Saturday, June 16, 2012

Spring Festival Super Sprint Triathlon

The majority of my close friends and family know that I've taken up competing in triathlons as my new sport.  I've only participated in one, which was the Spring Festival Triathlon, a Super Sprint distance on June 28 in Moses Lake.  The legs of each discipline was a 400 meter swim, a 10 mile bike and finishing off with a 5K(3.1 mile) run. My intro to the sport was an amazing and learning experience.  I realized that wetsuits, no matter how restricting they may feel, are very nice to have.  There were three men and zero women who were not wearing them.  I was one.  So note 1: next time get a wetsuit and practice taking it off.
Start and finish of the swim at about 6:30 AM
My bike in the transition area with about 20 minutes until the start.

That being said, my swim was very poor.  It took me 7 minutes and 46 seconds to go the 400 m.  I couldn't find a rhythm and I kept drinking gulps of lake water (this might have helped my hydration, but I would have preferred drinking clear water opposed to brackish silt water).  Coming towards the last 50 m or so, I took a look back and noticed there weren't too many green swim caps.  That view reinforced how poorly I was doing and inspired me to hit the bike and run extra hard.  Thank goodness the swim was so short. This won't be the case in my next race.  More on that later.  On to the bike portion.  I'll skip a description of the transition phase since all that occurred was putting on my shirt, shoes, helmet and sunglasses then running out of the transition area.
Heading out of the transition area for the start of the bike leg.

Right of the start the bike started with a steep 50 m hill and a mile of mellow hills.  Once I reached the flat section, it was all about keeping a strong pace.  I kept my cadence between 90 and 100 rpm, which is how I like to ride, and the speed at 22-25 mph.  After such a bad swim, I kept thinking how I need to hammer the bike and go all out on the run.  But there was this voice in my head questioning if my pace was too hard and would I blow up in the run?  Well I put those thoughts in the back and continued pushing the bike because I passed about 5 to 8 riders.  I really can't remember how many but the fact alone felt good and helped me forget the first leg.  As the transition area came back into view, I tried unbuckling my shoes so that I could get my feet out and on top of the shoes but it didn't really work.  Next time I'll start that earlier and make sure I'm barefoot off the bike.  In the end I had a 29 min ride.  Overall 20 mph pace.  Not bad for my inexperience.
Coming in off the bike leg.

Transition 2-  1 minute and 13 seconds earned me the 56th rank on T-2.  What happened?  I'm blaming it on the shoelaces.  While everyone else had these neat clips that allowed them to just pull the laces up and it automatically held them in place, I was busy double knotting mine because they are so long.  Note 2: gotta go find those.  It'll probably save me at least 30 seconds.  That's a lifetime in these short races.  Ironman races?  Forget 30 seconds.  That's nothing.  Anyways on to the run.

Funny thing happened in that first half-mile.  I noticed how my legs felt full of lead, my feet were numb and I forgot to put on my wristwatch.  Note 3: wear a watch.  So I had no idea how fast I was running nor could my legs and feet give me an idea of my speed.  After a half-mile of feet slapping concrete, the blood finally circulated and I found a fast but comfortable rhythm.  I wasn't sure exactly how the course was laid out because I didn't actually look at it before.  Note 4: preview the course.  Ok, ready for the exciting part?  I am, this still gets me excited thinking about it.  Half way through the run, I saw a racer up ahead and I was steadily gaining ground.  I couldn't quite make out his number at first (the volunteers put our ages on the back of our left calf), it looked like a 20, 30, or 40.   But as I reeled him in, I noticed that it was a 30, like mine.  This guy is in my age group and I'm about to pass him!  No sideways glance, no spoken words, just zipping past.  I wasn't sure if he would increase his pace once he noticed my number and I didn't look back to find out.  (Sports psychology has taught me a backward glance infuses the chaser with confidence because it's a sign of worry.  I wasn't about to give him that edge)  Another mile was left to go and I was feeling good.  Quick cadence and strong legs propelled me into view of the finish, where I could see the clock.  First look brought a realization that I was about to break an hour.  Yup 59 minutes and 4 seconds!  I finished my first triathlon!  With a good time to boot!
Look at that smile.  I was feeling mighty good at this point.

In the finish area, the first racers were chatting while rehydrating.  I figured I might as well do the same.  Time to share accomplishments and pick some brains about techniques.  I wasn't sure how well I placed yet but soon after the race director notified the crowd through his bullhorn that up-to-date results had been posted.  Most of the races, including myself walked over to the trailer to look at times.  And what did my eye behold, but an 11th place finish with a 3rd in my age group.  All I did was walk away with the biggest grin on my face.  I knew I was going home with a medal and the satisfaction that all my hard work paid off in the end.
Yippee-ki-yay!
Not all of the results, but the ones that matter.