Last weekend was my second triathlon, Tri Doc Georgetown Sprint. It wasn't a long race, but still about twice as long as the super sprint I did in August. 400 meter pool swim, 14 mile bike, 4 mile run. I had a general idea of how I wanted to do in this race, and I did want to be competitive since it was a small race, but most importantly I wanted to have fun and not be freaked out by the experience. I wanted to fall in love with triathlons.
Leading up to the race the weather forecast did not cooperate and it looked like rain was going to derail things for a second year in a row. But miraculously, the forecast cleared and the temps looked to be just about perfect for race morning, with a very minor chance of rain. The humidity would still kill me, but at least wet roads wouldn't.
I surprised myself for not having nerves leading up to the race, at least not bad ones. I really didn't get nervous until I pulled into the parking lot race morning. I was one of the first racers there (just the way I like it) and it was still dark out. But as more of my teammates arrived, my nerves faded and I got excited.
I was a bit unsure about where to place myself for the pool swim. My practice laps were about 30 seconds per 25 meters, but I know that I would need a few seconds every couple lanes to catch my breath and my goal was merely to be under 10 minutes. I placed myself by my friend Joe, whose goal was around 9 minutes. I wanted to be sure I wasn't faster or slower than anyone while swimming, but could wave someone ahead of me at the end of the lap if necessary. I was swimming better in the weeks leading up to the race and hoped to do well. The swimmers were started only 5 seconds apart, however, which was okay for about the first 10 people or so, but then as you got near my pace it quickly got congested. Within four laps, we were swimming 5 or 6 deep in each lane, but because we had to swim down and back in the same lane before moving to the next lane, we couldn't pass while swimming. We quickly piled up at the ends of the lanes and it got crazy. I tried to keep my breathing as even as I could, and even switched to backstroke for about a half lap just to calm down. I mostly swam unilaterally just to get more oxygen as I tried to avoid resting at all. When I was swimming, I was definitely swimming well (for me) and I hoped my time reflected that. I've never been happier to get out of a pool!
|Teammate Joe and I heading into transition from the pool|
I immediately was nauseous when I exited the pool and got into transition. I needed to throw up badly, but tried to concentrate on getting my bike gear on. Coach Christine was there cheering us on and telling us to suck it up and get out of transition. She really didn't want to hear my bitching! It felt like it took forever, but I was finally mounting my bike and getting the heck out of there. I drank some water, took several deep breaths, and slowly worked up to my racing speed on the bike. After about 2 miles or so, I was feeling much better and doing well with my speed. I did ride more conservatively than in my first triathlon since the humidity level was very high and it was a longer distance. I didn't want to go all out and then blow up on my run. My goal was to stick to around 18 miles an hour for as much of it as I could, and try to pick up speed for the last two or three miles. I saw Joe ahead of me, but figured there was no way I was going to catch him on that split.
|Joe quickly got way ahead of me on the bike|
The bike course was great. A few hills, but nothing too steep and a lot of downhills where we could pick up some speed. I got caught behind a car that was driving extremely slow with no room to pass while in the park at the end of the first loop and that frustrated me a bit. I had been riding well over 20 miles an hour on this stretch and had to slow down to avoid riding right into his bumper and he just wouldn't speed up or move over, despite three of us right behind him. He eventually did move and I tried to pick up my speed again. My first loop was solid, and I hoped to do my second loop in the same amount of time. I was having fun!
Bike loop 2 was mostly uneventful. I had to barf up the rest of the pool water (gross!!) and when I made the turn to head into transition, I saw my teammate (and age group competitor) Tiffany off her bike and cheering me on instead of racing like she was supposed to be. I asked her if she was okay and she told me to stop talking and get my butt into transition (yep, that's Tiffany). I had a decent transition but I knew it wasn't as fast as my first triathlon. I was definitely shakier. Joe was in there with me but exited before me, so I knew I'd have to hunt him down on the run portion. Tiffany was now right by transition yelling at me to get out of there and start running already (seriously, she and Christine are drill sergeants!).
|Confused when I saw Tiffany cheering instead of racing|
|Trying to get my crap together while heading out of transition|
As I started my run, Tiffany jogged beside me (in her flip flops!) and explained that she had missed a turn on the bike and gotten off course, so she pulled out of the race. I was so bummed for her as I knew she had been doing very well in the race. She was mad but seemed to still be in good spirits and was being an awesome cheerleader for the rest of us still racing. Joe was ahead of me on the run and it took me probably about a mile to catch up to him. My legs felt like lead in that first mile and I hoped they would loosen up and I could pick up some decent speed. I definitely didn't want to have to walk at all.
The run course was just as great as the bike course, mostly on dirt trails through San Gabriel Park, with one hill to contend with but nothing too difficult. It was two loops just like the bike course, and my spirits were very high as I finished the first loop, saw my friends and family, and had only 2 miles to go to complete my second triathlon. About a mile into the second loop Tiffany decides to run with me again, in her flip flops, and she would not let up on me! She kept telling me that if I was able to talk back to her then I needed to run harder. She's really quite mean! With less than a mile to go we saw teammate Barb ahead of us and now my goal, according to Tiffany, was to catch her. But Barb is a beast and she didn't seem to be getting any closer to me. By the time the finish line was in eyesight, I got pretty close but Barb crossed ahead of me and Tiffany ran back to find Joe, who I figured couldn't be far behind.
|I don't know why I kept sticking my tongue out at the photographers|
Crossing that finish line and seeing my friends and family was just amazing. Two triathlons under my belt! And I felt like I had done very well in this one. My swim was solid, although slightly terrifying, my bike loops were evenly paced and relatively strong, and I ran negative splits on the run. I really couldn't ask for anything more than that.
Shocking enough, I ended up being the 2nd overall woman finisher. Because Barb had started ahead of me, my finish time was a few seconds faster than her. But she's in her late 50s, so basically she's ridiculously awesome! I ended up winning my age group (although that wouldn't have happened if Tiffany hadn't gone off course!). The overall female finisher completely kicked my ass by over 5 minutes. If it was a bigger race, my placing would have been much much lower....like I said, small races are awesome!!
It wasn't easy, and the swim was frightening, and my lungs were screaming at me, and barfing on the bike wasn't exactly pleasant, but I had an absolute blast during this race. I am so excited about what next season has in store for me!
So now what are my friends saying to me?
"When does Ironman training start?"