Spring Into Summer Triathlon 2013

A few months back, I started looking around for a triathlon early in the season to kind of kick things off and ease my way into the season.  I was having a hard time getting motivated to stick with training, and I was hoping that having something on my race calendar would make me actually train a bit.

While it worked a little, I did do a bit of training, I majorly slacked off.  It’s been the story of my life lately.  Life has been stressful, I’ve been eating like a pig, I haven’t been making exercise a priority, and have been an all around couch potato.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.  To top it all off, a couple of weeks ago my allergies got the best of me.  They raged on and developed into a lovely little sinus infection that reared its ugly head two days before the triathlon.  Needless to say, I felt like complete shit.  I went to the doctor to get some antibiotics, but I was still congested and coughing when I woke up on race day.  I was rocking my best ‘phone sex operator voice’.  It was masculine, and awesome.

I decided to go ahead and attempt the triathlon even though I wasn’t feeling well and was unprepared.  I had already paid my registration fee and am too much of a cheapskate to let it go to waste.  So, the morning of the race I literally squeezed myself into my triathlon clothes and gathered all of my gear.  We left the kids with some dear friends and drove to Hazelwood’s aquatic center an hour before the race was set to start.  When we arrived, there were no signs of a race.  Nothing was set up – no signs, no transition area, no flags, no tents, nothing.  A guy waved us down and explained that there wasn’t a transition area and that transitions weren’t going to be timed.  He also told us that we would start with swimming, then run, and finish with the bike.  Understandably, I was little confused.  Typically, you swim and then bike and then run so that as you become more tired you are closer to ground – less risk of drowning and falling off your bike.  And, you are timed from start to finish (transitions included and no breaks/rest/downtime between sports).  We drove over by the pool and sat there for about an hour until the ‘triathlon’ was set to start.

A few minutes before the race was set to start, all four of the participants gathered to go over the events.  You read that right … four participants – two guys, two girls.  Can safely say that it was the smallest triathlon that I will probably ever do.  Apparently it’s Hazelwood’s first year of putting a triathlon together.  Everyone has to start somewhere!

After the briefing, we grabbed our swim gear and headed to the pool.  We each took a lane and were assigned a timer at the end of the lane.  We hopped in and they yelled for us to start.  I’ve been swimming for two decades, so it is easy for me.  I know the right form and I have the endurance to swim decent distances.

I took off on the swim and didn’t look back.  Finished 400 yds in seven and a half minutes.  When I got out of the pool, the guys running the race were shocked.  They asked how long I’ve known to swim and were impressed.  I told them to just wait for the run – their expectation of me would greatly fall.

I was the first one out of the pool, and I ended up having about 15 minutes to rest before the run started.  I walked to the car, dried off a bit, and put on my socks and shoes.  I did a little light stretching and praying.  I was dreading the run.  Eventually all the participants were ready, and we lined up to start.  Stopwatches were started and we were off.  The run was a two lap course that was full of hills.  I was over it pretty quickly.  I felt like I couldn’t get enough oxygen and I was falling behind.  I jogged as best I could and opted to walk the uphills.  I kept telling myself to just keep going and get this leg finished.  I thought the bike leg would be easy, so I only needed to get through this part and the rest would be smooth sailing.  Running second was actually pretty nice.  My legs felt strong.  I’m used to trying to run after biking which never ends that well.

I brought up the rear and finished last in the run. Not surprising. But, at least I finished it. Everyone was patiently waiting on me.  Alex had checked the air pressure in my tires and had everything ready for me.  I caught my breath, grabbed a drink, and threw on my helmet.  The plan was for all the participants to leisurely ride to another park to complete the bike leg of the race.  After we were all ready, we set off to locate the start line.

Once we were all lined up, stopwatches were started and we were on our way.  The bike course was two loops, each 2.5 miles, and it was packed with hills.  There were no straightaways and no way to use momentum to help with getting up the next hill.  A downhill would end with a sharp turn and then immediately go to an uphill.  One downhill was met with a bridge that had a 4” lip.  I hit that so hard the first time that my chain bumped to another gear.  The path was really curvy with thick trees.  You couldn’t see ahead of you to know what was coming.  It was awful.  I had to walk up two of the hills.  I’m not proud, but it’s the truth.  I’ve never had to walk my road bike up a hill.  It was the worst bike course I’ve ever done.  Typically my average speed for a ride is 14 mph.  I averaged 6.5 mph for this ride.

I wanted to stop and give up.  It was so hard.  My calves were cramping and on fire.  I told myself to just keep going.  The last large uphill before the end of the race was a nightmare.  I was yelling at myself to get up the hill.  My internal thoughts turned to grunts and then to open screams as I huffed and inched my way up.  I turned another corner and had to climb a small uphill to finish.  I felt like puking.  Alex grabbed my bike and I sat down.  Alex told me that he didn’t take any pictures of me on the bike because of how painful I looked.  I appreciated the honesty, I think.

Alex got my bike loaded on the car and I somehow managed to drag myself to the passenger seat.  I was exhausted.  We drove back to the pool area for drinks, oranges, and awards.  I was shocked when the 1st place female trophy was handed to me.

