On Sunday (06/27/2010), I participated in my first sprint distance triathlon (I did a sprint tri last year, but it had unusual swim and bike distances, so I’m counting this as my first). Also, the organization difference between the 2 events was night and day – RAMRacing, who also put on the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K (which my wife and I ran last year and will again this year), are totally professional and organized, complete opposite of the experience I had with Premier Event Management. The day dawned ominously, following a night of storms, with more to come throughout the morning. I slept snug as a bug in a rug in my tent at the on site campground – I was woefully unprepared to camp, but in September, when I camp for the Lake Carroll Tri, I will be ready!
Training (or lack thereof)
Due to a variety of factors (sloth, procrastination, injury, bike mechanical), I didn’t really train consistently over the last 4 weeks. Week 1: 0 (arch pain), Week 2: Ran 3 times 12.18 miles, swam 1 time .38 miles, biked 1 time 7.71 miles. Week 3: Ran 1 time 3.63 miles, no swim, Rode 1 time 8.12 miles. Week 4 (generously dubbed the “Taper Week”): Ran 1 time 2.34 miles, rode 1 time 7.79 miles. Suffice it to say, I was not ready.
This I feared the most. I’ve not swum in many years and struggled when I have, so, apart from the confidence I had in my wetsuit adding buoyancy, I had no idea if I could even finish. This was also my first mass start (last year we went in 4 at a time), and I’d heard many horror stories about elbows and near-drownings, etc., so I was a bit apprehensive. Regular readers will recall my thoughts on switching to the Clydesdale group, which the race organizers did for me, and it ended up being a good option on more ways than one. By being slotted into the Clydesdales, I got to start with the last wave of swimmers, so I didn’t have to worry about being run over from behind. I started in the very back and then worked my way up through the slower swimmers (yes, there were slower swimmers, haha!). This made me swim slowly, which meant I conserved some of that initial nervous energy. Even though I probably could have swum the entire distance freestyle, I opted to breaststroke on occasion, both to rest and to sight on the buoys. My pre-race estimate: 25 minutes. My swim leg time: 20:05 – yes!
I took off like a rocket, heedless of the wet pavement and passed lots of people in the first half mile or so. A hill at that point moved me up even more places (oddly enough, for a fat guy I’m decent on the hills). I went pretty fast until about mile 5 and then decided to ease up, mindful of the run to come. Around mile 10, however, I really started hammering it, knowing the last bit was downhill to the transition area. I am sure this is the reason I struggled on the run (!). My pre-race estimate: 45 minutes. My bike leg time: 40:12!
Run, run, as fast as you can
My legs felt okay off the bike, but about a 1/4 mile into the run, they were toast. I stopped to retie my shoes and catch my breath, and off I went again. Around Mile 2, I was mentally done, so I decided to walk for a bit, around a hundred yards or so, then ran again until just before Mile 3, where there was a drink station. From pre-walking the course the day before, I knew there was a long hill just before the finish. I walked the hundred yards to the base of the hill, started running, and then sprinted (or at least it felt like it) from Mile 3 to the finish. My pre-race estimate: 30 minutes. My run leg time: 29:58 – ooof!
Add in transition times of 4:22 (long run from swim finish to the transition area) and 2:05, and my total time was 1:36:39. If I hadn’t walked, perhaps I could have finished a little higher, but c’est la vie. Overall results:
201st of 328 finishers, 4th of 14 Clydesdales (just off the podium!), while I would have placed 23rd of 30 had I been in the 40-44 Male division.
One of the coolest things about this race? After finishing, I walked over to a tent, where JMS Racing Services printed out a receipt showing me my unofficial results, including place overall, division, and a breakdown of the legs and transitions. Very cool stuff indeed. Here’s an image of what I got (slightly wrinkled from sweat, rain, and the trip home):