Sunday, 16 September 2012

My first sprint triathlon!

This is my race report of my first sprint triathlon which I did last Saturday.

The weather: I was very nervous about the weather predictions; it was supposed to be rainy with some lightning...I was wondering if it would be dangerous, what they would do if there was lightning and if I should get a rain coat (really!!!). It turns out the weather was pretty nice. Not too hot, not rainy at all, pretty sunny, and somewhat windy. Yes windy, although I can’t really complain because the wind was much stronger for the athletes who started later than me. So the weather was great!
The people: My mom accompanied me to the race and my sister and niece came to see me at the finish, which was nice. I saw a few people from the tri club which was nice as well. Mostly, what was really nice was seeing a former co-worker of mine. I left my former job a year and a half ago and we had begun to talk about triathlon back then, but none of us had done one. And now here we were, doing this triathlon together, and starting in the same wave. I was happy to have her there.
The t-shirt: I was very proud to be doing this triathlon wearing a t-shirt that my coach had made. Many people wore that t-shirt as support because she was doing her first ironman the day after my triathlon. So I wore the t-shirt to support her. But mostly I wore it because I was so proud to wear a t-shirt that represented her ( This woman has had a huge impact on my life in the last couple of years. She guided me through my first running steps, baby steps at first. She suggested that I start swimming again after I hadn’t swum in many years. She was there to teach me stuff about bikes after I hadn’t biked (other than on a BIXI) for more than 20 years. She also was very helpful in figuring out a few things that I was doing wrong in terms of nutrition. She welcomed me into her home a few times so that I could spend a few weekends training with her (she is in another country!). She was there every step of the way while I lost 60+ pounds. She is a very important part of my support system. So I was happy to wear that t-shirt for her.
The swim: I like swimming. I’m a good swimmer. Technically, I think that swimming is the easiest sport in triathlon for me. But I usually swim in a pool. This race was not done in a pool; it was done in open water (well sort of!). This was the third time I swam in open water. It was the second time I swam with a wetsuit (the first time I really didn’t swim very far). And it was the first time I swam with so many people swimming around me. Was I nervous? Oh yeah! I’ve heard stories of people panicking in their wetsuits, so there was a bit of stress here. I started out next to my former colleague. I intentionally started a little in the back so that I wouldn’t be with the crazy crowd. However, I did start on the right side of the crowd which in retrospect was probably not my best idea since this was the shortest route (we were turning to the right at the buoy). There were quite a few people around me, but I took my time swimming. A few times I started going faster and wanted to pass some people, but they were everywhere and as my heartbeat was going faster I felt a bit panicky so I slowed down. A couple times, I stopped swimming and I looked at the buoy and felt it was so far away I didn’t know how I could finish the whole thing (the waves were coming towards us then so it may have seemed longer than the same distance would have been in the pool). And then I thought of my former colleague who had told me at the start: ”whatever happens, just think that we’re doing this together” and it helped to calm me down. About halfway to the first buoy, I felt a huge pain in my neck. I figured it was the wetsuit, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I’ll know to put some glide on my neck before the race next time! I had a huge red spot/scratch that stayed a few days after the race because of that. Finally, I got to the first buoy and I felt like I was getting somewhere. Getting to the next buoy was ok. The last part of the swim was much easier with the waves pushing me to the shore and not as many people around me, that last part felt very comfortable. Time for the 750m swim: 19:27
The bike: For the bike portion of the race, I had to do 4 laps of the course. The first half of each lap was really hard because we had the wind against us. It felt sort of like going uphill for the first half of each lap and I really haven’t practiced hills that much, so it was hard. People kept passing me. The second part of each lap on the other hand was SO MUCH FUN! As soon as I turned around I switched gears and pushed as hard as I could and I passed quite a few people. I think I was going faster than I ever have while practicing and IT WAS FUN!!! I loved the feeling. At one time, I decided to get some water on that half of the lap and my bike wobbled a little bit so I figured maybe this was not the right time to do this and I waited to the other half to get some water. So, that’s the bike! Time for the 20k of bike : 50:53

The run: Again, the first part of the run was hardest because we had the wind against us. I felt I was doing pretty good though and I just kept running. At one point, I noticed some people running on another path and I wondered if I had taken the wrong path at the transition. There were actually 2 paths. People who were doing duathlons had to take another path and I felt like I might have taken the wrong one. This really worried me because if I was on the wrong path, I was on a 10k path rather than a 5k path and I just didn’t want to do a 10k right then and there. I was SO relieved when I saw a couple of runners on my path with a white bib, like me, meaning they were doing the sprint as well. Thank you! I think I realised after the 3rd kilometre of running that I was going to be able to finish the race under 2 hours. It gave me wings...that and the fact that I now had the wind going in the same direction as me. For the last kilometre, I felt like I was flying. I smiled that whole last kilometre. It felt great!!! Time for the 5k run : 41:00

The transitions: The transitions went smoothly. I didn’t rush. I felt strong. The swim to bike transition was good except for the fact that we had to climb up and down some stairs to get to the transition area and I’ve heard a few stories of people wobbling after the swimming so I was holding the sides of the stairs quite a bit to make sure I didn’t fall. In the bike-to-run transition, I was accompanied by an emergency car coming behind me. It felt like it was behind me and I panicked a bit because I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. Should I stop? Do I get a penalty if I don’t stop? It got me a little bit disoriented and I think I slowed down because I wasn’t sure what to do. It turns out it was coming beside me rather than behind.

This is the second time I do a triathlon Both times, the transitions times were not recorded. They are included somewhere with the other disciplines. I knew where they were included for the first triathlon, but this time I have no idea. This is starting to piss me off because I was looking forward to see my exact time for the different disciplines and my times for the transitions. Hopefully, the next triathlon I pick will be one where the transition times are clearly separated from the three sports.

Inspirations: I hope that this report inspires you like other people inspire me constantly. Here are three of them:
  • my friend Amelia who really is the reason that I ever thought I could run in the first place. Thank you!
  • my coach and friend Kelly, who has guided me through all of this triathlon training. Thank you!
  • and finally, Karine, another member of the tri club, who has done ironman two times after losing a lot of weight and who inspires me to want to tackle even longer distances. Thank you!
All in all, this was a great race for me (Total time : 1:51:18; 37/43 in age group). I enjoyed it very much and it has made me want to keep going. I’m not sure what I will do next year yet, maybe other sprints, maybe an Olympic distance...You will just have to wait and see!

1 comment:

  1. So incredibly proud of you, I hardly have words!! My favorite part of this report was when you said you had "wings." So eloquent and really capturing how you felt on Saturday. Thank you for sharing!! Congrats, triathlete!!