Monday, May 23, 2011

Land Between The Lakes Triathlon 2011- Race Report

I AM a triathlete!  I finished my first triathlon on Sunday.  It was better than I expected and worse than I expected all at the same time.

Of course, I was very nervous (see post here about it).  We left for Albert Lea on Saturday to stay in a hotel.  We had originally planned on camping but the weather report was predicting an 80% chance of thunderstorms.  We decided that might not be so much fun, especially with a 1-year-old.   We opted to stay at a hotel instead.  We got to the hotel with just the right amount of time to check in and get our stuff unloaded before I went downstairs to attend the tri clinic.  Jason Digman of Dig It Triathlon & Multisport Coaching put on a great hour-long clinic just before race check-in started.  He covered a great variety of topics for beginning triathletes from pacing to transitions along with comments about this specific race.

After the clinic, I got my race number, swim cap and other info and we headed out to eat.  We decided on the Green Mill since I knew they had pasta (yeah, I know- real carb-loading happens 2-3 days before the race) and it was just across the parking lot from the hotel.  Dave kept asking me questions about the race the next day which just made me more nervous.  Once I explained that to him, he stopped asking and I was able to relax for a while.  After supper, we went to the Kwik Trip to pick up my traditional pre-race breakfast of a bagel, cream cheese, and a banana.  Then we went back to the hotel and put Liam to bed.  I stayed up just long enough to obsess over my gear one more time and went to bed about 9PM.

I woke up at 5:30AM and headed straight for my list of what I needed to do.  Get dressed (yes, I know, that should be obvious, but the list-maker in me wants everything written down), check the weather report, add air to tires, eat breakfast, put bike on top of Jeep, and don't forget wetsuit!  Everything went well except that the weather report was predicting an 80% chance of thunderstorms.  I was really hoping it wouldn't end up getting canceled due to weather after all that preparation and nervousness.

I hoped to be at the transition area shortly after it opened and our timing was perfect.  There were just a few people starting to set up when I got there so I could observe and check out their set-ups but there was still plenty of room for me to have my pick of a spot on the racks.  It had been raining for several days and the transition area was in a low spot.  There was actually standing water in a couple spots and the rest was muddy. 

Just after I got everything set up, it started to rain.  Luckily, I had brought one of our camping dry bags to put my necessary gear for T1 & T2 in and a large garbage bag to hold my backpack.  The rain lasted about 30 minutes.  Then it started to clear up so I semi-unpacked my gear and went to the bodymarking area. 
Gear still semi-covered in case of another rain shower.

Transition area

After I got my body marking done, I had some time to just hang out so I went back to the transition area and just observed what other people were doing to see if I could pick up any good tips.  Unfortunately I was so nervous that if I did, I don't remember them now!  It came time to put on my wetsuit and get in the water to warm up.  Rain-drenched wetsuits do not go on very easily.  It wasn't terrible, but certainly not as easy as it was when it was dry.  I finally got it on, got lubed up, and headed over to the swim area. 

When I got to the swim area, I took a couple minutes to sit down and see what other people were doing again.  I actually had a lady ask me if I was going to be okay.  I guess I looked pretty nervous!  I talked to her for a while and a couple other women, then got in the water to get acclimated.  The water temperature was just above 60 degrees.  It was cold, but not as cold as I expected it to feel so that was good.  I spent a couple minutes swimming and actually felt pretty comfortable in the water.  Maybe the swim wasn't going to be as bad as I thought!

There were three waves for the swim start.  Men 39 & under, men 40 and over, and women.  Dave and Liam showed up just in time to snap a pic before I started.

I'm the one adjusting my goggles. 

And we're off!

