This race report is a few days past due, but I decided sleep was more important than being prompt. Last weekend I stayed up way too late writing a post and preparing all the photographs.

This past Sunday, we woke up at 4:00am to get on the road by 5:30. I had actually slept most of the night, unlike last week for the Ann Arbor Triathlon when I maybe got 4 hours. Getting to sleep before a triathlon can be difficult for me. I would liken it to when, as a kid, I had to go to sleep Christmas Eve knowing that I would be unwrapping a Sega Genesis the next morning.

I was really pumped for this event. The Maumee Bay Triathlon was the first olympic length tri (1500 meter swim, 40k bike, 10k run) in my schedule this year, and I was excited to see how much of an improvement I would make over similar races from last year. Before each race, Amy has me write out my expected finishing times for each event so she can watch for me. It gives me a great chance to set expectations for myself and visualize my performance. On paper, I was expecting an 11-minute improvement over my best olympic race last year.

Oregon, Ohio, where the triathlon took place, is about as flat a course as you will find. The elevation chart shows an elevation change of about 20 feet over the length of the entire bike course. With the opportunity for a fast time and a need to show improvement on the bike, I decided that I needed to focus my energy on the bike portion of the race.

Stephen McKenna putting on wetsuit at Maumee Bay Triathlon

We got to Maumee Bay State Park around 6:45am, which gave me plenty of time to prepare for my wave start at 8:19. I used the extra time to make sure I pulled my wetsuit up my arms and legs as far as it would go. In the past I've felt constricted in my wetsuit and wished I could just swim in a speedo. This time, with the added flexibility in my arms, I felt 100% comfortable swimming in my wetsuit for the entire 1500 meters.

The swim was in a man-made lake adjacent to Lake Erie. As my wave was about to leave, I realized that I was front and center. When the buzzer went off, I made sure that I got out front in the first 100 meters so I wouldn't make contact with anyone. After the initial effort, I was out front with two other swimmers, Stephen Fetyko and David Heithaus. Stephen took off and ended up winning my age group. David and I swam the first 300 meters together before I dropped back and started drafting off his slip stream. This was the first time I had ever gotten the opportunity to follow someone for an extended period of time without needing to pass them or getting dropped. It was great because I didn't have to sight as often and I didn't have to work as hard to maintain my pace. I was able to follow him until the second loop at 700 meters. As we were rounding a buoy for the next lap, several sprint distance athletes from an earlier wave crossed in between us. I ended up needing to stop while they passed by and off David went. I tried to catch up, but he was already far enough ahead that I wasn't able to close the gap. At the end of the swim I was 3rd in my wave and 7th overall.

Stephen McKenna at his swim start at Maumee Bay Triathlon

Within 20 minutes from the start I was in transition. Although I love being out front during the swim, I was ready to get some biking on. After navigating the corners out of the park, I settled in. I was able to manage averages between 22 and 23mph throughout most of the course. There were a few sections going towards Lake Erie where I was riding into the wind and averaged closer to 20mph. I ended up getting passed, though I was happy to see that it was happening later than usual. I think I lost the most time in the corners because I was trying to take them at a safe speed. As a consolation to being overtaken, I was able to pass several sprint distance athletes during the first lap and some slower olympic distance people on the second lap. I finished the bike with an average speed of 21.8mph which was good enough for 8th in my age group and 46th overall. A definite improvement, but in the future I want to bring that up to 23mph. Hill repeat drills, here I come.

Stephen McKenna riding his bike into T2 at Maumee Bay Triathlon

I had felt great during my swim and bike portions of the race, but once I started running I was feeling like the water I had drank on the bike was sloshing around in my stomach. After a decent first mile I started slowing down. At each aid station when I stopped to drink gatorade, my stomach would turn a bit, and I would have to slow down until I felt better. Miles two through five, I was doing everything I could to keep running. The heat was also starting to get to me. By the last mile I felt in control again. I slogged it out and sprinted to the finish to prevent someone from sniping me at the end. My pace was 7:28 miles, which was much faster than the 10 minute miles I felt like I was doing, but short of the sub 7's I was planning on. My run was good enough for a final placement of 5th in my age group and 22nd overall, with a time of 2:16:22. Three minutes faster than I had hoped for and about 14 minutes faster than my best olympic race from last year.

Stephen McKenna sprinting to the finish line at Maumee Bay Triathlon

This was my first experience with an HFP racing event. The tri was done very professionally and went smoothly. I really appreciated the trays of water leading into T1 to allow athletes to quickly wash sand off their feet. The post-race food was awesome and in ample supply. A few minor issues were late race results at the event and the lack of assigned spots in transition. The race on the whole was great though, and I would consider doing it again in the future.

More photos on Flickr, and race results


A great accomplishment, post and photo's. You are a lean-mean-tri-machine! Congrats! BTW how many were competing in your age category and overall?

Fourteen minutes is an eternity! That totally rocks. Nice job!

Sophia and I had a great time at your triathlon on Father's Day! It was wonderful that Spohia could play at the beach and that she made a couple little friends during the race. We love you!



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