Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of New York has been an annual location for my wifes’ family vacation. My wife came across the Peasantman Triathlon while searching for her first Olympic(or Intermediate in Peasantmans’ case) distance triathlon. It turned out to be held the same weekend we would be up there this year. I guess it was meant to be.
Peasantman is a grassroots race that has every triathlon distance from sprint to full iron distance. Each race is also a slight bit longer than the typical distances just to make them a little more unique. The race was born out of the organizers that were getting a little frustrated with the cost of the Ironman-branded races for those that wanted to do another race every season. This year would be the 6th year for this event.
Looking at the results from past years it looked like it was rather sparse in depth and the chances of a podium were pretty good. But, you never know who was going to show up this year. Perhaps the word was spreading and it would be more heavily attended. They didn’t send out any biblists ahead of time, so you really had no idea how many or who was going to be there beforehand. I was a little disappointed at the lack of information sent out in the weeks before the race.
I had originally signed up for the half distance event, but my wife laid down the law that I needed to be at the finish when she finished her race. So, I changed to the Intermediate distance race when I arrived at the packet pick-up on Saturday. They held a pre-race meeting too which was at 5:15 PM on Saturday before race day. We both thought was a really bad time to have it since that is typically the time I would want to be eating my dinner the night before a race and now we had to sit through that for an hour. We didn’t end up eating until 7-7: 30 PM that night which is far too late before a race.
The first half hour of the pre-race meeting was a lot of non-essential “kumbaya” about how they started the race, which would have been better to save for after the essential race info. Instead, we had to sit through all that waiting for the particulars. Fortunately, the sprint and intermediate race info came first and by the time the half and full info came, it was pretty much the same, just doing more of the same loops.
The one question I think that was on most peoples’ minds was the water temperature and whether it was a wetsuit swim or not. The temps leading up to the race were pretty high and I was not counting on it. Surprisingly, this was not even mentioned in the initial debriefing and only came up due to questions from the racers. Really?? Due to some last minute rain, the water temp had dropped to just below the 78-degree cutoff and it would be a wetsuit swim.
As a last minute addition to the meeting, the race organizer mentioned that the beach had been closed due to some blue-green algae blooms in the water. What??? While swimming back at the vacation house we had noticed what seemed like snow in the water but didn’t realize what it was. Now we know. They had just tested the water, but the results would not be back until 2 days after the race. Great! They said there are only certain strains of blue-green algae that are toxic and that rinsing off and not drinking it would keep you from getting whatever it does to you. Lovely!
We casually arrived at the race venue about an hour before our start time which was nice. Most races make you be there 2-3 hours before and then have to sit around waiting all morning. I can handle this. With the small number of people, getting set up in transition is a breeze. We racked our bikes together and set up our little transition area. There was room along the fencing to put our bags which kept them mostly out of the way.
I headed down to the water to take a nice warm-up swim while the full and half distance races started. Denise waited along the shore. I did a few out-and-back swims and took a pee along the way. I headed over to the starting chute as the Intermediate distance racers were lining up. I could not find Denise anywhere and be starting to get nervous she was not going to make the start. Turns out she had to do a last minute port-a-potty stop and came running down at the last minute. Just in time to line up in the water.
I said good luck to Denise and then waded out to the far left flank of the group to start the clockwise triangle swim. The water was super clear with the exception of the snowglobe granules. The plant life on the bottom occupied my mind for a while during the first half of the way out. It was very cloudy and overcast and I had a hard time sighting the chartreuse turn buoys was rather difficult. The water was super calm but the buoy color just didn’t stand out very well.
The swim course consisted of 3 concentric rectangles. The outermost rectangle was for the half and full (2-loops) distance swims. The Intermediate distance was next and just a little shorter in from the half and full turns. The sprint was just over half of the Olympic turn buoys.
I kept a steady pace the whole time and felt pretty smooth. I did veer off-course a couple times on the way back which probably hurt me a bit. There was no real traffic to deal with the whole time, so it was just like a training swim. I finished the official 1 mile swim in just under 32 minutes for a 1:49/100yd pace. Which not one of my most stellar swims. My Garmin measured my distance at about 1836 yards, which is just over a mile. I did veer a bit so this probably was enough to extend the distance a bit.
Swim Time: 0:31:58
I headed through Indian Pines Park towards the transition area. I stopped for the two little girls to hose off the blue-green algae before proceeding into the bike area. I stripped off the wetsuit and took some extra time to put socks on here. I didn’t wear socks in the Steelman race the previous week and paid dearly with some major blisters in my arches, so I was not about to make that mistake twice. Out the gate and mounted the new QRoo PRFive in just under 2 minutes.
T1 Time: 0:01:51
The bike course headed out of the Indian Pines park, made a sharp left onto the wide shoulders of Route 54A. The first section that makes its way to the town of Branchport is smooth and mostly flat for getting the legs engaged for the bike ride ahead. You then hit a nice long downhill section which brings you right into Branchport where you make a sharp right turn and head North onto the rolling hills and farmlands of the Finger Lakes.
The next 9-mile section on Route 29 is mostly rolling but gradually gains about 400′ of elevation. The climbs don’t see that bad due to the amazing scenery of forest and farmland. There was some a little bit of mist the morning I raced this and it made the views even more dramatic. I did end up hitting some traffic on this section, but it was Amish horse-and-buggies. I think I counted about 7 in total. One of the horses actually started veering towards me as I passed it and I had to swerve a bit into the other lane, so be careful.
