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My Second Tri: Sprint Tri Race Report

Splits & Rank

Swim – 437 meters
6:36 – 5/30 age group

3:49 – 7/30 age group

Bike – 12.4 miles
55:38 – 24/30 age group

1:15 – 10/30 age group

Run – 3.1 miles
28:33 – 8/30 age group

Overall: 1:35:50, 13/30 age group

I achieved my realistic goal so I guess that means my expectations were just right.

I wish I had pictures to share but both sets of batteries I’d charged beforehand were dead by race morning.  Gr!


Saturday morning I woke up at zero o’clock and drove 3.5 hours to the race site.  I arrived just in time for the pre-race meeting.  Afterward, I did a quick swim in the pool to get familiarized with the flip turn distances and practice under-lane-line flip turns.  Then I picked up my packet, ate a late lunch/early dinner, drove the bike & run courses (was exhausted and decided to save energy by driving rather than riding the course) and called it a day. I’d heard rumors about a hill on the bike course and people were not kidding.  Holy crap! It was 1.5 miles of up and I was scared.

I stayed at a friend’s place that night.  Race morning I was up at 4:40 am. Shower, swim suit, warm-up suit, breakfast (sprouted grain eng. muffin, almond butter, banana, water) and a small cup of coffee with skim milk.  I ate/sipped on the way to the race.  I arrived just as transition was opening and got great parking and bike rack spots.

I racked my bike first, then got my timing chip, went back to the car for the rest of my stuff to set up my transition,  and braved the cold (it was in the low 40’s and freezing) long enough to get marked.  I knew I wouldn’t want to do a pool warm up on race morning which is why I scoped out the pool on Saturday, so Sunday I briefly jogged around the parking lot with some strides and just tried to stay warm.

One of my transition neighbors reminded me to put on sunscreen so I ran back to the car at the last minute for that.  Finally it was time to strip down to my swim suit and head inside to start the swim.  Transition buddy and I checked out the swimmers ahead of us while we waited. Some probably should have been seeded further back but they were almost done by the time we got in so it was fine.


My strategy for the race was simply this: save it for the hill, then recharge for the run.

We left 15 seconds apart in the pool, which was a 50 meter pool snake swim (down and back in one lane, under the lane lines, down and back in the next lane, under lane lines, etc.). I took it out easy in the swim and focused on keeping a steady pace rather than going all out as I did in my first tri. It felt awesome. During the last 100 I passed two people.

Hopped out of the pool and tried to keep an easy pace as I jogged to my bike. Long transition around the building dripping wet in 43 degrees running on cold pavement. Made it to my bike, quick pat dry, then decided to put on my lined warmup jacket for the bike. Good decision, wrong piece of clothing. I need an unlined biking jacket for this type of thing. My wet arms got caught up in the liner and I got all tangled and wasted probably 40 seconds. I was also distracted by nervousness about the big hill climb looming ahead of me. Finally got sorted out and booked it out of there. Had one Shot Block in T1 and one early into the bike with a few sips of water.

So…I totally suck at the bike. No lie. Suck. My lack of confidence doesn’t help either. I got passed by a lot of people and struggled to maintain speed over even the small rolling hills. Halfway through the bike I turned left and there it was.  The monster hill.  I’d never done anything like it and was pretty terrified. I stretched out my legs, switched to granny gear, took a deep breath, and went for it.  Head down, one step at a time, just keep pedaling.  I focused on getting through only what pavement I could see under my front wheel. I got passed by people who spun easily and looked like they were out for holiday.  I did pass one older guy.  W00t! Finally, finally the top was in sight.  A man jogging by promised I was almost there and he was right.  Elation!  I’d made it up that hill without stopping and with zero flats.

After that I relaxed and enjoyed the race. It was time to have fun with this. I made my way back to transition, racked my bike, dropped the helmet and jacket, grabbed race belt and my Garmin, and headed out in my swim suit and shorts. At this point it was about 55 degrees and perfect for running.

My feet were still frozen from the bike so I was running on blocks of ice for the first mile or so. I had some aching in my shins so I did a brief walk break after mile one. That helped a ton and everything felt great after that. I chugged along trying to keep a good pace and enjoyed the pretty neighborhoods and chats with people passing by.

I walked through the water stop, hit the turn-around, headed back toward the finish line – holy crap, I’m almost done and I sort of don’t want this to end.  It’s too fun. I passed a girl in my age group on my way in.  Once the finish line was in sight, I sprinted for all I was worth all the way to the end.  As I stood there panting I swallowed some happy tears.  I knew the bike had been slow but I’d gotten through that hill.  The run had been lovely.  The swim had felt great.  I was so pleased with how everything turned out.

After I got my race chip cut off I remembered to stop my Garmin. It said 28:44. My official split was 28:33.  Seems like my race split should have been faster because I started the Garmin before I left T2 and stopped it well after I finished?  Looking at the Garmin stats, I was in the mid-27’s when I hit 3.1 miles.  Not my fastest, but not bad.


Cool-down jog and stretches, then found some water and snacked on Oreos.  Love!  I didn’t sit down for at least an hour afterward to avoid stiffening up. I did have a little bit of soreness later in the day but none since then. My recovery from this race has been faster and much smoother (no nausea this time) than the one from my first tri.

I found out later that both people I passed in the swim, a teenage girl and my transition buddy, a 26 y.o. guy, won first place in their age groups. If my bike was where it should be, I think I would’ve had a shot at my preferred goal.  At least I know what to work on this winter, right?

Thinking back on the finer details, I’m making a mental note that my nutrition was just right.  I had no cramps and no light-headedness. My pacing was much better this time, also – perhaps too good. There was a lack of urgency in some parts. However, with this slightly longer course than my last tri it was fun to be able to depend on endurance rather than speed. I think I want to do a longer race.

All in all, it was a fun race, great course, very organized, well-staffed.  I can’t wait for my second triathlon season!!


2 Responses

  1. Sam, I saw your blog info on Gather and am enjoying your posts. Congrats on the great finish with your Tri.

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