I finished my first sprint tri!
Sunday was the annual Tiny/Small Texan Triathlon in Boerne. I've had my eye on this race for a few months, and I finally decided to sign up and go for it. The sprint (Tiny) race is an 800 m. swim, 25K bike, 5K run.
I got there early, got everything set up, and nervously bounced around waiting for the race to start. The pro triathlete who's helped me with some of my swimming, Travis, was there for the Small Texan (olympic distance race), and he talked me into a short, slow jog before the race started. That sounded pretty crazy to me, considering that I was just hoping that I'd have the endurance to finish the race, but it was better than standing still, so I went along with it.
The Small Texan racers started first, and Travis was the first one out of the water by a minute and a half. Then, it was time for the Tiny racers to start. (You're probably picturing elves right now.) I had done one open water swim before the race, so I knew I probably wouldn't panic in the water, but I wasn't willing to fight it out with the other racers at the start. I'm not a fast swimmer and I had no intention of getting run over. I hung back and started nearly last. Apparently, I then passed other swimmers, but since everyone was fairly spread out in the water, I didn't really realize that. I am terrible at swimming straight in open water. It's harder than it looks. The buoys were placed 200 m apart, and I stayed on track by looking up every so often and course correcting. In politics and in swimming, I lean right. After about 500 meters, I became pretty convinced that I was coming in dead last. I wasn't really looking for a fast finish, but it made me remember what Nathan had said after his first tri, "You just don't want to be in the water so long that everyone knows your name and is cheering for you." That made me laugh- yes, even while I was swimming- and I just kept going. Turns out I wasn't last by a long shot, but since I could see people ahead of me and no one was passing me, it just felt like it.
Coach Eddie, Boerne's swim coach extraordinaire, was there to watch Travis, and Travis' mom and girlfriend came as well. I got to borrow them to be my cheer squad too! I ran up the hill (uphill proved to be the theme of the day) out of the lake and into the transition area, hopped on my bike and headed out. (Thanks, Katlyn, for the pictures!)
The ride started out along the I-10 access road. It was a little hilly (something I never realized when driving in the car!) but not too bad at all. I started to feel pretty confident. We Tiny racers turned around just after the Welfare Country Club (ritzy place, let me tell you) and PoPo's restaurant. (All the German speakers should feel free to snicker. No, I've never eaten there.) We actually had to head back just as things were getting scenic. The announcer had said before the race that, on the way back, we would pass the lake and go in the other direction "for a little bit" to make it a true 25K ride. No problem, I could do a little bit.
Well, his definition of a little bit and my definition of a little bit are clearly different. Oh my goodness, the hills! I just became determined not to walk up any of them. And I didn't. It was beautiful and scenic in a Texas sort of way, with a view of the lake after the turnaround, but my lack of training on the road started to become apparent. I don't care how much I crank up the resistance on my trainer, it's not the same as actually riding uphill.
I still felt good coming out of the bike, though I knew I had slowed considerably during that last "little bit" (which I think was at least 1/3 of the ride.) I got back into transition, slipped on my running shoes, and took off up the rocky hill for the run. And then I hit the dam. I had heard people mention the dam- how hot it was, how hard it was to run at the end of the race- but now I knew what all the fuss was about. It was soooo hot! I felt like an egg in a frying pan, and I was pretty certain that I had used every last ounce of power in my legs biking up those hills. At this moment, I was really worried that I was going to have to walk the run, but I pushed ahead, and kept going as best I could. The run revealed another problem with my training- no heat acclimation. I work out on a treadmill in the air conditioning. My body had no idea what to do with the temperatures I was dealing with. The aid station and its cold water seemed forever away! And I have to admit, I was kind of shocked with how I was feeling. I'm not a fast runner, but my 5K pace is pretty consistent, so I felt confident that I could handle the run. Halfway through, my legs were cramping so badly (holdover from the bike) that I could see my muscles spasming. I stopped to work that out, and then, coming back across the dam, I finally realized that I just HAD to keep an even pace. There was a lady who was running more slowly than my usual pace, but she was being consistent. I got behind her and just followed her to the finish line. Thanks #177!
At the finish line, I picked up my medal and WATER, carefully made my way down to the lake and cooled off!! My final times were 800m swim: 23:57; 25K bike 1 hr, 9 min; 5K run 37:04. Total time: 2:13:34. I actually came in third in my age group, which surprised me because I felt SO slow. I guess it helps that everyone else was having to deal with the same hills and heat. (Travis came in first in his age group and third all around for the olympic distance. The top three finishers were all pros. And it actually took him just 10 minutes longer to finish twice the distance that I covered. Ah, well, the joys of being young.)
I had a great time, and there wasn't a single moment during the race that I regretted signing up for it (not even on the dam!) I had some great inspiration along the way: On the swim, I could hear Coach Eddie: "Steady, even pace." Coach Travis: "Ten strokes then look up or else you're going to end up in the middle of the lake." On the bike, "Coach" Dad: "Don't coast- keep pedaling!" Amanda, who got me started on this craziness: "You've got to start taking these hills, Aimee!" Trust me, after struggling up the hills- I wasn't chickening out and braking on the way down. And the most inspiring of all, little Carsten, "Mommy, I hope you win your race!"
Not win, buddy, finish. And that's a win in my book.