Saturday, May 14, 2005

Race Report

Clemson Sprint Triathlon, May 14, 2005
750 meter swim
11 mile bike
5 kilometer run
Starting the evening before I was in a daze, pulled into myself. I actually slept fairly well, woke up only maybe half an hour early. I ate toast and cheese, put some additional food into my bag so I would have it if I wanted it (I didn't). My daughter and I got to the race site just about 7 am, and I put my bike on the rack and laid out my gear first. There was enough time so I didn't feel too stressed about waiting in line to pick up the chip I would wear on my ankle and to get my race number written on my arms and legs. I was startled that they wrote my age on the back of my right leg. I got in line for the porta potty at what I thought was the right time, then put my glasses in my bike helmet and put on my goggles. I had decided not to wear my wetsuit as the water temperature was up to 75 degrees. When I went down to the beach I decided I didn't want to wet my goggles in the stirred up shallow water and found that the changing rooms were open, without any line for the toilets. I didn't do any warmup; it seemed too chilly to swim and then stand around.

I was in the third wave to start--all women. We spread out only two or three deep on the beach and I stayed to the back, so I didn't get jostled in the start. I didn't notice the water being cold, but I got a little out of breath at first, which probably was a reaction to cold water. I passed a few people just as I was really settling in to swimming, and that was very encouraging as I feel so slow in my swim group. I didn't fully settle into a comfortable swimming rhythm, but I did concentrate on kicking near the surface and the turns seemed to come up quickly. I did try to keep my speed up instead of settling into a leisurely pace but I couldn't push much without getting out of breath. The swim was the only time I got properly on my watch: 24 min. 16 sec. (from entering the water to leaving it--the official time will be longer because the timing mat was at the top of the hill coming up from the beach).

I didn't feel shaky; I ran fairly comfortably up the hill and around to the entrance at the far side of the transition area. My daughter and some people from my swim group cheered for me as I ran and that was an amazing feeling. I took off my goggles and put on my glasses and then sat down and wiped my feet with a towel and put on my socks and bike shoes. I ate half a banana I had intended to eat before the start. I put on a headwrap under my helmet and then gloves--a lot of steps but it still seemed like it was time to head out before I felt ready for the next stage.

I got on my bike and felt comfortable. About two miles in I passed two people going up hill, so that made me feel strong. I passed a number of people on the bike, so a fair bit of the time I was thinking about when I would reach the drafting zone and then that I had to push to pass the person within 15 seconds. I ate most of a peanut butter and caramel sandwich and drank most of a bottle of water on the downhills. I saw one person fixing a flat and one poor woman with a broken chain--I heard later she walked her bike 6 miles in order to finish the race. I was breathing fairly hard almost the whole way, but there was a long downhill towards the end that felt like a particularly helpful rest.

I put on my running shoes and ate the other half banana and headed out on the run. I realized I had forgotten to take off my cycling gloves so I threw them at the base of a tree. I had my hair in two braids and it didn't bother me. During the first half mile of the run I was going out as the fast age groupers were coming back, and people kept saying "good job" to me. I was frustrated because the runners going out were running on the concrete sidewalk, which I didn't want to do, and the runners coming back were running in the bike lane right next to the sidewalk. I ran some in the grass next to the sidewalk, not wanting to hurt my joints running on concrete (which is significantly harder than asphalt). Once I made the first turn I was on a road with no traffic and no sidewalk, so that worry went away. There was a steep uphill which I walked and felt comfortable with that--I felt I could walk it as fast as I could run it. It felt awkward to start to run again at the top; I hadn't realized how different running and walking feel to the muscles. The course was mostly hills, three of which I walked up. I took water at the aid station, didn't want to drink something sweet. As I came to the YMCA driveway at the end of the run, the policeman who was blocking one lane of the road cheered me on, saying 99% of the American people couldn't do it. That he was cheering for me (after about 350 runners had already passed) really inspired me. I ran strong down the driveway to the finish, cheered by my husband and kids.

My finish time was 2 hours 1 minute, but I think that was counting from the start of the first wave so I actually beat two hours. I had figured 30 minutes for the swim, 45 minutes for the bike, and 45 minutes for the run, plus time for transitions, so I beat that by at least 5 minutes. I was thrilled--I never thought I would break two hours. I didn't feel out of energy at the finish, and my knee felt fine. I stayed around for the award ceremony--two people I knew took second in their respective age groups. I don't know yet how I placed in my age group.

more pictures

Update: Total time: 1:55:02--swim 25:02, bike 47:38 (including the swim to bike transition), run 40:27. Fourth in my age group out of six, 95th out of 102 women, ahead of 10 of 247 men.

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