn’t actually realize I wore it until I was loading the pictures into the post and I realized, oh crap, Lindsay is going to give me crap for this. 😛

  6. Chris @ Tri4Success

    Congrats on the PR! No porta-johns on the run? Massive failure.

    I had the same issue the other night with my Garmin Edge 500 on a trainer workout. Recently updated the firmware so was wondering if that was the culprit. Now BDD has me worried I may need a new one. I think I’ll check the battery on the sensor first though.

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      I kept holding out hope that there would be one at mile 3. Nope. Ok. There HAS to be one at mile 4. Nope. I was tempted to knock on a campe – haha.

      The weird thing about my Garmin is that the cadence was the one piece of real-time data that remained constant. That never fluctuated the entire ride. And to add to that, when I pulled the data off the Garmin and into SportTracks, it is nearly perfect. The route is dead on – there are just a couple of spots where it auto-paused for 1 second intervals. I have the GSC10 sensor on both my roadie and TT so plenty of ways to try diagnosing. I’ll let you know if I figure out my problem.

  7. Morgan

    Way to go on the PR even with all the tummy issues. Do you think it was the beer? I know I was amazed you were drinking it the night before a race but then again I am the BIGGEST scaredy-cat the night before a race and don’t have anything but water.

    Also, the “extension” comment was brilliant! LMAO!!! So looking forward to putting together a team for that next year! Great seeing you and Jennie and thanks for the tip on the art festival, we really enjoyed ourselves and hit up a book sale to boot.

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      It could have been the beer, but I usually have an iron stomach when it comes to racing. My favorite pre-race meal is pizza and beer and usually never gives me any problems. I think it was a combination of not hydrating enough and getting zapped by the sun.

      Glad that you got the “extension” joke. haha.

  8. Rene

    Nice PR even with all the issues you mentioned! Congrats!

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      Thanks! Welcome to my blog 🙂 Great job on your race as well! PRs always make for a good race.

  9. Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race

    Great job on a race that had more than one issue. You hung tough and now know that you can get through anything. Awesome.

  10. Mel Bird

    Great job on the race…………..I’ll see you in Mont Tremblant!

  11. Matt Oravec

    Hey I get it, triathlons can be emotional. Loved that Jennie got your faces haha, pissed off, happy, irritated.

    I have serious issues not racing a race… like SERIOUS issues.

    I think you did pretty well and you at least got your speed work in for the day so I wouldn’t be bummed at all about the race. As for the tummy issues, when I drink beers outside of my comfort zone… that is when I get tummy issues the next day. I know Bud Light will NEVER harm me the next day haha. Sam Adams, man, does he wreck me.

    Anyways, glad things are still going good and that the knee tweak was a phantom pain.

    Keep up the good work man!

  12. Derek

    Another PR
    you’re ON IT

    tough swim way to get thru it
    good job treating the tranny’s as IM – this is what I have been practicing as well

    amazing photos again
    she caught a pic of the ear issue!

    great bike split and after muddling thru that run you came away with a great race. your on fire keep your hard work in training going. you = on track


  13. Colleen

    Did the stomach have anything to do with the beers the night before??? 🙂

    Congrats on another great race! Holy smokes you’re fast. And yes, you look totally pissed in T2. I love the pictures!

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