Sunday, October 5, 2014

Intro to Triathlons (well MY intro into triathlons and we all know what kind of luck I have) (post 1)

I think I can get used to starting lines that look like this.
This summer has been all about training for a triathlon, I swam, biked, ran and bricked in every distance and variation that I could think of.  As with many marathoners/ultra-runners one day you start thinking to yourself that as much as I love running it's probably better for my body to mix it up a little.  My regular running partner does triathlons (um, Ironman Distance Triathlons) and while she has always been very encouraging and has tried to get me to train for one I have always been hesitant since she's so much more accomplished in the swim/cycle portion of the event.

Age on calf, genius.
Over the past year a friend of mine was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer, given my history I spent a lot of time with her and helped where I could as she went through treatment.  In an effort to finish her journey with a silver lining she organized a group of her friends who are mostly new to triathlons to "try to tri" for the Osprey Sprint Triathlon in Snow Hill, MD.  Since most of us have never done a tri before this was far less intimidating for me and I was thrilled to jump on board and train with this amazing group of women (and they are completely awesome).

All of the essentials laid out 
in order of use.
As we trained I started thinking (I know--oh shit) that my body is geared more towards endurance, the distances of the Osprey sprint triathlon are: a ½ mile swim, 15 mile cycle and 3.1 mile run.  I was training with a 2 mile swim, 20 mile cycle and 15 mile run.  This does not seem right.  The obvious answer was to sign up for an olympic distance triathlon less than a week before the sprint, right????

I signed up for the Giant Acorn International Distance Triathlon in Lake Anna.  It was a 1 mile swim, 27 mile bike ride and 6.2 mile run.  PERFECT.  I got there early and got all marked up with my bib # on my arm and leg and my age and category on the back of my calf (I think all running races should do this--so if I am behind and see a woman with a 38 I know I don't have to give that extra push to pass her to win my age group and if you have not figured that I am competitive that way then I cannot help you).

Cycle and transition gear ready to go!
After this I immediately saw a friend of mine from the gym in the restroom and our bib/transition area assignments were even close since we were both novices.  This was the BEST way to start my first tri.  I knew I was suffering from a case of pre-race/new-experience jitters but I just let it go and set up my transition area for the tri.  Everything looked in order, so I got in the wetsuit and waited for my wave to start.

The water was perfect and calm in Lake Anna, I had people swimming over me and it was fine.  I kept swimming way out from the buoys, then back in, then back out,  but I was going for the experience so I was totally fine with it.  As I made the last turn for the final ⅓ mile or so I started to realize that I really was not feeling very well.  My head hurt and I felt a little weaker than I should, the water was way too warm and my level of exertion was way too high to have chills.  I of course, ignored this.
Yup, that smooth. NOT.
My very first transition ever was upon me and I was determined to rock it.  I transitioned in 3:08 which was far better than I expected.  On to the cycle.  Soooooo....I have never cycled more than 25 miles or so on anything but flat terrain.  I was not the tiniest bit physically or mentally prepped for the hilly 27 mile cycle, especially since it became increasingly clear to me that I was suffering from more than a simple case of pre-race jitters.  Mike was home with a cold and fever and I was beginning to guess that he had shared with his dear and loving wife.  More than once I thought--"DNF, why not?"  Since I've never DNF'd ANY kind of race, I was not prepared to let my first tri be the race to carry those letters.
This I think I can do.

On to T2.  1:43---YIPPEE.  In and out.  The 10K was VERY hilly but it finished with a wonderful downhill and I was able to maintain a sub 9:30 pace which I am actually proud of given that my temp was 102 when I got home.  The Giant Acorn International was an extremely friendly and perfectly organized race especially for someone who had no clue what in the heck they were doing.  Like, even a little clue.

Even though I had to spend the next two days in bed I am so glad that I went and tried to tri.

My final time was 3:22:35 which put me way at the end of the pack but I DID IT.  Hooray for low expectations and exceeding them!  The best part is that the two women I ran into from my area both won first in their category.  One of them kicked ass as the overall female novice winner and the other was #1 in the Athena category.  Way to go SOMD ATHLETES!

Why I normally stick to just running.  In this instance I ½ assed two things AND whole assed one thing.  I am leaning towards a tri-addiction.  I cannot lie when I tell you that my Iron Man running partner is more than a little excited.
Have you ever tried for a tri?  

What went right and what went wrong?  My transitions were good, everything else...meh?


  1. Awesome job!! Go big (long) or go home, huh?

    You can cut down some more time on the swim-->bike transition. No socks, and look up the ways pros get in and out of their wetsuits faster (a lot of them use cooking spray). And then the obvious - cycle more on hills!

    I kind of love triathlons or at least training for them. I feel like a much more well-rounded athlete.

    1. I can definitely cut down on the transition time but I was very happy with it for my first tri. This past weekend I did it in under two minutes but it was a sprint so no socks. I'm not ready to cycle or run that long without socks just yet.

    2. I read your second report and saw you cut down on the time. Way to go!! Sorry about the flat tire. They are demoralizing for EVERYBODY. I'm old school and carry a pocket pump. CO2 cartridges are not my friend.

    3. I wanted to buy a hand pump and he talked me out of it...I just talked myself into it.
      The first tri I did was HUGE and the transition area was like a football field so getting from one end to the other took almost a minute anyway. Even though it took me twice the time on round one, percentage wise my time held a ranking (close to the top 25%).
      Since I know I'm strongish on the run and still navigating the swim and cycle my focus for now is smooth transitions on race day.