On Saturday I participated in my first ever triathlon! It was a day I had been looking forward to and training for for a while. The triathlon was a sprint called Top Gun, and it was a .25 mile swim, 10 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. Packet pickup was the day before, so I thought I’d start there. I was hoping official pictures would be up before I posted this, but I don’t want to wait anymore; the photographers have already gotten enough pageviews from my incessant refreshing. Luckily my husband was there and got a lot of pictures.
Friday afternoon I headed down to Bill Jackson’s Store for Adventure not knowing what to expect. The store was really cool, but my nervousness and hunger left me a little dazed and I didn’t have time to explore. Luckily I did run into Tori and Patrick, and she reminded me that I needed to buy a race belt. I wouldn’t have remembered that had she not mentioned it.
There were a lot more steps to this packet pickup than there ever are for races. I had to show my ID and grab a card that had a checklist on it, get my packet from another station, my ankle strap timing chip from another one, and my cap from the last one. I got a light blue cap for my age group, and I was a little jealous of all the age groups that got bright pink.
I headed home, setup a mock transition, and stuck all the stickers everywhere they needed to go (one on my helmet, one on my bike, and a wristband on my wrist to get into transition). I also put my race bib onto my race belt.
I shared this pictures on Facebook and asked if there was anything I was forgetting. I got so much great feedback including a key tip to put the race bib under my tennis shoes so I could grab it right after I put on my shoes to run. It worked and helped me not forget to grab that bib (it only has to be worn for the run).
I went to bed pretty early and set my alarm for 3:55 to get up by 4 and get out of the house by 4:30ish. I made a bowl of oatmeal to take with me, put all my stuff in the car, and got my bike on the back of the car. I was most nervous about that part because driving an hour on mostly freeways was something I hadn’t done with my bike on the back before. Luckily it made it there unscathed.
The race was down at Ft. de Soto, and I was pretty familiar with where everything would be setup because I ran a few halves down there in the last year (including my PR race). Tim came with me since it was my first triathlon, and he was super patient as I maneuvered my way through body marking, setting up transition, using the bathroom a few times, and finding friends.
I got my transition setup and my bike racked and looked jealously at the super fast triathlon bikes with their zipp and disc wheels. I don’t know how much of a difference that would make, but I can tell you I won’t know for a while.
From there it was time to head to the water and get in for a little warmup. I practiced dolphin dives and running in the water and got in a few fast strokes before climbing out to listen to the National Anthem.
And before I knew it, it was time to line up with the rest of the blue caps! All of the 20-29 year olds and Athenas (women over a certain weight) lined up in this wave starting at 7:12.
And before we knew it, they were counting down! I wiped my goggles no fewer than 5 times and just hoped they’d stay fog-free for the duration of the swim. I didn’t know what to expect, as I’d heard multiple stories of grabbing, bumping, touching, etc. I decided to line up in the front because the swim is my strongest leg by far. Growing up a swimmer is a benefit for sure in this sport.
And we’re off!
The swim was 400 meters in the Gulf of Mexico. We went 100 meters out to a buoy, turned left, swam 200 meters by a couple more buoys, and then turned left again to finish 100 meters to the beach.
I asked Tim to take pictures, so he did. The green buoy in the picture below is one of the turn buoys, and you can kind of see how far out we were.
I have never denied having a competitive spirit, so I was ready to face whatever was placed before me. Once we ran into the water and ran over the waved for a bit, I saw people start dolphin diving, so I did it too. I did probably 5 or 6 dives before I started swimming. I surprisingly didn’t get touched or kicked one time. Once I settled on my stroke I did some siting and just swam as fast as I could.
Eventually I caught up to the people in the wave ahead of me, so I just did my best to swim around them without impeding anyone’s progress.
I had heard to swim until you took two strokes that hit the sand, so that I did. Then I got up and started running up the beach to the timing mat.
I finished the .25 mile swim in 6:13 and heard Patrick yelling from the side that I was the 3rd one out of the water. One of the girls was in the 20-24 age group, so I got 2nd in the 25-29 AG in the swim! From here I knew it was going to be all about holding on and letting as few people pass me as possible.
The run to transition was long and on the sand and then rough cement. I threw my cap and goggles down, wiped my feet on my towel, put on my sunglasses and helmet, put my socks and bike shoes on, unracked my bike and was off. Transition was still slow! I did T1 in 4:46. Room for improvement!
Tim didn’t make it up to the transition exit in time to see me, but these are other bikes coming out of transition.
Once I got on the bike I felt great! I looked down and realized that my Garmin was set on run mode, so it was giving me pace in minutes/mile instead of miles per hour. I spent a lot of time on that ride doing math trying to figure out how fast I was going. I was glad to have the Garmin, but at the same time I need to remember to turn it to bike mode in the future. I think I would have started a little more conservatively had I known my pace.
I got passed quite a bit and did a little bit of passing. The people passing were mostly men from the waves behind us, but there were also a number of girls my age. Looking at the tri bikes and hearing them whiz past was fun. I loved riding, and the head wind never got unbearable. I did take it out a little fast, so I was struggling a bit at the end, but I still love riding the most. Doing it out on a course with hundreds of other bikers just made it even more fun.
I finished the 10 miles in 29:01 with an average speed of 20.7 MPH. That put me 13th in my age group.
Into transition and onto the run it was! T2 took me 2:53. Too long!
Ugh. I’m a runner. I’m supposed to be excited for the run, but I wasn’t. It felt odd, and I felt slow. I was running around 9:30 for the first little bit and was just trying to catch my breath and get into a groove of some sort. It took a while. I didn’t like it. Ah! I’m supposed to like this part. I always read about runners who like this part and wait to get to it! I felt like I’d dropped my running membership card somewhere or forgot to pick it up from transition
At the 1.5 mile marker I felt like I had run at least 2. There were no mile markers on the run and my Garmin was still ticking from the bike. We turned around to run the rest of the way back ON SAND, and as a man passed and said “home stretch!” to me, I asked him how far. I think I might have sounded like the grim reaper, as he turned around and said, “mile and a half!” I thought about sitting down. I thought we were over halfway! And, I have to run this on the sand?!
During this time it struck me that the two months off from the stress fracture did more to my running fitness than I’d let on. Maybe I could run 2 or 3 miles at an okay pace, but I’ve lost a lot of the endurance I worked so hard for. Blah. Not a fun realization to have.
I walked through both water stops and took a gatorade and water at both of them. I didn’t know if the finish line was going to come at any point, and when I finally saw it I picked it up and just started running my heart out. Then about halfway there I realized it’s one of those “not as close as it appears” mirages, and I couldn’t sustain my kick. Oh well. Sudden stomach cramps surged, I pushed to just cross that line, and then I had finished! I’m a triathlete!
I’m looking for Tim in that last picture.
The run was by far my weakest link, and my 3.1 miles took me 29:54, or an average of 9:39/mile. It also put me 17th in my AG. Yikes.
But then I saw Tim and got food. I was dying for a Gatorade and they just didn’t have any at the post race party. All they had was Propel, which was too sweet for me. Oh well. I got two big slices of watermelon, which tasted divine.
Then I met up with friends! Everyone had great races. Tori got another PR (for the fourth year in a row) and Beth killed it with her new bike!
Overall it was a great day!
My total time was 1:12:49 for the distance. Now I’ve got a bar set!
I wore my new MooMotion Indie triathlon kit and loved it! I’ll have a whole other post on that in the days to come.
My next triathlon will be double the distance at the International Distance Triathlon FD3 at Fort de Soto on August 24th. Can’t wait! Already dreading the run but aiming for improvement.