First of all I would like to send a special thanks to Walter Smith. Without his calming support and guidance I am not sure I would have even shown up for this event. My first open water practice swim did NOT go well. I panicked, hyperventilated, and was just flailing around in the water. The only thing I could think was that this swimming stuff just wasn’t for me. This voice in my head was telling me, “Get out of the water, take the wetsuit off and go home! Sell that thing on eBay and forget you ever signed up for that triathlon thing”. That voice was really loud too, and I about to take its advice, then I heard Walt talking to me. He got me to calm down and relax and reminded me that I would float in my wetsuit if just stop flailing around so much. He eventually got me to swim to the next buoy, and then the next, and the next, but I never really got it all together that day. I felt embarrassed and defeated.
The next week Walt tracked down some buoys and the next two Saturdays he organized practice swims. The second swim went much better, and by the third I had the open water thing down, no problems! Thank you Walter, I seriously think I would have gotten out the water and went home if you had not been there.
I would also like to thank Kim Sheridan and everyone else involved in the mentor program. Joining the club has had many benefits, but I think the mentor program has been the biggest help for me. Thank You!
This was my first Triathlon. I had been running for a couple years and was bored with it. A friend of mine had picked up biking and he was having a good time with it, so I decided to buy a bike try it too. I took to biking quickly and started doing group rides with the BBC. Then the same friend was talking about do this Triathlon thing, so when he signed up for it I did too, except I didn’t know how to swim. So I spent the winter taking lessons and swimming with a group at Lifetime.
On to the race!
I had three goals in mind leading up to this race. The first was to make it through the swim without panicking, without hyperventilating, without rolling on my back, and most of all I didn’t want to meet any of the kayakers. I am sure they are nice people but the last thing I want was to have to a conversation with on of them. My time was not important. I just wanted to feel good coming out of the water. Relax and have fun!
My second goal was to break 20 Mph average on the bike. I was able to practice the bike multiple times so I was confident with this portion and I knew the course well. For me getting on the bike was when the racing portion of the day was really going to start. How often to you get to fly around on these roads and not worry about stopping at intersections or having cars pull out in front of you when you are flying down the hills? I was pumped about the bike and confident I would be able to finally break 20MPH.
My third goal was to save enough for the run so I that would be able average between 8 and 8.5 minute miles. That is moving pretty fast for me. The course is so hilly and running on the down hills makes my knees ache, so I didn’t want to push too hard on the down hills and there just aren’t many flat spots. I was mainly concerned with getting my nutrition and hydration right so I didn’t run out gas.
Then there was the rain. No change in the swim plan, but the bike plan was out the window. All the practicing I did in the rolling hills, experimenting with my shifting, and studying my heart rate (Garmin geek, but that is anther story) was out the window. New bike goal: DO NOT CRASH! So I figured I would still be pretty fresh for the run and I would just go as hard as could on then.
There was a long gap between my wave and the previous wave, so I used the time to get acclimated to water and practice swim. I had put a lot of thought into this portion because I knew if the swim got off to a bad start it would be very hard for me to recover. I headed down and got my feet wet, and no problem! It felt like getting into a warm bath after swimming in that lake at Cascade, and all that chop at Sandy Point. I got all the way in and did some practice sprints, did some backstroke, floated around, I felt great! I started feeling like the swim was going to go well and my confidence was building.
My original plan was to start all the way to the right, where I could stand, and let everyone in front go before I started swimming. When I was practicing I noticed that the straightest and shortest line was in the middle, so I decided to stay out there. When the gun went off I counted to three to allow some distance between myself and the ensuing melee in front of me. I started very slowly and kept looking up to see all the turmoil and splashing. Pretty soon it calmed down and I started passing people who were floating on their backs, doing the sidestroke, and hyperventilating. Next thing I knew that second buoy (I think) was right in front in me. I kept going, sighting and turning until I was lined up with the third buoy. As I keep going I noticed that all I had to do was look right every time I breathed to make sure there were still people on my right, then every 3 or 4 breaths look straight ahead to make sure I was still in line with the buoy. I can only breathe on the right so I was very worried about the counter clockwise course and being able to spot buoys on my left. I didn’t plan it ahead of time, but swimming straight at the buoys was working great, so I kept doing it.
