Saturday, July 20, 2013

My First Triathlon

I completed my triathlon! As expected, I learned some lessons along the way, but it went pretty well over all:

   Woke up.  Yes, it's insanely early.  I was amped up enough to not have much trouble with it though.  I had avoided caffeine for most of the week and then started my day with a coke to help with waking up/energy.  Ate a bagel with honey and peanut butter (I usually have toast, but bagels are much higher calorie).  Played around on facebook to kill some time (I've learned I easily bonk when exercising in the morning...the longer I'm awake, the better).  French braided my hair.  Double checked my packing list and that everything was in my bag.  After much debate, decided to put my bike sticker at the back of my top tube.  Would have preferred it on the seat post, but it didn't fit there.  Considered putting it towards the front of the top tube, but realized it would be in my way when I tried to take out my water bottle.

   Left the house.  Drove through empty streets in the dark and realized our local radio stations don't feel it's necessary to play any decent music this early in the morning.

   Got marked by race volunteers...race number on each arm and age group on my leg.  Turns out I no longer know how old I am, I have to think about it.  Picked up my timing chip and got cleared to enter transition.

   Found the rack I was assigned to for transition.  Specific spots were not assigned, they were first come, first served.  I snagged the spot at the very end of the rack so it would be easy to find without my glasses on.  I chose the end closest to the bike exit so that I minimized the distance I had to walk with bike shoes on.   Racked my bike and laid out my gear.  I had purchased a hot pink hand towel (again, for visibility) for this.  I put my running shoes and a water bottle full of frozen gatorade at the back.  In front of that, my bike shoes with socks on top.  Chapstick between shoes so I didn't forget it.  On top of everything, my shirt with race number already pinned on (I didn't have, nor really want, a race belt).   I left empty space at the front of the towel to wipe off my feet.  I chatted with a few other racers while we set up, most of us at that end of transition were first timers.  After everything was laid out, I listened to some music on my ipod to be sure I stayed in "excited" territory and away from "panic attack, anxious" territory while I walked from the swim exit to my bike to the bike exit.  Then I took off my glasses and did it again "blind".  Finally, I sat down for one last check of my gear and to eat a larabar.

   Left my glasses at transition and walked inside to the pool deck with my prescription goggles, swim cap and nose clip.  I knew there were two bathrooms, but had a heck of a time finding them at first.  After a potty stop, I dipped a toe in the (very cold) water.  Decided I should swim a warm up lap since I had never done laps in a 50m pool before.  I knew the pool was deep, but it was just different from the pool I practiced in and for some unexplained reason, it still took me by surprise and I got a ton of water up my nose when I jumped in.  Made me glad I decided to do a swim warm up, I was much better prepared for pool entry when the race started.  After my warm-up lap, I sat in the stands to await the pre-race meeting.

  Pre-race meeting, national anthem, lots of sitting around either unable to see anything or with my goggles on.  Chatted with a guy sitting next to me who had done the same race last year and answered all my questions about how the swim was going to go.  Noticed an old acquaintance sitting near me and it turned out we were assigned consecutive start numbers, so we talked about training and goals, made last minute trips to the bathroom and got in line when it was nearing our turn to start.

  It was just about my turn to start.  I doubled checked that my timing chip was securely attached to my left ankle, put on my goggles and then my swim cap and last, my nose clip.  I noted with relief that the swimmers in this pace group (about 11minute/400m) were taking some breaks at the end walls and changing strokes as needed to rest.

