Saturday, April 26th, 2014 was a day of a new beginning. It was the day I officially became a triathlete. It turned out to be a perfect day, despite the threat of tornadoes the day before. The race didn’t start until 4PM, which had advantages and disadvantages in my opinion. The up side is that I didn’t have to get up early and rush around. One of the disadvantages is that there is a whole day to think about the race and get nervous.
I ended up getting up early anyways and going to a morning yoga class. It was just what I needed to get my body and mind in line for the race. My muscles and joints got stretched out and loosened up, and my mind got wiped clear of all the worries of what was to come. From there, I went back home and my wife had a nice big breakfast ready for us, with bacon, onion, and cheese omelets, with a side of grits. I did need to energy even if my stomach didn’t think so.
I already had my stuff laid out for the race, so I went through it all and packed it into a bag so I could carry it on my bike. The venue for the triathlon was the YMCA, which is within a mile from our house, so I planned to skip the parking lot hassle and just ride the bike there. After getting all set up and ready, it was only noon, so I decided to take a small bike ride to loosen up as well as check out the setup of the event. I left my bag at home and just took the bike and cruised over to the YMCA to check it out. The race crew was just getting started on setup, from the transition racks to the timing electronics, finish line tunnel, and live band stage. It was nice to be able to see the process from the start. I even walked some of the run course while I walked my bike, but the ground was wet and a little muddy, so my tires started to turn brown. I didn’t go too far before I turned back. As much as I was enjoying myself, it was time to go. I said my goodbyes to the crew and told them I would be back in a few hours. I then proceeded to ride the first 4 miles of the bike course, and then the last 4 as I turned around. I rode very casually as to not wear myself out. The sun was getting to its peak in the sky and things were starting to get warm. I wanted to ride part of the course because I knew of a few nasty potholes on that part of the leg and wanted to check on them. It turns out some of them were filled in, which was good, but there were a few shallow ones that I saw that I knew I would have to avoid. I rode home, got my final items ready, ate a snack, and rested until time to go.
Once I got my bag on my back and rode to the venue, I was the first one there, again. The race director allowed me into the transition area, so I picked a spot that was in the shade and toward the middle for my home. I use mountain bike shoes on my road bike, so I have no issues walking in them, so there was no reason to stage closer to the “bike out” side. Once everyone else showed up, it became pretty crazy in that little space of mine. I was on the end of the rack and next to a few top racers, so I thought that was good. They would be gone before I got there, which would give me room to change. I wasn’t worried about racing at all. My goal was th finish and I was sticking to that plan.
I was seeded 14th because of my swim time, which now I know was a mistake. I should have added at least 20 seconds to my time so I wouldn’t get run over. Once the swim started, we had a 10 second gap between swim starts, which didn’t even give you a pool length to yourself. I started off pretty good I thought, but there was 2 issues. I was very nervous at that moment and went out way too fast. Secondly, as I pushed off the wall initially, I pushed so hard, my timing chip, which was velcro’d around my ankle, came loose. So now i have a loose timing chip hanging around my ankle as I try to swim. I don’t kick much as it is, a bad habit I know, but now I didn’t have a choice. I was afraid if I kicked, the chip would slide over my foot and I would lose it. So I didn’t the best I could and long story short, the swimmer behind me caught me on the 3rd lap, and about that time, I was wore out from using just my arms, faster than I should have been going. It all snowballed and I had to rest. I left the swimmer pass and side stroked for a length. By the time I finished the 250, 3 swimmers had passed me, and once out of the pool, another passed me as I had to put my chip wrap back on. Not to worry, I passed him back at transition. He He. Not that I cared because I wasn’t racing him, I was only looking for the finish line.
The bike leg went really well. It was windy, but it was a course that I ride regularly and I was very familiar with the curves, the hills, and the changes in surfaces, including the pot holes. I’m not a terribly fast cyclist when I am riding solo, but I’m not a turtle either. I usually average 16-17mph by myself. This ride was no different except I was wore out from the swim. It took me a little while to get my breath back, but not too long. The bike course was 13 mile out and back ride, and pretty hilly, but I knew all the hills I climbed on the way out would treat me well on the return, and they did. I still got passed by some riders, but I passed a few myself, thank you very much. He he. Once back in transition, I knew my legs were nearly done, but I knew I couldn’t stop. My transition time was quicker this time, since my socks were already on. Just had to change shoes, shirt, and shorts. O yeah, and I did exchange my helmet for a baseball hat. 🙂
The run was not my greatest. My legs were tired and the course was hilly trails and hilly roads. The temperature was hot and I was just wore out. I am not ashamed to say that I did a lot of fast walking during this leg, but I kept moving. I have done 5K’s 5 minutes faster than this one ended up being, but I finished. I crossed the line at 1:43:17, minus my swim start offset of 2:10, so my final time was 1:41:07. There is definately room for improvement on all 3 legs, and both transitions, but I don’t care. I finished and that was the goal this time around. I am happy with that. I can only get better from here.
I won 2nd place in my age group and instead of getting a metal that tastes nasty I am sure, the award winners got homemade apple pies from a local bakery. I think that was awesome. A metal would be nice, but the pie tasted better for sure. 🙂
My wife is a better runner than me and I can’t talk her into doing a full triathlon yet, so I talked her into doing the run for us on the next triathlon. Earlier today, I signed us up for the High Point Oak Hollow Sprint Triathlon as a relay team. I will do the swim and the bike, and she will do the run. It is in August, so we have time to prepare. I need to improve, and I think she can help me run better if I can keep up with her during training. Ha Ha. I think I have the triathlon bug. It’s definately addictive and I know I can do better next time. I can’t wait.