Last weekend I raced the MAP Sprint Triathlon. It was the first triathlon for this year’s racing season for me and although I wouldn’t consider it a “primary” event, it was still a blast to race. I guess you could say that I was using it as a primer for season and to get me into racing mode. My training schedule doesn’t correspond with me “peaking” for the event, so I went into it with the expectations of just racing hard and having fun. My goal was to finish it in 1:05 and shoot for top 10 of my age group.
The race consisted of a 500 yard pool swim, 12 mile bike and 3 mile run. All of the triathlons I had raced in so far have been open-water swims, so this was definitely a new experience.
Another cool thing about this race was that it was the first triathlon for a buddy of mine, Dirk Wuensche. Over the past year or so he has tackled numerous things including a 7 mile trail running race, half-marathon road run and now he was tackling a triathlon.
Alba and I arrived early (Dirk was already there) and proceeded to setting up transition, getting marked and other pre-race preparations.
Since you can’t fit 600 people in the pool at once, the pool swim consisted of the competitors starting 10 seconds apart. We were pre-staged according to our average 100 yard swimming time (which we provided during registration). Since I am a slower swimmer, I had to wait a while before I could start. Funny thing is, I ran into a buddy I hadn’t seen since last year, Greg Shore. We had both participated in some group swims with Greg earlier last year, so it was kind of funny that we were starting close to each other. We chatted for a bit while we waited in line for our start.
I snaked my way through the pool back and forth, flipping under the lane lines at the end of each lane. It was a lot like just swimming laps except you changed lanes each pool length. I passed 5 people in the process of swimming the 500 yards. Towards the end of the swim, Kevin Anderson, a friend and co-worker yelled at me that I had only 5 lanes left. That really helped as I had lost count myself. I picked up the pace a little and tried to finish strong. I ran into the transition area feeling pretty good about my swim time.
Transitioning to the bike went very, very smoothly. Due to the short length of the race, I had planned on biking and running without socks which reduced my transition time. Rob over at TrySports hooked me up with a pair of triathlon bike shoes and I used the rubber band method to mount my shoes to my bike. I ran out of transition barefooted and hopped on the bike with my feet on top of the shoes. Once I started down the hill in front of the aquatics center, I slipped my feet into the shoes. I was very surprised at how smoothly it went since this was the first time I’d ever used this method. Dirk and I had practiced our transitions the night before, so I guess you could say practice does make perfect.
It was a great 12 mile ride. The course was, for the most part, rolling hills with a couple of short climbs. A relatively fast course that also shared some of the same roads as the Tri Latta Triathlon. The only thing slowing things down a bit was the wind. There were several bursts that seemed like they were going to bring me to a complete stop. There were also a couple of times I just knew I was going to be blown off the road like a tumbleweed.
The last little stretch of road heading back to transition was a downhill, which worked out perfectly for getting our of my shoes while still on the move. I reached down and unstrapped my right shoe, slipped my index finger into the loop on the heel of my shoe, and pushed the heel of the shoe off with my thumb. My intent was to put my foot on top of the shoe before letting go of it so that the shoe wouldn’t dangle or spin on the pedal. But…. when I lifted my leg out of the shoe, my right calf cramped immediately. No longer worried about the shoe spinning, I dropped it and directed my attention to working the cramp out. Luckily, it subsided almost as quickly as it began.
Moving to the left shoe, I used the same method to get my foot out and on top of the shoe. Low and behold, the same thing happened: instant cramp. it also subsided quickly.
Coming into transition I swung my right leg over the bike and rode the bike standing on the left pedal. I moved my right leg out in front of me and came off the bike running, placing my feet on the ground within a few feet of the dismount line. The wind had blown my stuff in transition around a bit and my running hat was nowhere to be seen. Good thing that I had placed my running belt/bib underneath my shoes and not on top of them. I slipped the shoes on, grabbed the running belt and took off running. I ran past Alba (who took all these pics) and she cheered me on.
The course consisted of an out and back run where the first tenth or a mile or so was an uphill, sidewalk run. It took about twice that distance for me to “get my legs back”. The cramped calves weren’t giving me any issues and the further I ran, the better I felt. We then dove into a parking lot/access road just before making way to a neighborhood where the majority of the run course was ran on paved streets.
About 2 miles into the run, I still wasn’t running as fast I probably should have, or I at least didn’t feel that I was running as hard as I could. It wasn’t until there was about a quarter-mile left that I really started picking up the pace. Once I made it back to the sidewalk, I sprinted the rest of the way to the finish.
I finished 1:07 and change while placing 10th in my age group. I was pleased with the results as it was right on target for “B” race. It’s given me a boost of confidence as I prep for an “A” race.
There were lots of friends and co-workers that either cheered or racing or both. Craig Fischer was volunteering and cheering (thanks to a recent bionic collar bone implant), Sean Marvin, Kevin Anderson, and Janet McMahon to name a few. It was great to see all of them out on the race course and their banter was definitely motivating. Also cheering on was Chris, Cody, Ben and Megan from the TrySports running team. Chris and Cody were loud and clear out on the race course. Thanks guys!