After months of training and planning, TRI day finally arrived. To avoid getting up ridiculously early, my fam rented a beach house for the weekend that was about a 15 minute drive from the race location.
The evening before the race, I went to great pains to make sure everything was packed properly…my race bag…check. Water bottles….check. Race equipment….check. Although I am not the most organized person, I made sure everything was laid out the night the night before, packed what I could in my car, and filled all my bottles up that night. I even was able to call it a night at a respectable hour. It was looking like I would get a quality night’s sleep and be totally recharged for the race.
My alarm was set for a 5:30am wakeup but it turns out that this wouldn’t be necessary because I awoke at exactly 2:59a.m.! After playing on the iPhone for a few hours, I was ready to depart for the big race. There were two big fears I had going into the race. 1st- the ocean swim. My training was mostly in the pool with a few ocean swims and to be honest, I was a bit concerned about completing the swim in a decent time. Worry #2 was the weather. The forecast said there was a decent chance of showers and I had not cycled on wet pavement at all in my training.
Leaving the house, the first thing that struck me was the 60F temp and that it wasn’t raining. The only drawback was that the pavement was wet. Hopefully, things would improve by race time.
Once I arrived at the race, I quickly picked up my race packet, got marked up, met up with my racing partner Kirk, and went to watch the sun come up on the beach.
After stretching out a bit, I made my way to the transition area to set up. I was happy to be assigned a decent spot at the end of a row and a little more room for my gear. Things were off to a decent start.
“Where are all the lonely people?”
About 10 minutes before the race start, I took a quick dip in the North Atlantic to get acclimated to the water temp. The good news is that it wasn’t that cold. Bad news is that the waves were over my head! After a few minutes, I got back to the start line and spotted my wife and Kirk’s wife and waved hi. It was gametime!
Myself and Kirk without pre-race jitters!
The start was in the water, about knee-high. I had a decent spot on the outside. The course was an upside-down triangular shaped course. When we were off and swimming, I had a little trouble to get past the breakers. The swells were still pretty intense but eventually I got out! By the time I reached the first buoy, I was a little tired so I started to conserve my energy a bit. After making the first turn, the crowd had thinned out and it seemed like it was just me and the ocean. There was no panic in me(unlike in my training!) and it was actually pretty peaceful out there. I had no doubt that I would conquer the swim, it just went slow. I wasn’t the last out of the drink, but most of my wave(wave 1) was in front of me.
I am somewhere on the far right…..
Coming around the final buoy, I made a decent angle just as a big swell swept past. The swell threw the buoy on top of the swimmer in front of me and he was out of sight. I turned for the home stretch and could barely make out the sure through the crashing surf. By the time I reached waist-high water, I started walking. Not going to lie…I was a little wobbly at this point so I just made sure I started a steady pace towards T1.
I was able to get the top half of my suit off nice and easy before reaching T1 so I was in pretty good shape to nail this transition.
Swim time- 13:05; 1/3 mile
T1- by the time I reached my bike, I started ripping off my suit. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion at this point! I got the suit off and quickly got into my cycling gear. At this point, Kirk ran by with his bike and gave me some encouragement. I told him I’d catch up with him soon! Thankfully, I had some water/Gatorade mix and it did the trick-I felt much better after getting some electrolytes back in my system. At this point, I grabbed the bike and took off for the T1 exit.
Bike- I started out the bike course at a pretty good pace. I quickly passed about a dozen people in the first half mile. I really pushed it on the bike. Although about a dozen of the top females passed me, I pushed it most of the ride and passed more people than passed me. The one tough part of the bike was the headwind facing us for more than half the cycle course. Although I was pushing it, I never spotted Kirk, who left T1 about a minute before me. He must have been moving at a good pace!
Trying to get my bearings! Awful pose!
I was pretty happy to be out of the water and on the bike! I was determined to enjoy the day so I made it a point to talk it up with the other athletes. Most of the people that I passed were pretty friendly and jumped at the chance to talk it up. I met some good people out there! The people passing me didn’t have too much to say and I really didn’t want to slow them down anyway. The last 4 miles of the bike were along the coast and the views were fantastic. I pushed it as much as the wind would let me. This was my best effort on the bike to date but I was a little worried that the time wouldn’t be better than my training times because of the wind.
When I approached the lot where T2 was, the rider in front of me was flying towards the dismount line. The scene was pretty surreal with all the yelling and cheering. The rider in front of me was going way too fast so a race volunteer got next to him to warn him to dismount. With his brakes screeching, he wasn’t able to unclip and he wiped out right next to the volunteer. I was moving at a good pace to and I was determined to avoid this mistake. I quickly unclipped a leg and put it over the other side of the bike so I rode to the dismount line on one leg and came to a smooth spot. I never really practiced that and don’t think I could repeat this feat if I had too! However, in all the commotion, I was just reacting without thinking and things worked out just fine!
Bike: 47:34; 14.5 mile; 18.3 mph/avg
I quickly got to my gear and looked at the bike rack with disgust. For some reason, I left my swimsuit right on the rack where my bike was going to go. I can’t really explain why now, but I thought that this was a dumb idea and didn’t even think of putting my bike on top of it(duh!) so I threw the wetsuit on the ground and racked the bike. All of a sudden, I figured out that the suit was actually my neighbors and not mine. Woops!!! After putting his suit back, I racked things up and quickly got my kicks on. A little more water/gaterade and off I went. Without thinking, I ran about 10 yards towards where the bike entrance was before realizing I needed to make a 90degree turn towards the run exit. Overall, I felt pretty good about T2. I also got to see my dad at the entrance snapping away with the cam!
Leaving T2 with a smile!
Exiting T2, the girls where there cheering me on. I started the run feeling decent. The legs weren’t feeling heavy at all. It seemed I was doing ok because I was passing a bit more people than were passing me and of course I was chatting with most of the people on the course still! About a mile into the run, I caught sight of Kirk! He was slowing down a little and I caught up to him. We greeted each other and ran together for a bit. He then urged me to go ahead saying he didn’t want to slow me down. I slightly picked up the pace and what do you know- Kirk picked up his game and stayed by my side! The next half mile went well and we finally made it to the water station at the 1.4 mile mark. That water hit the spot and gave me some new life. We quickly reached the turnaround point and started the run back.
Running past the water station again, the volunteers told us of the different drinks they had. I grabbed one and to make sure it was water, I gave a quick peek to confirm it was clear. After taking a quick chug, I was greeted with something that tasted like lemonade with vodka in it! I tossed the rest and got ready for the rest of the run. Although I didn’t like the drink, within minutes I felt like I had plenty more energy! The final mile of the run would be a piece of cake.
Kirk and I ran a good pace over the last mile, chatting every stride, and just enjoying the race. It wasn’t my fasted 5k time, but it was my most enjoyable 5k run! The last half mile was downhill and the two of us made a good pace to the finish line. We crossed the line at 1:29:15 but for some reason our official time is listed as 1:31:15 and we had no penalties…Too funny because I predicted 1:30….Because we weren’t pushing it that hard on the run, both of us were feeling and looking good at the finish.
5K time- 25:20
Overall, my swim time wasn’t great, the bike went almost as planned, and the run wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. The race itself was an incredible experience and I will definitely take on this challenge again next season! I didn’t forget to pack anything and although my transitions were the best, I was at least organized. My research online and blogger buds helped with plenty of tips that improved my performance. Looking back, I am thrilled that Kirk and I were able to finish side-by-side. We got into this together, did some training together, and had a great run together to wrap it up!
I have some work to do in order to be more competitive and I look forward to more tri’s next year!!!!