I kinda make fun of triathletes a lot. Granted, I think the whole world does. They’re a special breed. So when I got a TT bike, some of my cyclist friends make tri jokes. When I started running I was told it was fitting since I owned a TT bike. I still swore I’d never do a tri. Then Kim and I went swimming and I discovered I can swim okay enough, so I registered for a tri. And so I’m here today… My line of thinking fell kind of into “well, I might as well do a triathlon since I do all sorts of crazy things I never thought I’d do, and at least I can hopefully kick ass on the bike, and its held a few blocks from my house.”
I entered the Cheyenne Sprint Triathlon, which has a pool option. See, I would never do a tri without a pool option because I have a huge fear of water so open water swims are out for me, and my microbiology degree tells me lakes are yucky anyways (not that pools aren’t, but there shouldn’t be as much nasty stuff in them in theory). I arrived promptly at 6:30am, quite enjoying the fact it was less than a 5 minute drive from my house after a summer of driving hours, and sometimes to other states, for races. I was kinda lost, as the whole pre-race procedure is very different than my normal mountain or road races. I wandered over to pick up my chip but they weren’t ready so I took to preparing my transition area. Not like I had any idea what I was doing, but I spread down my T-rex dinosaur beach towel, and placed my aero helmet the incorrect way on my bike. I folded and refolded my bike shorts on top of my road shoes. I gave up on trying to make my water bottle stay upright. Wandered back over for my timing chip.
Finally some of my teammates started showing up. I knew them (I write the team blog/race results), but they didn’t know me which is always awkward. At least it gave me some conversation. Amy finally wandered in and I tried to convince her to set up her transition area next to mine, which didn’t work, but then I recruited Bob. Who also didn’t know me. But we remedied that with some conversation about the LMBS! I asked Amy if I was expected to run from the pool to the transition area (quite a ways away… almost like a secondary run leg if you ask me) barefoot. haha, such a noob. I was realizing that I am far too much of a cyclist to be in an episode of “Shit triathletes say”
Soon enough us pool swimmers were wandering over to the Municipal Pool to get our swim on. I was super nervous about having to swim with 4 other people in my lane. They asked us to group ourselves by similar times. These guys went “we’re slow, we swim 9’s.” Well, my 400m estimated time is 12-13 minutes so I avoided those guys. Luckily I found a group of 3 men with similar times to me so we teamed up for the Slow Lane of Awesomeness. They sent us off semi-time trial style, every 5 seconds in the lane. I was third to go, but soon was touching the feet of the guy in front of me. I knew I didn’t have the energy to pass so I just stayed there behind him hoping a foot wouldn’t meet my face. About 4 laps in or so I tossed my goggles off as they were all fogged up. I refuse to put my face in water, so it worked out. Yes, I do have a very turtle like atrocious swim technique, but hey, it gets me through 400m so whatever! The last 100m were killer and I could feel my pace dropping horrible. I was very happy when I could finally get out of the pool and onto my favorite thing ever – a bicycle!
Running the half marathon (ok, it wasn’t that far, just felt like it) to the transition area I felt so wonky and floaty. I didn’t run fast, but fast enough to get me there quickly. My poor tender feet were like “Why are we running barefoot?! Didn’t parasitology class teach you anything about grass in city parks?!” Haha. During the transition I learned that bike shorts are super hard to put on when you’re wet. And a standard bike chamois does an incredible job at wicking all the water up from your swimsuit… but I did indeed get them on, along with socks and shoes (BOA dials are hard to turn with wrinkly fingers, for future reference), helmet, and sunglasses. I started my Garmin 510, even though I had my FR910XT on as well. I doused myself with some lemon water, as more went on me than in my mouth and I was off! Of course this was the time I struggled with clipping in and I was an idiot and tried to get on my bike from the right side, which I can’t really do as I always mount from the left side. Lessons learned.
I was so happy to be on the bike and in my element. The Cheyenne Police Dept. and race volunteers did an amazing job controlling traffic, so I ultra enjoyed blowing stop signs and stop lights on the course. I started picking off other people immediately on Central Avenue, which added to my happiness. I’m never strong on the road, so it was nice for once being the one dropping others! Everything was going great, and I was heading towards the first big climb, which is up Bishop Blvd. to the Vandehei roundabout. I tried shifting into my big ring granny gear and the bike made a horrible clatter and it wouldn’t shift. I tried again, same results. Not willing to get off and see what was wrong, I grunted and mashed out the climb. Apparently something is messed up with my bike, which left me with about 3-5 hard big ring gears to work with on the hilly course. And I couldn’t go into the small chainring as my front derailleur will not shift back into the big ring. The whole race I had a terrible rattling coming from the rear end of my bike and all I could do was hope everything stayed in one piece until the end.
And that it did! The course flew by, and so did the hills. I continued picking off other racers and soon knew I was in the front of the pack (though it didn’t mean much since it is a time trial type of thing). The volunteers were amazing and cheered as everyone went by, which was great motivation. A lady yelled out that she loved my bike, too! The turn around was at Little Bear Inn, and I was able to pick up speed for the climb back super well. The wind was pretty nonexistent, an added pleasure. I dropped down Bishop Blvd off the roundabout at 40mph, which I realized was 10mph over the posted speed limit and probably explained why I almost had to pass a car – making me realize that I am way more comfortable with speed on a road bike than I ever will be on a mountain bike!
Coming down Central a volunteer told me I was in 6th place, woohoo! I cruised back to the park and into the transition area. This transition went a lot faster, as all I had to do was change shoes and take my helmet off. Then off to the run… the horrible, miserable run. I managed a strong first quarter mile and then started to quickly die. I would say I probably did about half walk, half run. My right knee was screaming in pain and I had a side ache. It was hard not to feel miserable, though I was still giddy about how well the bike portion went. My average speed was a little over 19mph for the 13.3mile course!
3.1 miles of torture later and I saw the finish line and heard the announcer calling my name. I put in a decent sprint effort and sat my butt down as soon as I could after the finish line. Whew, I finish a triathlon!
My official overall time was 1:33:29.8. Which…drumroll… was 2nd place in my age category! YAY! I finished 14th overall in the pool swim category… not too shabby for winging a triathlon with no training, eh?
Unfortunately I had to impatiently wait until later in the evening to see all the splits (which I guess wasn’t too bad, I crashed out for a few hours on the couch anyway!). I really wanted to see my bike time and compare it against all the others. It was worth the wait! I had the fastest bike time of any pool participant – male or female!! To boot, I had the 5th fastest female bike time of the day. Sometimes being a cyclist pays off 😀 The bike portion is what saved my butt, in all honesty. My bike time was 11 minutes faster than the 3rd place finisher of my category who had way faster swim and run times, to show much it helped out. And hey, it felt good to finally kick some ass on skinny tires!
I really doubt I’ll be doing any more triathlons in the near future, however. First off, I need pool swims. Second off, as much as I had fun it’s still really not my “thing.” The bike portion was the only super enjoyable part, and I can look to time trials to accomplish the same thing. I’m super proud of myself for registering and finishing a tri! Maybe next year for the same event… 😉