Sunday, August 19, 2007

My First Triathlon Race Report


The alarms went off at 4:45 but I'd been half-awake for hours. We had organized all our stuff and loaded the bikes up the night before, so all we had to do was get dressed and head out the door. We arrived at the park about 5:30 and were among the first to arrive. Got a great parking spot, checked in and got body-marked. Then we unloaded the bikes and Zach put the front tires back on (we have yet to obtain a bike rack so we just cram them in the car for now). It was still very dark out and a bit chilly- maybe 60 degrees and I was excited but a bit nervous.

Since we were so early, we had our choice of spots in the transition area. I went with a near-end spot on one of the racks and Zach chose a spot long the side fence.

I had thought out my transition area pretty well, but I had to learn on the spot how you put your bike up on those racks. Ok, just sit the seat on the bar, got it. I did a lot of observing throughout the day- watching and imitating what other people were doing. I felt like such a newbie but I knew I wasn't the only one. I was relieved to see lots of other hybrid and mountain bikes and decided I fit in just fine.

The sky started to get light and the places started filling up. We hung around, shared a Clif bar, and watched all the people. We saw the lifeguards getting organized and watched them take the buoys out to their spots in the lake. Finally, we went and changed out of our warm up clothes and headed down to the beach for the pre-race meeting.

The race was supposed to start at 7:00 with waves going every 5 minutes (1000 athletes divided into 6 waves). Zach and I got in the water for a warm up swim and it felt great! The water was pretty warm - mid 70's- and we were giddy waiting for the start. Well the pre-race meeting turned into a 20+ minute speech and the start was delayed. It was still cool out and we felt warmer in the water, so Zach and I basically swam/waded/treaded water for about 30 minutes. Finally, his heat was ready to go so he made his way to the starting area. I cheered as they all dove in, said a little prayer for Zach to be safe, and made my way over to the start area. Here we go!!!!!!!

swim (400 yards)

Holy Shit, it was nuts. Of course I'd heard this, and I was nervous about it, but I really had no idea what to expect. I tried to start over to the side, but where I was the ground turned quickly to a yucky, sinky mud that I couldn't stand on, so I was forced back into the crowd. They counted us down and blew the air horn and we were off. I waded a few steps and then jumped in, but there were people all over! To my right, my left, in front and behind. I felt arms and legs and shoulders hitting and bumping me from all directions. Oh, and I got a face full of water about 10 times. Gah! I was so caught up in this craziness and suddenly remembered I was supposed to be swimming! I was moving forward, sort of, but there was no actual swimming going on. I couldn't extend my legs because there were people right behind me, and I had no room to stroke my arms. And I wasn't about to stick my head under water, I had to be on the look out! So basically 150 people all treaded water for 100 yards. I was surprised to see the first buoy. I squished by it on the inside and now I had plenty of room. I started really swimming, but I was worn out from the hectic start, so I just relaxed and breathed and swam steady. Hit the second buoy and now I was swimming back to shore. I was finally in a groove, swimming strong, but guess what? Swim over. Ha ha. I swam until my fingers touched the bottom and ran out of the water. I hit the lap button on my watch and hurried over to my bike. Swim time: 8:43

T1: It took a minute to get my bearings and find my bike. I am glad I thought this out so well because I was a bit disoriented and just followed my plan. Rinsed the sand off my feet with a water bottle, took a drink, then sat down and dried my feet and put my socks and shoes on. Stood up, put helmet, sunglasses, and biking gloves on (which was harder than I'd expected, I think I'll skip the gloves next time). I grabbed my bike (which was hard because late-comers had squished their bikes in right next to mine) and ran to the exit. T1 time: 2:16

bike (11 miles)

I was so happy to have made it through the swim and I got on my bike with a huge smile. The first thing you do is exit the parking lot via a steep driveway, so I geared down and got up the hill, then it was basically flat for the remainder. I just did my best on the bike since I had no Garmin to tell my speed. I was passing people and getting passed, tried to hang on to a few people who looked like they were going "my" speed. I felt great and my buns were a-burnin, so I knew I must have been going pretty fast. Thankfully, there was NO headwind at any point, which is totally opposite of any training rides I've done. I saw a huge variety of skill level out there on the bike, and I feel I was pretty much in the middle. Fine with me! It sure would be nice to have one of those fancy bikes though.... The course was on a semi-rural road, even passing a winery, then we were back at the park. Down the steep driveway and off the bike. Whoo hoo! Bike time: 37:42 (17.6 mph)

