Monday, April 12, 2010

My first tri - Beaverdam Olympic distance triathlon

My first ever triathlon was on Saturday and I think that it went pretty well for a first effort.

Leading up to the race, I was very nervous about the swim portion, both because I am new to swimming and because it was an open water swim in the spring. There was a lot of obsession about the water temperature. When I first started thinking about trying an open water swim, the water temperature was in the 40s. I read a lot of concerns about last year's event -- water cold, neoprene swim cap needed, etc. Since our winter was particularly cold this year, I was afraid that the water wouldn't warm up in time. Fortunately, we had a string of warm days and that got the water temperature to a comfortable wetsuit temperature in time.

The week leading up to the Inside-Out Sports Olympic Triathlon at Beaverdam, I was nervous and excited. I kept on telling myself, "You can do this!" Then I comforted myself by saying, "It'll all be over next Sunday." People told me my training was solid and I tried to believe in it.

As the name of the event indicates, this was an Olympic distance event. Olympic distance is 1500 meter swim, 40k (24.8 mile) bike ride and 10k (6.2 mile) run. This event was actual a 1 mile (1609.3 meter) swim, 26.2 mile bike and 10k run.

I must have been excited, I went to early packet pick up on Thursday and packed my transition bag immediately. Thursday might have been a tad early to pack for a Saturday event!

Race number, white swim cap, race t-shirt

On Saturday morning, I got up early to arrive at the Beaverdam Recreation Area at Falls Lake before the recommended 6:45 am arrival time. I set up, brought my bike and transition bag to the transition area, and set up my gear. Then I got my body marking done and my timing chip. My body marking was mostly off before we even got into the water. I'm not sure what was up with that. They put your race number on your arms and they put your race age on your calf. After that, a group of us gathered near the beach to watch the buoys for the swim course be placed. Just over 200 people registered for the event.
Transition area: bike gear on the right and running gear on the left.

Just before the transition area closed, I got my wetsuit. There was a brief pre-race meeting then and most people got into the water to acclimate. I did a little swimming, tested my goggles, made sure that my goggle straps were secure under my swim cap so that they didn't get knocked loose, etc.

The swim start was in waves. The blue wave, made up of younger guys, went first. Three minutes later, the yellow wave of older guys went and three minutes after the yellow caps, the white wave of women and remaining men went. My swim went as expected, which is to say, not quickly. I was pretty comfortable in the water and I felt that my sighting went pretty well. I was back of the pack but I knew that I would be and I was surprised to see at least one yellow cap in my group. I did bump with someone between the first and second buoy when one of us got off course and I passed someone near the end of the one mile swim. When other swimmers saw the inflatable "burning man" marking the end, they started to sprint. I have one swim speed so I just kept on going and concentrated on passing them in the transition area.

See the orange buoy on the right? That was the first one on the swim course. The flags in the foreground indicate the exit from the swim and route to T1.

As I exited the water, I got the wetsuit pulled down to my hips and then I scampered over the timing mat to the transition area as quickly as possible.

T1 went well. I could probably have pulled the bottom of the wetsuit off a little bit faster and I should have shoved my food into my pockets or left more in the bento box and not had anything in transition but overall, the transition was respectable.

I ran to the mount, dismount line, got on my bike and I was off! About 10 minutes into the ride I noticed my bike was noisy and realized that my cadence sensor was rubbing so I unclipped my foot and kicked it to stop the rubbing. That seemed to do the trick. (Note to self, check for rubbing when unloading bike from car.) When I previewed the bike course a few weeks before the race, I noticed that it was a bit hilly -- about 600 climbing feet over the 26 mile route. I passed several people on the bike and had a solid middle of the pack finish in that segment. I was not happy to see the speed bumps that I had conveniently forgotten about on the way to transition area and I was a little bit intimidated to see people already on the run course.

T2 went well. Just rack the bike, swap bike helmet for running hat, change shoes and off to the run.

The run went pretty well. I felt like I was running very slowly. If someone asked me how fast I was running I would have underestimated my pace. The course was entirely within the park. It was out and back and out and back. I found this difficult to race because when you passed someone going the other way you did not know if they were on lap 1 or lap 2 (ahead of you or behind you). There was a water stop .1 from the transition area and then at the turn around and then the one near the transition area had a 5k timing mat that runners crossed the second time by, then back to the turn around and then to the finish. The course is relatively hilly. There was good camaraderie on the run. There was good camaraderie the bike too but especially on the run.

I talked to several people on the run. I was with one woman for the second half of the run. After we made the final turnaround for the finish line, I said something like, "We've got this one!" to her. We chatted a bit and someone we had passed earlier, a young guy with a shirt that said "Just Run" on the front and XC on the back, decided to sprint past us with a hundred yards to go. He had a 21 on his left calf where they put your competition age. I guess he didn't want to finish with the middle age women.

The finish area, another competitor approaching the finish line.
There was a DJ that played during the event and that made the finish seem a bit festive. I stayed for the awards and saw that someone that I ride with from time to time won my age group and that someone that I know from the gym placed in her age group.

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