June 19th, 2011
I signed up for the Washington DC Triathlon… well, not on a whim, but almost a spur-of-the-moment. I’d had to cancel running the Columbia Triathlon this May due to illness, so I started thinking about the DC Tri in June as a replacement. Here’s the funny thing; I was signed up for both races last year and ended up running Columbia but canceled the DC Tri due to, yes, illness. I also remembed that last year the DC Tri was blazing hot that day. So instead of signing up for the Olympic/International distance, I went for the Sprint course. That way if it was baking outside, I’d at least be done a little earlier, right?
I almost had to sit around pre-race longer than my race itself (it was awfully close). The transition area closed at 5:45, and my swim wave was the absolute last to go in, around 7:30. Come to think of it, I probbaly did sit around longer than I raced. (Yeesh.) The swim, once I finally got there, was an interesting experience. I’d neer had a “jump in off a dock” start before, and the water was less than a degree under the maximum temperature for a wetsuit. I finally decided not to use mine, figuring what I’d gain in boyancy I’d lose in transition removing it. The water was indeed just fine, temperature-wise. A lot of people swimming sideways and hanging onto buoys right off the bat, though, which was odd. I knew my swim time would be subpar for me (I have not been good about keeping up with my swims this year) and sure enough, I was about two minutes off of where I should’ve been. I also managed to scrape my knee on the ramp as I was exiting the water. Potomac River water, yuck. (I used a lot of antibiotic cream on it for the next few days and that thankfully did the trick.)
The bike was not fast for most, but it was fast for me. It helped that it was a mostly flat course, but all in all I was really pleased with my performance there. A real improvement from Columbia (and its hills) the previous year.
As for the run? Well, I did the same thing I did in Columbia. In other words, bombed out around the 2/3rds mark. I need to work on pacing myself throughout the race a bit better to try and avoid this in the future. It probably didn’t help that a week before the race, they changed the course from a 6.7k to a 7.5k. Not a huge distance, I know, but I could have used that slightly shorter distance. I might’ve rallied a bit more at the end. Or maybe not, who knows?
All in all, a nice replacement for Columbia. I’m signed up for the International distance for next year. Now that I know the course, I wouldn’t mind tackling it again. Just with some better training under my belt, next time.
July 12th, 2009
I’d wanted to give triathlons a try for a while now, but it never seemed to line up. My plan had been to tackle one this spring (and train over the winter), but missing the Philadelphia Marathon and picking a replacement in the spring meant that triathlons got pushed off to one side. Still, I’ve been going to lap swimming for a few months now, and I hit spinning class often enough that when Tri It Now’s 14.06 triathlon came around, I decided… why not? It’s just under the distance for a full sprint triathlon; the numbers for this were chosen because it’s exactly 1/10th the length of an Ironman Triathlon. (14.06 miles instead of 140.6 seems so much more reasonable.) Julie also signed up, and off we went!
When we signed up, you had to give them your approximate time for the swim portion of the race. I’d put down a ridiculously slow number, and then revised it earlier this week to a 9:45. Since the swim portion was in a pool, we would be arranged by our times there, with a new swimmer entering the pool every five seconds, and placed me at #210. It wasn’t until I was sitting on the edge of the pool (with 10 seconds to go) that I started feeling nervous. Fortunately, by that point it’s too late now. Just like a roller coaster, I got the nudge and that was it, I was in the pool. I did good until the third length of the pool, at which point I swam into a lane divider (oops) and then sucked down a lot of water. Fortunately, I didn’t drown, just flailed around for a couple of seconds and coughed. But then I was back off, and as the swim progressed I passed about a dozen people, which felt really good. (And got passed by two, one during my “try not to drown” moment.) When I pulled myself out of the pool, I looked at my watch and it was just at 8:52. Well, no wonder I was passing people!
From there I walked out to the bikes (others were running once they were outside, but I still had a bit of water in my lungs and was trying to get rid of it) and got ready as fast as I could. I’m sure the official splits will be different because the timing mat was outside and not at the edge of the pool, but by my watch between getting out of the pool and onto the bike and riding, it took 4 minutes and 45 seconds. Something to work on for the future! I know I was moving a little slow until I saw #211 (who had passed me during the choking fit) leave and suddenly I was like, “I need to get going!” And then, the biking. My weakest portion.
I knew going into this what I’d have to work on; being more confident on the bike. Our bike course was three loops, and each loop had four u-turns. And with each u-turn, I had to slooooow down and go through it carefully. Once I was back in a straight-away (or just a 90-degree turn) I was fine, but those u-turns killed me every time. I got passed a bunch in the first loop, which didn’t surprise me because those who were stronger in biking versus swimming could use this opportunity to clobber me. By the second loop, though, the number of people passing me dropped a lot, and in the third loop I even started passing some other people. (To be fair, probably people who weren’t on their third loop. But still, it felt good.)
My second transition was much faster, just 57 seconds, but then again all I had to do at that point was get my bike back to its stand, take off my helmet, and start running. But oh, what an experience that was. I now understand why everyone has said that your legs feel funny when switching from biking to running. Oof! Not a good start, especially since the sun was pretty strong at that point and there was almost no shade on the course. I ended up taking two short walk breaks (about 15 seconds each) and at the time I was annoyed at myself. But I was beat, and I felt like I was crawling. Imagine my surprise when I finished and discovered I’d run the 2.62 miles in just 21:58. A good pace for me (8:23min/mile) considering I’d just swum and ran. I thought I was moving much slower than that.
I also saw Julie a couple of times on the course; we waited together until it was time for our numbers to start, and I saw her on her first bike loop when I was just starting my second. Once I was done, I got to cheer her on in the transition area as well as early on in the run, so that was a lot of fun.
Will I do another one? Absolutely! But more biking is definitely required before I do so. And more practice bricks. As an introduction, it went pretty well.