Saturday, June 27, 2009

My First Tri

Well, I did it. My first triathlon. I woke up in plenty of time. Drew made a nice breakfast for us and I double-checked the list and we headed to Staten Island. The exit from the highway that we were supposed to use was closed, so I was momentarily worried that we'd get lost, but once the cab driver looked at the map, we turned around and found the location very easily.

I noticed the Terrier bike trailer was there, so I went to collect my bike right away. I had brought my bike pump because I was too nervous without it. It actually turned out to have been a good thing to bring, since the Terrier pump was broken and I think about half of the team (and Laura) ended up using the pump. As soon as I had my bike all set, I headed over to the transition area. I racked my bike and started setting up my area. I cheated a little bit to see what the people around me were doing and to make sure I laid everything that I would need out. I had brought three water bottles - two for drinking and one to use to rinse my feet off in T1. My plan was to drink one whole water bottle before the race and then fill that one up with Gatorade. I took my water bottle and went to find Drew and to say hi to my dad and step-mom.

I had wanted to get in a short run before the race, but that didn't work out. I think I could have done it, but I'm sort-of glad I didn't because they closed the transition area at 7:15 and I think if I had gone for the short run, I would have felt too rushed. I felt a tiny bit rushed as it was. After they closed the transition area, we had our mandatory pre-race meeting. Then everyone headed over to the beach and we were able to get in the water before the race. When I was walking to the beach, I ran into Robert and a couple of other Terriers and we all got into the water together.

Not surprisingly, the water was pretty cool. I'm really glad that I got into to acclimate myself to the temperature, and when I saw how many people were standing on the beach and not getting into the water, I couldn't believe it! It seemed crazy to me that everyone wouldn't get in, but I guess that everyone has their own pre-race strategy.

I was in the water for 15-20 minutes and then got out and walked back along the beach to the starting area. Before I knew it, they were blowing the whistle for the first wave and it was time for me to get into the water. When they blew the whistle for my wave, I pressed start on my watch and started swimming. I did not have a very good swim. I'm not entirely sure what went wrong. I didn't feel panicked or worried about drowning. I could clearly sight the buoys and used the Verrazano as well for sighting. I think that part (or most of my problem was mental). I realized half-way there on the swim that I couldn't believe that I had signed up to do a triathlon. And even more than that, I couldn't believe I was doing one at that very moment. And I was just thinking that I sort-of had to pee and I had a long way to go before I could use a bathroom. So, I did a couple of stokes of breast-stroke, tried to get my head together, and just keep swimming. I felt like I never really got into a rhythm when I was swimming, which was part of my problem as well. As I was getting out of the water, I was thinking that this whole triathlon thing was crazy and I didn't want to keep running up to the transition area. Then as I was starting to unzip my wetsuit, I saw Drew, who was cheering me on, holding a big encouraging sign (that said "Wow! You're fast!") and taking photos. That made me realize that I had better HTFU and keep going. Although I started running out of the water and towards the transition area, I definitely slowed down to a walk for most of the run in from the beach.

T1 went really well for me. I yanked my wetsuit down and got it off really quickly. Then I poured water on my feet to get the sand off my feet. I didn't really dry my feet off since it seemed like too much work. I pulled on my right sock with no trouble, but I put the left sock on upside-down. That meant I had to take it off and try again. I clipped my race belt on, threw my helmet on and clipped it, and grabbed 1/2 of a Clif bar. I had thought to open the wrapper before the race, so all I had to do was break off a piece. I shoved most of that in my mouth in about three bites while running out of the transition area and heading to the bike mount area.

I got clipped into my bike with no trouble, which I was really glad about. Then I was off. The road that the course was on was pretty bad. There were several holes in the road marked with orange spray paint, but the entire road was really bumpy. The bike course was 3 loops on a 4 mile course (although looking at my bike computer, it might have been just a bit shorter than that). The turn around points were pretty sharp U-turns, so I made sure to really slow down on those. On my way back on the first loop, I looked at my watch and thought that I could possibly see Laura sometime soon. And then, just after having that thought, she was there! I yelled to her, which was fun. I ended up seeing her a few more times on the bike, so it was nice to have something to do. I did think that the bike was pretty boring. I'm guessing that part of that was that it was a loop course. I also think part of it was just that I was trying to race instead of just practice in the park. I don't know if all those crazy pedestrians and bike riders that I complain about so much make bike riding better, but they certainly make it more interesting.

