My first Olympic triathlon is complete, and I did better than I expected! I hit all the goals I set for myself. I was secretly hoping to break 3 hours and succeeded.
To be perfectly honest, triathlons scare me. When I arrived I saw tons of “serious” athletes with their tri bikes and fancy gear, and I wondered what I was doing there. Most people there are very talented at at least one of the three sports, whereas I am not a great swimmer and a middle-of-the-pack biker and runner. Right before the swim, staring out at the harbor and seeing the buoys that seemed so far away, I got really nervous. So why would I put myself through this? Because every time I push myself to do something that is a challenge I grow. I become more confident – and that confidence isn’t limited to running, biking or swimming. I tell myself that if I can do this, I can do anything I put my mind to.
The Swim – 1500 meters
This was a tiny race (less than 200 people) so I expected the swim start to be free of crowds. But instead they had all the men start at once, followed by the women, and then followed by the relay. It was an in-water start in a harbor of the Chesapeake Bay and before I knew it we were off.
I didn’t get kicked in the face or anything, but I was bumping into people right and left. Soon the crowds thinned out and I was able to get into a flow. I did get slightly off track several times (the swim course was two loops) but not nearly as bad as in my first triathlon. It went a lot faster than I thought it would and I didn’t panic at all. I also did crawl stroke the entire time and didn’t get too tired – which is a win for me.
Swim time – 36:29, Rank 51/76
The transition from the swim to the bike area was kind of annoying because it was probably a quarter mile run. I wouldn’t have a huge problem with that except it was on a wooden dock and I was nervous about getting splinters. Transition went smoothly except I almost left without my shoes….oops!
T1 – 3:36
The Bike – 24.65 Miles
I knew the bike course would be relatively flat and that this would be my chance to make up for lost time on the swim. I ate a granola bar in the first few miles and then made sure to drink Gatorade every 4 miles. The race was through beautiful country roads. I saw a HUGE hawk (or eagle maybe) which was cool because you don’t see those in the city. However, there were basically no volunteers on the bike course with the exception of a few police officers directing traffic at intersections. Since it was such a small race, the riders were also very spread out. I passed some people (and was also passed) but otherwise I was mostly on my own. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to someone if they wiped out. Also, Steph and some other athletes ended up missing a turn, so clearly the course wasn’t marked clearly enough.
I kept pushing myself to keep a quick pace and was happy to see each mile pace on my Garmin. I knew that if I could keep the bike around 1:20, I would have a shot of breaking 3 hours.
Bike time – 1:20:49 (18.3 mph), Rank 37/76
With this transition, I had to change my shoes, eat a Gu, and grab my handheld water bottle and my race belt. Neil was there at both transitions, telling me I was doing great and cheering me on. There’s nothing like having that support before heading back out into the race.
T2 – 1:52
The Run – 10K
As soon as started running, my calves felt pretty tight. I kept looking down at my Garmin expecting to see a snail’s pace, but was pleasantly surprised to see that I was hovering around 8.5 minute miles. At this point, it was getting really hot. The clouds had disappeared and the run course was not shaded. It was a two loop course (like the swim, which I could do without). Because of this it was less spread out than the bike, but still emptier than most running races I’m used to.
I drank out of my handheld water bottle every .5 miles, and started pouring water on my head at most of the water stops. I realized I was probably going to come in under 3 hours, so I let myself slow down the pace a tiny bit for mile 4 and then picked it up at mile 5. My hurt toe never bothered me, but my feet felt like they were swelling up. I saw Neil and the dogs towards the end of the race (Leela kind of freaked out and wanted to come with me) and that gave me an extra jolt of motivation to get to the finish line.
Run time – 53:32 (8:37 min/miles), Rank 22/76
Total Race time – 2:56:17, Rank 30/76
I’m pretty sure I would do this race again. The things I liked about this race: driving distance from home, a relatively easy course (not choppy water, flat bike and run), a really nice race t-shirt, and good post-race eats (although I didn’t have any, but they had sandwiches, fruit, chips, and overall a lot of options). The things I did not like about this race: gasoline tasting/smelling water because were in the harbor, two looped running and swimming courses (I would prefer one big loop), not enough volunteer support on the bike leg and no finisher’s medal.
A huge thank you to everyone who tweeted and left comments with good luck messages. And to Neil for always being my biggest cheerleader (and official blog photographer).