|Ravi Pandya software | nanotechnology | economics||
Mon 27 Sep 2010
This was my first triathlon, so I had tried to prepare carefully. I had written up a race plan & checklist, packed my bike and gear into my car the night before... and realized in the middle of the night I had forgotten my bike shoes. I was up at 4:40, had a big mug of black tea and peanut butter & banana on toast, and headed out to Nolte State Park. I was there a little after 6:00, and was one of the earliest arrivals. I was the first through body marking, and set up my bike and gear in the transition area. I drove over to the parking area, took the shuttle back, and had a couple of hours to wait until the 9:00 start. I had OJ & some oatmeal with yogurt and applesauce (from our own trees), took my P3-SL over to the Enumclaw Sports booth to have the chain lubricated as it had gotten rusty after commuting in the rain, called my family, and gathered my thoughts for the day.
The lake was beautiful, with wisps of mist rising above the water, and the deep green forest beyond. It was going to be a beautiful Northwest fall day. I chatted with a 70-year-old Japanese man on the beach who was obviously a veteran triathlete. Later, I waved and smiled at him a few times during the out-and-backs on the run course. He finished in 6:26, first (and only) in his age group, and better than some people half his age. He was an inspiration - I hope to be doing as well myself a quarter-century from now.
About 8:20 I went back to transition, applied Body Glide on wrists, ankles, neck, and underarms, put on my wetsuit, two neoprene caps, goggles, then silver race cap and went down to the beach. I got in and did a short swim to acclimatize. The water was 60 degrees - fine in a full wetsuit, but cold enough to give me headache when I started to swim. There were about 230 people in 3 waves, and I was in the second at 9:05, for males 40 & up.
With so few people, there wasn't too much churning. I ran into other people's legs and vice versa, but that's it. I kept forgetting to sight and finding myself way off course, so I probably covered at least 10% more distance than I needed to. I also took a few breaks swimming on my back to refocus and catch my breath. I did manage to keep good form, with a steady, long stroke - when I was actually in the pack, I was passing people. The two loops around the diamond-shaped course went pretty quickly and I was heading for the finish gate on the beach. I was still a little dizzy from the cold water. As I walked to transition, I stripped my wetsuit to the waist, and put my goggles & caps in the sleeve. I had put a bar in my pocket and an OJ in my bike shoes for transition, but didn't feel ready to eat yet so I skipped them.
I changed gear, walked my bike out of transition, and started riding. The bike course went over very pleasant rolling country roads, a loop north over the Olympic triathlon course, a short loop south with a gorgeous view of Mount Rainier, and then the north loop again. I tried to work with the laws of physics by increasing my effort going uphill and decreasing it downhill, with an overall moderate effort level to save energy for the run. I had filled my Bento box with chunks of Odwalla bars, and kept a piece in my cheek to work on as I biked along. I stopped at each of the 3 aid stations to refill my water bottle and mix in Perpetuum. At the last two stops I was feeling a bit dehydrated so I drank back half the bottle and refilled it. Halfway through my Garmin showed 1:29 (not counting stops), so I figured I was on track for about a 3-hour bike split, and possibly a 6-hour race time if I did a decent run split.
That was not to be, however. I dismounted the bike feeling pretty good, put on my running shoes, dropped a few gel packs in my jersey pocket, and started running. I had hoped to do 8-minute miles but after a while it was clear that my legs just wouldn't move that fast after 3 hours on the bike, so I had to settle for around a 10-minute pace. My nutrition felt good after eating & drinking the bike so I didn't worry about calories, but it was getting warm and I felt a bit dehydrated. I decided I would get two cups of water at every aid station, walk until I drank at least one, and dump the rest over my head to cool off. I had DNF'ed the Seafair Half-Marathon with heat exhaustion half a mile from the finish, so I wanted to be cautious. After about 3 miles, I found a steady pace and just counted off the miles. I walked up a few of the hills, mild though they were, and there were many others doing the same. I had a gel at mile 8 just to get some electrolytes. Turning back on the main road with 2.5 miles to go, I tried upping my pace a notch for a strong finish. By the time I was on the final 1.4-mile trail around the lake, it took all the willpower I possessed simply to keep running instead of breaking into a walk, especially on the short but steep uphill stretches. I came out of the woods and ran through the finish gate smiling.
Final results: Total time 6:15:48, placing 147/230 overall, 22/26 Men 45-49. Swim 41:56, T1 5:49, Bike 3:07:42, T2 2:56, Run 2:17:24.
I drank several cups of water and electrolyte, called home, slowly finished the rest of my Odwalla chunks with OJ, and waded back into the lake to cool off my legs. I was feeling a bit hungry so I slowly ate a chicken burger from the post-race dinner as I took the bus back to my car, packed up my bike & gear, and headed home. A good day.
I learned a few things. For the swim, I really need to work on sighting and open-water practice - I could gain more by swimming straight than I could by improving my stroke at this point. And a thick neoprene cap would have been nice. For the bike, I could use a setup to hold 4 pre-mixed bottles and skip the stops. And for the run, I need to do some long 4+ hour rides and long bricks to still have endurance for a decent run pace. I had mostly trained with short interval and tempo workouts, and this is where it showed. I had done a couple of 90-minute threshold workouts a week, and regular 13-mile runs over the winter, but my longest had been one 3-hour loop around the lake, and this wasn't enough to prepare for a 6-hour race.
I thought this was a good course for a first triathlon: not too crowded, well-organized, with friendly & supportive participants, staff, and volunteers, and an easy course without any steep hills. I'm looking forward to next year.
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