In hindsight, I’m glad I competed with a sinus infection and lack of training.  Because there was only one other female, I actually placed.  I have a pretty sweet trophy sitting at home now.  And, who doesn’t love trophies?? I’m pretty positive that there is an extremely high likelihood it will never happen again.  The race also gave me a healthy fear of my next few triathlons.  I have another in a month and the next a month after that.  I’m terrified.  I know that if I don’t get my hump in gear and take training seriously, there’s absolutely no way I can do the next triathlon.  Without trying to be too dramatic – it’s do or die time.

Official Times (400 yd swim, 2 mile run, 5 mile bike):

  • Swim: 7:32 (rate of 30:00 per mile)
  • Run: 28:47 (rate of 14:23 per mile)
  • Bike: 33:15 (rate of 6.6 mph)
  • Overall time: 1:09:34

2012 Last Chance Triathlon

I got the idea that I should complete one last triathlon of the 2012 season.  It was getting late in the season, and the pickings were slim.  But, I happened upon the ‘Last Chance Tri’ that was going to be in the beginning of October in Mattoon, Illinois.  I decided to give it a whirl.  To make it even more interesting, we added a little trip to Chicago to visit some friends that recently had a baby.  The whole Parsons crew loaded up in our car, with my bike and tri gear, and headed toward Chicago.  We spent a day and a half in the Windy City and then headed south to the big city of Mattoon.  I had been told that Mattoon was really flat (which is awesome if you are biking and running in the streets), but windy.  I had also been told to prep for it to be cold.  The forecast for race day was cloudy skies and a temperature that hovered at 50 degrees.  We spent an uneventful night in the hotel.  The next morning, we drove the race routes and ended up driving all over town to explore.  10 minutes later, we had seen everything.  So, we stopped at a park to let the kids burn off some energy.  The race was in the afternoon, so the plan was for Alex to watch the kids in the hotel room while I did the triathlon.  Once I called him to tell him I was done, he would load everything up and come get me.  While Alex, Anna, and Luke napped – I wrestled with Mother Nature on the great streets of Mattoon.

The serpentine swim was in a heated, indoor pool.  It’s called a serpentine swim because you wind your way back and forth while sliding over, so you enter at one point and exit on the diagonal side.  When I registered, it asked me what my swim time estimate was.  When you do a swim like this, you are grouped according to your pace.  I told them that I thought I would be around 6:30 for the swim.  As we were lining up for the race to start, they had signs on the walls to section out the swimmers.  It started at 5 minutes and went all the way to 17 minutes plus.  I started second guessing myself because my swim time meant that I was about the 10th fastest swimmer there.  I opted to let a few people in front of me so I didn’t slow them down.  That ended up being a mistake (and shows that I shouldn’t doubt myself).  I passed the girl in front of me during the swim and completed it in under 6 minutes.

Immediately after the swim, you run outside to transition for the bike.  Now, it was cold for anyone standing outside, but to be soaking wet was another story.  My whole body went numb.  I dried off as quickly as I could and put my socks and shoes on.  I had swam in my swimsuit and tri capris, so I slipped on a short sleeve shirt and a long sleeve biking jacket.  I figured that wearing layers was the best option.  I threw on my helmet, glasses, and race number – and I was off.  The biking was easy and fast, but it was horrendously cold.  My skin and hair was still wet, and I was going about 15 mph in 50 degree weather with no sun.  And then the wind started picking up – gusts of 15 – 20 mph winds.  On the way out, it was to my back, which helped.  At one point, I turned and the wind was blowing from my left.  I reached for my water bottle to grab a drink.  While I was attempting to put my water bottle back, the wind caught it and shot it off into a field.  I kept going.  I was going at a great clip and passing quite a few people, I was doing really well.  I hit the turnaround and made my way back.  The wind was mainly head-on and brutal.  It felt like I wasn’t moving at all.  Snot was pouring everywhere and all I could think about was how thirsty I was.  I went to change the display on my bike computer.  Apparently it wasn’t seated properly, the wind grabbed it and it went flying into another field.  I think I yelled out in frustration.  The cornfields of Mattoon got a lot of good equipment that day.

I made it back to the transition area and quickly racked my bike and tossed my helmet.  I began running.  My feet were like blocks of ice.  I couldn’t feel my toes.  The combination of being wet and subjection to the cold wind caused havoc on my toes.  I kept trying to run, but it was next to impossible.  I don’t know if you have ever attempted to run (or walk) when you can’t feel your feet.  It just doesn’t work.  I kept stopping and kicking my feet on the curb – anything to try to ‘wake them up’.  It wasn’t working.  I kept moving, slowly.  About a mile and a half in, my toes started to thaw out.  I was exhausted and doing everything I could to just get to the finish line.  I walked quite a bit.  As I neared the end, I picked up my pace.  I was ready to be inside where the heater was working.  I crossed the finish line.  It was anticlimactic.  No one was there to cheer me on, so I gave a little cheer for myself.  I handed off my timing chip and went inside to warm up and change clothes.  Alex came by to grab me and we made the drive back home.  My first triathlon season was over.

I don’t have any race pictures because I was solo. Hard to take pictures of yourself…

Official Times (275 yd swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run):

  • Swim: 5:59 (rate of 39:53 per mile)
    • Division ranking: 2/9
  • T1: 2:10
  • Bike: 47:26 (rate of 15.2 mph)
    • Division ranking: 4/9
  • T2: 0:31
  • Run: 44:18 (rate of 14:31 per mile)
    • Division ranking: 7/9
  • Overall Time: 1:40:27
  • Division Place: 6/9