Sunday, July 13, 2014

Trying The Tri Thing...

Alright, I'll admit it...I've stepped over to the dark side.  I signed up and completed my first triathlon.  My wife has been doing triathlons since before we met.  I've gone to pretty much all of her races to support her and have found myself getting the urge to do one myself.  I finally decided to bite the bullet and sign up for a local race at the Knoxville Westside YMCA.  This would be the perfect first tri considering it was only a 200 yard pool swim, followed by a 7 mile bike leg, and finishing it off with a 2.5 mile run.  My weakest discipline is definitely swimming.  I signed up for a few lessons from one of the trainers at the Rush Fitness Center, Oliver Frankel, and tried to learn the basics.  Unfortunately, I really slacked on practicing any of these basics and found myself on race day with the tactic of just surviving.

So here it is...On the morning of the race, I woke up around 5:30am and got suited up in my tri kit and decided to ride the bike to the race from the house.  It was only a 3 mile ride so I figured it would be a good way to loosen my nerves and loosen up the legs.  I got to the race venue around 6:30am and chatted it up with a few friends.  My buddy and local Cobb Mobb athlete, Chris Morelock, gave me some last minute tips and even let me borrow his new SPECIALizED aero road helmet for the race. I got my transition area set up and was glad I got to the race venue early enough to get a primo spot.  My idea was that I would place my bike as close to the transition exit so that when I came in from the swim (running barefoot) I could run the length of the transition and get to the bike where I would have to put on my bike shoes and have a shorter distance to run in those said bike shoes.

Hanging out in transition before the race
About 15 minutes before the start, everyone started to stage themselves for the swim.  Since this race was a pool swim, they gave everyone a 5 second separation in their starts.  I obviously am a really really really really...really really really sloooooooow swimmer.  I asked around and finally found the 4-5 minute 200 yard swimmers and tried to place myself in the mix.  Normally before races, I get real nervous and then get a massive burst of adrenaline.  This race was quite different.  My time comes up to start and I give a half effort at doing a cannonball into the pool (I know...Not a good technique but it looked cool!) And away I was at my first triathlon and trying to survive the swim.  Once I started swimming, I really forgot every single lesson I had learned.  My stroke was terrible, I was able to breath every other stroke but I know I wasn't very efficient.  The only good thing about my swim was that no one passed me...

After 4 minutes and 30 seconds, the 200 yard swim was over and I was out of the pool.  I made a b-line to the transition area which was probably another 200 yards down the hill.  I tried to concentrate at this point on catching my breath and getting myself ready for the bike leg.  I managed to be really efficient in the transition and was off onto the bike.  Going into this event, the bike leg was going to be my specialty.  I felt really confident and once on the bike I got another burst of adrenaline.  The bike course was only 7 miles but it was a two lap course that was full of nearly a dozen turns the weaved in and out of a neighborhood.  The neighborhood was pretty hilly as well.  Since I started pretty far back for the swim start, I found myself having to pass a lot of people on the bike leg.  I tried to keep the communication up that I was passing on their left but there was one turn I came up to that was on a down hill section and turned to the left.  As I was screaming down the hill, I saw 5 or 6 ladies that were spanning nearly the entire width of the road.  All I knew to do was tell them to hold their line and I would be coming around on their left.  Right as I was about to make a pass, we were entering the turn and I barely made it on the inside and was able to safely exit the turn before them and continued on.  This was by far the most sketchy moment of the race for me!  After completing my two laps, I ride down the final 100 yards of the bike course and managed to get out of my bike shoes in a preparation for another quick transition.

Coming in hot to the transition area from the bike course.
In transition, I remained as efficient as I could and got into my running shoes.  I was off onto the run course and knew I was on the final stretch.  I found my pace that I was somewhat comfortable with.  When I say comfortable, I mean a pace that I can maintain without puking.  I left transition pretty hot and ran up on another guy who was maintaining a steady pace.  I stayed with him the entire run.  The run course was a mix of greenways paths that went through a few grassy sections and then finished near the transition area.  In the final stretch before the finish, the guy who was pacing me took off.  I knew I couldn't up my pace to match his at this point and I'm glad I didn't.  He ended up taking off too soon and when we made our last turn to head to the finish, I came around him and found my last bit of energy to sprint to the finish.

On the run leg about to make my final turn to head to the finish.
My finishing time was 42:16 which put me 2nd in my age group (Male 25-29).  I had no expectations of placing in my age group when I entered this race.  I was beyond excited to find out I had placed.  I was only 24 seconds behind 1st place too! This race a lot of fun and I would also say pretty well organized for being right in the middle of town.  After the race, it was good to find out some of my other friends had placed in their categories as well! Chris Morelock ended up getting 2nd Overall, Jon Reggio got 3rd in his age group, and Jennifer Davis finished first in Athena!  It's always fun to see your friends on the podium!  I was also blown away by all the fan support at the race!  My wife was on course the entire time taking pictures and cheering me on.  She is the one who inspired me to do my first triathlon and she even decided not to do this one so that she could watch and support me.  Our local tri club (Rocky Top Multisport) was also present and cheering.  Several of them dressed like the Village People since the race was taking place at the local YMCA...

Male 25-29 Age Group Podium
All in all, it was a great day! I'm definitely hooked on this Tri thing and will be back for more!

1 comment: