OMG I just did my first triathlon today! I am on such a buzz – it was amazing!
I signed up 4 weeks ago (yeah I’m not much of a long term planner for these things) after hiking with all these guys that kept talking about all of the triathlons they’ve done. It made it seem possible that I could do it too…So I found a local race. It was a Sprint triathlon which means it was smaller and a good beginner triathlon.
I’ve been training hard and even practiced on the actual course. But the big day is always different. First the hubby “Bangers” got sick so was out the running, which left it to just me “Mash” for the day. We woke up early at 5am to get to the course for 6am at Mission Bay, San Diego.
I arrived and had to pee – man those lines are very very long. I was still in the line at 7am when the first wave of races started. So I got to pee and then got marked up for the race. They put your race number and your age on your body. OMG – if you are age sensitive, this is not for you. It’s declared to all. The reasoning is that you can then spot other racers in the pack and determine where you are in your race wave.
The sprint triathlon starts with a 400m (0.25 mile) swim in Mission Bay in San Diego. The water was not warm but with a wetsuit it was perfectly fine. People varied in what they wore from speedos to a full wetsuit. I’m glad I had the triathlon wetsuit for the first time, but think it was really hard to get a full arm rotation and might think about the sleeveless triathlon wetsuit in future. More money $$. On thing, getting the kit in your garage for these races is NOT cheap!
So, I was wave 6 and they called us over to get in the water. It was a little slimy and the water was green, but you just ignored it with all the people. I spoke to a couple of ladies and said good luck. Got a last minute tip to stick to the side that I lift for my breath to be able to see the other swimmers, so I went to the back side to start. And then they said “go” and the rush of adrenaline was amazing! It was REALLY hard to get into a breathing rhythm. I had practised a lot and felt comfortable in the 3 strokes and rotating side to breath on. But in this race I could not get into this and was on the 2 strokes and a breathe.
People had warned me that the swim can be quite a blender of arms and legs flying at each other. I’m glad I had that tip because it would freak you out if you didn’t expect it. Turns out it was not as bad as the videos or stories I heard. I kept to the side to avoid it and it mainly happened at the corners of the turns. After about halfway I got a rhythm and just kept to it – but it never felt as easy or as good as in the pool. So more practice for me!
In the last corner, I went for it (to look good for the crowd) and ended up going in the wrong direction! Course corrected and got the finish. Ran out the water and boy was I knackered. This was the harder transition by far and not expected to be this hard. My breathing was thick and I needed some water (because I had swallowed some sea water – yuk!). Time was 17 minutes…
Ran to the transition area….laughed with another person about the swim and changed quickly into my bike gear. I had read a few articles about how to lay out your gear and walked through it mentally a few times in the morning, so it was smooth and easy. Ran the bike out the transition to the mounting area and ….off for the bike! Time was 20 minutes, so a 3 minute transition.
Here was my biggest learning of the sprint triathlon. DO NOT USE A MOUNTAIN BIKE. I knew I would be slower for this and due to time and not wanting to add another new element into the race kit, I did not get/borrow a road bike or get slick tires for the mountain bike. I felt like molasses compares to everyone around me. I was passed by everyone and their mother – and it was a hard mental fact for me to deal with. I had my pace set in my head and stuck to it. Counted out the time and sang a Scooter song to help me keep to my pace – it just was not anything compared to the slick road bikes…..
So I came in after 9 miles of biking at 00:57 mins which meant 37 mins on the bike. Final transition…3 minutes again. So I started the run at exactly 1:00 hour.
Okay, so my first goal was to finish the race and my second was to get under 1:30. I knew I was not in the league of the fastest at 1:00 (especially with the bike!) so was after my best I could do in my first triathlon.
Running is not really my favorite thing to do. Its boring and slow and I don’t have that ‘runner’s body’ that you see in the best. But I’ve been really trying to improve here and managed to run over 5 miles a few times in the past few weeks, which meant I was confident I could do the distance of 3 miles.
I started up and went at my pace – a 9/10 minute mile. I knew I had 30 minutes to get to my time goal and was going to be cutting it close with a 10 minute pace. I kept that focus in my mind and pounded the pavement. After the bike, my hopes of being any good was low – but I seemed to be pretty decent at running. I was able to pass a lot of people…which boosted my confidence and I could keep up my pace. I had to walk a few times to catch my breath, but when I ran I could pick up the pace easily and pass a few more folks. It felt good to pass others and just a tiny bit of vindication for the bike ride.
On the last section I knew I had to push harder – all those people watching you makes you nervous and you can’t walk it. The feet were tingling but I pulled in deep and sang “I’m your pusher” by scooter again. Came round the final bend to the music, the cow bells and the FINISH sign. I was running close to the 1:30 goal so sprinted to the finish!