Saturday, April 5, 2014

Triathlon Tuesday: Smithfield Sprint Triathlon - Race Report

As part of my preparation for Ironman Florida, I registered for the first local (southeastern Virginia) triathlon of the season: the Smithfield Sprint Tri.

My first triathlon! (Yeah, those are pigs on the shirt)

It was a baby tri, even in the Sprint world: 300meter swim (in a pool), 10-mile bike, and 5k (3.1 mile) run. I do more than this amount on any given day of training for my Ironman. But I wanted to practice stuff like swimming and biking around people, and transitions. Turns out, I needed it.

It was a beautiful day for a tri -- sunny and mid-60s. I arrived at the race to get my bike racked in the transition area by 9:30am. Taking some good advice, I used a 5-gallon bucket to carry my gear in (so it could be flipped & used to sit on while putting on bike/running shoes).

My transition area
I tried to set everything out the way I would need them as I came in to the transition area both times. In front: hand towel, bike shoes (with socks in them), sunglasses on top. Helmet sat on my handle bars. In back: Running shoes, favorite running cap, running belt with running number.

Number 281
I headed off to get myself all marked up: race number on both arms and the front of both legs. (That wasn't so bad, I've gone to Tough Mudder races where they write your number across your forehead because it's the only place it won't come off).

But seriously, I'm getting to the age where that little number on the back of my calf is bugging me just a little. Sigh.

Because it was a pool swim, they started people every 15 seconds (based on submitted swim times). I was starter #281, which meant I began my swim at 11:24am. So, a couple hours of sitting around, but not too bad.

The Swim
So, it was a 300m swim. Basically, up one length of the pool, then back down, then duck under the rope and do the same thing on the next lane, for six lanes. It was a giant zig-zag. Pretty well organized for 500 people and one medium-sized pool.

I knew the swim wasn't going to be awesome for me. It normally takes 300 yards of SHEER MISERY for me to get warmed up in my swim. I am convinced I am going to drown in the first 300 yards every time I hit the pool, but by 500 yards I hit my stride and have no problem for the rest of 2500-3000 yards.

Today was no different with the misery. But had a couple of extra problems to boot: swimming in my tri-suit (and sports bra) and with my HR Monitor on for the first time.

You know that old adage about never doing anything new on race day? There's a reason for that.

Stupid, I know.  I KNOW.

Problem was the restriction I felt my sports bra and HR Monitor put on my chest -- I really felt like I was having difficulty breathing during the swim. It could've all been in my mind, but it was still not fun.

Anyway, made it through water, up and out of the pool and into the transition area.

Total time: 6:36 (Ranked 89/203 women)

Okay, so evidently all my preparation, still didn't help me too much. I sat down the wrong way on my bucket, so everything was behind me. (Somehow couldn't figure out just to spin around, so kept reaching backwards. Duh.)

I still had my swim cap and goggles perched on my head, so I didn't put the sunglasses on right away. Instead I threw them in my small bag, which later meant I had to hunt for them, costing me probably 30 seconds.

Dried off my feet, got my socks and bike shoes on. Helmet on and immediately clicked (no DQ for me!!). Finally found my sunglasses and I was off, awkwardly running my way through transition in my bike shoes.

Total time: 2:46 (Ranked 162/203 women -- wth?? I've got to work on my transition skills)

VERY HAPPY WITH MY BIKE RIDE!! I do not have much experience riding around other people, or in any sort of hills or turns. This was just the sort of experience I needed. Not too crowded, but enough to make me really be aware.

Hills were challenging and fun -- I actually had to change gears (compared to oh-so-FLAT Virginia Beach)!!! At the end of 10-miles, I would've gladly done it the course again, possibly two more times.

And I proudly did not fall off my bike when coming back into transition. Repeated my dismount mantra in my head: "Butt off seat, unclip bent leg". (I say that ever since I couldn't quite get my feet unclipped a couple of weeks ago and took a tumble)

Total time: 36:49 (Ranked 90/203 women)

Got the bike on the rack, bike shoes off and running shoes on. Sat down on the bucket the wrong way again. Sigh.

Spent at least 20 second trying to decide if I should clip my iPod shuffle to my running cap. I knew it was illegal, but didn't care. I decided not to, but regretted that decision a mile or so later.

Total time: 2:15 (Frakkin' 180/203 -- what the heck was I doing? How long can it take to change shoes for goodness sakes?)

Run was okay. Coming off the bike, I felt like I was going slow. But really, for me, I wasn't doing too badly -- averaging around 9:40 min/miles. Wished like heck I had my iPod. I finally pulled out my phone and got some music going. I was just listening out of the phone speakers -- no headphones. It was like a little tiny boombox.

Course was out and back, a few hills, but nothing unmanageable. Whole run was pretty uneventful.

Total time: 30:33 (Ranked 111/203 women)

Overall total time: 1:19:02 (Ranked 101/203 women)

What I learned:
1) I've done lots and lots of races in my time, but not triathlons. I can't just show up for a tri like I do a running race. Transitions for tri's take practice and organization. I need to think that through more. And get faster in transitions!

The dreaded tri-suit
2) Ahem, don't try anything new on race day. Nuff said.

3) I thought there was nothing less flattering for "normal sized" women athletes than running clothes. I was wrong: tri-suits are worse.

4) Nutrition: I'm still experimenting. I used a Generation UCan drink 30 minutes before the race. I felt fine in the swim and bike, but felt hungry during the run. Ended up eating a couple shot bloks. The UCan should've held me for the entire race -- not sure if that's a physical or mental thing.

5) I should try to do some sort of a warm up before a swim. 100 jumping jacks or running in place. Something that gets the heart pumping and breathing harder BEFORE getting into the water.

But I did it. I'll admit after this tiny race I feel woefully unprepared for my Ironman in November, even knowing I still have 7 months to train. But I am one step closer today than I was yesterday. Today, I am officially a TRIATHLETE. 

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