This past weekend I ran the 10k portion of an Olympic triathlon out at Treasure Island. A friend from work did the swim/bike portion, and I ran. Doing the relay was great because I got to be both spectator and participant. This was the first triathlon I’ve ever been to (though I’ve read so many other people’s recaps, I feel like I’ve been to one!). I loved the transition area because you can keep your warm clothes on until the last minute, then ditch them in the transition area right before taking off. I think triathlon has this one over on a regular race. I feel like I’m always freezing in my running clothes in the race corral. On the other hand, if I was doing the whole race myself, I’d be hanging out in my wetsuit in the water before the start. Not sure how warm that would be..
The relay was in the last wave to start, so we got to watch all the other swim waves take off. The Olympic tri had a 1500m swim, which was two laps around a triangular swim course in the bay. The swim seemed SO FAR. It made me feel like any chance of me doing a full triathlon myself was that much further away. I couldn’t even imagine swimming one side of the triangle, much less swimming the whole loop twice. The waves went off so close together that people started overlapping, and the swim course started looking like a rainbow with all the different swim caps mixed together. Our wave was last, and it was hard to keep an eye on my swimmer! She was 7th out of the water, and dashed up the stairs out of the water, and into transition for her bike.
The bike course was 6 laps, which again made it hard to figure out where anyone was. You never knew what lap the other bikers were on. The bike course was really cool to spectate, though, and I got some serious bike envy. There were lots of time trial bikes and aero helmets, but also a few clunky old bikes. My hybrid might be a little out of place in my first tri, but I think it’ll see me through plenty of miles before I give in to bike envy and buy a road bike. The nice thing about the repeating loop is that you can cheer for your people again and again from the same spot. J was with me spectating, and we both had bike envy! After my biker went by for the fourth time, I went back into transition to get ready.
I grabbed some Power Bar Gel Blasts (cola), which I think are like gummi bears on steroids (by which I mean they’re awesome). I was trying to get in some easy calories right before the race, since it was now about 10:30, and I’d had my oatmeal at 5:30 that morning. I did some strides and stretches, and listened to my ipod. I also scoped out the other relay runners, who were scoping me out. That R on our calves made it easy to pick us out, not to mention that we were the only ones just hanging out in transition
I pulled off my sweats and put my ipod away, and was ready to go when my biker came running into transition, the first relay member back from the bike. I grabbed the chip from her and dashed off through transition to the run course. I almost always go out too fast in a race, and when my Garmin beeped with a 7:45 for the first mile I was worried. The run course was an out and back loop that we repeated three times. Normally this would be a mentally tough course because of all the repetition, and running past the finish line again and again without being able to cross it. However, since I knew who the other relay runners were, the out and back course was super helpful to keep track of them.
Normally I run a race for time, and today I definitely was hoping to get under an hour. My bigger goal, however, was to stay ahead of the other relay girls! I was the first one out of transition, so I just had to hang on to the lead my partner had earned for us. With the relay starting in the last wave, once I got out to the run course I just reeled people in. I had the benefit of fresh legs, after all I hadn’t done the swim/bike part that everyone else on the course had done. I just set my sights on the person in front of me, caught them, and then worked my way up to the next one. At each turn around I stood tall and ran as strong as I could, looking back on the other side for the other relay runners. I thought I was holding onto my lead, if not increasing it, but by the time I was running, the sun had finally burned through the fog and it was getting HOT. I skipped all the aid stations, not wanting to lose even a second.
I ran without music, and this was the first race I’ve run without my ipod in a long time. It’s also the first 10k I’ve run in 2 years, and I definitely hadn’t trained for the distance. One of my favorite blogging triathletes always talks about doing work during training, and just putting in good work. That was really my mental mantra for this race. I knew positively that I could run the distance, and I was just determined to run it as hard and as fast as I could, and put in some good quality work with each step. Having already run the loop twice, I knew exactly where I intended to start kicking into my finishing gear. I picked it up from the final aid station and sprinted to the finish line. I heard the announcers say my name and number as I crossed the finish line, which was really cool. I then promptly fell into a volunteer and begged for some water.
We ended up placing first in the open female relay division! (out of three teams, but still, first is first ) I ended up running a 59:32 for the 10k, and my Garmin has me running 1:01 for 6.55 miles with the run through the transition and to the run course. I loved doing the relay, and would do another one in a heart beat. We were talking about getting a team together to do a 70.3 relay. Really though, I so want to do a triathlon on my own. I did a 13 mile bike ride to a 1 mile run this afternoon, but the bike and run isn’t holding me back from doing a triathlon, it’s the swim. Does anyone have suggestions for how to start swimming? There is a sprint tri in September with a 400m swim in Lake Tahoe that seems possible. But really, right now swimming 100m barely seems possible. I need to find some swimming lessons, ASAP!
Do you have any tips for a beginning swimmer? Have you ever competed in a triathlon?