Triathlon Debut: NE Season Opener

My transition area

I completed my first triathlon!  Overall, I can say it went smoothly and successfully.  I had a lot of fun, and was happy with my final times and finishing place.  Here’s the full race recap…

Day Before

The day before the triathlon, I woke up rested and energized from 11 hours of sleep (catching up from lack of sleep during the week).  I had an appointment in the morning, so I headed out on my bike for an easy ride around noon.  I did a 12 mile loop out in the suburbs, trying not to push too hard on the hills and working on getting some good speed on the flats and downhills.  I followed the ride up with an easy 3 mile run.  The legs felt good, but a bit heavy.  I didn’t worry too much though – a lot of times, I’ll feel awful in warm up, but have a great race anyways.  I stretched and relaxed for the rest of the day, picked up my bib at the race start,  and ate a good dinner.

Day Of

That morning, I woke up excited and ready to go.  For some reason, the nerves hadn’t quite set in yet.  I had my usual cup of coffee and PB & J on an english muffin.  I had put all my stuff together the day before, so there was little to do except rack up my bike and get myself ready.  The drive was about 40 minutes – I rocked out to some pump up music on my way to get myself ready to race! I wanted to get to the race about 2 hours ahead of time since I heard that if you arrived too late, you might get stuck in a parking lot that required walking across a beach (bike + sand = bad!).  Luckily, I was able to get a spot in a parking lot not too far from the transition area. This race was really organized, and I moved quickly through check in and body marking, and got myself set up in the transition zone.  I got in a couple miles easy running for warm up, and hung out with a couple guys from the running club.

My transition area

My transition area

Soon, it was time for the pre-race meeting, and walking over to the swim start.  We were in groups by swim wave (I was in the 2nd wave, which included female elite/open, and female age groupers under 45).  I recognized a few people from my masters swim team.  It was nice to see a few familiar faces!  At this point, I was starting to get a little nervous.  On top of it being my first triathlon, I hadn’t done an open water swim since I was in high school.  The first wave went off, and they called for our wave to enter the water!

Race!

The water was a cold 59 degrees, so it shocked the body a bit at first, but after a couple minutes treading water it didn’t feel too bad.  I made sure to get my head wet, and keep myself moving to stay warm.  Lots of women were pushing to get to the front of the group.  I knew I was a strong swimmer, so I tried to stay up front.  The start was pretty crazy.  I was pulled and shoved by one woman, and almost kicked by a few, but I managed to break away after about 30 seconds and get out front.  At first my breath was shallow and fast, but I tried to get into a rhythm.   I was breathing every 2 strokes, but once I got about half way, I was able to calm down and go to my normal every three strokes breathing pattern.

Swimmers!

The swim was short, only 400m, so soon I was reaching the last buoy and swimming towards the shore.  I came out of the water first female!  As I struggled to get out of my wetsuit while running to the transition area, I got passed by 1 woman. The transition went smoothly, but after looking at my splits, I was a lot slower than the other, more experience ladies.  I got out on my bike and started the initial climb.    I got passed quickly by two women as I was getting myself going on the bike.  I know it’s my weakest part of the tri, but I tried to stay focus and keep them in view ahead of me. There were a number of turns and some steep/bumpy downhills on the bike course.  I’m definitely not quite comfortable with my bike handling skills, so these parts were tough for me!  We were also catching a lot of the duathletes and slower men, so there were a lot of people around me.  I passed many people, and only got passed by 1 more woman around mile 9.

On the bike!

I managed not to fall off of my bike in transition, and got out on the run in less than a minute.  The run starts on a long uphill, so it was a bit tough to get going.  I tried to get my breath under control and keep good running form.  By the end of the subsequent downhill, I was feeling stronger.  I passed a few more duathlon women, and could see the second place woman ahead of me around mile 2.  I closed the gap a bit over the next mile, but not enough to get ahead.

Finishing the run

I ended up finishing in 59:16, and 3rd place female!  I was pretty psyched to be in the top 3 at my first triathlon.

SWIM 6:51    T1 1:53    BIKE 30:13    T2 0:56    RUN 19:24

Top 3 females!

Race review

I would definitely recommend any of the Max Performanceraces to any triathletes, especially newbies.  Everything was super organized and well-planned.  Parking both day of and for pre-registration was marked clearly and there were plenty of volunteers on the course and in the transition area.  You really couldn’t mess up – everything was well-marked and checked in and out of transition.  I even saw some race volunteers/directors helping out the people in the “newbie” category with transition set up.  The post-race food was good (BBQ chicken, pulled pork, veggie burgers) and there were tons of awards and gear giveaways.  I hope to do another Max Performance race soon!

Looking forward

Although things went smoothly for me in terms of transitions, biking, wetsuit, etc., I know there are still areas that I can improve on!  I really need to practice faster transitions – I lost almost about 45 seconds to the top 2 women just from slower transitions!   I also need to work on my bike handling skills.  I’m still really nervous on downhills and turns, and I haven’t quite mastered being able to drink while riding my bike.  This may not have been a big deal on the shorter triathlon, but for the longer ones, I’m going to need to both eat and drink on the bike. I’m really looking forward to my next triathlon in July!

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