Saturday, was my first ever triathlon! It was a sprint distance triathlon, which meant that it was a ½ mile swim, 12.59 mile bike, and a 3.2 mile run.
Here’s the stats:
AG: 22/22 (oh yeah baby!!)
My main goal going in was to finish and I’m happy to say I did that! Mission accomplished!
I had really, really wanted to finish somewhere between 1:40 and 2 hours, and I missed that by 6 minutes. But I’m looking at that as room for improvement.
I got up at 4:30 am (which I’m not even sure is a real time), ate some Lucky Charms (for the magically delicious luck) and a banana, grabbed my giant to go cup of tea, loaded the bike onto the back of the car, and was one the road by 5:15 am (which is a slightly more valid time).
I got to Amesbury and was unloading my hoards of stuff by 6:15. I decided to do a final check of the tire pressure in the parking lot, and decided to top off the tires. I connected the pump to the valve of my front tire and heard a giant, deafening woooossshhhhhhh. Yep, my tire decided to go flat! Not only did it go flat, but the valve snapped off!
The broken valve:
This started the first wave of panic of the day. I didn’t have an extra tube. I didn’t know that there would be anyone there with an extra tube for my awesome hybrid bike. I mean, it has skinnier tires, but it’s not a road or tri bike! I decided to carry my bike up the hill to registration to see if maybe, perhaps they would be able to help me.
And they were! There was an awesome bike tent set up by the nice folks at FitWerks, and they were able to fit my tire with a new tube. So now old Betsy has a fancy, schmancy road tube in her front tire.
After that, I got my transition area set up, got body marked, struggled my wetsuit into place, and took a quick dip in the water. I was ready to go.
Swim – 0.5 miles:
This was the portion of the event that I was most worried about. I am NOT a strong swimmer at all, and my one attempt at an open water swim was cancelled due to thunder and lightning. In other words, I felt very, very unprepared for this part.
That being said, this particular triathlon had a “newbie” wave for the swim. I made friends with an awesome group of ladies who were also wearing the red newbie swimcaps, and when our wave horn sounded we were pumping each other up and shaking our neoprene clad booties.
However, as soon as I dived into the water I went into full blown panic attack. Complete with hyperventilating. At one point I had to stop and bob there while a rescue kayaker came over to make sure I was okay. The kayaker ended up pacing me for quite a bit to make sure I was okay. She told me after the race that she was quite worried about me!
I just couldn’t put my face in the water and do a proper freestyle, so I ended up doing the back stroke the entire way. I stayed on course fairly well until the last part of the swim when I decided a zig-zag pattern would be an awesome idea. However, I made it on to shore, in no small part thanks to that awesome kayaker and the other red hats who cheered me on!
I wasn’t entirely sure how this whole transition thing worked, so I have spent the last few weeks watching videos on YouTube. So I got out of the water, ran up to the transition area while taking off the top of my wetsuit and my swim cap and goggles. I actually changed really quickly, but was held up by my complete and utter inability to get my bike unracked!
Bike – 12.59 miles:
The bike portion was awesome. It was honestly my strongest event. The sun was starting to come out, the course was gorgeous and bucolic, and while there were rolling hills, there was nothing too bad. Because the newbies started last, and my swim was so slow, I spent the bike portion of the event pretty much by myself. I was passed twice by guys on fancy tri-bikes, and I passed a few people, but I spent most of the race in isolation.
Which meant I could talk to myself. Aloud. A lot.
I talked myself up hills, telling myself that I could do this. I was almost at the top. I did hills longer, higher, and harder than this on my trip to the grocery!
At one point I turned a right hand corner and looked at a long stretch of rolling downhill. This excited me, so I yelled “SWEET BIPPITY, WE’RE GOING DOWNHILL!!!” Let’s just say the police officer that was directing people to turn right laughed and commented “have fun with that ma’am.” Well officer, I did indeed have fun with that.
So again, I was watching YouTube videos about the transitions to figure out what to do. Well, all the videos I watched were like “don’t unclip your bike shoes. Take your feet out of the shoes as you’re coming into the transition area, and put your feet on top of the shoes to pedal in.”
Apparently, this is the hard core way of transitioning from the bike to the run. I did it, therefore I am hardcore. I am also amused the race director greatly by doing this. He was tickled that someone who was obviously a newbie, who had a hybrid bike, was doing this advanced, gearhead maneuver.
Run – 3.2 miles:
Holy crap, was I tired at this point. This is my slowest time ever for a short distance, which is saying something, because I’m a slow and plodding runner under the best of conditions.
By the time the run had started, it was in the 80s. I did what all the tri websites had told me to do, and I had refueled and hydrated on the bike. I managed to down 32 oz of water and an orange GU, which meant that by the time the run started I had to pee. Badly. Like real, real bad.
So it was hot, I had to pee, and I was seriously exhausted from doing all that biking and swimming nonsense, therefore I proceeded to talk my way through the run:
Okay, Diane, you can keep going until that lightpole….you can do this. Okay, now the next lightpole…and the next…
Okay, Diane, see that guy in the white shirt up there? You can totally pass him. Let’s do this. Trudge faster!
At one point, I came up on a woman who was walking through a water stop. Now I always walk through my water stops, because I am ridiculously incompetent at running and drinking at the same time. We were talking about how there was less than a mile to go, and we both wanted to finish strong. I was like, well let’s go! Let’s run (slowly) and finish this thing. I was trying my best to be a motivator, but apparently I’m not that good at it, because she ended up walking and I could convince her to keep on truckin’.
I was so freaking happy to finish that race, and collect my post race beer. I met up with some of the other red caps, who throughout the race were the most incredible, motivating group of women. Whenever I saw any of them we would yell and shout “Go red caps!!! Wooo!” at each other. Drinking a beer with them afterwards was a great way to end one of the harder things I’ve ever done.
I am totally going to do another one of these things. I have to redeem my panicked swim and less than stellar run. That being said, I probably need to take another set of swim lessons, this one being triathlon oriented. I also need to practice swimming in the open water.
As for the run, the only thing that will help with that is doing more bricks. If you’ve seen my daily mile page, you know that the only bricks I did were when I biked to soccer and then biked home. I need to do proper bike/run brick workouts in order to learn to run for distance on tired legs.
I also need to figure out some sort of sunscreen strategy. Apparently, sunscreen wears off when you swim-bike-run, because I am currently rocking some awesome tri tan lines!