My first time penalty

My second triathlon of the season - the Stamford KIC IT Triathlon - was last weekend.  Well organized, well supported, good competition, and great result.   But......

At mile 6 or so, I realize that there's a motorcycle riding next to me with a USAT official writing on his clipboard.  I did have a water bottle eject from my saddle cage on a bumpy downhill section about two minutes previous and I thought for a moment that I was going to be penalized for dropping equipment.

Alas, after the race I found out that I penalized for overtaking - a position foul - under USAT rule 5.10(g).

5.10 g. Being Overtaken. When the leading edge of the front wheel of one cyclist passes beyond the front wheel of another cyclist, the second cyclist has been "overtaken" within the meaning of these Rules. A cyclist who has been overtaken bears primary responsibility for avoiding a position foul and must immediately move to the rear and out of the drafting zone of the passing cyclist. The overtaken cyclist shall first move completely out of the drafting zone of the other cyclist before attempting to re-pass the other cyclist. 

h. Exceptions. A participant may enter the drafting zone without penalty only under the following conditions:
(1) When entering the drafting zone from the rear, closing the gap, and overtaking all within no more than 15 seconds.
(2) When cyclist reduces speed for safety reasons, for course blockage, for an aid station, for an emergency, when entering or exiting a transition area, or when making a turn of 90 degrees or more; or 
(3) When USA Triathlon or the Head Referee expressly excludes a section of the bicycle course from the position foul rules because of overly narrow lanes, construction, detours, or a similar reason.

** You can download the full PDF of the USAT rules here: USAT Rules

Now, I won't bore you with the reasons why I think I shouldn't have been penalized.  In the end, what I think doesn't matter on this one.  What is significant is that this is the first penalty I've received while racing triathlons.  Ever.  What's also significant is that this penalty took me off the 40-44AG podium.

Here lies the crux of my situation.  Two years ago I was a middle of the pack racer, content with placing in the top 10 of my age group.  Last year that started to change after an AG podium finish in an early season race.  Now, I'm training harder - and becoming more Type-A and OCD I suppose - and I'm disappointed when I don't place well (either overall or within my age group).  The point is, I now need to really pay attention to the USAT rules more than I used to.

What I mean, and I'm making an assumption here, is that two years ago I wasn't a big concern for the officials.  Now it seems that I'm racing in the area where the USAT officials are paying more attention, and have more concern for, to ensure that rules are abided by. 

My lovely wife who's also a triathlete (JL Goes Vegan) thought it was fantastic that I was penalized.  To her point, I'll be hyper-aware of this rule moving forward, and at upcoming races I'll do everything possible to ensure that I don't receive the same penalty.  She's right, of course.  My next race is the Park City Mossman triathlon and I'll need to be uber-cautious on the bike (5 loops of an 8K, flat, course).

I very well may take a little crap from some of my training buddies over at the Westchester Triathlon Club with whom I do a lot of my training.  And I might get a little talking to from my good friend Rich who is really one of the primary reasons that I've improved as much as I have over the past two years.  But that's okay - there's a first for everything, no matter how painful and ego damaging it may be.