Guyanoga road dead ends at the intersection of Route 384 around mile 13.5 of the course. You will make a sharp left onto a short steep section of 384 and then make a hard right onto Voak Road. This section is a real speed stealer and can really get you out of rhythm. Try to carry some speed up the hill and through the stop sign provided no traffic is coming. They had a state trooper directing traffic so you should be ok. Also, be prepared with an appropriate gear here. I saw a few folks with chains popped off here.
The next sharp right turn onto Havens Corner Road begins a nice steep downhill section before climbing again to a sharp left turn onto Lovejoy Road after about 2 miles. The next 4 miles on Lovejoy Road and Ferguson Corners Road is a gradual downhill section that drops about 250′ total. You can gain some decent speed here.
Next, you make a sharp right onto the relatively heavy traffic of Route 14A. The turn is a bit sketchy since you have to stay inside the cones outlining the wide shoulder of 14A. This is so you don’t swing out wide into traffic. Sounded like they may have had an incident or two here. This final section seemed a bit tough for me. The next 4 miles gains about 200′ before making a very long, fast descent back into Penn Yan. This year there was a good headwind and the cars whizzing by makes you feel that much slower. My legs were getting a little stiff at this point too.
Before you know it you are whizzing down the long descent back into Penn Yan. It is fast and long! I was on a new bike this year after having a pretty bad crash earlier in the season, so I was feeling a little gun-shy. When you get to the one traffic light at the bottom of the hill, you will make a sharp right, then a left and another right back onto 54A again. Then a short, flat segment on 54A before heading back into Indian Pines park for T2.
The bike course overall was challenging, but you can still hit some good speeds. I averaged around 19.4 MPH over the 29+ mile course which took 1:31. I had a normalized average power of 216 watts which was about 86% Intensity(0.86 IF). Pretty much where I want to be for an Olympic Distance bike.
Bike Time: 1:31:27 (~19 MPH)
My 2nd transition was pretty quick taking just over a minute. The only bad thing was I forgot to put my race bib number on. I didn’t realize this until I was down the road a bit.
T2 Time: 0:01:06
The first mile of the run was my fastest even though it had the most vert of all the mile splits. I was also trying to figure out where my run legs were and get the “bike” out of them, I was running about an 8:00/mi pace and this kind set the rhythm for the rest of the run. The next two miles on West Lake Road is really flat and provide nice views of the lake in between all the vacation homes on the shore. I settled into 8-8:15/mi pace for most of the next two miles before hitting the next uphill before going left on Central Ave at the end of mile 3. One on Central you begin descending down to the lowest point and then climbing out to the turnaround and start of mile 4.
During most of the run, I had a guy on my heels running in synch with me. He actually said I hope you don’t mind me running right behind you like this. It definitely kept me pushing myself and the constant cadence was right in step with mine. I ended up letting him go by me around mile 4 because I needed to take a gel in and it slowed me down just a bit. Funny thing was he looked like he could have been my brother. My in-laws actually thought he was me when he came down the finish chute. He ended up finishing about a minute ahead of me.
Mile 4 is a tough section of the course. This occurs right at the turnaround from Keuka College and then make your way out of that hole. Once back on West Lake Rd, it is nice and flat cruising until right before you come up to turn right on 54A again. As I was heading down 54A, I saw the pink top of my wife Denise coming towards me. One of her goals was to get out on the run before I finished. So she was probably now relieved to have accomplished that even. She was cutting it close I was on my last mile. Any we had a fly-by race kiss and went on our way.
The final mile of the race is all downward grade after making the right turn onto 54A. The final right turn into Indian Pines runs you back through the little homes that line the road. There was still some bike and other traffic coming out the other way. Pretty soon the large finisher arch comes into view. There were a few spectators lining the finish chute, but nowhere close to an WTC event. Pretty low key. They do actually announce your name.
Run Time: 0:54:16
Finish Time: 3:00:38 (Results Here…)
The finish was pretty anti-climatic. You had to walk over to the race “Queen” to be knighted and then a volunteer fished your finish medal out of a bag. While I was waiting for Denise to finish, I was chatting with my in-laws and checking the latest scoring printout.
Eventually, Denise came through for her finish. I think she was a bit underwhelmed by the finish line fanfare or lack of, but she really enjoyed the race. I could tell she may want to something a little more challenging in the future. Perhaps a half-iron of some sort?
Denise ended up finishing 3rd in her age group with a time of 3:54:18. Not bad for someone who is just enjoying being out there and not pushing herself too hard. I ended up finishing 2nd again in my age group. The guy in first was about 9-10 minutes ahead of me, so I wasn’t really close to finishing on top. The biggest disappointment with this race was there was no medal, trophy, etc for placing on podium. Just a piece of paper saying you finished in whatever place. Kind of lame really.
The finishers medals were pretty lame as well and I would they should have skipped the “participation” medal and just given to the podium folks. That’s not just because I was on the podium either. I have more finishers medals than I know what to do with. If you are going to give something out like that make it worthwhile.
Just some overall impressions on the race. I think they do a pretty good job on the race. There is a few things they can improve on like changing the time of the pre-race meeting and getting to the point of what people want to know. Post-race food was kind of lame. They had the local fire co. cooking sausage and hamburgers which you had to pay extra for. I don’t think most of the people doing this race we really into heavy junk food like that. Especially if you have pay for it too. Maybe just get some pizzas or something would be better. The firemen were not getting much business.
There was also not many kayakers or safety folks on the swim. They made it sound like there would be a ton, but it was rather sparse. Comparing this race to Steelman, which I did the week prior, it was a lot less organized. Regardless, I would consider trying it again. I love swimming in Keuka Lake and the course is pretty nice.