I think it was only a matter of time, but I have officially been bit by the triathlon bug. I never thought I would tri…haha, get it…but my husband and friends finally convinced me to just do it. And do it, I did!
I did the Rock N Route Triathlon in Derby. It was a good first attempt because it was a pool swim. A 400m serpentine swim in the 50m pool at the Rock River Rapids water park, then a 12.8 mile bike ride around the rural part of Derby, and then a 5K run down to High Park and back. Pretty much my home turf.
The day started at 4am. I woke to the sounds of Noel making oatmeal and coffee. He wanted to get to transition early, which I thought was a bit silly, but I suppose it was worth it. I had my usual PB toast and coffee. I put on my poor man’s tri suit (post on that coming later this week) and pulled on a soft cotton sweatshirt. I double checked my transition bag. Noel loaded our bikes onto our bike rack, and off we went.
We were some of the first people to arrive. We had about 30 minutes to wait before transition opened, so we hung around with the other early risers and talked about all things triathlon. Does that ever get old?? NOPE! I had brought The Stick, so I rolled out my legs and did a few laps around the parking lot, first on foot and then on my bike.
Once transition opened, we got our bikes racked in the first spots near the bike out and I laid out my stuff. I walked myself through everything twice. I was most nervous about transition since it’s hard to practice. I had brought a Honey Stinger Waffle to eat before the race, but once the nerves hit, I knew my stomach couldn’t handle anything.
I got body marked and got my ankle chip. I hit the bathrooms twice, milled around talking to people as they arrived. I double checked my transition a couple more times. Mostly just nervous shuffling around. Eventually transition closed, we did the athlete briefing, and then lined up for the time trial start.
I was number 118 out of 138. I had a while to wait before I got in the pool. I talked with the people around me. Number 117 was a sweet older man who gave me lots of pointers after he learned it was my first triathlon. My friend Keri was the last to get in the pool. It was her first time too, so she and I did the nervous pacing and hit the bathrooms one last time together. They had loud music playing, so I danced around and sang to distract myself.
FInally it was my turn to get into the water. I jumped in and turned to wait for the go. A zen fell over me and I was ready. I was in my element. Two years ago, I would have NEVER imagined that getting ready to start a race would be one of my happy places. But oh man, it is. I could literally feel the adrenaline hitting my muscles. The surge of endorphines hitting my brain. That natural high that I crave.
I got the go and I just started swimming. Dory was in my head. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. I counted down every length, using my combination of crawl and breaststroke. I passed the older man in front of me in the second lane. I passed two other guys in the middle of the pool. No one passed me. I got to the last length and started visualizing transition.
I pulled myself out of the water, yanked my swim cap and goggles off, and ran to transition. My friend Lisa had told me right before we lined up to just go for it in transition. She told me not to stop and take a breath. Just keep moving and use the bike to recover from the swim. I stopped my watch when I hit the mat and was VERY happy to see a 10:23 swim.
Transition felt smooth. I dried my arms off with Noel’s extra towel (note: bring a smaller towel next time to dry my arms off with), dried my feet off, got my socks and shoes on, tied my shoes. Helmet on, sunglasses on. I threw my shirt and Bondi band on top of my race belt, deciding to just ride in my bra and shorts. I remembered to grab a long drink of water too. T1 time was 1:30. YES!
The first part of the bike is flat and fast. I averaged close to 18mph for the first 2 miles. I knew I would need to reel that in. I slowed down and worked on slowing my breathing. I turned onto Greenwich and watched my cadence on the hills. I kept it around 85 and shifted to my small ring when I hit the big hill. I got passed by three people, but I passed a couple of guys on mountain bikes and passed one lady who appeared to have bonked on Rock Road.
I did feel a small bonk coming on around the halfway mark on the bike. I realized then that I had forgotten to open my bag of trusty cherry cola Stinger energy chews in my cute little speed bag that Noel got me the week before. I got the bag out and managed to rip it open with my teeth WITHOUT FALLING OVER ON MY BIKE. HAHA! I shoved three chews in my mouth and got a swig of water. Again WITHOUT FALLING OVER ON MY BIKE.
The last half mile is a hill. I powered up it and pulled into transition. Bike time was about 49 minutes. Not quite the 16mph that I was hoping for, but it was under the fastest training I had done of the same route. I was happy with it.
My T2 time was 0:57. It should have been A LOT faster. In hindsight, I should have just racked my bike, taken off my helmet, grabbed everything, and run. I put on my shirt, Bondi Band, and race belt while standing in transition. I should have just done that on the run. I did almost forget my sunglasses which came off with my helmet. Thankfully a cycling friend of Noel’s was working transition and hollered at me to put them back on. I saw Noel finishing as I ran onto the course. He yelled my name and told me to “go get it!” Love that guy!
I figured the run would be my favorite part, and I was partially right. It felt good to end on my strongest leg of the race, but I was tired and ready to be done. I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t walk except at the big water station at the entrance to the park. My legs felt wobbly and heavy, but the cadence from the bike kept them moving. My first mile was a 9:10. I had brought my bag of chews with me and ate the rest over the course of the run. My second mile was a 9:18, and my third was a 9:50, mostly up hill.
When I rounded the corner into the parking lot and the finishing chute, Noel was standing there with a bunch of our friends and training buddies. They all hollered at me to turn on the jets. I didn’t think I could, but my body always surprises me at the end of races. My pace for the last bit was 7:40! My run time was 29:25. First official sub-30 5K is on the books.
My overall time was 1:31:09. My goal was 1:40 and my DREAM goal was 1:30, so I’m VERY pleased with how I did.
I’m still basking in the glory of the triathlon experience. It’s truly a non-stop adrenaline pumping experience. I didn’t stop moving or thinking for a solid hour and a half. And my whole body was tired and happy when I was done. Someone asked me yesterday if the triathlon was harder than my half marathon, and my answer is no. Running a long race is tough. You are doing the same thing over and over until the end. It’s a true test of endurance. Triathlon is three events. As soon as I was done with the swim, I was done with the swim. I didn’t think about it again. As soon as I was done with the bike, I was done with the bike and my brain switched to the run. I never had a chance to hit a wall. Now I’m sure walls can happen in half Ironman and Ironman distances, but the sprint triathlon is just that…a SPRINT!
Am I ready to do it again? You betcha. I’m ready for the Tiara Triathlon at the end of the month, which will include my first open water swim during a race. Bring it on!
The only discouraging part of the Rock N Route is my official split times. They are funky (12:26 swim, 49:13 bike, 27:06 run). I think something happened when I crossed the T1 mats. My swim time is two minutes long and my run time is two minutes short. The split times are impossible too, when compared to the people around me. I passed no. 117 in the second pool lane, but he finished in 10:40something. And I started the run at almost exactly the same time as Keri and she finished in 28:something. As exciting as a 27:06 5K would be for me, I think it’s pretty much impossible at my current level. Noel has encouraged me to let it go…ala Frozen. I know what times I did and my overall time is right. I know where I can make improvements for the next race and next year’s tri season, which I foresee being even bigger!!
I should have some pictures to share with you all later this week. Our amazing local photographer that I have met through my job at the library was there, and he took a bunch of shots of me on the course. I wanted to get this recap written and posted though while it was still fresh in my mind!