>Back in 2006 I had my first experience running a triathlon…I find it humorous as I write that because a LOT of people call it “running” a triathlon when really that is only one of the stages, albeit the most painful…and this past Sunday I stepped back into that world.
The Broomfield MiniHaha is a great “first timers” race. The swim is 300M (12 laps), the bike is 11 miles and the run is 2 miles. In 2006 my time 1:15:09, good enough for 18th in may age division. I was hoping to break the hour mark this year.
The swim in this event is in a pool which means folks are grouped in heats by estimated swim times. I had submitted a 6 minute time but my fastest training swim was more like 5:20. You typically will have as many as five people in your heat, in your lane, so as you get ready to enter the pool everyone compares times to determine how to best order the group. My group decided I should go first…which is good. You run the least chance of having to have to pass people that way.
I got started in the swim and glanced at the clock when I finished my first 50M. I came in at 40 seconds which was faster than I wanted to go. (You run the risk of wiping out all of your energy in the swim just to pick up 40 or 50 seconds when the next leg, the bike, offers the best chance to cut down your time by multiple minutes.) I managed to slow my pace a bit over the remaining laps, even allowing another racer to pass me at the wall once, and exited the pool at 5 minutes 30 seconds…about what I had hoped for although I probably could have finished in about 4:50.
I felt good as I made the jog out to T1. (For those new to the sport T1 is “transition one” where you go from swimming to putting on shoes, shirt, helmet etc for the bike leg.) I got out fairly well, not sure how well as this event doesn’t use timing devices that give you split times, but I felt good getting on the bike. I started passing people almost immediately.
The bike leg makes a couple turns going slightly down hill then starts into about a mile and a half climb of varying steepness. I was cranking! I had exited the pool near the front of my own heat and I was passing people from the previous heat most of whom had had at least a five minute head start on me. I got to the top of the hill feeling good and flew down the back side of the 5.5 mile loop.
Coming around the loop the second time I was feeling good and VERY glad to be done with the hill climb as I crested and started down. On the first downhill section I set my sites on a guy ahead of me in a bright green bike jersey on a pretty expensive looking bike.
I got past him faster than I thought I would but I had to slow down as I came up on a sharp right turn with a slower biker in front of me.
That gave him the chance to get me back on the second downhill section.
“I knew you’d be back.” I said, as I looked at him coming up on my outside.
I fell in behind him for a short stretch but then my competetive nature took over and I decided to kick up the speed and go by him.
To make a long story short I passed multiple people on both laps and probably maintained close to a 19-20mph average over the 11 miles. I was feeling REALLY good.
Of course then came the run…
I got in and out of T2 pretty quickly, change of shoes, ditch the helmet, throw on a visor and go.
I was even moving decently without the usual hobble that you get when you first get off the bike.
But I knew right away this was going to be painful.
My doctor had already advised me a year earlier that my knee was bad enough that I ought not to run at all. I had talked him into agreeing that I WAS going to run but that I would train for it the least. My knee felt fair to midlin as I made my way…slowly…through the first mile. I remember clearly thinking that I did not feel nearly as winded as I thought I would but that my legs seemed to be lead weights.
At the mid point of the run is the one water station so I grabbed a cup and walked briefly while I drank it….another place I might have saved 15-30 seconds had I kept up my slow jog…I managed to keep my self moving without walking for the remainder of the run.
With less than 100 yards to go I heard someone coming up behind me.
“Let’s go specialized (my bike is a Specialized) you had me!”
I tried to keep pace with “green jersey” but there was no way.
I knew I had caught up to him from way behind on the bike so I figured my overall time would be better than his anyway…SO NYA NYA NYA!!!
I did find enough gas in the tank to “sprint” up the last 30 yards or so into the finish…
I missed my goal by less than three minutes!!!
I was both elated and bummed at the same time. Elated to have finished…it is quite a rush if you’ve never done a tri…and bummed to have come so close. (I did help a wee bit to have my time be good enough to finish in the top ten of my age group.)
Because of the way the pool heats had worked out I was able to get back to the pool in time to cheer on my buddy Scott who was doing his first triathlon ever. It’s fun to be done and then get to cheer on a friend through transitions and finishing.
So now, after a couple days of recovery, we’re ready to start training for the next one in August which, in turn, will lead to another in September. If you’re ready to give it a go let me know and we’ll help you get started. There is nothing quite like competing in a finishing a triathlon.
Yes, I know, you’re worried about the swim. Everyone is. But it can be done.
You just have to be willing to tri.