Here are my official results: I finished under 2 hours, which was my second goal.
When I first began this endeavor, my goal was to finish the race. My second goal was to do it in under 2 hours. I did great on the swim, and I had my normal run time. The thing that screwed me up was the biking portion. For the first half of the race, I couldn’t get my bike to shift out of the 2nd gear. I used my 12-year-old mountain bike, and I have ALWAYS had that issue. My husband has tried to recreate the issue, but it appears to be user error. I’m apparently not holding down the shifter long enough for it to properly engage: I need to think of it more as a clutch, than a trigger.
That said, here are my other lessons learned:
- Nutrition: I had planned to have a green smoothie, and for some stupid reason, I had peanut butter toast instead. So I got to burp that up the entire race, even though I ate it hours before race time. Bad idea. Stick to your plan!
- Swim placement: On the swim, I tried to get up front and center, but was blocked by a whole row of women in wet suits. I thought they were strong swimmers, but I was sorely mistaken. It took me at least the first 1/4 to pass them. Next time I’ll just ask them, and see if they will let me in front, OR I’ll be one of the first to line up.
- Transitions: This part actually cracked me up. In my mind I sped through the transition area at sonic speed. I didn’t fiddle with anything, and it was all organized great. However, my husband filmed me in the transition, and it looks like I’m hanging out at a coffee shop. lol. When I was learning to ski, I had him film me. In my mind I was going 55 mph, with perfect form. When I saw the video I seriously laughed my butt off. I looked like some kind of robot toy, that was on almost flat ground, moving at a snail’s pace. So the lesson learned here is have someone video you while you practice. It’s a real eye opener.
- Practicing: I really should have practiced the biking and running more than I did. I took several spin classes, and while that helped with strength and endurance, it’s not a real simulation of what it’s like to ride on a road. I needed to get more comfortable with shifting, traffic, passing, getting water out…all that. If I had been able to shift properly, I could have cut at least 20 minutes off of my time. I was good about practicing running, but I’m still not a good runner. That’s where I will see the most physical gains next time. Also, the race was on a lumpy dirt/sand road. I only practiced on pavement. It’s a whole different feeling to run on an uneven sandy surface.
- New Gear/Equipment: Don’t try anything new on your race day! I bought a couple of new water bottles. They’re called “clean bottles,” from REI. You can take the bottom off, to clean them thoroughly. The problem with that is (1) they leak, and (2) they don’t fit in bike water bottle cages!!!! So every time I needed a drink on my bike ride, it was a HUGE struggle to get them out! (obviously I’ll be returning them)
- Race belt: I brought my normal running belt, which has a large pocket for my phone, and I kept some honey zinger chews in it. That wasn’t necessary. I didn’t feel like eating at any point in the race. Next time I’ll use a small/thin race belt, or pin the number to my jersey.
What went well:
- Swimming: I know all the strokes, and am very comfortable in the water. I placed my normal cap on first, then my goggles, then the race cap. That will keep you goggles from shifting around. I also did not warm up for the swim. If you put your goggles on while your face is dry, they won’t fog up. I don’t think anyone needs to warm up for a distance of 820 yards. I could have used a little more practice targeting: where you practice swimming with your eyes closed to see if you can swim straight.
- Transition area organization: I brought a bucket to hold my gear, that could also be sat on. I didn’t actually need it to sit down, but it was a good organizational system. Once I got everything laid out, I walked away from my bike and looked back. It really helped me locate my gear during the race. I had my running hat on my shoes, and my sunglasses in my helmet. I could have gone without socks, but the organization of my stuff was spot on.
- Training: I spent a decent amount of time training, so I had good understanding of what to expect on race day. If it weren’t for my biking debacle, I would have been spot on in my estimation.
- Tri suit: I bought a one piece tri suit from Amazon. It had a couple of rub spots on my legs and chest, but it worked out really great. It was really nice not to worry about adding bike shorts, or changing out of a swim suit.
- Solar shower: I brought our camping solar shower, and laid it on the truck’s roof in the morning. It was so nice to have a way to wash the funky reservoir water off.
- Gum: I was so glad that I had gum to run with. It kept me from getting too parched.
- Not running with water: I used to panic that I would get dehydrated, or starve during exercise. Having practiced running in heat, I quickly realized that carrying water on a 5K is silly (for me). They had an aid station 1 mile in as well.
- Friends and family: I loved that my husband was there with me the whole day. He was a huge source of support for me. You aren’t allowed to have any help during the race, but he was at the swim take off and exit, at the transition area, tracked my time and gave me feedback. My good friend, Sarah, and her daughter Sydney were there at my finish. They even made me a sign. I feel truly blessed to have their support.
I definitely got “the bug.” I am totally looking forward to my next sprint tri. I’ll be sticking with sprint tri’s until I can cut my run time in half. I’ll also be buying myself a road bike. I’ll post again when I choose my next event, and start training. For now, I’m going to relax a bit, and go back to normal workouts. My workout goals are to swim, bike, run and lift (one focus per day) four days/week.