Yesterday, I completed my first race of the season! It was a super-sprint reverse triathlon, so the disciplines were in reverse order and distances were short, 1.4 mile Run/4 mile Bike/250 yard Swim. The weather was pretty crappy, although it was MUCH warmer than last year, and I was dressed more weather-appropriately. All I remember from last year is being so cold on the run leg that I couldn’t feel my hands by the end. Even though it had been about 35 degrees, I only wore shorts, a t-shirt, and a light jacket for the run and the bike. This year I tried to be a little bit more prepared by wearing UnderArmour ColdGear leggings and long-sleeved shirt with a light bike jersey over my bathing suit for the run and bike. It was the perfect amount of clothing for the ~45 degree and raining weather.
Those of us in the first wave lined up at about 7:45 AM. I made the mistake of starting at the very front of the pack even though I knew I’d be quite a bit slower than any of the leaders. It was a bit discouraging to immediately have about fifty people surge by me in their early run efforts. It didn’t take me long to convince myself that I was being smart by pacing myself from the beginning when I began passing competitors who had burned up too much energy in the initial surge. I should mention the reason that I chose to start at the front of the pack was that my finace, raced with me and running is his strongest leg. He was one of the leading runners, and made it to the first turn before I had even fully settled into my pace. It paid off for him as he ended up finishing 4th in the run out of 300 finishers.
The transition from the run to the bike was fairly simple in this race. I didn’t have my clipless pedals or cycling shoes for my new bike yet (although I went to the LBS later yesterday afternoon to pick up my shoes, but they didn’t have the pedals I want so I’ll need to go back later this week), so I road in my running shoes and only needed to buckle my helmet and put on my gloves. In hindsight, I probably didn’t really need the gloves for such a short race, and I wasn’t coordinated to get them on while running with my bike to the mount line so I might have lost some time to fumbling with them. I need to work on that aspect of my transition for longer races, especially since I’m going to be coming out of the water. I might play with the idea of having them attached to my handlebars and donning them after mounting the bike?
The bike leg itself went really smoothly. After last year, when I rode on a broken bike that wouldn’t shift properly, I felt good! As I mentioned, I have a brand new bike and I love it. I haven’t sprung for a Tri bike yet, but this road bike is really an improvement on the borrowed bikes I’ve used in the past. It’s a Fuji Team model, with a full carbon fiber frame and a mix of Ultegra and 105 components. We got a great deal on it and it feels amazing. I’m hoping to get some clip-on aerobars for it for my September Olympic distance race, as I’ve heard the course has been changed so that there are some really great spots where the aerobars will make a huge difference. Even without the aerobars or the cycling shoes, I felt strong on the bike. When I came to the end of the course, I couldn’t believe it as I thought I still had some riding to do before reaching the four mile mark. On a side note, Curtis is getting me a cycling computer for my birthday, so I’m super-excited to actually know the distance when I’m riding, since right now I have to rely on mile markers during training.
My bike to swim transition was a bit sloppy as I had so many layers on. I also forgot to not double-knot my shoes, so I had a bit of trouble with them. I’m not too worried about this transition because in a “real” triathlon, I’ll never have to strip to swim!
There were a lot more people in the pool during my swim than I anticipated, and I didn’t do as well as I could have. Swimming is usually my strongest discipline, but I was slower than last year by a whole minute! Granted, this includes T2 time, but I was aiming for a lot faster than that. This was a good pool practice for open water swimming though. Since there are so many people around, I really had to concentrate on not getting kicked in the head and passing people effectively. My finish was a little shaky as I didn’t hit the wall right at the ladder and got pushed behind two people that touched after I did, so I might have lost a few seconds there. Overall I was pretty pleased with my performance.
We stayed for the awards ceremony after the race and found out that Curtis and I both finished third in our age groups and I had taken 5 minutes off of my time from last year, which was my goal. I also won a $15 gift certificate to RoadID, so I’m going to have to look into that and maybe order one for when I’m out training by myself. It’ll be nice not to have to worry about carrying a separate ID with me (not that I usually remember anyways!). The preliminary race splits were posted this morning and I was pretty happy with my numbers. They were about what I had aimed to do, with the exception of the swim time. The things I’m going to need to work on in the next few weeks are my run speed, pacing on the bike, and doing hill workouts in both disciplines. My upcoming May race is on a very hilly course, so I’m going to have to simulate it as best I can on nearby trails. Today is a cardio rest day, but I have weight training with my trainer tonight.