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.
Tomorrow is the day of my first triathlon. Time has been going by really fast lately and I can’t believe it’s time to race. I am not as nervous as I thought I would be, which is a good thing I guess. I have all my stuff set out for the race, which is kind of silly right now since the race isn’t until 4:00PM. I guess I just wanted to make sure I have it all. I went and picked up my race packet tonight at the venue and it turns out I am starting 14th out of like 65 or so. If I can hold that position, that would be great, but I am not counting on it. The race is between me and the finish line. If I can make it to that line, I will have accomplished something I have never done, and this time around, that is the goal. With training being in a slump lately and my ankle recoverying from a sprain, I think just finishing without further injury is a fair goal.
I’m pretty confident in my swimming abilities, and I was told that I am starting toward the last part of the first wave, so I shouldn’t have too many people right on my heels during the swim. I am even more confident on the bike. The route for the triathlon is a route that I ride regularly. It has a few quad damaging hills, but nothing I haven’t done dozens of times before. Knowing the route gives me an edge because I know where the hills are, so I can push when I know I have the space, and I can conserve when I know a hill is coming. The run will be my worst leg no doubt. I’m a mid-30’s 5K runner, but I haven’t run much lately. If I am going to lose some time, it will be on the run. More worry than the distance is the terrain. It’s a trail/road run, so I will need to pay very close attention to my ankle and the roots on the trail. Like I said before, this is my race against me and the finish. If I get passed, o well. It wouldn’t be the first time I got passed on a run race. I just want to do respectably, and have fun. I am already expecting it to be fun, so I am determined to keep it that way. I already have my next race picked out and I see plenty more in my future.
Wish me luck and safe passage. Come out and see me race if you are local. Join in and sign up if you are not busy tomorrow afternoon. Ha Ha. I’ll write up a full race report after it’s all said and done. I’m sure it will have a happy ending no matter what place I finish.
Enjoy your race tomorrow if you have one. I know I will.
Should I be getting butterflies this early? Actually I am not yet, but I know I will sometime this week. It happens every time. A few days before a race, my stomach starts to spin. I guess it’s the anticipation of the event mixed with my nervousness of trying something new. In 6 days, I am racing, or should I say participating, in my first sprint triathlon. It’s my first triathlon of any length. I haven’t competed in a swim event since I was probably 5 years old. I have never competed in a cycling event, although I have been riding in group events for charity for other 10 years now. I also have a little experience with 5K running, but of the 3 disciplines, running is my worst. Am I ready? I don’t know, but I will do my best and hope to finish. Since it’s my first one, I am guaranteed a personal best. I just want to avoid the DNF or a DQ. I know that is possible. I will walk the 5K if I have to, but I will finish. I have confidence in that, but the butterflies are sure to come. It’s inevitable, I know. Will I swim too fast and burn myself out? Will I bike too hard and ruin my legs for the run? I will try not to, but you know how it is when you are in a race. You want to go go go, and it’s hard to pace yourself. I just have to keep telling myself that the race is only a race between me and myself. Just get through this first event without fault and then set the bar for the next one. I know there will be a second one. I already have the fever even before I do my first one. I volunteered at an Olympic Tri last weekend and I could see myself doing it maybe next year. I may have to get my wife to do the run portion for me, but I know eventually I will be able to run a 10K as well. It will be a great experience regardless.
Please wish me luck and help me hold off the butterflies if possible. The race is with me only, I know that, and I need to keep telling myself that. It’s all good. 🙂
Six more days…..