Sunday, June 20, 2010

My First Tri

This is my first blog, so please bear with me.

I have always watched the World Triathlon Championship in Kona but never really seriously thought I could do it. You see I can not and could not swim. I was one of those people who could not float. So a triathlon was pretty much out of the question.

Then my "little" brother, a clydesdale started sending me race results from his triathlon experiences. I was green with jealously. I actually had on my to-do list for years to learn how to swim and never actually started taking lessons. I mean I went to the pool and tried to "just do it". but the no floating thing really got to me.

So finally this year - 2010, my 43rd year, I decided enough is enough and I decided it was time to pay a professional. So I started taking lessons in March. I want to say that this worked like a charm and now I am swimming lap after lap, but that is just not the case. It is still a major struggle. But I am improving. I have improved enough to this week I competed in my first Sprint Triathlon.

The event was the Three Little Pig Sprint Triathlon in Smithfield, NC. We arrived at @ 6:45. I was completely and totally psyched about the event. Then I found out my bib number was 368, meaning I would be the three hundred sixty eight person to start. Ok let me explain for the people who have never been to a pool swim triathlon, you begin based upon your swim time. Remember I do not swim very well, so this is my "reward". My start time was supposed to be 9:01. Yeah, here I am all psyched and totally full of adrenaline and would have to wait for more than 2 hours before I could begin.

So to past time I setup my transition area. Layed out my towel and bike shoes and running shoes. I still hadn't decided whether or not I would take the time to put on socks or if I would go without them. I hadn't decided if I would put on a riding shirt or just a regular shirt. So I decided I would decide when I got out of the water.

Watching some of my fellow triatheles begin was exciting. Oh did I mention there was only 380 people starting. This meant that I would be one of the very last ones in the pool. About 40 minutes into watching people start, I started seeing people returning from the bike and starting the run. I later found out that some of the first swimmers finished before I started the swim. Finally I was in the water. It was freezing. I was cold and had to stand there and just waiting until it was my turn. I am not a very calm person when I start any competive events. Before a softball game. I am nervous. Before a basketball game, I am nervous and I have been doing both of those since I was old enough to pick up a ball, so image how nervous I was waiting for the start of the event. My stomach was in knots. Then the people around me started talking. The conversation revolved around how they just decided earlier in the week to do this on a whim. A couple of people in the office decided to just do it as something to do. "Are you freaking kidding me". OMG, oh well. I have to remember that I am the dummy who could not really swim so I just have to get over it.

I am finally at the wall to begin the swim. The starter tell me "good luck Ken" and I kinda look back and smile, afraid for my life with this swim. I start the first 25 feet pretty good. All good except I forgot to breathe. Do you know how hard it is to swim without breathing. Well it really doesn't improve your swimming. I fight my way to the wall and try to get my bearing and relax, I am in motion now so just remember my "game plan" and go for it. So I start swimming again and by now the other "slower" swimmers are passing me. I am kicking myself thinking that I should have practice more on the swimming.

So I just keep my head down and keep moving forward. When I couldn't swim, I start walking forward. I felt that forward motion was all I needed. Then when I reached about the half way point, I found that the pool dropped off to 9 ft. OMG, so this means I have to swim away from the wall on that end. Didn't they know that I could not float? Did they know that I needed to stand up at each wall to get my bearing. Panic. so I did the only thing I could. I held on the lane divider. swam and then pulled my self the rest of the way. I was laughing at my self. Just get through it. Just keep going. This will be over soon.

Well, I ended up being the very last person out of the pool. The people remaining in the pool when I got out all cheered. Finally. Now make up time is what was on my mind. I decided that I would catch most of the bib 300s during the ride and more of the rest during the run.

I get to my transition point and decide that I would put on the socks and the riding jersey. the jersey stuck to my body, I was rushing so much that I only strapped one of the three velco straps on my shoes and forgot to puckle my helmet as I was running my bike out. So I decided I need to stop, get it together and then continue.

I get to the end of T-1 and start to mount my bike only to find out that I had not quite made it out of T-1 and needed to go a little further. No problem. I finally get to the mount line and had to stop and get on my bike. I have clip on my shoes and I could not get them clipped. So I am laughing at myself again. I just know that I need to get going. I lookup and Linda is trying to get a picture. I smile and fake it as I still try to get my shoe clipped in. It took me about a quarter mile to get up to speed and clipped in. At about mile 1, I finally get my shirt on straight and by mile 2 I am opening my GU.

At about mile 3 there was a train track. the ride organizer did warn us that this may happen and we would just have to wait. As tough as triatheles are, we are no competition for a train. as I get about a quarter of a mile away, I see that I was one of the lucky ones that had to deal with the train. Luckily for me, I slowed down enough that I didn't have to come to a complete stop and was able to pass several people who had to stop.

From here the ride was mostly uneventful. I just put my head down and keep going. I past more riders and my confidence started growing. I felt that my plan was coming together. As I was riding I was thinking, just keep passing others, and do not get passed. I got into a pretty good rythmn. Then as I reached mile 11 I was passed. I was thinking where did he come from. So I started pedaling hard. Keep going. Don't let him out of your sight. So I stayed with him. At mile 13, I past him back and I thought I rode off and left him. At mile 13.5 he past me back. Oh well, he was just a better rider today, but I would definitely catch him on the run and he would not pass me back.

I begin the transition while approaching the park. I slip my feet out of my shoe while still pedaling. I reach the dismount spot with my shoes still clipped in and begin pushing my bike to for T2. I put my bike on the rack and slide my feet into my running shoes and grab my hat and number belt and now I am off to the races.

My goal, pass as many people as possible. Second goal do not have a heart attack while doing it. Remember pace, pace, pace. I start running and it doesn't take me long to get into a rythmn. I begin to pass others again. This part of the race is uneventful. I ran really well. I resisted the temptation to get water. It was burning up out there. It was about 91 degrees. As I finally got to the finish line I was relieved. I have accomplished my goal. I was so totally excited. Then to see Linda waiting for me was awesome. I had a huge smile on my face. She really encouraged me with the swimming and was my biggest cheerleader (always).

Now that I have accomplished my goal of completing a Sprint. I have to really really work on swimming more. My next tri will be Aug 15, in Fuquay-Varina. I plan to be able to swim the entire 300 meters and compete with others in my AG for the podium.

My time was 1:16:04. My goal was to finish 1:15 but when I look at my T1 time of 2:13 caused me to miss that goal.

Swim - 7:33
Bike - 43:16
Run - 22:06