I wrote this up last week, but due to travel and other issues, it sat in draft form waiting for me to post...
No – I didn’t throw any surprise races into the mix. I am still staying true to my break from tris this year. However, that doesn’t mean I can be involved in any of them. Last year, I officially became an official . Well this year, it is time to up the ante. Not only will I be working quite a number of events, but I am also movin on up by serving as the Head Ref for a handful of races as well.
My triathlony weekend began by fighting traffic to make it down to Lake Anna State Park for the Kinetic Half and Sprint races. Normally, this would be a simple shot down 95, taking no more than 1:15 or so. But making the trek on a Friday typically involves traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. Rather than taking the straight shot approach, I went the long way, which took about 2 hours in total, but I’m pretty sure I A) Took less time than if I had gone on 95 and B) Kept my sanity, because I encountered zero traffic. It was shortly after 9 pm, by the time I got down to the park.
Due to some unforeseen logistical issues, I could not manage to get the key to the cabin I was originally going to stay at, which was in the park. So I called up Lindsay , who was also officiating (she was Head Ref on Saturday, I on Sunday) and she was nice enough to offer me a space at the house she was staying at. It became even more fun when I got to sleep on the top bunk of a bunk bed…better than sleeping in my car!
Saturday morning came about rather early, waking up at 4:30 to be in transition by 5:30. It was dark, but warm outside, so it wasn’t that bad. The biggest issue with Saturday’s conditions, which for anyone who races on the east coast last weekend would know, was the winds. It actually wasn’t too bad in the morning for most people out on the swim, unlike what happened at some other races that weekend , but it got worse while most were out on the bike course.
It is at this point, that I must offer a word of advice. Just because you have a disc wheel, doesn’t mean you should use it at EVERY race! The cross winds out there were ridiculous. I was out there on a motorcycle monitoring the course and we were getting blown around! I saw so many folks out there fighting the crosswinds and getting blown all over the course. Most of them had rear disc wheels.
So with Saturday’s officiating in the books, I went for a nice hour and half run through the park, running most of the run course and a whole bunch of stuff out in the woods. It’s amazing how enjoyable it is to be on endless trails and have no idea where the trail is going to go, versus being able to see the next mile of road ahead when running on pavement. I may have to explore some of this trail running a bit more in the future ;)
Saturday, I was able to (finally) get the keys to the cabin, so I had a place to stay within the park (and with some sweet rocking chairs that looked out onto the lake!).
I went to bed, woke up, and had déjà vu all over again. Except this time, I was able to sleep in a bit more till 6:00 am so I could make it down to transition by 6:30. It was kinda nice to be able to roll out of bed and the race was only a short stroll down the hill. This would be a good idea to remember in case I ever decide to race this.
In my head, being Head Ref brought about a whole set of new responsibilities and ownership of the decisions made on race day. But in reality, my day went a lot like any other officiating job, but tack on a few more responsibilities. Plus, I got to wear the Head Ref jersey (think NFL zebra stripes), which was pretty cool and made me the most recognizable person out there.
The extra role included measuring the water in the morning (70 degrees), assigning jobs to the officiating crew for during transition in the morning, and out on the bike course, conversing with each official regarding their findings out on the course to verify any penalties that were observed, and writing up the Head Ref Report, which identifies all penalties for the race and is posted next to the results at the race. It may sound like a lot, but it really wasn’t that much extra work (or at least less than I felt it would be in my head).
I guess the biggest thing is the responsibility that comes with posting the penalties next to the results. Typically, once they get posted, a handful of people will come up and argue that “there was no way I was doing that”. Well, here is when the role of an official gets the test. When we write up penalties, we try to be as descriptive as possible.
For example: “#135 a male with age 45 on his calf, wearing a red top, with black bottoms, riding a blue and grey Cervelo, and a grey helmet was observed riding less than 1 foot behind another rider for 30 seconds and did not make a pass.”
Usually when you describe something like that, they still dispute it, but in reality, it was you dude. We aren’t out there to nail people. We are trying to ensure a fair race. And there has to be sufficient evidence of the penalty, such as the one stated above. The individual must be clearly identified in order to issue a penalty and so must the behavior. If it isn't, there is no penalty.
So with that, my triathlony weekend was over. I enjoyed being out there and WATCH the race. I’m still very much enjoying the break. I love the sport, but am not ready to come back….yet. On the agenda for this weekend...another triathlon