First Triathlon Experience

I finished my first novice sprint triathlon in second place.

Here are my times.

200 yard swim 6:29 (slow but the swim was my biggest hurdle so I'm proud)
T1 4:03 (T1 was outside-the pool was inside)
4.5 mile bike 16:55 (on a mountain bike with slicks)
T2 57 seconds
1.5 mile run 12:39

Here is how it started.

Two days before I made a long list of everything I didn't want to forget. Things like my bike helmet, gps, camera (for the blog of course), cliff bars, socks, towel, sunglasses, bike shoes. I spread it all out in the basement and practiced the 2 transitions (T1 and T2) to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything. I really had no idea what to expect so I prepared for everything based upon the books, magazines and blogs I've read not to mention the podcasts. In retrospect, I had too much stuff, but it was comforting to have it. It all fit in my Ogio bag (which works great as a tri-bag) so why not pack it?

The night before the race, I practiced T1 and T2 again. I also penciled out when I should leave for the race calculating backwards from race time. That would include drive time, eating time transition area setup time, registration time etc.. I calculated that I should get up at 5:00. It turns out that I woke up at 5:45 and arrived 20 minutes before race time. This would freak out some people but it is kind of my style. I really had plenty of time to rush around and feel completely lost.

The pre-race announcements were at 6:50. I heard all of the instructions but didn't understand many of them. I asked a few fellow racers for some clarifications and they were great to help me. My favorite was an older man (in his 70's?) who told me of one of his first triathlons at this pool years ago where he exit the pool through the women's dressing room on accident. His suggestion not to repeat his mistake was the best advice I received all morning.

The starting gun sounded at 7:00. I was the last to start and the last novice out of the pool. I hit my head really hard on the wall at yard 150. I was doing the backstroke and failed to watch for the end. Even though I was very slow on the swim I was so proud that I did the whole swim without stopping. I noticed many others walked in the water for a length or two. I was light headed when I got out of the pool but by the time I got outside I was fine.

I was cold in the first part of the bike segment. I'm not sure why that surprised me. I was wet. I was super tentative as well. I was fearful of growing tired, even though I wasn't. At the end of lap one, I realized they shortened the course due to construction. I think they said this in the pre-race meeting but I missed the detail. I was bummed I wouldn't get the whole distance I planned for, especially since I was feeling good that the swim was over. I debated going the 6 laps required of the regular entrants instead of the 3 laps for the novices. But I didn't know if that would some how disqualify me. I stayed with the plan. 3 laps went quickly and I cruised into T2.

The run felt normal but I never got fully into it by the time it was over. I decided during the run that I entered for the experience of triathlon this time not the race or performance. Finishing was the only goal.

I watched the other racers finish. After the final finisher the prizes were awarded. I was surprised that such a small race had trophies. 1 for the overall male winner and the other for the overall woman. I got a red ribbon for my efforts. The group seemed tight knit. You could tell that they raced together a lot. A guy named Randy made sure I felt welcomed though. That was cool. You hear so much about how welcoming triathletes are. Not all of them are. But enough of them are to make it a true statement.

It was a great experience and I want to do another. Next time I'll work on my times. I did get second, but I'm afraid there were only two of us in the novice division. Better luck next time.


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