My second triathlon is finished. I had fun, improved my time and I’m ready to do another one. Here is my race report.
Friday – pre-race
I’ve decided that I am basically useless the day before a race. I don’t know if this will continue or if it is just because I am new to this and on vacation. I did accomplish a few things yesterday, but not much.
I slept in until 6 a.m. My mother would really wonder who I am – her youngest child who could always easily sleep until noon if given half a chance! After I was up I did a few things at home before I went to do a warm up swim. I decided that I just wanted to get in the water yesterday and do a short swim to loosen up. I did 250 and felt pretty good about it. Then I went to work with Sam. We checked over my transition bag, I did three sets of jumps, walking push ups, leg lifts and flutters before we went and did a series of stretches. My transition bag is down to the bare essentials. It all fits in a small backpack.
I headed out to Starbucks for a bagel and coffee. Carbs, my favorite thing about the day before a race. I headed home to do a few things before going to get my race packet. The afternoon was looking cloudy and rain and thunderstorms were predicted for Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. I decided not to take my bike as a result so I went out for a short ride before heading out. I made it to Oak Mountain State Park a little more than an hour before registration began so I drove the run route and the bike route. Neither one seemed too bad on Friday. The bike had some hills and a whole lot of curves and turns. I debated going in the lake and decided to. I’m glad I did since I can’t remember the last time I was in a lake. The boat ramp where we were supposed to enter was really slick and I fell and skinned my elbow. I went in the water – mucky, rocky and murky. I discovered that it dropped off pretty quickly and that the temperature was almost like a hot tub – much warmer than I anticipated. I swam a short distance but not the whole 400. This helped me to get used to the water, realize how far I had before I could not touch bottom and see how the water felt. I was not freaked out about not being able to see the bottom or much of anything. That is the thing other people kept telling about in open water swims. I watched some junior national swimmers after I got out of the water. This race was a USAT Southeast Regional Development race so there were a lot of young kids there. They are great to watch.
I went and picked up my packet, got my TriTats put on my arms and leg, and went to the orientation meeting. This was really helpful. Team Magic does a great job of organizing races and the orientation really helped explain some things. Theresa and Kathleen explained the 10 common violations of USAT rules and then answered our questions. There were quite a few beginners at the orientation. I was able to find my bike rack and figure out where I would be in the morning. I was just about in the middle, a pretty good place.
Home again, home again
I headed back home, did a few things, then went to bed early. I’m picking Sam up at 4:30 a.m.
I slept ok, woke up on time, and headed out. There really isn’t any traffic at 4 a.m. so I made it to Sam’s house in about 15 minutes and sat and waited for him. We headed out with very little traffic.
Oak Mountain State Park
It was good to arrive early. There wasn’t a line getting into the park, I got a good parking spot right by the swim start and near the transition area, and we had time to walk around before the transition area opened. Sam helped me with my tires and my chain. Basic bike maintenance is on our list of things to go over. We walked the shoreline of the lake and looked at the swim course and then went to the transition area so I could show him where my bike would be racked. I went back and got my bike and racked it, set up my transition area, and decided to take a short ride out. Good thing. My chain was still not quite right so we were able to fix it.
Everyone headed out for the swim. We were lined up in order and sent off every 3 seconds. It was a lot faster than the Ole Miss triathlon. I was in the water in less than 15 minutes after the start. It was good to watch other swimmers go in. Somehow it just calmed me down more. They had a carpeted path set up to the side of the boat ramp, so no slipping and sliding this morning. I made it in the water and started to swim free style. This was kind of different than the pool since there were quite a few people around me. It was not too crowded but I still needed to watch out. I swam free style, spotted the buoys because I did not want to wind up going off in the direction of the dam (to my right, Brad). I wound up alternating between free style and breast stroke so I could spot easier. A lot of people passed me but I wasn’t worried. The swim was part of the race I really wanted to improve and I wanted to get through without being terrified. I used the water treading techniques a couple of times – thank you Sam! Yup, I can hang out and tread water for 8 minutes if I really have to do that. I didn’t. I also did not have to hang onto a canoe and rest. I made it 400 yards in an open water lake. The water was deep most of the way around which kind of surprised me because the long side was fairly near the other side.
It didn’t bother me that I couldn’t see the bottom. I did have a little bit of a hard time getting my breathing pattern, which was odd because I really don’t have an issue in the pool. I guess part of it was because I was trying to figure out where other people were in relation to me and trying not to stray too far off course.