Swimmers on my right, swimmers on right, swimmers on right, buoy in front of me, Repeat.
Orange buoy, turn left.
Grass, Island, the exit, I can stand! I am done! Its over! I did it! Once I started I never stopped, I never broke my rhythm, I never turned on back, I just kept going, one buoy at a time. Nice and easy and relaxed. I never pushed myself; I stayed well within my ability and, with a little luck, was able to avoid getting kicked or ran over. The exit was a little hectic because I ended up finishing around a group of people, but I was so excited at that point that it hardly mattered!
Swim time: 32:11 (I wasn’t worried about it at the time, but I am proud of it now!)
I got a little too excited. My whole family was there to cheer me on and take pictures. I sprinted out of the water, tore off the top of my wetsuit, and ran full speed into the transition area. Suddenly I was in the wrong place, couldn’t find my bike, and my heart rate was off the charts! Oops. I collected myself and calmly found my spot. I had a home depot bucket, so I sat down and took my wetsuit off. It was crazy, and muddy, and people where crawling over me with their bikes. Who cares! I finished the swim!
The bike was relatively uneventful. I took it very easy on the down hills, very easy in the corners, then I powered up the hills as fast as I possibly could. I got passed a lot in the turns, but I didn’t care, I usually got it right back on the next uphill. On the last uphill, before getting back on the 108, someone asked me what mile we were on. When I looked at my Garmin I noticed it hadn’t been started. I swear I started it! Up until that point I was just looking at were my heart rate and cadence. I don’t pay attention to speed or average (or distance in this case) until the ride is over. Bummer! I am a Garmin geek and there is no race data to analyze. So I got off the bike not having any idea about how long it took me. It felt like 18MPH average, maybe 18.5.
Bike time: 1:15:17
20.2 MPH average? How did that happen? I will never know. I still think it was a timing error.
I was actually very relieved to be off the bike. What I thought was going to be the best part of the race turned out to be my least favorite and most stressful. The idea of slipping and going down had been weighing on me all day. Once my feet were back on the ground I felt like I was back in control. Barring any injuries I was definitely going to finish this thing.
T2: 1:38 All those RBRs helped me here. I fumbled getting my Garmin off my bike and onto my wrist or it would have been faster.
I felt very fresh on the run. My legs felt great, I got up that first hill in good shape. I opened it up a little when I recovered and my first mile was around 7:30. Good times. I motored around the back side of the park and got up the second hill in good shape. About halfway up that second hill this guy came up from behind me and started passing. I glanced over and he looked really strong, so I decided to pick it up and see if I could hang with him for awhile. When we got to the top approaching the water station he called out, “who’s got water?” Someone answered, “Right here Mayor!” Mayor? I looked over again and it was Mayor Adrian Fenty! Cool! After we got some water he put it in another gear, and by the time I got to the skate park I couldn’t see him anymore. The rest of the run went well. Get up the hill in good shape, recover as quickly as possible and go fast down. Repeat.
I had a little trouble at the finish line. I didn’t know we would have to just STOP. I sprinted in, trying to look strong for my photos, crossed the line and STOP. I thought I would be able run it out a little bit and get my heart rate down. Things started getting fuzzy, and I got claustrophobic. I just had to get away from everyone and get out in the open. I missed getting my photo with my finisher metal. Oh well.
Run Time: 49:28 (PR! Sweet!)
Overall, I had a great experience! I’ll be back next year! This triathlon stuff is pretty cool!
I was waiting to see how the swim when before I committed to another event. The swim turned out to be my favorite part, so I signed up for the Half-Full tri today. I can’t wait!
I can probably fit another Olympic distance in before the half-full, any suggestions?