Last weekend I competed in my first sprint triathlon. The Triathlon was held in Pleasanton, CA about an hour outside of San Francisco. The length was a 400 yard swim (lake swim), 11 mile bike ride and 3.2 mile run. I was inspired to try a triathlon earlier this year when my Dad completed his first one. He had a really positive experience and really enjoyed all the cross-training. I decided that it was time for me to try one and see if I enjoyed it as much.
I started swimming back in June after the “See Jane Run” half marathon. I was having some issues with my feet once again so I decided to take a month off from running and let my feet heal. The swimming was a nice way to cross train and allow me to prep for a Triathlon. I really enjoy getting in the pool twice a week and I’m now swimming over a mile during most workouts.
Along with swimming twice a week, I always try to get in one spin class a week. I started spinning back when training for my first marathon as a way to cross-train. I have been keeping up with that so I had a strong base for bike riding. I have done several 12 mile bike rides with my Dad when in Maine so I was confident I could do the bike portion of a sprint tri. My friend Isabel was super nice to lend me her road bike for the triathlon. I got it a week before and did a few test runs on it to make sure I was confident riding the bike.
I knew the running would be the easy part for me as I always try to keep in half marathon shape as a rule of thumb. I did a few workouts where I rode my bike (or indoor spin bike) and then followed it with a run. I quickly learned that my Dad was right, the transition from bike to run is super hard. That was my biggest concern going into the triathlon.
I didn’t follow a formal training schedule but I am going to try to get on one now as I am aiming to do an Olympic Distance triathlon in September.
The race was on a Saturday morning at 7am. Registration opened at 5:30am and I had missed online reg so I had to register at the event. It was about an hour drive so I planned to leave my apartment at 4:30am. (Gross) I spent Friday night preparing. I packed my bag and got the coffee maker ready to brew. I was so nervous I was going to forget something, you have to remember a lot of things. It’s very different from showing up to a race in your running shoes and just running. My alarm went out off at 3:45am and I was out of bed at 4am. I got dressed, made breakfast to bring with me and packed the car. I had to load up my bike so that took some time.
I arrived at 5:40am in the pitch black. A ton of people were already there. I found the reg tent and got signed up. I was then “oil marked” with my number on my right leg and left arm. I setup my bike in the transition area along with my sneakers, socks, a towel to dry my feet, water, race belt, bike helmet and Gu in case I needed it. I was all alone and this was my first triathlon so my Dad definitely prepped me well and encouraged me to check out other people’s setup. It was helpful to see how other people setup. It was also helpful to be there so early because I got a great spot in the transition area. After I was setup I had a lot of time to spare. I used the bathroom a few times, texted with my Dad a bit checked and rechecked my transition items. I headed down to the beach at 6:45am.
The triathlon was a part of the “Tri for Fun” series geared towards beginners. They had a coach speak and give some last-minute tips. After that we headed over to the starting area and they got the first wave underway. I had two options, I could either go with my age group or I could go in the last wave with the “beginners”. I decided to go with my own age group because I honestly am too competitive. I knew being in the last wave would irritate me. When they called my group I stayed in the back of the wave so I didn’t have to worry about swimmers behind me and I could go at my own pace. At 7:20am I was off!
The lake water was much warmer then I expected which was a nice bonus. I swam in my sports bra and tri shorts. I didn’t want to buy an entire outfit until I was sure that I enjoyed competing in triathlons. I quickly learned that I should have gone closer to the front. I am a faster swimmer then I thought and I kept running into people. It was tricky to pass people and stay straight so I just did my best but next time I will not hold back in the back of the wave. I did the 400 yard swim in 9:04.
The first transition is tricky. I had to run up the beach, find my bike and then dry my feet and get socks and my running shoes on. (I have not gotten into bike clips yet) My dad told me to buy shoelaces that you don’t have to tie and it was a great idea! Putting on my shoes was much easier than if I had to tie both laces. I did the first transition in 2:12 and was off on the bike ride.
The bike ride ended up being super flat and really easy. I passed quite a few people on the ride. My co-worker told me to push hard on the bike because the run would be easy for me. It was great advice and I definitely pushed. I did the 11 miles in 32 mins. That was much faster than I expected to do it in.
Transition 2 was a bit easier. I had to rack my bike, switch out my bike helmet for running hat and grab my iPod, I was off. The first mile of the run was awful. My legs were like lead. I felt like I was barely moving and I couldn’t catch my breath. The run was actually a trail run that was quite hilly, not an easy run by any means. I did the first mile in 10:21. YIKES! I was kind of freaked out but kept telling myself to relax, all I needed to do was finish the race, I had no previous time to beat. I hit the 2 mile marker in 8 minutes. I felt much more like my old self. That gave me confidence and I really pushed myself the last 1.2 miles. I passed a ton of people and it was really fun passing men because they started anywhere from 5-10 minutes before me! I sprinted the last quarter-mile and finished in 1:10:27. I was really happy with my finish. I was expecting to finish closer to 1:30!
I hung around a bit enjoying the post-race food and activities and then I packed up and headed home. It was a GREAT time and I knew right away that I would be doing another one. I was aiming to do a sprint tri in September but I found an Olympic Distance one that same weekend so I think I may try that instead. I’m really looking forward to the extra challenge, the sprint felt pretty easy when all is said and done!
Next up – Disneyland Half Marathon next weekend! I’m looking forward to seeing my cousin Heather and spending time with her and her friends. We all ran the race together last year so it will be a little reunion!