Saturday, June 7, 2008

My First Tri - Lakeside Sprint Triathlon

Finally, after months of training today was finally my first triathlon! I picked Lakeside because it's a smaller event with about 250 participants. I decided not to do the Try-a-tri and go for the Sprint. Even the Sprint wasn't quite standard, with a 500m swim, a 18km ride and a 4km run.
I got up around 5 am, ate an energy bar for breakfast with an expresso chaser. Then I loaded up the minivan and drove off. Lakeside is a two hour drive from Toronto and I didn't want to take any chances. I got there a bit before 8, topped off my tires and picked a spot on the 40-44 rack. Then I used the potties while they were nice and odorless. Despite recent advances in porta-potty technology, they can get quite ripe in hot weather. The forecasts called for 85-90 degree and it felt like it was going to happen.I got my race kit and got marked.

I prepared my transition area, using all the advice I gathered on Triscoop and some lesser sources. The water temperature was a surprising 71 degrees so the wetsuit was optional, but I there was no way I was going to do my first swim without a wetsuit. After the pre-race meeting, I got my wetsuit on (with some help with the zipper) and went in the water to swim in a suit for the first time. Man, it was like swimming with 4 pull buoys! Piece of cake. For the first time, Triathlon Ontario has decided to put a time limit on the swim. In our case it was 25 minutes for the 500m, which I think is more than reasonable.

I was in the 3rd wave, waves were 2 minutes apart. We watched the first two waves go and then it was time. There was probably 50 or 60 of us. Watching the other waves, I noticed some people breast-stroking after 100 meters so I figured I wouldn't be the worst swimmer and seeded myself about 2/3 back, pretty much in the center. Then we were off. It was my first uninterrupted 500m swim so I went fairly slow. My pacing strategy was to be able to keep using bilateral breathing. When I felt like having to breathe more often, I slowed down instead. Even though the water was clean, visibility was measured in inches but I didn't have too much trouble swimming in a straight line. Did I mention I love wetsuits? After the 2nd turn, I started passing people from the previous wave! Anyway I swam until my hands touched the bottom. I was done! My pace, which I'm pretty sure was pretty even, was 2:10/100m for a time of 10:48. That's about what I had expected.

I had a bit of trouble finding my rip cord. The guy who had zipped me up had done something fancy with it and I couldn't figure it out. Eventually I did, stripped to my waist, got to my bike and stood there trying to remember what to do. There were still quite a few bikes, so I figured I wasn't doing too badly. I finished removing the wetsuit, then glasses-helmet-socks-shoes-race-number. The run was on a dirt road and I would have gone nuts if a rock had slipped in my running shoe and I didn't have socks, so I decided to wear some. I asked about the number and was told to wear it so I strapped my belt on, ran out with my bike and I was out of T1. I pushed on my Garmin (which was set to multi-sports) Start button and I was gone.

The ride was surprisingly easy. The heat wasn't a problem because of the air flow. I didn't really have a pace in mind, I just wanted to bring my HR to about 170. My average HR for ride was 168 so I'm happy with it. I got passed a bit, passed more. I don't remember passing or being passed by people in my age group but things are a bit fuzzy so I might be wrong. The only problem I experienced was that my right-side aerobar losened up a bit and kept moving so I had to be real carefull not to put too much weight on my right hand. It was quite windy, so there was an uphill section that got to be pretty fatiguing but I survived. On the way back, downhill with the wind to my back I got up to 50 km/h, which I had never done. If I had crashed, on the black box you would have heard: "Whhhheeeeeee!!!!". The bike was over real fast. My average speed was 34.4 km/h (21.4 mi/hr) which was better than I had expected but again, I wasn't too sure what to expect. In the last mile, I made sure I drank quite a bit of Gatorade so I wouldn't have to drink on the run. I got to the end, unmounted, passed the line and pressed the Garmin Lap button to indicate transition.

I ran in the transition area with my bike and I couldn't find my spot! My sun glasses screwed up the color of my towel and it took me maybe 10 seconds to recognize it. I racked my bike switched to my running gear, pulled my Garmin out of the bike craddle, grabbed the wrist mount and started moving. I had done a few bricks, but this was ridiculous. I shuffled out of transition, fumbled with my Garmin, pressed all kinds of buttons, got mad and just started running. I think I lost quite a bit of time before I actually started running. Once I did start to run, I felt like I was not moving but I was passing all kinds of people. The heat and humidity were getting to a few people. Some people overdid it a bit and were competing with a camelback. There WERE 2 separate aid stations on a 4km out-and-back course! The run was hard. The third km was pretty much uphill and I slowed down more than I would have liked but I was toast. I tried to finish hard. My final pace was 4:53. I had hoped on 4:30 so it was quite a difference. The heat and the fatigue from the bike were just too much.

My final time was 1:05:22. This puts me 61/208 overall, 14/28 in the M40-44 age group.

When I look at the results in my age group, I see that I was very slow in transition compared to the others. I wasted at least 30 seconds in each transitions, but that was to be expected. I will definitely fix that next time. My swim was actually pretty darn good. My run was good enough for 33rd overall, so that went ok. I wasn't the only one suffering from the heat. As expected, the bike is where I need to focus. I need to build some bike speed!

Yesterday, I was dropping off my daughter at a friend's house for a sleepover and my triathlon was mentioned. I mentioned that I was nervous and the mother said something like: "what really counts is to participate, isn't it?". I smiled politely. Yeah, right. I think that what really counts in a race is to do your best or else it's not really a race, now is it?


42at42 said...

Way to go JD.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this. Lakeside 2009 will be my first triathlon ever and I'm a bit nervous -- okay i'm totally freaking out. I can get my heart rate up to 170 just by reading the race rules. I have been training since September but I am not strong in any of the sports so it has been an uphill climb to say the least. Reading your blog made me feel better though, so thank you.
Erin Whike