So, I completed my first triathlon this weekend. Woo!! It was a triathlon put on by the Rocketchix organization, and was a perfect event for a first-timer. The distances weren’t too intimidating (200 meter pool swim, 12 mile bike ride, 2 mile run), but it was certainly enough to give me a good taste of triathlon-dom.
The whole experience was pretty great from start to finish. I did the event with two of my good friends, Maggie and Pam, who were also first-timers. We packed up Friday night and rolled out to Baton Rouge to stay over night at Pam’s mom’s house. By 5 am Saturday morning we were en route to LSU campus to pick up our race packets and get situated, but not without a stop at Starbucks first, of course (where else can you get a bagel at 5 am?!).
I spent my morning sucking down as much water and Nuun as I could, as I was anticipating a serious case of dehydration by the time I finished the bike portion of the race. I still have vivid memories of how hellish the post-bike run was in the duathlon I completed a couple of months ago I was in no mood to repeat that feeling of dehydration induced fatigue. We set up our bikes and gear in the transition zone and then played the waiting game before the race started. Luckily, our good friend Teresa was there and acted as not only our cheering section, but our own personal photographer as well! It was amazing having her there to document and boost our spirits.
While I was waiting for my swim, the nerves started to kick in. I wasn’t with Maggie and Pam anymore, as they were seeded further back based on their swim times. I was a lone fish in this big pond of athletes. As I was waiting to get into the pool, I started looking around at the women around me. Many of them were wearing fancy tri-suits and holographic googles with skulls on them (ok, not really skulls, but they still looked like they meant business!), and I suddenly felt a little under prepared in my $30 tri-shorts and a sports bra. I gave myself a quick mental pep-talk, as this was not a time for vanity- this was a competition!
The swim portion was self-seeded. I seeded myself at 3:00 min, as during my practice swims I felt like that was a good pace for me- not to fast, not too slow. I was wrong. I should have seeded myself at about 2:30, because about half way through the swim I found my self stuck behind a pack (or is it a pod? A school…?) of about four swimmers that were taking up the entire lane and not passing each other. I ended up breast-stroking behind them for the last three laps, which really annoyed me. I realized I had the pool equivalent of road rage- I had pool rage!
Once out of the pool I jogged to transition, put on my shoes, helmet, and a shirt (!!) and grabbed my bike off the rack. Transition was smooth and I was off before I knew it, cycling past Tiger Stadium and out of campus down River Road. For a while it was just me and the open road. I felt like I was doing a great pace on my little single-speed bike (no gears) and I was feeling good. Then, about four miles in, that feeling dissipated. I started getting passed by the women that were seeded behind me in the swim, but who were clearly direct relatives of Lance Armstrong. They started whipping past me on their bikes at what felt like superhuman speeds. “Who are these people?”, I thought to myself as the fifth one in quick succession passed me. They were all wearing matching tri-suits and super-aerodynamic helmets, so I could only assume they were some kind of trialthon biker gang. I’ve watched enough Sons of Anarchy to know to stay out of their way, so I just kept plugging along as they smoked me, making a mental note to investigate the origin of their biker gang later (Turns out they are a triathlon training group, not actually a dangerous gang of cyclists, but intimidating nonetheless).
The rest of the 12-mile bike portion was fairly uneventful. I did accidentally run over a dead snake in the road and almost dropped my water bottle a few times, but other than that I did fine. I cruised back onto campus towards Transition and there was Teresa giving me her famous “WOOOOOO!!” as I re-racked my bike and headed out for the 2-mile run.
I will say, I may have been a bit over-sensitive at the time, but as I was jogging out of transition and the sweet volunteer lady shouts very encouragingly, “Only two miles left!” I kind of wanted to smack her. My legs felt like they had the weight of tree trunks, I was sweating from places I didn’t know could sweat (like my knee caps!), and my sunglasses were smudged and blurry. There was no part of this run that would feel like “only two miles”! I stopped to stretch about a third of a mile into the run and then interval ran the next mile. At the turn around I chugged some delicious, sugary Powerade and then felt much better. I was able to run the last half mile pretty well after giving myself a bit of a break with the intervals, and by the time I crossed the finish line I was actually feeling pretty good again.
And then it was over. I picked up my medal, my mug, and a bottle of water and went to join Teresa in cheering on Pam and Maggie. They started their swim about 45 mins after me so I was able to watch them finish their bike portions and cheer them on during their runs. I also snagged some sweet video of them crossing the finish line.
All in all, it was an awesome race and, as predicted, I’m totally hooked. I had set a goal time for myself of 1:20.00, and was pleasantly surprised to find out I had managed to beat it with a chip time of 1:17.55.
Swim: 3.33 min
Bike: 46:44 / 15.5 mph
Run: 22:37 / 11:18 min/mile
Everyone survived and we all had a blast. Now it’s time to start training for next one…