triathlon goodness!

Well, I’ve been a bit of a posting slacker here the past couple of days.  There has been a lot going on, followed by a lot going on.  Anyway, for today, I’m going to share with you a bit of a play-by-play of Saturday’s triathlon.  Back to our regularly scheduled posts tomorrow!

On Friday, we picked up our packets (required) and left our bikes (optional).  The packet included our bib (the paper that racers wear with their number on it), a sticker for the bike (with the same number on it), a sticker for the bike helmet (same number), swim cap (color coded by wave, or what group you swim with), a race T-shirt, and some other promotional materials.  Bike left on the rack at the same number as on the bib.  Very handy to be able to leave it overnight.  For those of us who are not morning people, not fumbling with a bike on a bike rack when it’s still dark out is a plus.

The area where the bikes are kept is called the transition area.  For this race, it closed 15 minutes prior to race time.  So, for our 7:00 start, we had to be out of the transition area by 6:45.  The group I did some of my training with was having a warm-up at 6:00.  So I planned to arrive at 5:30, knowing that I wouldn’t actually get there that early but would still have time to get everything done by 6:00.

What is “everything”?  Go to the sign-in table and get my timing chip (kept on my left ankle with velcro).  Go to my bike and set up everything else in my transition area.  Put on sunscreen for later, when the sun was up.  Transition area: helmet, sunglasses, towel, socks, running shoes (which I also biked in), sunscreen, gum, bib on a racing belt, hat.  Put water bottle on bike.

Socialized and did warm ups with The Lemon Divas.  Wandered around, waiting.  Talked with friends.  Waiting is the worst part.

My wave was the third to start with a start time of 7:12.  We had about four minutes from the time we were allowed in the lake to the time the gun went off.  Since the starting line was not where we entered the water, the few minutes were useful.

This swim was particularly bad for me, for no good reason.  It’s the same course in the same lake that I’ve done twice before.  I decided to start at the front which led to people passing me instantly, which freaked me out a little, which made the race start badly.  I ended up back stroking a lot of the swim.  Despite this, my time was comparable to my other two races.

I was grateful to get out of the water and head over to transition, where I shed my cap and goggles, put socks and shoes on my wet feet, got a piece of gum, put on my helmet and headed out on my rented racing bike.

I own a mountain bike.  It’s a great bike, and I’ve done two races on it.  But it’s slow.  Really slow.  I hadn’t realized how slow until I used this racing bike.  It’s on the to-buy list, but even used ones are expensive and I have other expenses that are currently prioritized higher.  It will be at least one more season, maybe two, before I own one.

The bike ride was smooth and fairly easy.  I have to keep an eye on my heart rate (using my handy heart rate monitor), and a couple of times I needed to slow down because I had spiked.  Aside from that, I felt really good on the bike and was able to push my legs to fatigue.  Typically, my heart has been maxing out before my legs, so I was excited to feel burn and fatigue in my legs.

I noticed and thought about the crowd, how there were hundreds of people lining the streets, watching and waiting for their brief glimpse of their racer.  Some had signs.  Many had cameras.  All were cheering.  It is neat to see.  It is fun to be cheered for 🙂

I hopped off my bike and ran into transition where I left the bike, traded my helmet for a hat, and took off.  I was able to jog more of the course than I had in previous races—another testament to my slowly strengthening cardiovascular system.  (My heart took a beating in chemo and has been extremely slow to recover.)

My previous two races were both just over two hours and 15 minutes, and I was thrilled to know that I was coming in under 2:10.

I am hoping to do one or two more this season, possibly out of the area.  I’d like to try one in clean water, as Tempe Town Lake is pretty green.

If you’re looking for a fun endurance sport (oxymoron?), give some consideration to triathlon.  The sprint distances are manageable.  The people in general who do triathlon are friendly and helpful, and the sense of “Wow!  I just did a triathlon!” when you cross the finish line is amazing — especially the first time.

Questions?  Leave them in the comments!

Here’s a picture of the spreadsheet I’m keeping of my racing times.  Click on it to see it larger.  The extra slowness biking in the second race is due to watching heart rate.  I wore the monitor in the first race but ignored it, which led to some troubles later.

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