  I was at the front of the line and the official was telling me to step over the start line and then confirming my timing chip was working and I could start.
 I'm in the blue/black top and shorts and purple swim cap at the end of the lane, cleared to start and getting in the water

The first 50m of the swim went great, but as expected, I lost the nose clip by the end of the lap.  Became very thankful I'd done so much non-nose clip practice, but still would have preferred to have it.  Second 50m also went well.  The remaining 300m was a bit of a slog.  Mostly free style, a little bit of breast stroke when no one was near me, and some back floating (kicking legs, but no arms).
I'm the second person in the middle lane.  Taking a little breast stroke break to avoid passing the person in front of me (we were nearing the wall)
Later on, a back float break for a short while
Back to swimming.  Only about 125m to go!
I kept up pretty well and only got passed once or twice while swimming.  I took a few short breaks at the walls and let some more people pass there when we got bunched up.  My official time ended up being 14:22, which is roughly the pace of a turtle.  I can't remember how much of that time was out of the water (walking up to the start and out to the exit), but no matter how you slice it, this was slower than I was hoping for.  I also need to be better about swimming continuously without a break before I can attempt open water swimming (and longer triathlons).

  I was out of the pool and jogging towards transition.  My walk through earlier in the morning definitely helped here.  Prescription goggles are awesome to have, but they are an approximation, not crystal clear vision.

Transition was pretty quick...threw on my shirt, put on socks and shoes and stuffed my chapstick in the side pocket of my shorts before heading to the exit.
Swim to bike transition, I'm sitting down in the green shirt
Some people right behind me were trying to ride out of transition and got stopped by a race official.  It was very clear in USAT rules, the pre-race packet and at the pre-race meeting that that's not allowed, pay attention to the rules!
Bike exit of transition
 And away we go!
  The bike is definitely my favorite leg.  I did better here than I expected and this was where I made up some ground and passed a few people.  Aerobars are definitely at the top of my tri gear wishlist though.  I didn't have any and had already spent quite enough money on other things were more necessary, so I did this race without them thinking it wouldn't be a big deal.  About two miles in, I was really wishing I had some.  Along those same lines, I really need to spend some time practicing fast flat repair.   Thankfully I didn't have any problems this time, but it's bound to happen eventually.
All smiles on the bike
  Frantically yelling at Sedona to stay on the side of the road and not run out to me

I'm glad I had practiced getting out of my shoes at the end of all my practice rides.  You have to dismount before you enter transition and I just knew if I got off my bike and tried to walk to the rack with my shoes on, I was gonna face plant (my bike shoes are very slippery on the bottom).  Even if it didn't save me any time, or cost me a little time, I wanted those shoes off.  I had a little trouble with the velcro on one (it kept re-sticking when I was trying to take my foot out), but I managed......just in time to see the guy in front of me try to get off his bike with his shoes on and tumble to the pavement.  Thankfully he was okay, and even his pride seemed intact as he joked about how graceful he was.  I'll definitely stick to taking my shoes off before I dismount!
Walk in from bike

My goal here was 50 minutes even though I had no real reason to assume I could do that. I had never reached the goal in training despite trying several times. Thanks to a flatter route and having people to race, I finished in 46:45.

 Bike to run transition

 Sedona was screaming, "run momma run!!"  Pretty sure she could be heard on the WHOLE course

  The run.  I don't much like running and it's soooo hard for me to stay motivated without music.  I walked from transition for the first couple of minutes until my heart rate was down (learned that lesson the hard way during training).
Nope, not running, not even for a picture.  Heart rate has to come down first.

The rest of the time went like a typical run for me...slow and sort of steady with plenty of walking breaks.  I had planned on 45 minutes for this leg since I knew it'd be hot and I'd be worn out from the bike.  I finished in 42:06, so I'm happy with that.

The Finish!
This race series provides all pictures for free.  Pretty cool, huh?

  I just wanted to be not last.  A few weeks before the race, I added on that I also did not want to be last in my age group.  I accomplished both of those goals (I wasn't even second to last!) and I loved almost every minute of it.  The training and the race itself were much more fun for me than just running.  I am already signed up for a full marathon at the end of the year, so I'll be doing that, but I think I'm going to focus on triathlon beyond that.   I'm thinking a long term goal of an ironman 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run).  Maybe before I'm 35? 

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