Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DC Tri Recap!

800m swim? Check. 20k bike? Check. 7.5k run? CHECK! Completed my first (sprint) Triathlon and what an experience it was. Even now, two days removed, it feels sort of surreal. (and just as a warning, this will be a rather lengthy post....)

The day started at 3:50am, as I conveniently awoke before my alarm went off, which was set for 4am. Got up, downed about 20oz of water, ate a banana, got dressed, did a last minute check of all my gear, and it was out there door. The hotel was thankfully right across the street from the shuttle, so I was on the shuttle headed to transition right around 4:30am. I arrived at transition just before 5am, and there was already quite the hustle and bustle going on, with people getting body marked, picking up timing chips, doing last minute tuning to their bikes and setting up their gear. I arrived at my rack location (which fortunately was on the end, near the aisle, which made transitioning that much easier) also find out that the person who was supposed to rack next to me was a no show. I'm now going to spoiled for future Tri's, since not only do I have an end spot, I had double the room for all my stuff. I carefully lay out my gear, ensuring things are placed in the order I would need them. This took a whole 5 minutes. It's now a little after 5am, and I have nothing left to do. Transition closes at 5:55am, and the first Olympic distance wave goes at 6am. I wasn't set to go until 7am, at the earliest, not to mention I was in the second to last wave. So I spent probably the next 15 to 20 minutes just staring at my stuff, trying to visualize both transitions, the order I would do them in, and how. It's now 5:55am, transition is closed, and at least another hour for me to wait. So, I just popped a squat and waited until they called my wave. Onto each section, after the jump....

So roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes after I first arrived at transition, I'm finally running down the ramp, onto the dock, and I'm signaled to enter the water. With a bit of excitement, I jumped off the dock and into the Potomac I went. And this is where it gets, "fun". My goggles decided to popped off a bit when I hit the water, GREAT!! So I popped up, gathered myself, and tried to swim out of the way a bit so I can fix them. So here I am, treading water, trying to fix my goggles, meanwhile being "trampled" by other swimmers who entered the water after me. I nearly panicked. So after about a minute of wrestling with my goggles (and trying to dodge other swimmers), I secure them over my eyes and off I go. Next problem. It was so chaotic! With every other stroke, either someone would hit me, run into me, or I'd run into someone else, forcing me to break my rhythm and regroup. It was mass hysteria, really. The first couple hundred meters were terrible. The water is murky, so it was almost impossible to ensure you were swimming in a straight line and I realized I had to sight more than I had anticipated. Made the first turn, and it kind of settled from there. Most of the stronger swimmers had pulled away, and I was finally able to fall into my regular rhythm. Next problem, there would only be about 1-2 minute stretches where I settled into my rhythm and going smoothly before bumping into someone again. But I dealt with it. Next "problem", I was going at a decent clip, when I finally decided to sight, only to notice the kayaker motioning me to turn. I had probably gone about 15 meters past the buoy where I should have turned. Ugh! Back on course, and it was a straight shot back to the dock from there. Reach the dock, carefully got up the ramp and back on land (thank GOD!). Wow. That was one of the strangest experiences of my life.

Its about a 50m jog from the dock into the transition area and though I thought about conserving a little energy by just walking, but wanted to save some time. I was able to jog in the whole way to my bike. There, I pulled on my compression top, dried off my feet, pulled on my socks and shoes, downed a pack of Gu with water, put my helmet on and grabbed the bike to head out to the bike course. Everything went pretty much without a hitch. After that swim, I couldnt be more thankful for that.

This was a fairly easy part of the whole thing. 12 miles on the bike didnt seem like much. I think the most difficult part of it was trying to avoid "blocking" or "drafting", both which are not allowed. Sometimes you want to pass, but you either dont have the room for it, or perhaps the speed to. So you end up in no man's land and run the risk of penalty. I may have been more paranoid about that than I needed, since biking (for competition) is still a relatively new concept to me. It started to drizzle a bit while out on the bike, but wasn't much of a bother. I felt I did decently on the bike, given that I only did a handful of training runs on the bike. As much as I stared at the course map, I still didnt have it down as much as I thought. About halfway through, I thought I was almost done and really psyched myself out, until I realized there was a whole other stretch to go. It didnt help that they had ZERO mile markers on the course. Though I'm not sure if its normal or not to have them on a bike course. It wasn't too much of a bother though, and I didnt wear out my legs too much. As I got toward the end of the bike course, I actually didnt even realize I was there, until the volunteers were kinda yelling at me to slow down....haha.

This is where it was about to get interesting. Only having done 2 brick workouts, I was wondering how this transition would be. To my surprise, it was not bad at all. My right knee was a little achy, but by the time I re-racked my bike, pulled on my shorts, threw on my visor, downed another pack of Gu and some water, I didnt even notice it. And it was off to the run.

The first portion of the run shared the same route as the bike. So this gave the odd illusion that you were running REALLY slow. I fall into what feels like my pace. Without my iPhone and Nike+ GPS, I had no clue how I was pacing. Again, there were no mile markers or clocks on the course (I guess NYRR has me spoiled?), so I'm just hoping I'm not crawling at a snail's pace here. For relatively warm day and high humidity, I felt pretty good. Legs were a little fatigued but not bad. First water station, grabbed some water and powerade, didnt want to dehydrate. I'm going down Constitution Ave, nearing what would be the mile 3 marker, when I noticed my little cheering squad of my wife Ahmee, along with Dan and Christina.
The photo Ahmee took as I went by!

It totally injected a bit of energy in me, and was able to kick it up for about the next mile. The course then snaked around in front of the Capitol building. Again, lack of course knowledge killed me, because I had no idea how much was left and if I could maintain the pace. I fell back a little as the weather was starting to get to me. The worst part of this whole section is, you can see the finish line, but you're going nowhere near it! So finally, I reached what would be the final leg, which contained a bit of an uphill, but luckily it U-turned, so had nice downhill to go with it, one final right turn and it was a sprint to the finish.

And that was it. My first Tri was in the books. Here's how my final times checked out (the run came out to be a 9:55 pace, which is right around my 10k pace):

And a few photos to commemorate....
Happy to be finished

The lovely medal

With the proud wife, happy for her hubby!

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