Recap: 2016 Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon

My first triathlon of the 2016 season was the Appalachian Power Smith Mountain Lake Sprint Triathlon. This was a wet-suit legal open water swim triathlon with rolling hills for the bike course and run course. The weather was absolutely gorgeous! It was a great day to race. I was very pleased with my overall performance and I also discovered some areas of improvement as I prepare for Raleigh 70.3 a month from now.

Quick Stats

Overall Time: 1hr 32min 32sec

  • 750m Swim Pace**:  2:00/100yd
  • Transition 1: 2:49
  • 12.2 Mile Bike Pace: 17.4 mph
  • Transition 2: 1:12
  • 3.1 Mile Run Pace: 7:48

**Note: Unfortunately, I swam 929m due to poor sighting. That’s an extra 5 minutes of swimming!


  • Overall Place: 92 out of 211
  • Age Group (35-39) Place: 15 out of 18
  • Overall Male Place: 76 out of 145

The Race Goals that I Accomplished

  • Finish race under 1hr 35min (although I was really hoping for a sub 1hr 30min finish). I would have likely accomplished a sub 1hr 30min finish if I sighted better during my swim.
  • Swim freestyle the entire lake swim. Ok, this seems like a silly goal. But this race was only my 2nd open water swim (OWS) triathlon. My first OWS triathlon was last Fall, and I resorted to using my trusty breaststroke after someone grabbed my foot and scared the crap out of me. However, for this race, I had no fear of the water or issues with swimming freestyle. My 5 months of swimming during the off-season helped tremendously. My new issue is with “sighting” where the buoys are and swimming straight towards them!
  • Get at least 16-17 mph on the bike leg. I’ve only had my triathlon bike for a little over a month, but I was able to meet my speed goal. There is no way I could have performed as well on my cyclocross bike, which I used in the triathlon events I participated in last year.
  • Avoid getting cramps. Although, I did not follow my nutrition plan as intended, I had no issues with cramps. The plan was to:
    • take one gel 15 minutes before the swim
    • take one gel during T1
    • drink one bottle of Gatorade Endurance on the bike (I didn’t finish my bottle)
    • take one gel on the bike
    • take one gel on the run (I didn’t take a gel)

Lessons Learned

Things that I did right:

  • Pack all of my race gear in advance
  • Get my bicycle serviced in advance (shout out to Just the Right Gear for going above and beyond in emergency servicing my bike the day before my race)!
  • Review the course maps, instructions, and athlete’s guide in advance
  • Go to bed early and getting up early (with plenty of rest)
  • Arrive at the race two hours early gave me plenty of time to check-in, setup my transition area, and get mentally prepared for the race.

Areas of Improvement:

  • Sighting: I seriously need to practice sighting during my swim training. I ended up swimming an extra 229 meters (5+ minutes) during my swim leg. Take a look at how off my swim was below:
  • Race registration: I waited until two weeks before the race to register, which means that I paid the highest registration price. I will most likely do this race again next year, which means, that I should register as early as possible to get the lowest price that I can!


Aside from my swim sighting mishap, I am very proud of my performance! I swam at my fastest swim pace which, at the moment, is 2:00/100yd. I biked at my fastest race pace at 17.4 mph, and I ran much faster than intended at a 7:48/mile pace. This race was a great tune-up for my Raleigh Half Ironman coming up on June 5, 2016. I look forward to participating in the Smith Mountain Lake Sprint Triathlon next year!