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First Tri in the Books - with pictures

Monday, September 23, 2013

I started getting tri-curious this summer. I’ve been running for years and started swimming laps at the Y this winter so it just seemed natural to throw in a bit of biking and go for it. I dusted off the old mountain bike from college and pretty quickly clued in that money would have to be spent on a road bike. Then money on a tri-suit and bike accessories so this was starting to get costly.

The plan was to train all winter and enter my first sprint tri in May. Then I went on a couple of group rides, got full of myself, and about two weeks ago I let my husband talk me into entering the one held yesterday. We had talked about going out there to be schmucks in the crowd so I could see how it all worked. I think my husband figured if we were going out there anyway I might as well enter the thing and see how it works from the inside instead of outside looking in. It makes sense in a weird twisted not really ready for this and doing it anyway sort of way.

So Saturday night, the night before the tri it rained all night long. I know this because I was awake pondering the situation, what to wear should I take my clunky mountain bike instead of my road bike if it’s raining so as to survive the morning. Then around 2:00 am the rain stopped and it cleared up so that was very helpful.

We got up ridiculously early so as to leave the house at 5:30 since in the pre-race seminar I went to they said we needed to be there at 6:00. We got there, parked, set up my transition area, got my chip, and got numbers scribbled on my arms and legs by 6:30. The race started at 8:00. Oh goody an hour and a half to wander around with nothing to do. It was getting more and more crowded closer to the race but we really only needed to be there an hour maybe an hour and a half before the start.

We had to report what our swimming level was 1-10 with 10 being inhumanly fast and 1 being bravely conquering a mind numbing fear of the water. I’m a 6 which equates to 6 minutes to swim 250 yards. I timed this a dozen times so I was pretty solid on this fact. My swim coach said I could probably put down 7 because the adrenaline of the day could spark that extra push but I wasn’t about spark, I was about figuring out what I was doing and didn’t want to get in anyone’s way who was a legitimate 7. So knowing that it was going to be a while before I was actually in the pool I skipped warming up. This turned out to be a wise choice because they closed the pool and herded everyone outside for welcome speeches, instructions, national anthem singing and it was chilly enough standing out there barefoot in my tri-suit but at least I was dry.

Then the race started. They took the 10’s aka freakishly fast people who probably should not be doing a beginner race anyway. Then the 9’s – see how this goes. They got to the 8’s and not to be catty but a few of them did not look like they were going to nail a 5:00 time, not with viscosity against them. My husband said the same thing when he got bored watching the freakishly fast people and came outside to find me. That’s what he said anyway. I suspect that he saw how fast the freakishly fast people were swimming and realized that it would be a long long time before I was actually in the water.

(Waiting to go in, smiling the smile of the clueless)

Once they called my group, we went inside and lined up on the deck between the two pools. Technically everyone in the water was supposed to be a better swimmer than I am so it was a bit odd to see people hanging onto the ropes to catch their breath and swimming some odd and unrecognizable strokes. Whatever, not my problem but it did convince me to place myself on the right side of the line so I’d end up in the diving pool that went to I think 20 feet deep. I figured anyone even slightly afraid of the water would go the other direction to the shallow pool. I didn’t want to have to pass anyone but I also didn’t want to get stuck behind someone swimming slower than I wanted to or worse end up with someone on my tail and me on someone’s else tail. I worry about the strangest things, thanks I know that.

The line was moving pretty quickly so suddenly it was my turn and off I went. As a side note, the two things I’ve been working on lately are diving and turns. The first thing they said was no diving and since we were swimming one length and then going under the rope to the next lane to go back my turns were not working either. I did a sort of sitting dive, I saw other people doing that and it seemed faster than jumping in. I would have rather done a standing dive and probably soaked everyone in line but oh well.

The swim went pretty well. Having to duck under the ropes sort of threw me off rhythm but it was ok. I did end up passing a couple of people. It wasn’t my plan but they both stopped at the wall and waved me around. I wasn’t right up on them so I can’t have been pushing them so I think they just needed a break. The downside to this was that passing someone made me feel pressured to go a little faster. Maybe 6 lengths in though I looked back and I had a good lead on the next person so I slowed it down a bit. I’m pretty comfortable in the water and all but I have to admit that when I looked down to follow the lane markers on the bottom of the pool it was a bit…disconcerting to see how far down they were. I got over it pretty quickly but there is no point in the pool at the Y where I normally swim that is that deep nothereisnot.

Total swim time: 7:14 or #338 out of 673. I don’t know if it was that I swam slower or if it was having to get out and run to the transition area. I plan to do a lot of work on my swim time now. Not that I can really gain much time by swimming faster but the faster I swim the less time I have to wait to start so that’s my real motivation.

(But normally if you run on the deck the kid in the red shirt blows a whistle and yells at you)

The transition – yea I need to work on that. I found my bike so that was good. I have a notoriously horrible sense of direction – horrible, like a homing pigeon with brain damage. I memorized the route, second aisle, 8 racks down, nope, 9 racks down? AHA found it. That’s when I realized that everyone else had buckets to sit on to put on their shoes instead of hoping around on one foot trying to put a sock on a wet foot.
Transition 1 time – 3:06 or #431 out of 673 – oops

(Say anyone seen a black and purple Giant Avail?)