On my second loop at the turn around to head back, the guy in front of me must have been taking the turn too fast because he wiped out. I stopped (remembering to unclip first) and asked if he was okay. It looked like he would be fine - probably just some scrapes and bruises. I clipped back in and yelled to a police officer and was back on my way. I really felt bad riding away, but he was sitting up and wasn't visibly bleeding and I knew assistance was coming, so I felt better about that. I'm not 100% sure what the right protocol is on that. Hopefully I didn't do the wrong thing. I remembered to drink my entire water bottle on the bike, so I was feeling pretty good about my hydration/nutrition.

Drew was waiting with his sign, camera, and cheers at the beginning turn around. That was actually rather helpful because I knew after I had seen him two times, it was time for me to exit the bike course. I dismounted and headed back to transition. I saw my step-mom as I was heading into T2.

I thought my second transition went smoothly as well. I ran in, racked my bike, and then switched shoes. I had unclipped my helmet as soon as I entered the transition area, so that I could remember to take it off. I turned my race belt around so that the number would be facing forward, grabbed my running hat and was off.

I started out going pretty slowly on the run. I knew that I just didn't have anything faster than that in me at that point. I looked at my watch while I was exiting T2 and realized that I was under an hour in at that point and it was looking like my hour and a half goal might be possible. The run was a there-and-back course. About half-way out, there was a water station. I took a cup of water and kept running, which wasn't very effective for getting the water into my mouth. At the turn-around, there were large cups of water. I took one of those, slowed down to a walk so that I could take 4 or 5 sips, and then dumped the rest on me to cool off and I kept running. Although I was a little disappointed with myself for walking those few steps, it was definitely worth it for the water break. I had known before-hand that part of the run back would be on the boardwalk. I was really nervous that I would feel dizzy and weird like I had last weekend at Coney Island while running on that boardwalk. Luckily, this one wasn't in the same pattern as the Coney Island boardwalk so I actually was okay. I also tried to avoid looking at the boardwalk and instead tried to look at the other runners or the ocean.

There was loud music playing at the finish line, so once I started to hear that, I knew I was almost there. I looked at my watch and it was definitely getting closer to being an hour and a half. I picked up my pace a little bit for about the last 1/2 mile of the course. And then, before I knew it, I was almost at the finish line and then I was crossing the finish line! My un-official time was 1:28:41 (according to my watch). I was really, really happy with that. I had said the other day that I would be happy with anything under 2 hours, but I was really hoping for an hour and a half, so that was awesome.

These were my splits and total times:

Swim: 9:43
T1: 2:30
Bike: 44:10 (16.3 MPH pace)
T2: 1:15
Run: 31:06 (10:02 pace)
Total time: 1:28:42
Place: 448 (out of 591) / 28 (out of 37) in my age division / 144 (out of 235) females

I know if I had been able to have a better swim and run into T1 that I would have been more competitive in my age group. However, I still feel really pleased with those results. I'm especially glad that I biked over 15 MPH average and my run was right around a 10-minute mile pace. I followed my race plan pretty well, I think. It definitely helped me to have thought it all out before-hand to make sure I didn't forget anything in transition and to have goals to try to aspire to.

So, I will say that I didn't love the race. I've been trying to figure out why that was. I'm wondering if part of it is that I got so spoiled having a workout partner most of the time that doing it all by myself was a little lonely and boring for me. I also was thinking the whole time about Westchester and how it's longer and I'm not really sure why I would want to do that since I consider myself to be a relatively sane human being. However, I do really like the training for the races and I think that it's an excellent way to keep myself motivated to stay in shape. I wouldn't be surprised if I keep signing up for them in the years to come. I'm hoping that next time when I have more of an idea of what to expect I will find it to be more enjoyable.

I do want to say thank you to everyone who helped me get this far. All the support and encoragement I got along the way was pretty incredible. I never really considered that I would be a triathlete in my life, so it's amazing to me that I can now say that I am one.


  1. Amy-
    I am so proud of you! Wow.. I am anxious to see the pictures! I am grateful to have this blog as such a recounting of your thoughts, efforts and feelings. What an awesome woman you are. I am going to tell EVERYONE that my daughter is a triathlete! You deserve to be one of the happiest people on the planet. BRAVO! Mom

  2. Awesome job!! I can totally see me having the same thoughts running through my head during the swim that you had. But your time is awesome and it sounds like you blew your goal out of the water. Good for you!

  3. I know I'm a bit late, but...Congratulations, Triathlete!