Monday, August 20, 2007

Swim, Bike, Run - It's the Tri for Fun!

Tri for Fun - Shadow Cliffs Regional Park - 08/18/07

400 y swim: 7:04
T1: 2:20
11 mi bike: 34:52 - 19.1 mph
T2: 0:23
5k run: 25:24 - 8:12 AP

Total Time: 1:10:04

Late to bed, early to rise - wait, that's not right. Getting up early was a must; the transition area opened at 5:30 am and we wanted to get there in time to pick a good spot and get our gear set up. Getting to bed early the night before was as usual a great idea, actually doing it was of course impossible. We got everything ready the night before and put the bikes in the car so we didn't have to worry about that in the morning either. I was up about 4:50 am and in the shower for a quick wake up before putting on my tri shorts, some warm up pants, and a t-shirt. The shirt I was planning on wearing on the bike and run was in my bag along with the rest of my transition necessities.

We arrived at the start area around 5:40 am and headed over to registration to check in and get our numbers. After that we walked over to the marking area and had our numbers written on our upper arm and lower leg. #1741 - my first triathlon number. After we were marked up we got our bikes and gear from the car and headed over to the T-area to get set up. The bars on the bike racks were sort of low so I decided to set up next to the fence where I could just lean my bike against it and set my gear up in front of my bike. Jen chose a spot on the rack for her bike. Once we were set up there we walked over to the Fleet Feet table so Jen could buy a race belt. Since she was swimming in the same gear she would be biking and running in she needed to get something to clip her number to. After that we milled about a bit and then went over to the car to share a clif bar and have some water. We were about 15 minutes away from the pre-race meeting where the race director would discuss the course, answer any questions, etc. I made a quick pit stop and we headed over to the beach for the talk. Well it ended up being a 20 minute speech which gave us plenty of time to get in the water and get warmed up. We were ready to get out of the water at 6:55 and head over to the start but the speeches ran over and it was closer to 7:25 before the race actually started. We stayed in the water since by this point it felt warmer than the air.

The Swim

I started in wave two which was men 16 to 39 - there were probably about 150 people in my wave (that is what they said they would let through the start gate in each wave). I knew I did not want to be in the middle of the pack so I started toward the front of the pack on the left hand side. I didn't really know what to expect but I had seen the first wave start and I knew it would be madness right at the start and also as the pack rounded the first buoy. After that the first pack had started to spread out so I expected our group would follow the same pattern. The gun went off and we were running out into the water. The guys on the right and left sides of me dove in right away so I took a few more steps to be sure of where I would land in the pack when I went in. Once the water was up to thigh level I dove in and started swimming. The first thing I noticed was that there was no way I could just put my head down and start swimming; for that to happen I would have had to be right in the front of the pack (mental note for future training and race planning). For the first 100 or so yards I basically swam with my head out of the water watching the buoy and the crowd around me. As I rounded the first buoy I could feel that I had used a lot of energy in the first leg of the swim so I rolled on my side and took a few deep breaths to relax and get my wind. Sure enough, the crowd had thinned out and I saw that I could now get into a good groove. I started stroking and focusing on my form and remembering to stay relaxed. About half way between the first and second buoy I was feeling good and then it dawned on me; I am going to run out of the water, get on my bike, ride for 11 miles, then run for 3.1 miles! I passed the second buoy and a wave of energy hit me as I realized I was going to be out of the water in about two minutes. I swam hard and soon saw that sand beneath me and noticed people standing up around me - I kept swimming until my hand hit the sand then took a couple more strokes and stood up.


Cap off, goggles off, run along the fence, there's the bike, lid off water bottle, sit down, wash sand off feet, dry feet (mental note: more absorbent foot towel next race), socks on, shoes on, stand up, sun glasses on, helmet on and clipped, bike gloves on, grab bike, hurry to exit (GENTLEMEN - PLEASE WALK YOUR BIKES), sorry :), enter mount area, hit watch to lap, go go go.

The Bike

The mount area was right at the base of a small hill (one of two on the course). I had put my bike in a low gear that morning so I was good to go as I started pedaling. At the top of the hill the course turned onto the road and I got into a good spin cycle. I passed a few people, some on mountain bikes, some on road bikes; and was also passed by a few people on road and tri bikes. There was no headwind on the first part of the course and really very little on the second half. The headwind that we did encounter was more of a minor inconvenience that required harder pedaling but no down shifting. Once we were about half way through the course I was passing a few people but not too many and I think I was passed only one more time. I kept reminding myself that I still had to run so it would be pointless to push myself beyond what I was already doing. After a nice long downhill we turned a corner and I recognized that the end of the bike would be approaching soon. I started preparing myself for the run and thinking about what I needed to do in this next transition.

The dismount area was in the same place as the mount - at the bottom of the hill. I came flying down the hill but still managed to stop in time to get off my bike without making a scene. Hit watch to lap, walk bike to spot, helmet off, bike against fence, stretch legs quickly, grab a drink, hat on, gloves off, head to exit, hit watch to lap, go go go.

The Run

You remember when you were little and you would get off a trampoline and try to jump on the ground? That's the best way I can describe the start of the run. My legs were heavy but I knew the only way to get them feeling better was to keep going. The run was on a dirt path and was hilly, so I knew there would be no speed records going in my log this day. The course zig-zagged through the park area and it doubled back on its self a few times so I was hoping to see Jen at some point. The bugs were thick on the trail and the hills were tough (up and down since you had to be careful not to slip on the loose gravely trail) but it was still a lot of fun. I saw Jen as I was on the final leg of my run (her wave started about 10 minutes after mine) and we high-fived as we passed each other. I was glad to see she had a smile on her face and a strong stride as we passed by each other. I ran up one more hill and saw the turn at the bottom to head to the finish line. The crowd was cheering as I headed across the finish line and I had a smile on my face - I had finished my first triathlon and was already thinking about the next!

Final Thoughts

Getting a good start in the swim will allow me to get out in the head of the pack where I can settle into a nice stroke sooner and get out away from the churning masses. I need to get more time in on the bike so my speed and leg strength increase; the speed for a better time, the strength to help with my time and also to carry me through the run. I need to spend some more time focusing on brick runs and running to increase my leg strength and speed as well. I hope to improve in all three areas on my next race and to have as much fun as I did this time. This was an awesome event and it got me hooked!

1 comment:

jen said...

Awesome job out there!!! You are a triathlete! You were strong in every event but I know you can improve on it. Really impressive debut. :)