(I have no idea who this child is or what she’s doing)

The bike part was 9 miles. My plan was to average 13.5 miles to come in at 45 minutes. I got my bike and headed out. I struggled just a bit with the clips. I’ve been using big girl pedals for about 3 weeks now and love it but clipping in when I’m in a hurry was tricky. Once I got going though I was good. My strategy immediately turned into WHEEEE. I passed a lot of people on the ride. It’s probably more that I had a road bike and they were on hybrids than my mad bike skills but I ended up going faster than I had planned to. I also forgot to turn on my bike computer for the first little while so I was never sure how far I had to go. All the sudden I was back – what? Talking to other people we think the course was 8 miles instead of 9 and with me going faster than I thought I did it in 32:44 or #246 out of 673. I did get off my bike too soon. I stopped at the start of the dismount area and everyone else was riding to the end. Rookie mistake.

(Ready or not here I come)

The second transition, well I don’t think next time I’ll carelessly drop my bag on top of my running shoes or hide my hat from myself. The point is that I made it out of there but not in record time, 3:10 or #625 meaning that I was not the slowest one out of T2 but close.

Ah then the running, two miles, two measly miles doing something I’ve done every morning of my life for several years. What could possibly go wrong there? This was to be the relax and coast to the end part of the race. Clearly while I was out on my bike someone had injected lead into my running shoes. I’ve heard of this phenomena but decided to ignore it. Well maybe not ignore it but given that I had only decided to do this race a couple of weeks ago I didn’t do any brick workouts. NOW I know why they’re necessary.

Also the course was through the parking lot, around the building on a gravel road, across a field, down a road, into another parking lot, up on a sidewalk, across another field to a paved trail in the woods. It was a little confusing, there were volunteers everywhere so there was no way to get it wrong. It was just a lot of turns and different surfaces. I’m used to running on roads so while that didn’t help, the lead in my shoes was a bigger issue. I came in at 22:03 or #317.

I saw that the first few fastest times in the run part were DQed. There was one part in the run that goes through a paved path. It split into two laps. They were pretty clear that you go to the right on lap one and to the left on lap two. It was chalked on the pavement, there were signs with arrows, and there was a guy with orange flags shouting about it. I don’t know how anyone could mess that up, but I guess brain freeze is possible.

I’ll admit that even though we scouted all of this out ahead of time, when I was heading off for the run I flaked and didn’t know which direction to go. There was a volunteer who pointed me in the right direction but maybe that’s what happened to the people who skipped that second lap. I can’t think that they thought no one would notice that they ran 2 miles in a little over 7 minutes. Personally I would hate to go through all the planning and lugging a bike and bucket full of stuff around at 6 in the morning on a Sunday then doing all that swimming and biking only to cut the run short and get a DQ.

So, overall I finished in 1:08 and #305 out of 673. Clearly the bike part jumped me up a few places. I’m happy with it. I was trying not to make a lot of time predictions since I didn’t know what I was doing but I was sort of expecting 1:20. That was when I thought the bike part was 9 miles though so essentially I hit my goal pretty closely.

(Smiling the smile of the delirious)

And now I know what I need to work on – and a bucket, I need a bucket.

In other news the Panthers won. Now I’m afraid that my husband is going to want me to do a tri every Sunday for luck.

(Smugness at finishing something can trick you into forgetting the pain and doing it again)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • _MOBII_
    How fantastic! You did a great job ESPECIALLY since you weren't planning on actually doing it at all and the fact that you were a first timer AND short one bucket!!!!
    1729 days ago
  • GHK1962

    Nice going on your first Tri. Espeically given it was sort of a spur of the moment entry!

    My wife has started doing Tri's as well this year (she completed 2) ..they are called Sprint Tri's and sounds similar to what you did. (Her's was a 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile ride, 5K run.) She bought a book about doing Tri's and signed up to practice with some others...she said both have greeat tips on cutting your time down. (For instance, when coming out of the water...grab the top of your wetsuit and let water in and it makes getting out of the suit easier...tieing a balloon to where you bike is to find your bike easier....that kind of thing. Though seriously I have no first hand experience myself...ack!)

    And by the way, Yoda was wrong. When he says, "Do or do not. There is no try." The little feller was wrong. No, no...I tell my wife, "Just Tri!"

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    1729 days ago
    I really did have fun. Of course running yesterday morning was more of a hobble than a run. I kept stopping to walk and my dog got the leash in his mouth. Apparently I was messing up so he felt the need to take charge.
    1729 days ago
  • HILLSLUG98239
    Thanks for the blog post. I've signed up for my first tri, but it's not until June. It's always nice to get the perspective of another n00b. emoticon
    1729 days ago
  • SUE5007
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    1730 days ago
    Oh, that was AWESOME!! What a great day and what a great write-up! Well done!! For your first tri, you sound like a pro already! Great pictures - love the smiles! WooHoo!
    1730 days ago
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