14:58 (Ole Miss – 20:02) 5:04 better. Sam and I predicted 12 minutes. Without as much breast stroke I can make that easily.
T1 – oh bother
Socks and wet feet – oh, bother. I broke one of the first rules. Changed the socks I have been wearing. I love the socks I wore today but they were not easy to get on. I dried my feet but I still had kind of a hard time. I just went ahead and sat down and got them on. I can’t go without socks because I get blisters.
T1 = 4:07 (Ole Miss 5:54) Still better but I need to get the time down more.
The bike route was indeed hilly. I had really concentrated on the curves last night when I drove it. I realized there were some hills but they seemed gradual and I was not terribly worried. It really was not bad. There were a couple of good climbs but nothing awful.
I have a new bike that I bought on Wednesday. (new to me, that is). It’s a road bike and I really love it. I am not used to the shifting and gears yet though and I had not been out on hills yet. Maybe not the smartest thing – taking the new bike on the race. I thought about bringing my hybrid but I decided to just go for it and ride the road bike. Really, it went pretty well and it handles nicely. I had a couple of shaky moments but nothing awful. I do not have a bike computer on it yet so I couldn’t monitor my speed. I need to get one and put it on.
Krista Schultz and Chris Newell provided really good instruction for me at She Does Tri Camp. They both taught me how to handle the road bike on curves and turns. I used everything they taught me. My friend Laurie also taught me some things about pedaling and standing on the bike. This bike is easier to stand on than the hybrid. Sam gave me some tips this morning too that were pretty useful. I did have some nice speed, despite my overall average speed.
There were a few bumps along the way. At one point a woman stopped, laid her bike in the road and sat down. I had to brake to avoid hitting her. Where is a USAT official when you need one? Around mile 9 I got rather overheated and had to pull off to the side for a minute and stop and re-focus. It was hot and I probably had not hydrated quite enough. Lesson learned. I also dropped my water bottle at one point and had to stop and pick it up. (USAT violation to leave stuff on the side of the road.) I still have to learn how to grab my water bottle and drink water on the bike. I’m getting it but need practice.
Shifting is different on the road bike. I’m not quite used to it and wasn’t getting the gears in place quite right. I need more practice. I tried not to shift much because I really didn’t need to that much, but I did need to going up hill.
The good thing – I did not wind up in the golf course or in the fishing lake. (Apparently someone usually does.)
Bike time = 1:11 (Ole Miss 1:09) a tad slower but more hills.
T2 – better!
T2 was better than T1. I had to remember not to take my helmet off while I was touching the bike. Got to my spot and the bikes were kind of sideways so I had to move one over to get mine in. Time = 4:15 (Ole Miss = 4:51) I had to get my right shoe tighter before I went out to run. It seems to be a problem.
I headed out on the run, wanting to start fast. On Thursday I had a really good run. Difference – it was inside on a track, not outside in humidity and heat, going up hill. I started running but then walked. I kept trying to pick up the run again and did but walked more than I wanted to. Heading into the woods was mainly up hill. I need more practice with brick workouts. My legs were not wobbly like they were at Old Miss, but I still had a hard time getting going like I wanted to. It all takes practice and I will get there. The route was shaded most of the way. We were all encouraging one another and laughing that if we were going up now it meant we could come down on the way back. I made it to the turn around point and started to run. I made it running on and off the rest of the way. My goal was to run the entire last mile but I did not quite do it. I ran most of the last mile though and ran in. Time =43:01 (Ole Miss=45:58). Not my best time, but still better than Ole Miss.
I finished another triathlon. My overall time was 2:17. The time at Ole Miss was 2:26 so I improved 9 minutes. At first we thought I had improved about 45 minutes because both Sam and I were remembering the 3 hour point but that was the overall time at Ole Miss. The start was a bit different there. I had estimated 1:40. Not sure what I was thinking but I will get there. I am happy with this finish. When I was done I didn’t really feel tired. That didn’t hit me until I was back in Tuscaloosa.
Sam came with me to support me. I appreciate his support and his coaching so much. I am blessed to have him as a supporter, a coach and a friend.
My goal for my first triathlon was to finish. I did. My goal for this one was to improve. I did. I also felt good about the swim and the race in general. Next weekend I will compete at Callaway Gardens. The distance is shorter – swim is the same, (400), bike is 10 miles and run is 2 miles. There are more people competing. It will be a different atmosphere than either race I have done so far. I’m looking at other triathlons and also have runs on my calendar.
If you are still reading, thanks and thanks for your support. This is a great journey.