Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tri #1 in the Books

Well, simply by writing this blog entry means I survived my first triathlon. All in all it was a pretty good day and I can't thank my great equipment manager Beth enough for all of the help and preparation and knowledge. It was also pretty neat to have my parents come out for the race, too. It was a long 90 minute trip for them to watch me finish in the middle of the pack of a local sprint triathlon.....that's something only parents would care enough to do.

Okay, on to the actual race. Beth and I got up around 4:45, fed and walked Roxy the dog and were on the road around 5:30. We arrive at the race site around 6:30, pick up the packet and chip and set up the bike's transition area. Since it was a smaller race, it was first come, first serve on the bike racks and we picked out a pretty nice spot. The array of bikes was about what I expected--ranging from the dude with the disc zipp wheels and aero helmet down to the people using mountain bikes. I had a hybrid bike, so I was somewhere in the middle.

I mentioned in previous a blog that some fellow math department and high school teachers were involved in the race also and I want to throw out a congratulations to Ben, Heather, Carl, Jon, and Shelly for completing the triathlon.

Ben and I warmed up together doing an easy jog out on the run course. Remember how I wrote last year's running times seemed a little fishy? Well, Ben and I passed the "1 mile" mark (note the quotations) around 4 minutes into our warm up--and we weren't running hard. Hmmmmmmmmm. So, we file that away and remember that for the race.

The time comes for everybody to get over to the swim start and we're all conversing about the race and, before you know it, an air horn goes off and it's time to go. So much for the 1 minute until the start of the race!!!!!

Okay, so let's go back to my goals I wrote the other day:
1. Survive the Swim
2. Push it on the Bike
3. Let it rip on the 5k
4. (The one I forgot to write but was reminded by Kim) HAVE FUN!!!

My fears of "deep water" growing up have been stated previously, so first and foremost I had to just make sure I relaxed. I kept telling myself before the race that it was only a 400 yd swim and I can swim a mile without stopping and tread water for 15 minutes without holding on to anything, so it wasn't like I was going to sink to the bottom of the lake.

So, the horn goes off and I run into the lake about waist-deep before I take the plunge and begin swimming off to the first buoy. Beth suggested to stay a little wide and not in front to avoid a lot of initial contact. I did that and it worked out well, but I ended up drifting a little closer to the buoy than I had planned and had a little bumping.

We make the turn around the first buoy of the "C-shaped" course and suddenly I realize that I'm relaxed and calm and getting into a decent rhythm for swimming. See, it wasn't so bad. The long stretch of the "C" was parallel to the beach and the sun was in our eyes at this point, so sighting was a little difficult. I just kept following the feet in front of me. I happen to look up when about 3/4 of the way on the stretch and I see a boat with a buoy to my RIGHT (we had to keep the buoys to the LEFT). Ooops!

So, since I don't want to get DQ'ed from my first ever triathlon, I start swimming toward the boat even though it looks like just about everybody else was cutting the course. The lifeguard on the boat yelled to me, "Do you need help?" I said, "No, I just missed the buoy and am coming back around it." She told me to just keep going and not to worry about it. It turns out, as Beth tells me, that just about everybody after the first five swimmers cut the swim course short.

My swim time was 7:33, so maybe around a 300-ish yard swim??? Regardless, I survived the swim and actually had a relative calm and determination. I actually passed some people during the 2nd half of the swim!!!

My T1 (1:44) went pretty smooth as I ran up the grassy hill and to my area. During the jog up the hill, I had enough breath to say to my wonderful equipment manager, "We cut the course, didn't we?" And, of course, she confirmed.

When I was putting my shoes on, I felt the dizziness that Beth has described to me. Who knew? But, I threw the shoes, shirt, sunglasses, and helmet on and off I went on the bike.

Now, I knew going in that I had a technological disadvantage against many of the top riders (especially disc wheel-aero helmet guy), but my goal was just to push hard the whole time. Sure enough, I was solid on the up hills, passing some people, but the guys with the tri and road bikes would go past me some on the down hill and especially the flats. No problem, I knew I had inferior equipment and it just made me work harder to want to pass them on the up hills.

Goal 2 - Mission Accomplished in 27:18 (about 16 mph) on a hilly course. That includes my T2 time because I didn't want to split my watch while trying to slow down and dismount the bike...

After a pretty quick T2 (trade helmet for visor and park bike), I took off as Beth's high school XC coach would say "like I stole something." I had a sneaky suspicion that it was going to be short, so I went pretty hard. I wasn't even to the "1 Mile" sign and I saw Ben already on the way back. I thought, "Man, he must have been FLYING on the bike since we left T1 at the same time." Next, comes fellow teacher Jon (an assistant swim coach at the HS who wouldn't pick running as his favorite pasttime) and I'm kicking myself for how slow I must have been on the bike.

Next thing you know, I'm at the turnaround. Okay, it seemed short (didn't check my watch), but last year people ran in the 15's. I push it hard on the way back and hit my "GO" point and kick it in to catch one last person. Run split - 8:05. As in my run was only a half minute longer than my swim!!!! What the heck. Estimating I was going around 6:00 pace, that would make it around 1.3 miles long?!?!?!?!? Who set up this course?!??!! As a math teacher I hope that they would know that this measured a LITTLE BIT short of a 5k. Oh well. The official results aren't up yet, but I hope to be among the top running times. We shall see. I joked with Jon the swimmer that I think he rigged the run course so I wouldn't catch him.

So, all told, the entire race was truly a "sprint" and I was done in 44:43. Ben did great job with his finishing place and it was neat to see some of the other people from school competing.

Beth was doing a 30 minute run afterwards, so I joined her for that as an extended cool down (since I was short-changed on the run during the race).

So, that's our day and Triathlon #1 is in the books and I had fun and think there will be a triathlon #2 in the future....but probably not until next year with Beth's racing schedule and cross country starting to roll in the comings weeks.

Thanks to all for the kind wishes and finally thanks to the guy in the yellow shirt at the race today who came up to us after the race and said that he reads Beth's blog and my blog. Go figure, someone outside of Beth's triathlon posse actually reads this?!!??! I wanted to say thanks for coming up, but apologize for not getting your name in my tiredness after the race. Sorry your swim didn't go well and good luck with the next race!

So, we're home now relaxing and soon we'll have dinner and then head down to Uniontown for Beth's grandmother's viewing. She passed away on Thursday after a bout with cancer. Beth has written about it, so I won't go into much more detail, but I just wanted to share my feelings.

She was a great grandma and always made me feel welcome from the very first time I met her. Beyond her great heart for service to her church, she was the BEST COOK. Beth and I eat fairly healthy, but don't "make" much food beyond pasta. Beth's grandma's Thanksgiving and Christmas meals were THE BEST and I will miss her a lot. My heart goes out to Beth's grandfather as we saw him in the hospital sitting by her side and showing his love for her. I hope we can all help pitch in and help him with the transition of losing his best friend of so many years.


Beth said...

Great job again!!! You really did so well for your first race on a not so great bike with a short run!! You would have caught MANY more people if you had more than 8 minutes!! :) Oh well - next time!!

Maijaleena said...

Congrats on your first tri finish! Too bad the run was so ridiculously short. I guess that is what happens in the small town races sometimes. Must have been a swimmer or biker that set up the run course :)

Kim said...

Way to go Oscar! Great race report and I enjoyed hearing about your day. I especially liked that you had enough energy & niceness to tell the lifeguard/offical that you were "going to swim around the buoy!" That is awesome and you really did well. You should be proud. 8:05 on the run, that was a smokin 5k :) Thinking of you guys during this tough time with Beth's G-ma though, you're in my prayers.