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Best tri ever!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This morning I competed in and finished the Danskin Sprint Triathlon in Pleasant Prairie, WI. It was an incredible event, for many reasons.

In no particular order, those reasons are:
--I haven't done a triathlon since 2009
--I've had hip AND knee surgery since my last triathlon
--I'm at my lowest weight ever when doing a triathlon
--It was supposed to thunderstorm but didn't
--My husband and parents were there to cheer me on
--I smashed my toe badly last Wednesday but it healed enough for me to compete
--I finished in less than 2 hours, meeting my goal for the race!

Here's how it went down...

The Swim emoticon
This swim was an out & back 1/2 mile. Usually, we swim across the lake, which is nice. The out & back scared me, because it looked so much longer and included navigating around a buoy. The corridor was also narrower, which meant more bodies closer together in deep water. I tried not to think about that as I dove in, instead focusing on finding the air bubbles left by the swimmer in front of me. I had been practicing my swimming, and felt good about my speed and endurance. But my lungs had other plans for me. I struggled to find a groove and get my breathing under control. This happens to me every year, most likely a combination of fear and improper warm-up. This year the starting line area was crowded, and my warm-up consisted of a few minutes of jumping up and down in place. Not very effective.

Also, with the pending storm, the wind was strong, creating a cross current in the water. The backstroke, my go-to for calming my breathing down, proved disastrous, as every time I flipped back over, I found I was close to going out of bounds and would have to fight my way back in. I finally found my stride just as we came into the last 1/8 mile.

My target time for the swim was 26 minutes. Actual time: 32 minutes.

Transition 1:
After the swim, the goal is to run to your bike and change your gear as fast as possible. Again, the corridors were much narrower this year, and the people in front of me were walking and chatting. I finally got around them and sprinted to my bike. I pulled off my swim cap and goggles, dried my feet, and put on my helmet, bike shorts, bike shoes, and sunglasses. I grabbed my Gu and my bike and was off.

My goal was 3 minutes. Actual time: 3 minutes.


The Bike emoticon
The bike was 12.4 miles of gently sloping country highways. They changed the route a bit and we ended up riding parallel to the interstate for about half the bike. I didn't like that too much, but the roads were in decent condition. I felt very strong on the bike, easily passing many people. I wanted to average over 17 mph, but wasn't sure if I was cutting it. The wind was so strong and seemed to come from every direction. Probably a combination of the hovering storm and the downdraft from the trucks on the interstate. I prayed that it wouldn't start to rain while I was out on the bike. It didn't! But it also wasn't hot enough to have melted my frozen water/energy drink bottles, so I couldn't hydrate as much as I should have been able to.

My target for the bike: 47 minutes. Actual time: 39 minutes, 18.8 mph average! (Woo hoo!!)

Transition 2:
This is the easiest transition, just putting your bike back on the rack, removing your helmet, and changing shoes if necessary. Oh, and don't forget your race number! But I had a challenge, as someone put their bike back on top of my gear. I had to move that bike to make room for my own.

Target time: 2 minutes. Actual time: 3 minutes.

The Run emoticon
Well, this is the part I hate the most. Being heavy means moving slow, labored breathing, and excessive pounding. And they won't let you wear headphones! I also lost the charger for my heart rate monitor, so I had no idea on pacing. I've been focusing on improving my running, so I just gave it what I had. I did walk, to give my knee and toe a break every once in awhile, but just counted to 60 each time I did so I never walked more than a minute (give or take). There were some great spectators on the run, with lots of cheering and cowbell!

I didn't run fast, but I did run. I scarfed down some Sport Beans to keep my energy up and tried to pass people. That didn't work so well, but it kept me focused. There was one lady who kept passing me during my walk segments. She was walking, so I was really hoping to leave her behind, but she was such a fast walker I couldn't do it! I finally said something to her about how fast she could walk, and she said she'd run with me awhile. As we reached the final turn into the quarter-mile home stretch, she asked me if I could run faster. To my surprise, I said yes and we took off. I sprinted that last bit and realized as I crossed the finish line that I could have kept going a little while longer. I like to empty my tank during the run, but this time I had a little left over. Next time I'll go faster. :-)

Target time for the run: 42 minutes. Actual time: 42 minutes!

During my last triathlon, I finished in 2:04. I've been saying since 2005 that if I ever finish a tri in less than 2 hours, I will start training for an Olympic-distance race.

My goal for this race was to finish in less than 2 hours. I thought that might be ambitious, since I've been out of it for a couple years, but figured I'd push myself.

My actual time? 1:59:59.

Better start training...
emoticon emoticon emoticon

Thanks to everyone who supported me and encouraged me to keep going! You guys are the best.
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