Thursday, August 31, 2006


Race #2 was a triathlon sponsored here at work for employees. So yesterday afternoon at 5:40pm, 42 individuals and 22 teams were gathered for the event with plenty of awesome volunteers and families. This was the first time I was racing with my family there to cheer me on and I really wanted to do well with them there. My husband and the boys drove over with me and my parents came to help watch the kids so my husband could see some of the bike course. I think there are a few minutes before any race I have ever done where the nerves really kick in and I wonder how stupid I am to be putting myself through this voluntarily- having paid money to feel like that seems crazy.

The course is listed as a 0.3 mile swim, 12.6 mile bike and 3 mile run. That 0.3 miles for the swim is the most generous measuring I have ever seen. That course was more like 300 meters, not 500 meters. It was a beach start and I was a little nervous about that since my first race was a start out in the water. I donned the cheap-o wetsuit, got a kiss from the kids and husband and paced around on the beach a little. I saw my husband grab the camera and I wanted to yell that fat-chick-in-a-wetsuit pictures were not allowed but I figured I can just delete them later. I stayed pretty wide right since it was a left hand turning course so I'd avoid the major scrum. The beach start was no problem, my goggles stayed on even when I dove in and I was off. I do love to swim. I didn't quite feel the same perfect rhythm I found early on in my first race but I felt pretty good. Thankfully it was high tide so I could see the eel grass below me but didn't have to swim through it like the practice swims. After the second turn on the way in I got stuck behind 3 people that I just couldn't get around. It slowed me up a little but I wasn't annoyed or aggressive enough to swim over them. I just hung back until one stood up, way too early, and I swam by to the shallows. I was the 4th woman out of the water and I felt good.

Then I hit the transition area. I couldn't get my socks un-bunched. My shirt was sticking to me as I pulled it over my head, and then my bike gloves were inside out and got stuck on my ring. Not a good transition.

The course is 6 laps of a 2.1 mile loop that has one small hill on it. The first two laps it was quiet, I didn't see any other bikers and it was going along fine. The roadway is awful with lots of potholes and debris but traffic is light enough that I could ride a few feet off the shoulder with no problem. I remembered to take a drink at the same spot each lap and I was maintaining about 16 mph which is pretty good for me. Then the leaders and the team bikers caught up with me and there was much passing to be done, none of it on my part. A few bikes that cost more than my car passed me, I think they had riders but they were sort of a blur of color so I can't be sure. At the end of loop 3 I took out my chocolate 1x caffeine PowerGel to get some sustenance before the run. I forgot that the consistency of the gel is such that for a minute it blocks off all air from your mouth and nose and I nearly choked on it. I realize that's why you should practice with these things but I never had anything other than water on my other rides. Once I got it down I noticed an improvement in my energy in about five minutes. Maybe it was in my mind, but it was quick. I had debated whether to go with the caffeinated gel or not. I don't drink coffee or soda so my caffeine consumption is pretty low. I had a few minutes of the caffeine shakes, I seem to be very susceptible to caffeine, but it passed and I kept drinking for the rest of the loops. The bad thing is that I got gel on my bike handle so my right hand was sticky and chocolate, I need to wear a bike shirt with pockets to stash stuff.

Coming in off the bike I still felt good but I knew the run was coming up. Transition there was uneventful at least. Grabbed my shoes, put on my hat and we're off. Less than a quarter of a mile into the run my left calf muscle completely balled up in a knot. I looked down and I could actually see the knot and it hurt. I tried picking up my heels and my toes and trying to work it out. Right there I thought to myself "You read all these stories about the Ironman, you think you'll ever do that if you can't even run a quarter of a mile?! Nice dream, idiot." But then I told myself that everyone that's done an Ironman had to start somewhere, so maybe I'll just have to work a little harder than some to get there. A few hundred yards later the cramp thankfully stopped screaming at me and stayed at a whine the rest of the course. I'm fortunate that having a 3-year old has taught me how to ignore whiners. I allowed myself to stop for water at the one mile mark, also the top of the crappy hill. I only walked from the station to the garbage, maybe 50 feet and then I took up the slow jog again. I was passed by 2 individuals and 3 team runners but as I came in on the loop I could still see that there were people behind me. The only annoying part of the run was that a few volunteers said "it's all downhill from here" and it never was. I even know the course but to hear that it's all downhill made me happy, until I turned the next corner and saw the hill I had conveniently forgotten about in that moment of bliss when they said "all downhill". They all meant well, but a hill is a hill so I'd rather they just said "good job" than tell me there's no hill. My family was a few yards from the finish area and the boys clapped as I came in, waving to them and I was so happy to be done. I know I've decided to do this mainly for me but it's so awesome to have the support of my family. I hope I'm going to show the boys the importance of being healthy and active, I hope that my husband and I will get to race together so we have something more to share again that we both enjoy and I hope they all know how much I appreciate that they'll come to watch a rather unexciting spectator event just for me.

In the end I was the 39th finisher out of 40- there were 2 DNFs.
Swim (the generous 500meters, more like 300)- 6:36 29/64
Bike (12.6 miles) 46:20 16.6 mph average, 58/63
Run (3 miles) 31:07 10:18 pace, 62/62
Transitions were pretty poor, 58th and 57th ranked based on time
Total time : 1:27:49, my initial goal time was anything under 1:30, so it was a success.

Also- Athena Division medal winner! 2/2, the winner was 3 minutes ahead of me.
I think my eventual goal for the course will be under 1 hour 20 minutes, with more time on the bike and running I'll get there. We hung around for some food, said good-bye to grandma and grandpa and then headed off to home.

1 comment:

Siren said...

That is an AMAZING time for a sprint race - even with the "generous" swim : ) Are you SURE you're an Athena?

Here I am hoping to break two hours on a sprint - I've got a lot of work to do to even get within shouting distance of the times you're posting!