The very first part of the swim was fine.  I didn't seem to notice anything bothering me when all of a sudden about 50 meters in, I was dizzy!  What a crazy feeling to be dizzy while bobbing up and down the the choppy water.  I tried to swim through it but then realized I was hyperventilating as well.  I switched to a side-stroke so I could get my breath back.  It returned but as soon as I tried to get back into my front crawl, my chest tightened up and I couldn't breathe again.  All I could think was WTF?, I was fine for the first part, why am I having trouble now?  I made it to the first of two turns and starting feeling a little more confident about being able to make it through the swim.  I still couldn't front crawl.  I also tried breast-stroking (chest tightened up again) and backstroking (just didn't seem like I was going anywhere) and eventually went back to my trusty side-stroke.  At this point I knew there were at least 4 people behind me and I was not likely to be last out of the water.  After the second turn, I actually passed two people that were doing their regular front crawl while I was still side-stroking.  I got out of the water in just under 12 minutes, relieved to be done with the swim, and headed for the transition area. 
Trying to get my bearings and my balance after the swim.

T1, unracking my bike.
I got through T1 in 3:05.  I was pretty happy with that.   I don't do any of the time-saving things like forgoing socks or having my shoes already on the bike.  I also took the time to take a Gu and get a good swig of Powerade since I'm not good at drinking while on the bike, especially when I'm fighting the wind.  As I was going out of T1, I heard the announcer say that the wind was 20mph with gusts up to 25mph.  I could have happily gone along my merry way without knowing that, but oh well. 
Heading out on for the bike leg.
The bike leg went fairly well, considering the wind.  About 2 miles in, I did drop my chain while switching into the big ring, but was able to dismount and get it back on fairly quickly.  I passed about a dozen people and only got passed by one.  I passed four people while going up hills which either says a lot about my ability to deal with hills or very little about theirs.  The wind was a huge factor in the bike leg.  The strong southeast wind made for a nice diagonal headwind both east and south.  This was about 13 miles of the 20.5 mile ride.  I finished the bike leg in 1:18:33, an average of 15.66mph. 

T2 took a little longer than I hoped, 1:55.  I had a little trouble standing on tired legs to change shoes and for some reason, even though I was right next to the "Run Out" chute, I second-guessed myself and paused for a minute. 

I haven't done a bike-run brick in my training yet.  The way my legs felt was, well, interesting.  They were extremely heavy and I felt like I was barely plodding along.  Then I looked down at my Garmin.  I was running at 8:18 pace, a pace I knew I could not sustain for what I thought was a 3.5 mile run (more on that later).  I concentrated on slowing down a little and hit the mile mark in 9:06.  Mile 2, 9:44.  Subract the 15 seconds that I was stopped dead, not knowing which road to follow (my brain was too tired to remember the name of the road we were supposed to turn on and there were no other runners in sight ahead of me) and I was still just under 9:30 pace.  A good pace for me after almost 2 hours of effort.  Mile 3, 9:54, included walking through a water stop.  Only half a mile to go, I thought.  I've got this in the bag, and I would be faster than I thought.  Only 3.5 came and went, and I wasn't back to the lake yet.  When I got to about 3.8, I reached the lake and Dave and Liam standing there to cheer me on.  At that point, I knew how much farther I had to go and figured the total run distance would be about 4 and a quarter miles. 
Not super flattering, but it's the only one Dave took of the run.
Just after this picture, a girl passed me.  I did a quick assessment of whether or not I could go with her and decided that I could not.  I ended up passing her a tenth of a mile later when she decided to walk up a hill.  Mile 4, 9:09.  The last little bit, the same girl is coming up on me again.  I had already started to pick it up at the 4-mile mark and I just couldn't stay with her.  I continued to "sprint" (okay, so not quite sprint, but run faster) to the finish and finished the 4.2 mile run in 39:28 (9:26 per mile).

Here's the official results:
overall place: 80 out of 94
division place: 5 out of 6
gender place: 19 out of 29
time: 2:15:13
swim: 12:15
trn1: 3:05
bike: 1:18:33
trn2: 1:55
run: 39:28

Will I do this again?  Yep.  I'm registered for another tri in July.  It's longer and I know I need to get my ass in the open water and swim a lot before then.  I was really happy with both my bike and run performance so I'll just keep plugging away at the schedule on those.  Transitions could use a little work, and I need to work on my bike-handling skills so I'm more comfortable eating and drinking on the bike.  All in all, it was a great experience!