My first triathlon. Like ever. I think there’s a valid argument for a half ironman being your first triathlon if you are an experienced runner and bad swimmer. Otherwise, start at shorter distances. Let’s recap what happened in my race. Apologies for the dryness of what follows—I’m basically typing up notes I wrote for myself to learn from the experience. Nor did I have any poop issues to amuse you. Read at your own risk, I guess.
I’m not one to get nervous before a race. Maybe a little bit antsy in the seconds before the gun because I want to start. Other than that, I’m usually pretty calm. Before this guy, standing with my feet in Lake Michigan with the sun rising, I was probably calmer than I have ever been in my life (racing or otherwise). I think I’ll attribute this to having no serious time goals. It would be hot (I suck at racing in heat). I would finish. And I would have fun. So I zipped up my wetsuit, swam a few strokes, ate a gel, gulped a bit of water, and watched the pros dolphin down out to the first buoy. Let’s do this shit.
I’m an awful swimmer, so I started wide and wanted to keep wide through the first turn buoy. Total failure. Swam right at the turn buoy and into the M25-29 riffraff. I decide to head back out wide to get around and accidently keep going wide. You know, by the kayaks. Whoops, put my head back down and swim back toward the course. Get on course, swim a few strokes, look up, and find myself back out toward the kayaks. Damnit, off course again. Let’s get back to the course. That’s the way it was; lather, rinse, repeat.
With 3 buoys to go under the turn home, I find some feet and follow for awhile. I have no idea what happened by the next time thing I know, I’m almost swimming into a kayak. Guy asks me, “Are you okay?” I look up. Realize I’m at the turn buoy to head to shore, only I’m 50-100 meters further out than I should be. I respond, “Yup. Just really pissed right now.” So I stop, turn 90 degrees, and take a beeline to the swim out sign. Not so happy with this turn of events. Here’s a quick rendition of what my swim looked like:
Long run from swim exit to transition. Pass about a dozen people as I jog up the path. Get through my first T1 ever as smoothly as can be expected and I’m off on my bike.
Swim time: 42:59 (1194 overall, 128 AG)
Pretty uneventful. Saw the race leaders biking the other direction which was pretty cool. Realized I suck less on descents than I thought I did. Or rather, I suck less on descents than the bicyclists I was riding through. That doesn’t particularly say much. I actually didn’t get passed at all miles 30 through 50, but that says more about my inability to swim than my ability to bike. I realized around mile 40 that I actually had a shot of going sub-5 on my first half ironman (let alone first triathlon). So I hustled through T2, drank some (literally) steaming gatorade, and got out on the run course with 95 minutes to break 5 hours.
Bike time: 2:36:48, 21.43 mph (425 overall, 56 AG)
T2 time: 2:05
Legs felt solid coming out of T2 and went pretty conservative (for me) for the first 2 miles (13:40). Then my body realized I had been racing for almost 4 hours and that the heat index was up around 110. Oh and I was wearing all black. It actually felt just like the back half of the 2010 Chicago Marathon, when any time I could find a little shade, I felt great and pushed the pace and any time the sun came back out, I slowed right back down. Sadly, James Carney wasn’t on the side of the road DNF-ing to make me feel better like in Chicago.
At mile 9, I lost all hope to break 5 hours. So I slowed ‘er down and decided to enjoy the end of my race. That’s not something I get to do often. Solid first race. With a lot of room for improvement.
Run time: 1:39:09 (oof)
Total time: 5:04:55. 174 of 2150 overall, 20 of 166 in my age group.
No poop issues. I suck at swimming. Triathlons are fun. Multi-loop runs on a narrow course suck when half the race is walking.