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The Missouri Triathlon Meetup Group Message Board › Fresh Ideas Quartermax Tri at Innsbrook

Fresh Ideas Quartermax Tri at Innsbrook

A former member
Post #: 4
Has anybody done the Fresh Ideas Quartermax Tri at Innsbrook?

http://www.ultramaxtr...­

I've done a few sprints and am thinking of bumping myself up to a "mid-distance", and thought I'd poll the group to get opinions on this race.

Also, as somebody who doesn't feel like buying a wetsuit until I know I'd make regular use of it, would this be a tri for which I could do without a wetsuit? The website says "The water temperature in June should be very close to the USAT threshold temperature of 78 degrees.", so I'm thinking I should be warm enough without. (Granted, though slightly less buoyant and thus slower.)

Thanks for the advice,

Bob
Brent
user 8070025
Saint Louis, MO
Post #: 1
Bob,

I participated in the race last year. I think it is a good race overall but know going in that there are some significant hills on the bike and run course. In other words, it is one of the harder mid distance races in the St. Louis area. It is not an easy course by any stretch of the imagination. However, with proper training and pacing on race day you should be fine. I would make sure to drive the bike course prior to race day.

A couple of things to keep in mind on the swim aspect of your query (I am assuming that you don't have a significant swimming background although you didn't say so specifically); Innsbrook allows a practice swim usually a day or two before the race for the competitors and usually one or more coaches will be on hand (Sally Drake the organizer of this group hosted the one last year) to give some tips. I highly recommend attending that event if at all possible and practice swimming in open water as it is much different than swimming in a pool whenever you get a chance. Also, on race day Ultramax has a "last wave" option for people who haven't done an open water swim before, or those who are just more comfortable waiting for all the fast swimmers to start ahead of them. It won't affect your overall time in the race to participate in the last wave since timing chips are utilized, and I suggest you consider taking advantage of that option. I am a relatively slow swimmer and I much prefer the last wave option rather than have faster swimmers trying to swim over/around me that is typically of beginning in your age group.

You can swim without a wetsuit at Innsbrook although your finishing time will likely suffer as a result. The water temperature is obviously impossible to predict but historically I think it has almost always been in the low to mid 70's on race day. However, normally the only people without wetsuits are the really fast swimmers and maybe the odd duck here or there. Again, unless you are a very fast swimmer the benefits of the suit make it probably the most worthwhile triathlon related investment possible. I would look into either buying one, renting one, or borrowing one if I were in your shoes. If those aren't options, just be aware that you will likely see 95% or more of the racers with wetsuits, though you can certainly race without one should you choose to do so.

I hope that helps.

Brent

A former member
Post #: 5
Thanks, Brent. Helpful advice.

The swim is definitely my slowest event of the three, so I'll take advantage of the "last wave", should it exist this year at Innsbrook. This would be my first open water swim, so I'll keep my eye open for the practice swim.

Any recommendations on good places to rent a tri wetsuit? (Or buy, for that matter?)

Bob
A former member
Post #: 13
Hey, Bob.

I know Brent, and he's always full of wise, helpful ideas. He's a good voice to listen to.

I did Innsbruck 2 years ago, and loved it. There's something about hills... Don't get the wrong idea - I'm a notorious back of the packer. But I just love the challenge. And while I'm thinking of it, the race day support is really good for this race. The organizers know what they're doing.

The swim:
I wore a full body wetsuit when I raced, and I swear I felt like I was in a sauna. I have a short john (sleeveless, shorter legs) and if I race this year as I'd like to, I'll either wear the that, or go without a wetsuit altogether. Quack quack! I felt like by the time I exited the water, I was already well on my way to total dehydration. So, you may want to remember just how warm you'll get in a wetsuit, especially a full one, in a warm lake in summer, only to get hotter on the bike and run. And you will get hot on the bike and run.

The bike:
Hilly to start, pretty smooth in the middle, and hilly to end. When I raced it, on the last hill before T2, I passed a guy walking his bike up. I'd met him before the race, bragging about his showing in Ironman KS 70.3. I asked if he was okay. He said, yeah, he was saving his legs for the run. (!!!) If memory serves me correctly, I passed 5 or 6 people walking their bikes up hills. The moral of the story? If you get the chance, work on your hill climbing. You'll be so very glad you did.

The run:
As if it's not enough to be hot and hilly, the run also is on gravel roads for a large portion of it. This was my biggest surprise on race day. If you get the chance, you may want to train on gravel hill trails. Because you're definitely going to grumble to yourself if you don't.

Okay, I know this doesn't sound very hopeful, but I really do enjoy this course. Finishing it is an accomplishment. You've really done something once you cross that finish line. It takes some specialized training to be ready for it. Hot weather training, hydration, hills, gravel, jeez! But it's worth every bit of it. And again, it's hard to find a race with better support. They knew what I needed before I did. I'm glad I did it, and can't wait till I do this race again. And that's from a BOP.

