It was on my list of possibles, but I had written it off. I figured I’d get complained at if I suggested a tri so early in the season. Also, you never know with the weather here – it could be in the 30s or the 70s at 8am on an April morning. However, Zliten got all geeked up about it after hearing someone mention it at the gym a while back, and we signed up that night. So we trained and toiled and Zliten even said about two weeks ago he was doing this stupid race and then never doing another one again because he was sick of training and hated having to go to the gym so often.
Enter the day of… the alarm went off way too early at 5am, but we got our butts going (actually had about 6 hours of sleep, and had slept well all week, so I was ok – Zliten had been super nervous and maybe got about 3 hours max, he was less than thrilled). We asked my parents to go with since it was Zliten’s first tri so they could get pictures. Speaking of less than thrilled, they were NOT huge fans of the experience, 5:30am wakeups made them grumpy and I can tell they didn’t really enj0y it for the most part. If it was ever more convenient, perhaps, but I think they figured they were off the hook on going to my sporting events once I became a grown adult (they were at most of my gym/diving meets through high school) and I respect that.
Anyhoo, we got there, got body marked, got our transition sections set up (they had assigned racks so we didn’t get to rack with each other), and ran into a few people we knew. We didn’t really have time to get any sort of a warmup (note to self – bring two pairs of shoes next time, one to warm up in after transition is set up), so we just kinda stretched and wandered around and tried to keep my parents amused.
They finally made the call to let us get in the water around 7:30 for a quick dip and I went into my knees. Not NEARLY as bad as I was expecting. Maybe it had warmed up from the week before, maybe it was that it was warmer than the outside temp, but that was one major source of worry for me alleviated. We then downed our redbull shots, listened to the pre-race briefing and the national anthem, and then the waves started.
I was in the 8th wave, which was the second non-open wave of women (30-39 Veterans – aka at least our 3rd tri). I got in the group when we had about 2 before us, and chatted with some peeps. However, that kinda distracted me because once we got in the water, I literally found myself mid pack in the middle. Ugh. It made for a really bad start, it took me half the short swim to find some space to actually swim instead of paddle, I got water in my goggles, and got kicked and kicked a lot of people. I guess I was really spoiled with the small starts at the last 2, but this was definitely what everyone complains about when they bitch about tri starts.
It took the first half of the race to find some space to swim in, and I found that my goggles sucked and were taking in water, so I wasn’t able to settle into a stroke until I turned the last corner, though I was totally vindicated by passing a crap ton of people. I was expecting to do the swim in about 5-6 mins and it took me over 7. Doh!
I got out, got on my sandals, and ran all the way up the hill, and started my transition. Dried my feet super quick, my trick laces made my shoes go on super quick, and then tried to put on my new race belt with my number. And it ripped. Hooooly crap. I tried to repin it, and it ripped again. I tried to repin it again, and it ripped again. I spent way too long trying to figure out what to do, and a race volunteer reminded me I didn’t need it until the run, so I just threw on my shirt and left it. I put on my sunglasses and then helmet. I couldn’t get the helmet on over the sunglasses. It took a few tries to get them to fit with my helmet, which was weird. I got my garmin on and started out of transition.
I mounted my bike and a volunteer stopped me. I had my freaking helmet on backwards. Argh! So I had to stop, get off the bike, fix my helmet, and then go. By that time I was just so frazzled that I had botched the swim and botched the first transition that I was feeling shaken. That, in turn, after I settled into the bike, made me fucking pissed off. I decided instead of the strategy of saving energy for the big hill at the end, I was just going to blow off steam and pass anyone I could.
And I did. I’ve been training to rock the hills, and I got used to saying “on your left” as people slowed down to climb, I sped up. The miles went quick. As shaken as I was on mile 1, by mile 4 I was feeling awesome and confident. I was often looking down at my pace and it was under 3 minute miles (aka – over 18 mph). Sadly, I passed someone that was lying on the side of the road and needed medical attention (the ambulance had just arrived). I hope they ended up being ok! I did have to get off and walk briefly when I slowed way down to round a corner and then there was an immediate steep uphill, but all the people that passed me chugging up that hill I passed within a mile (I think). I figured the slowdown of a walk would save my legs more than trying to power up it.
That big hill at the end? Ended up not being a big deal. It was tough, but with 9 miles of warmup, I got through it, took a quick recovery, and then started jamming into the bike finish and getting mentally prepared to run.
Another dumbass moment – I couldn’t find my rack with my stuff! At least an extra 30 secs/1 minute trying to locate my towel. Grrr. Once I found it, I had to deal with my number again (just pinned it to my shirt with the 2 pins) and then I was off! Except for the mistakes, I didn’t lag too long. I was READY.
Again, was a little shaken due to the transition, but I got it together quick. I was very happy that the first quarter mile was downhill to get the bricks out of my legs, but then we ran back uphill. The first half mile went VERY slowly, but I settled in just under 10 min miles. Anytime I looked and was going over, I sped up. After the greak fartlek run earlier in the week, I had planned to go fast/slow/fast/slow in intervals, but when I tried that once, I ended up not being able to speed up that much again, so I just tried to hold a pace instead. I was very happy that you could see the finish for the last third of a mile, so it kept me speeding up until I sprinted into the finish pumping my fist in the air while they called my name.
Division Place (Vets, 30-34): 20th/33
Total Time: 01:17:43 (7:43 over A goal. Pretty close to B goal of around 1:15-1:20)
Overall Place: 285/406
Gender Place: 92/162
Swim Rank: 268/406
Swim Time: 7:14 (fail – A goal was under 5, B was under 10 with transition. Next time, to the front of the pack – I have the skillz to keep up with the age groupers here, just need the confidence – or at the very least to one side)
Swim Pace: 2:25/M
T1 Rank: 392/406
T1 Time: 06:30 (fail – will work on this next time)
Bike Rank: 254/406
Bike Time: 42:32
Bike Speed: 15.8mph (A goal was 40 mins/around 16mph, think I might have hit it if I didn’t have to dismount and fix my helmet. B goal was 45 mins with transition which I did. CHECK!)
T2 Rank: 280/406
T2 Time: 02:04 (Could be better)
Run Rank: 277/406
Run Time: 19:21
Run Pace: 9:41/M (A goal was 9 min miles, B goal was under 10 min miles. B goal CHECK! I need to speed train more to get speedier runs again)
-I will diligently practice the transitions before the next one. I could have EASILY taken about 5 mins off that time simply by transitioning better.
-I will have the confidence to push my way up to the front next time. I am a strong swimmer. I can keep up.
-I will continue to kick ass on the bike and train hills the way I have. It was my strongest leg this time, whereas both tris last year it was my weakest by far.
-I will speed train 5k distances again to the point where 27 is a fairly easy 5k on rested legs. 9 minute miles should not be this unattainable.
-If I was a rookie, I would have placed 13th out of 40 in the same age division. Without the rookie/vet distinction, I would have easily placed in the top half of my age group. For someone who finished both tris pretty close to the bottom last year, that felt AWESOME to improve so much.
-I may stick with sprints instead of pushing to do an olympic. I feel like I have a lot more ass kicking I can do at this distance!
-Plus – this was Zliten’s first one, and he LOVED IT! He’s hooked. He said it was the most fun he’s had at a race! This makes me so happy (especially considering how blah he was about it two weeks ago), and we will likely be signing up for another soon!
Any other super cool tri stories? Who out there has tried a tri?