Summer Race Recap, Plus My First Podium

A couple quick post-race notes on two local summer races, the Hockomock YMCA sprint triathlon, which included my first ever podium finish (which Ally photobombed), plus the surprisingly robust and rowdy Brewster Brew Run on Cape Cod.

Hockomock Area YMCA Sprint Triathlon
As I move up and challenge myself with longer endurance races, I likely won’t do many more sprint tri’s in the near future, but this year, I was interested doing the Hock Tri again both to support my local branch, but also to gauge my improvement after a solid year of tri training. The Hock event was my first ever tri last year and basically served as a test balloon to see if I’d like the sport and continue to invest time and money into it. (An emphatic yes on both accounts!) I was keen to see what my splits would look like a year later.

This is a very beginner-friendly event and all the good things I enjoyed about it last year still definitely apply. I was particularly impressed with the post-race food (though no veg-friendly wraps (boo!)), raffles and massages. I won’t go into too much detail, you can read my thoughts from last year here.

2013: Overall 24th in 1:02:21 / 4/24 in AG
Swim   91   10:02    
Bike    41   26:17
Run     11   22:44
T1 2:07
T2 1:11

2014: Overall 16th in 57:41 / 3/23 in AG
Swim      65   7:53
Bike       58   27:16
Run        9    20:52
T1 :52
T2 :50

Big improvements in the swim. Shaving over 2 minutes off a 440 meter swim was not too shabby and a tangible result of regular trips to the pool and pond. And while the swim was wetsuit legal, most folks did not use one.

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Who knows what I was doing in T1 last year, but a year of experience was worth over a minute this year.

I’m not sure what happened with the bike to be honest. It continues to be my weak spot and will be the main focus of my winter training. Not sure if knowing the course actually hurt me this year or if I’m still tuning the best way to tune my effort level or if I’m just not that strong on the bike. Probably a combination of the three. Still rather surprised I was that much slower, but more motivation to hit the bike harder.

Not much to say about T2, the few seconds savings is probably down to knowing what I need and don’t need on a short run.

More solid improvement on the run and an indicator that I probably should have spent more matches on the bike, but I love the feeling of being fresh and fast on the run and finishing strong, so no real complaints.

Overall, almost five minutes faster, under an hour, and I managed to snag the third podium position in my age group (the AG finish in 2013 is a bit misleading as a bunch of the lead guys went the wrong way on the run). Local race or not, my first ever podium.


The Woodshed and the starting line

Brewster Brew Run
The local Cape Code institution known as the Brew Run had somehow managed to avoid my notice in the first three years we were going down there regularly. I learned about it last year when I ran into a finisher walking back from the race. A local race I could walk to, plus gave away a lot of beer? Was there any question I was running it this year?

The Brew Run is a 5.2 (not sure why) mile road race starting at The Woodshed near the General Store on 6A and weaving through the scenic streets of Brewster, Massachusetts. Not only does the race tap many kegs at the end, but it also has a late afternoon start time. On some years, starting a summer race at 4 p.m. would be diabolical, but this year wasn’t too bad. It was warm, about 77 degrees and sunny.

Given that I hadn’t really heard of it and run by a local bar, I was expecting a small, mostly local event, even in it’s 36th year. I was certainly not expecting the main drag to be packed solid with over 1600 runners.

Despite the crush of participants and spectators swarming the starting area, after a short wait, we both had our bibs. After a quick jog and some stretching we made our way back to the main road and, with placards to guide us, self-seeded ourselves into the race corral. I’ll give them credit, despite the appearance of barely controlled chaos, the race director started right on time. And it was quickly clear that he attracted some very fast folks to run.

This race wasn’t high on my priorities list. It was more a race of opportunity, being right down the road and, again, involving beer. The plan was to treat it like a fast training day, staying near or just under 10k pace, and not get hurt.

With the swell of runners and the limited pavement, the start was tight and it took a mile or so to string things out and get some elbow room. I was impressed with the crowds throughout. After leaving the main road, most of the race was on smaller side streets, but it was rare to go more than a couple hundred yards without hitting a cluster of people out cheering or offering to spray racers with a hose.

After a gentle downslope for the first 1.5-2 miles, the course was mostly thereafter a gradual, grinding climb before a short drop for the last sprint to the finish. While I had hoped to build into the race and negative split the second half, the sun and that climb really worked on my legs and it was all I could do to just maintain my speed.

Even splits

I finished 61st in 34:40 for a 6:39/mile pace and 20th in the 30-39 group. Some speedy and/or thirsty guys in their thirties came out! Based on the James Joyce 10k in April where I averaged 6:37/mile, this was a tick slow, but nothing to complain about given the sun and temperature.

The post race spread was kegs, kegs and more kegs. Sort of hard to argue with that for a race called the Brew Run. They did have cases of bottled water and boxes of apples and bananas, but all the volunteers were working the taps. We gathered some provisions and found a shady spot to enjoy the beer. I might have skewed too much of the recovery toward beer and not enough bananas and water as about 2 hours later I felt terrible.

But overall, if the weather looks promising this is a great race to try if you find yourself on the Cape in early August.


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