Hope this helps.
Joe.
Brent
user 8070025
Saint Louis, MO
Post #: 2
Bob,

Joe is 100% correct in his advice and has been a triathlete far longer than I have, so pay attention to what he says. I would add that how you react to being in a wetsuit will depend on your experience wearing them. Some people love them, most are ok wearing them and some feel very constricted in them. When I first put mine on it took about 1/2 and hour to get it on and in addition it felt like a straight jacket. I couldn't imagine being able to get it off in less than 5-10 minutes! Now, I can probably do it in less than 20 seconds. So if you get one practice getting it off too! It is much harder to put on and get off without the lubricating effects of water by the way--something I didn't know starting out.

In retrospect, with my experience racing this past year I would have probably opted to wear a sleeveless wetsuit at Innsbrook (good call Joe!). I can't remember if it was my lack of experience or something else, but I wore a full sleeve wetsuit last year at Innsbrook despite owning both full and half sleeve versions. I vividly recall sweating in it waiting for the last wave option but once the race began I was glad I had it on for buoyancy and the fact that it was warm temperature wise in the water was the furthest thing from my mind. I don't know what Joe thinks, but my 2 cents would be that if you are looking at getting just one wetsuit, go for a full sleeve one. I think Innsbrook was the only race last year where I would have preferred the half sleeve to a full sleeve. Most of the time you are also using the wetsuit to insulate you somewhat from frigid temperatures (high 50's or low 60's) in addition to keeping you afloat and a full sleeve does that much better than a half sleeve. I tend to think of the half sleeve as I do deep section aero race wheels--they are nice to have if someone would be giving them away but I would never pay full price for them and you can get by as a triathlete easily without them.

Once the race began the heat was something I was counting on to dry me off on the bike leg! The wetsuit was what I trained in and what I felt comfortable racing in that made the most sense for me at the time. So, I would say that if you train without a wetsuit in open water don't try to put one on at race time and expect to perform the same as you would in training. Use what you have trained with in terms of equipment. That being said, you don't have to wear the wetsuit during pool swims, but by the same token, try it out at least once or twice before the race so you know how it feels to swim with.

For me the wetsuit functioned more like a safety net my first year since I feared I would get far from shore, get tired and drown. I know, not very likely given all the race support but it was something that worried me nonetheless since I don't have any kind of swimming background and am literally one of the slowest swimmers in most races. I have been known to take advantage of the option to grab onto nearby support crew boats to catch my breath (which is allowed by the way as long as aren't moved forward in the field by doing so) etc. The wetsuit will keep you floating and your head above water without you doing much of anything which is great for newbie swimmers to have as a back up if necessary.

I have talked with the race director for Innsbrook and he basically said that he will always have a last wave option at all of his triathlons since he was a slow swimmer starting out in the sport as a competitor and recognizes that not everyone is comfortable in the AG ranks so you can expect it will return in 2010 and beyond.

Locally I know Little Shark rents wetsuits and I believe applies a portion of any rental fee toward the ultimate purchase of one of their suits. Last year they sponsored several open water practice swims at New Town in St. Charles where you could rent a suit and test it out in the water as well (or just use your own). I don't know if they will repeat that this year but be on the lookout for news on that front as the summer approaches. I think Maplewood Multisport/bike shop also does wetsuit rentals in a similar fashion to Little Shark but am not 100% sure on that. I don't recall which brands the stores carry. I bought mine online directly from xterra which is a popular brand when a friend sent me an email about one of their twice yearly sales. Depending on whether you are comfortable buying a suit without trying it on first, the net is a good resource for finding a better deal and more info about your options.

Brent
A former member
Post #: 6
Brent and Joe - Thanks. All quite helpful.
A former member
Post #: 14
I talked with Kevin from Big Shark this morning, and he said they were going to be doing the open water swims again, down at New Town. So, you may want to check Big Shark's website from time to time this winter, to see when the dates are. This is the single best opportunity to figure out wetsuits that the St Louis area has, in my opinion. One of the really cool things about this was that Big Shark supplied wetsuits onsite, so you could try different ones right there, in the water, vs/ in a changing room.

I personally have 2 wetsuits - the full and the shorty. Considering I usually race in warmer weather, and I'm always hot anyway, I've come to really appreciate my shorty. However, if I were only going to own one, I would opt for the full. It's much better cold water protection than my shorty, which is mostly good for bouyancy.

Good luck, Bob, and hopefully I'll see you down at New Town Lake.

Joe.
Brent
user 8070025
Saint Louis, MO
Post #: 3
Bob,

The full sleeve wetsuit I normally use is an Xterra and they recently announced a sale on some of their suits with the Vortex 3 full sleeve half off the regular price or 400 bucks or $199.00 until 1/26/10. You could also pick up a half sleeve for $99.00. Here is a link to the sale: http://ow.ly/YYpl...­

Brent
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