Sunday, September 13, 2009

My First Triathlon: Race Report

I will start off by saying that I FINISHED! Whoop! :) That was my first goal. My second goal was not to hang on to a kayak during the swim (also accomplished) and my third was not to take any walk breaks during the run (check!). It was tough not having Mark there for support (ironically he is currently in Australia at the ITU Triathlon World Championships as an Age Grouper). Some of his tri friends were spectating though and were a great cheer squad for me! I finished 63/113 overall and 7/17 in my age group. I think with a lot of work on the swim this winter I could be a contender in my age group next season.

SWIM (23:06):

Wow, all I can do is laugh! hahaha I was SO nervous this morning that I thought I might get sick. All of my training went out the window when I arrived at the lake. There were 120 participants in the sprint triathlon and they all looked like SWIMMERS to me! Unlike them, I did not have a wetsuit and would instead be sporting my swimsuit with some tri shorts.

My friend Lisa assured me she would hold my hand out there and I likewise assured her that I would stick by her side. Having another novice to race with made the world of difference out on that lake. The men started 5 minutes before us, and the next thing I knew they were counting down the seconds to our start. That first buoy looked so far away. The buoy that Lisa and I would swim to in training (which we too great pride in accomplishing!) was only about half as far out as the first triathlon buoy. We knew it would be tough but the horn blew and we were off. I started near the back, to the side to give myself room. It didn't matter, nothing could have calmed me from the anxiety that would ensue. It is like I completely forgot how to swim. The water was freezing and I couldn't get any good, deep breaths so I did maybe 5-10 strokes freestyle and started side stroking. Hahaha Lisa stopped and we agreed to do 10 breaths of freestyle, then break. I did less than that and ended up side stroking my way to that first buoy. I couldn't feel my feet because of a) the cold or b) all of my stopping and not keeping my body horizontal.

We chatted with other ladies around us who were also side or breaststroking, and eventually I calmed down, noting that boats and kayaks were close by. It wasn't far from the 1st buoy to the 2nd- maybe 150-200m, and I did my best to freestyle to it. Then we headed for home! Again, more side stroke and breaststroke but before I knew it, I was touching bottom!! Yeah!!! Ran out across the timing mat, and up the hill to the transition area!

T1/BIKE (45:29)
Still no feeling in my feet so running over some gravel to get to my bike didn't matter. I put my helmet on first, as bf had suggested, decided not to wear shades because it was cloudy, threw on my socks & shoes and ran for the mount line. I passed quite a few people on the bike which made me feel good. It was a rolling course with lots of hills- tough stuff! I really wanted a sub-40 bike +T1 but I checked the results and didn't feel bad after seeing that only the top 6 finishers achieved that. Overall, I was 28/113 on the bike and 2/17 in my age group (by 7 seconds). Not bad for a first timer! The time flew and before I knew it, I was dismounting and heading for the bike rack.

T2/RUN (30:53)
In T2 I was greeted by some of Mark's friends, which was nice. I grabbed a few sips of water, ditched the helmet for a hat, and the bike shoes for my sneakers. Off I went!

I normally run 5k's in about 25 minutes so my run time was hard to swallow. My boyfriend and I had done some 3k runs off the bike in training and it was easy for me to stay at a 5min/km pace. But this run was not like my training runs! It was through the trail system at the campground where the tri was based out of. The turf was gravel and the running technical- lots of steep inclines and declines, very little flat. I stopped twice to ask volunteers where the timing mat was to start the run because every time I watched my bf do a triathlon, transition time was clocked and there was a mat at the dismount line AND a mat at the beginning of the run. Not the case here, but nobody was able to give me an answer so I just went for it. This stopping probably cost me 30 or so valuable seconds.

I ran along the out and back route, legs feeling wobbly at first, and kept telling myself to take it easy. I would quicken cadence and count my steps going up the hills to take my mind off the difficulty. Grabbed some water at the turnaround, and I knew I had it in the bag with only 2.5k left. It felt good to be passing some of the sprint men who started 5 minutes ahead of me!

The return run was uneventful, other than getting a little lost at a corner where there should have been a volunteer. I'm still not sure if we went the right way but the 5 or so people behind me followed my lead and we ended up at the finish line. :)

TOTAL TIME: 1:39:27!!! I am really happy with that!! I didn't have a specific goal in mind but sub-1:40 sounds good to me!

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