T2: This one was a breeze. Hooked my bike seat back over the pole, took my helmet and gloves off, put the visor on, and grabbed one of my water bottles (I hadn't had anything to drink thus far). I wasn't even that tired, so I knew I was going to finish. T2 time: 0:55

run (5k)

Of course, this is my thing. I immediately pass several of the woman who passed me on the bike. One girl passed me at a fast pace, but not many people passed me for the rest of the race. I felt like I was running slow, but I was moving faster than a lot of people so I just kept chugging away. Right away I realize this run course is going to be very hilly, just like they told us in the pre-race meeting. In fact, it's a loopy maze of hilly dirt trails, so you run up and down the same hills several times. And the hills were quite steep too, so not only did they slow you way down on the incline, you had to be very careful on the downhill side too. I walked twice due to small side cramps, but only for a few seconds. On the only flat section I really picked up speed and was flying past tons of people. I saw Zach on one of the out-and-backs and gave him high-five!! :) I was relieved to see he was doing good and I was surprised how close I was behind him (considering he had a 10 minute lead just on the wave start). Finally we get onto a paved path and I know I've got less than a half mile to go and I gut it out, passing a few people on the home stretch. Run time: 25:26 (8:12 average pace)

Total Time: 1:15:04

Zach had finished and grabbed the camera with time to spare. :) he had a swim time of 7:05, bike time 34:52 (19.1 mph), run time 25:24 (beat me on the run by two seconds!!). Total finish time- 1:10:04. Awesome!! I am surprised and very pumped about my finish time and am totally hooked. I know I can improve in a lot of ways and I'm going to see how good I can do in Mission Bay next month. I've got a great partner to train with and a lot of support from my family and friends to help me along :). One last thought- this triathlon thing is really fun. Like in a way that running is not. I love the challenge of distance running and it makes me feel great, but I've never felt like going "Weeeeeeeee!!!." I wee'd on the inside yesterday a lot. Sorry, that sounds gross. You know what I mean. :)


Michele said...

skip the gloves AND the socks!

What a great first race. Glad y'all had so much fun. Looking forward to lots of triathlon race reports in the future.

You both had awesome times. Congrats!!!!

Bob Gentile said...

Very Very Cool Jen!

Great re-cap...that swimming part sounds crazy(ahhh I hate crowds I would have been freaked on that part) lol

You two make a great team...way to go to both u guys!! You Rock!!

Fran said...

Nice job! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Sounds & looks like so much fun. Great job to both of you.

Dragonfly on the Water

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Fantastic race! Sounds like you both had a wonderful experience at your first tri. What a great thing to do together. One of the fun parts of triathlons is all the things to work on and improve. Always have fun with it!

jahowie said...

Awesome job!! I'm very happy for you. I'm sure that you learned some things that will make you even faster next time. How long did it take for you to stop smiling? :-)

Marathon Maritza said...

I know I told you in person, but I just wanted to say again, GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!! Whooo-hooo!

Next time, you might have to let me come with you! ;)



txrunnergirl said...

Great race report. I wanna try a tri and your post definitely inspired!

GB said...

Great job, Jen. I loved your report. You're awesome. I'm so happy for you! Your first tri and you kicked butt.

Just curious, was that Pleasanton???

miss petite america said...

freakin' sweet!!!!!

great report and it really did sound like TONS O' FUN!!!

21stCenturyMom said...

Excellent first Tri!

You and Zach should think about joining Forward Motion - it's really fun. You can also just hook up with them for Saturday rides (leaving the Danville store at 8:00) and Wed night runs from Danville or Thursday night runs from the WC store. Also, there are some folks who do a Mt. Bike ride sometimes. It's great fun and you get a 15% discount at the store if you are a member (and it's really cheap). Just do a search on forward motion race club for more info.

Paul said...

Cool Race report (and blog). I know I'm a bit late to the party here...:) Nice too see you've tasted the triathlon flavor!

I'll be doing Mission bay too! Maybe I'll see you there. Good luck!

Alisa said...

You know how excited this post made me? So happy to know that my "cross over" bike will fit in =).

Yay, what a journey!