flashlight and sidewalk
Hi all, I'm a lurker in this forum and primarily a trail runner, but I thought some of you might like to hear about my excursion out into your sport. I'm cross posting this from the Trailer Trash forum, which I'm active in. This was my first triathlon and I had a blast. Thanks to other posters because I've robbed your posts of advice many times.
Last Saturday I competed in the "Quakerman Triathlon" at Lake Nockamixon, PA. It was a pretty small event and featured an Olympic+ distance race (long bike leg) with about 100 people and a Half Ironman distance race with about 55 people (including me). I found out about this event last year and thought it would be a fun challenge in a familiar setting, plus my parents could attend (they're big fans ).
In getting ready for the race, I knew my biggest hurdle was going to be the swim. I hadn't swam (swum?) any appreciable amount since I was in high school. I started training for the swim at the beginning of August, so I had to learn in a hurry. My first training session, I couldn't do a full lap between the platforms at Darlington Lake (which were about 60-75 yds apart) and I was very panicky. A few more sessions and I got the panic under control and started to gain confidence that I wasn't going to drown. I swam everyday I could, mostly out of fear that I was going to sign up and pay $180 to swim some fraction of 1.2 miles and have to call it a day.
Enough about that, on to race day!
I got to the race plenty early and brought my bike to the transition area to get it set up. The other fellows who were there that early seemed like regulars and chatted about various other races they had done. One of the race coordinators spotted me and started asking questions like "is this your first race?"...I guess it was pretty obvious. She gave me some advice for the bike ride section and the other guys started piling on with "advice" like "the only bad part is when tractor trailers go by and the trailer is all over the place". It was pretty funny, and honestly I expected a little more of a razzing by tri-jerks...but it was all in good fun and not mean spirited in the least.
Before the swim, they played the National Anthem (Whitney Houston edition) and as I looked around I spotted my family among the few spectators who made it out at 8:00 in the morning. They wished me luck, I walked across the timing mat and walked my way out waist deep, and before I could think twice about it, we were off!
The swim start was a little hairy for me as a first time open water swimmer and a first time swimmer with other people. It was probably mild compared to other accounts I have read, but it seemed like chaos. I tried to settle in behind someone, but kept finding myself catching them with each stroke, so I went around to pass. Somebody swimming diagonally across the field cut me off, so I stopped, let them pass, then carried on...then they cut back the other way to swim back diagonally across me...same thing. The third time it happened, I eased up, went into a breast stroke and let the mass of people get about 20 yards ahead of me before I carried on. This was much better and I didn't have to deal with other people for the rest of the swim. I made my way around the triangular course without much issue. I will say that there was much more chop during this swim than I have ever experienced, but overall it wasn't that bad. The whole swim just kinda felt surreal and I don't think I ever really relaxed until the final 400 yards. I got out of the water with a big smile on my face, which stayed there the rest of the day! 51:XX minutes (45 of 53ish).
As I made my way to the first transition area, I wasn't in much of a hurry. That is until my fiance came running up next to me yelling "GO GO GO, you can rest on the bike!" (how did she know that was the perfect thing to say)...so I hustled up with a bigger grin on my face, grabbed my bike and headed out.
The bike course was 3-18.5ish mile loops. During the first loop, I passed by some crazy people along the side of the road who were cheering people on...it was my family! That was a nice boost. I completed the first loop in about 1:10 minutes, which was right on schedule. The course was pretty hilly and into the wind in sections. On the largest downhill, I glanced at my speedometer which read 40 mph...wew. Starting on the second loop I started to pass some people, both from my race and the Olympic distance. This definitely helped ease my mind that I was way in the back of the pack (there were only a few bikes still in the transition area when I had left). The rest of the bike ride was fairly uneventful except that I played leapfrog with a girl (Bryn) who I chatted with and found out that it was her first triathlon also. We finished off most of the third lap together, which was a welcome distraction from the saddle soreness (this was the first time I had rode the bike in the tri-suit, which was less comfortable than my bike shorts after about mile 45) and also the heat/humity which was steadily rising. My family was waiting for me again as I made my way to the transition area for the run, which was another nice mental boost. 3:28:XX (30 of 53ish)
I made my way out of the transition area onto the run course and felt surprisingly good. My legs didn't have that wonky feeling that I was used to from practice "brick runs". On the downside, I had a sore spot on the ball of my left foot just inside the big toe (I think this was from a foot cramp I got while swimming). The run course really made the race for me. It was a double out and back and shared the same course as the Olympic competitors, which meant that I got to see pretty much everyone who was competing at least once throughout the run. I ran the first mile at a pace that felt good, but found myself walking up a hill at mile 2. I walked the remainder of the first OUT and looked at my watch...40 minutes! That meant I was looking at a 2:40 half marathon. I couldn't let that happen, so I started to push through the desire to walk. It was HOT, the sun was directly overhead and there wasn't much shade. Everyone was struggling (except Bryn who ended up running a 2:00 1/2 marathon and looked strong each time we passed), but there were a lot of people in good spirits and plenty of encouragement among the competitors. That made it fun, and I made sure to dish out plenty of compliments and keep smiling. I passed a good number of people throughout the run. I was using my carry bottle heavily, filling it up with ice water at each aid station and drinking/drenching with the full 20 oz before the next one. After a long slog that seemed to go on forever I saw the mile 13 marker and made my way to the finishers chute. One of the volunteers tried to re-route me because he thought I had another lap to go, but that wasn't gonna happen. I crossed the line and heard my mom saying "cross it again" because she missed the photo...that also wasn't going to happen . 2:22:53 (19 of 53ish).
I completed the race in 6:47:19. I had been expecting a sub 6:30 finish but I severely underestimated the difficulty I would have with the run. Oh well. I had a blast. Oh, and I placed 3rd in my AG (really 5th but 1st and 3rd were also in my AG).
All in all, it was fun to be a tourist in the world of triathlon. I'm pretty sure I'll do that race again next year. I am not, however, converting to triathletism. Too much money, and too much equipment (hassle).
Here's some pics from the day if you made it this far:
This guy is happy to be done with the swim
Bike Loop 1...still smiling!
Heading out for the Run
Wonky-eyed finish picture
**Ask me about streaking**
Congratulations! I can't imagine doing a 70.3 distance as my first triathlon. Wow!
Called to Endure - Blog
"Everyone gets the sunset. Only the dedicated earn the sunrise."
Thanks Kmays! I have some experience in the world of ultra-marathons, so a 7 hour effort was not new to me (just the swimming and biking ).
Great job! Nice race report.
#1: Do what I can do (250+ training days, 300+ aerobic hours).
#2: Race (Hurt the Dirt 1/2 marathon - 4/27, Grand Rapids Tri 70.3 - 6/9, MSU Gran Fondo - 6/22, ODRAM - 8/10, Michigan Titanium 70.3 - 8/18, Grand Rapids Marathon - 10/20)