Background: When I lived in Colorado, I did two Sprint Triathlons- both of which were in the pool, and on mountain bikes. Biking is NOT my thing: never has been, never will be. For some reason, when I get on a bike I am very aware of my breathing. I am getting better at the riding part, but on the downhills, I go into 'granny mode' and am very, very cautious.
That being said, last fall I broke down and bought a road bike for two reasons: 1) to give myself cross-training options b/c my knee and hip were making running difficult and 2) so I could enjoy workouts with two of my good friend who bike and also do triathlons.
I knew the swimming portion would not be tough for me, but did buy a wetsuit, which I wore only one time before the race. I got in 4 swims before the race, the longest of which was 1 mile, so I knew I could handle the distance for the race.
Race distances: swim 1/4 M (17 pool lengths) bike 11.3 M, run 3.1 M.
I rode to the race (2 hours away in beautiful western PA~) with my two friends and one friend's husband. We had to get up very early (4:20 am) and had a pleasant, easy drive up to the race. We hooked up with another car with 4 women (some of whom I had met previously) and all made it in plenty of time. We got there, got our packets and moved our stuff into the transition area.
Now, here is where I have to point out that triathlons are 'A WHOLE THING'. Seriously-- the bike, the wetsuit the staging area, goggles, flip flops and when to take them off- using Pam spray to help get one's wetsuit on. Really? Really. Despite the intimidation factor, I was pretty calm as we listened to the race director's instructions. This race had an Olympic Distance as well as Sprint distance event.
We did our finally potty stops, and made our way down to the lake. They had everyone going off in waves, and our wave (brown bathing caps- we joked that the over-40-Sprint- ladies must not matter much), went off a full hour after the first swimmers. It was a pleasant, if not hot, wait. The temps were climbing at this point, and I was happy to get into the water.
My wetsuit was very tight at the top, and I knew it was going to be a mind-over-matter thing during the swim. Once the race got started, I was regretting the wetsuit choice, because I never really got into a rhythm during the swim. Again, experience would help here. Needless to say, it was quick, and I had no idea about my time at this point, but started my watch as soon as I got out of the water.
The transition from the swim to the bike was up a hill, and about a 1/4 mile total distance. But, as A pointed out, 'it is the same for everyone'. I got through the transition w/out getting pebbles in my socks, and headed out on the bike.
The bike part for me was really hard. I didn't have a bike computer, so was going on time to see how far I had gone. I also failed to glance at my watch when I started the bike, so did not have an exact time for when I started the bike. I figured it would take my between 42-45 minutes for the bike. (ended up 44, so I was close here). My chain fell off at one point on a hill, and I was passed by two of the girls in our group, along with 3-4 other people, which really sucked from a mental standpoint. The scenery was really pretty, and there were some nice downhills, but I was really, really happy to see the 1M to go sign on the bike.
Now, A and I had done 4-5 bike/run workouts, which prepared me for how my legs would feel (thank goodness!) when I started the run. Since I did not have clip-in shoes, my transition from the bike to run was less than a minute, and I headed out. By now it was getting really hot (low 80s) and I was hoping to pass as many people as possible during the run.
Again, I wished I had some sort of mileage marker (Garmin would have been nice) b/c the first mile was pretty much all up hill. Then we went into the woods, and out into an open field. I could see 4 of the girls in our age group in this field, and wanted to catch as many of the ladies in my age group as possible during the run. There was a turn-around point in the field that I thought was the half-way point of the run. I passed a lot of people here, and was starting to hit my stride (pun intended). We went back into the woods and hit the 2M marker. By this time I had passed two of the women in our age group I knew, and was trying to get the other two. I passed a few more people in the last mile, and found myself directly behind A during the last half mile. She ended up getting 3rd in our AG and I was literally 1 second behind her in 4th place.
Run time was 25:13, and I definitely could have pushed that a bit. Overall race time was 1:22:37.
My other friend had a great race and finished 1st in the 35-39 AG, and I think had one of her best times ever. (hard to gauge a PR in a Tri b/c of transition distances, and bike distances).
After the race we 'bathed' in the lake, changed, and had a great picnic under the trees. A's family had come up to watch/hang out and it was super-fun and relaxing.
I am hoping to do one more Sprint Triathlon this summer (depends on DH and a work wedding), but do not see myself getting into the 3-4 races a summer mode. I simply do not enjoy the bike riding, but am willing to ride once a week for some XT and to hang with my friends.
The overall good news? My knee did not bother my during or after the race. YIPPEE!!
Next up: Firecracker 5k this Saturday.
Goal: sub 22:30. I don't know if I have that in me or not. Just happy to be running this race again b/c last year I couldn't due to my hip injury.