August 28th, 2005
Olympic Distance= 1.5K (0.93 miles) Swim, 40K (24.8 M) Bike, 10K (6.2 M) Run
Doing a triathlon has been on my mind for many years. The stigma associated with ‘athletic’ events and my general disinterest in competition has always kept me away. Also, working out training (a pool to swim in regularly) and having a decent bike for the ride has only recently been possible.
Holy shit this was hard! After a short side trip to Maryland and DC we were checking in at the start near Warsaw, Virginia on Saturday afternoon for the Naylor’s Beach Triathlon. A nice kid from DC introduces himself to me cause he said I look like a (punk) rocker. Ha! After the bike and helmet check I did a short swim in the river before we headed off to find a hotel (thanks to a last minute donation/sponsorship we could afford to!) and eat Chinese food.
Up at 5am and nervous. So much to think about between all 3 events and the transitions, etc. We get there and I put my bike and running stuff in the transition area and get my swim cap and goggles ready for the swim. The crowd has a lot of the type-A dudes with shaved eye-brows whom I am generally averse to, but overall it is not that big of a deal. I’m swimming in bike shorts, which seems to be the norm. At the pre-race meeting, held at the entrance to the river, they point out the swim course. My stomach turns at the realization of just how far a mile in open water is. Seriously, staying afloat that long may be problematic. Bam! And we are off. I stay in the back so that I don’t get in any of the real competitors’ way. Immediately I have trouble with the navigation. Whenever I try to get into a groove of swimming I vear slightly off course. This happened numerous times. I look up and no one is around and I’ve swum partly out of the way. You can’t see shit in the middle of the river! Well, I can see all the different colored swim caps from the other waves (I was in the first wave) as they pass me! At one point I am starting to get achy and the exit beach seems ungodly far away.
Out of the water in 53 minutes and I can’t even run to the transition area where my bike is. Have to sit down to put my bike shoes on. Slightly delirious after swimming for almost twice my previous longest swim (time wise; I did this distance in a pool in 30 min). Heart rate is 178 (highest I've recorded is 194?!) when I start on the bike! Can’t even stand to pedal up hill cause upper body is so weak.
Eventually I recover from the swim and start to pass people. As I start to feel strong on the bike the realization of the upcoming run hits me and I chill out a bit. The course is beautiful with lots of trees and low traffic so 25 miles go by extremely fast. Ave speed: 19.9 MPH with no drafting.
Off of the bike and I am feeling more confident. Upper body still aches, but legs feel okay. Take the first 2 miles of the run slow (maybe 10 min miles? I don’t have a watch). I ran my first 10k in May and have only run a handful of times since then. Get some much needed fluids at the aid stations. On the bike part I had two water bottles, both with Sustained Energy (liquid food stuff that supplies about 500 calories), but I might not of drank enough. Pick up the pace a little and am being passed less often. Around mile 4 I catch up with a woman who had talked to me briefly when she passed me earlier. We run together for a while and she is super friendly. She had completed an iron-distance tri (2.4 mile swim, 110 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) earlier this year and was super supportive when I told her this was my first tri. I pick up the pace, mainly cause I just want to get done. Probably running 8-min miles and am passing some people. Main limitation at this point is mental. Legs are hanging on and breathing is heavy. Feels like I have a gallon of river water in my lungs. Around mile 5.2 I pass the transition area before the final out and back.
I am not super delirious at this point or even super ecstatic, mostly I am thinking, ‘That swim was so damn hard!’ Cross the finish line to the announcer letting everyone know I came all the way from LA. I finish the 10k with a time of 56 minutes and an elapsed time of 3 hours and 10 min. Despite the swim, I am only 5 minutes over my goal time. Overall, this was a great experience and lots of fun. Maybe it was because I was in the back of the field, but so many people were very supportive. Even cheering me on when I passed them on the bike! The combination of events is very appealing to me and I am considering doing another Olympic distance tri next month. The main limitations are the costs (registration is usually around $80, plus getting there, sleeping, etc) and having regular access to a pool before the event. So that’s my story. Thanks to all of you who gave support leading up to this, gave me tips on what to expect, and convinced me that I wouldn’t drown. For any of you obsessed with numbers you can see my time splits and rank here. Or click here for a picture of me you can put on a coffee mug.