I just started tri training, with a few sprints planned for June and July and ultimately an Olympic in August and Half Iron in September. I've been in the pool about 5 times this season, and have been riding about once every other week... needless to say I've been easing into it. But on Wednesday when a spot opened up at the Kerr Lake Triathlon (1500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run) through my Trysports team, it seemed like a good idea to just give it a shot. At the very least, I knew I could get through it (even if I had to go slowly) and it would be a good workout for the day and also a good baseline for my training in preparation for the Lake Logan Tri on August 4.
This is definitely something outside of my comfort zone, and I was nervous for the three days leading up to the race. It was exciting to be trying something new, and even though I usually get nervous before road races it's more of an anxiety about hitting my goal time as opposed to the feeling of "holy crap, what did I get myself into?!?" that I last felt before my first marathon.
I got up at 4:30, had my coffee, loaded up the car, woke up my poor husband (who is such a great supporter, even though no one in their right minds gets up that early on a Sunday morning) and headed to Kerr Lake. We arrived around 6:45, picked up my packet, set up transition, got my body markings, and went down to check out the swim course where I had a minor freak out after seeing just how far I was actually going to have to swim. Ate a gu, put on the wetsuit, and headed to the start area just before 8:00.
It was an in-water start, and I was in wave 3, which was set to go out at 8:06. I think my wave was the smallest, with only about 30 women, and it really didn't seem as bad as I'd imagined. Once we were sent off, there was some kicking, grabbing, and people swimming into me, so I eased up for a few strokes, deciding it would be better to lose a couple of spots and have a little space than to fight the 3 women swimming about my speed. Once I had a little breathing room, I settled into a slow and steady pace and though it seemed like it took forever to get to each buoy, I never felt like I was going to drown. Considering my swimming ability, that in itself was a small victory!
I saw Monte as I got ran up the beach, who was very encouraging and proud that I didn't drown (I think he was just as worried about me swimming that distance as I was!) and I felt great jogging up to the transition area. Got the wetsuit off, cycling shoes on, and put on my garmin watch to see 8:41 am. 35 minutes since the start including transition? I didn't think that could be right, because I'd estimated that it would take 40-45 minutes for me to get through the swim. But I guess it was, as my official swim time was 33:08! Yes, this was last in my age group, but I was (and still am) very happy with that.
My goal on the bike was to average 18mph (3:30/mile or about an hour and twenty minutes for 24 miles), so as I headed out I just settled into a moderately hard but sustainable pace and hoped to pass some of the people who were well ahead of me after the swim. The ride was very rural and scenic, with rolling hills but no substantial climbs, and though there were parts when I couldn't see anyone else around, I tried to just focus on catching the next person and staying around my goal pace. The ride went by pretty quickly, and before I knew it I'd hit 20 miles. I was feeling a little tired, but decided that I should push it a bit for the last few miles and just hope it didn't backfire on the run. As I came in toward the dismount I saw Monte again, taking pictures and cheering as always, and realized that I'd made it through the first 2 legs in under two hours on very minimal tri training; making me a very happy triathlete as I came into T2. Official bike time: 1:18:54.
Quick change into running shoes, swig of gatorade, and off on the run. It is set up as a double out and back, and my plan was to run the first 5k around 7:30 pace and then pick up the pace with anything I had left for the second lap. I saw Dawn, Lori, Jason K, and Jason L on the run, and all the little out and back legs were nice in that you could cheer each other on and also know who was ahead of and behind you. As I headed back out for the second lap, the sun was ahead and I could feel that it had gotten much warmer. I slowed through a water station but kept moving, and soon after I was just so hot I felt like I was on fire and my pace slowed to what felt like a crawl. Thankfully there was a final water station at the last turnaround, and I walked through this one and drank a full cup of water. After the turn, with the sun behind me and a little breeze, all of a sudden I was freezing. I think my body had definitely had enough at that point, and I was so happy to see that I only had a mile left! My pace had slowed to over 8 minutes/mile for miles 4 and 5 but I was able to pick it back up a bit for the last mile, and kick it in a little on the downhill finish. Done! The run was disappointing, ending up at 48:25, but my final time of 2:43:42 was well under my goal of sub-3 hours and I ended up placing 3rd in my age group. Icing on the cake :)
Reflecting on it, I am not sure that it was the wisest decision to go into something like this so under-trained and unprepared, but I am really glad I did it. I know that Olympic will always be my worst distance performance-wise because the swim is such a big percentage of the race... in a sprint the swim is over in no time, so I am only starting out a couple minutes behind. In the half the swim in only a little longer, but the other legs are more than double Olympic distance, which means I'll have more time to (hopefully) catch the fast swimmers on the bike and run. But Lake Logan is 2 months from today, and hopefully with 8 weeks of dedicated training and a good taper week I can get close to 2:30. Time will tell...
Finally, thanks to the Trysports team - I am sure I wouldn't have done this otherwise!