June 20, 2011

Triceratops Tri - The first official triathlon

Last Wednesday was the Triceratops Triathlon, sponsored by Running Fit. It's part of a three event series throughout the summer (each cleverly named after a dinosaur). I went into the event thinking of it as a training opportunity for the Steelhead half Ironman. I wanted to make sure that all my transitions were down pat and to get some experience at a real USAT sanctioned event. The TRex series, as they're known, are a little different in that they take place on Wednesday evenings. The weekend before I had biked 50 miles and then ran a bunch and I knew that the next weekend I'd be running 11 miles. So, I planned to take it very easy during this triathlon. In fact, my goal for swimming was to go as slowly as possible.

Getting to the race was a little challenging because it started at 6pm. This meant I had to pack everything the night before and then my wife picked me up from work and we went straight to Brighton (with a stop at Jimmy Johns for some pre-race fuel).

I finished the swim portion and felt great. I was out of breath but the lake was really nice for swimming (no seaweed!). The first transition went well, though I got a few odd looks. I was there to practice my half Ironman transitions so I had a ridiculous amount of gear and nutrition for a sprint triathlon. Never the less, I pushed on and got on the bike.

About a half mile into the bike ride I regained my breath from swimming and was feeling pretty up-beat. I was cruising along at the slow pace I had told myself I would follow. The first of a few small hills came along and many of the people in front of me (we have to ride single file with no drafting allowed) slowing way down. So, I started passing people. This involved speeding up a little. Soon I found myself passing a lot of people and not really slowing down between position changes. My planned 13.5mph stroll through a sprint triathlon turned into a true 20mph sprint. My commuting experience came in handy with the sharp turns and hairpin loop-backs. I was taking hard corner turns at 15mph or more while most others were slowing down nearly to a stop. And about half way through the bike ride it started to rain. Not too hard, but it was enough to be noticeable. Another bonus for the multi-weather commuter. I was feeling great, a little arrogant even.

The second transition flew by and again I put on more gear than necessary for a sprint triathlon (yes, that was me with a fuel belt). The run was a far more humbling experience than the bike portion. This race was put on by a running store, after all. I was chugging along at a very rapid (for me) pace of 10 minutes per mile while people were darting past me at 7 and 8 minutes per mile or quicker. The running course was nice and flat. It took me about a half mile to get a good rhythm going after my super sprint on the bike. Near the 3 mile mark I was cursing myself for not having gone slow through the whole event. I was nearing empty (I had just recently done the 50 mile bike and 5 mile run). I finished the race in 1 hour 37 minutes.

Pre-Race Jimmy Johns fix

Starting to get the transition area set up (yes, there's more gear in that bag)

Some of the transition area and the lake we swam in

The parking lot at the end of the race - lots of bike racks!

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