My First Triathlon Race Recap

The whole week leading up to the race I couldn’t sleep very well because of nerves and excitement.  I tried to calm them with my workouts, and distracting myself, as well as telling myself that “I know what I’m doing”.   Everyone was so supportive and helpful in leading up to this first triathlon.  I really needed this one to go well, since I have three other triathlons this summer, one being the Branson Half Ironman.  Really, I just didn’t want to have any major problems, a flat, lose my chip, can’t find something of mine at transition, etc.

The Galena Sprint Triathlon took place on Saturday, May 22nd at 9am.  My boyfriend and I borrowed my sister’s car to drive out there since we do not own a car here in Chicago.  My mom and my dad were driving down from Milwaukee to meet us there.  Scott had to work on Friday, but fortunately he got out early so we left at 3:30 and made our way to Galena, IL.  It said on google maps that it would be about a 3hr drive.  Transition was open Friday night from 1pm-9pm.  When we were getting close to Galena, we saw a sign that said Apple Canyon Lake with an arrow pointing right, we accidentally drove right past it, and turned around.  We drove into the state park there and there were no more signs for Apple Canyon Lake, which is where T1 was where we had to go set up my bike.  The worst part we had no cell phone reception, darn AT&T, and so we couldn’t use google maps on our iphones to see how close we were or where we needed to go, we decided to see if there was a map in the state park and there wasn’t!  We were also really low on gas!  So we decided to head back out to the highway and keep heading toward Galena and hope that we would run into a gas station.  We found one, after being on empty for about 15miles…scary!  We got cell phone reception at the gas station and called my parents to see where they were.  They have Verizon and had no problems with cell phone reception the whole time we were out there.  They too went down the road that had the sign to Apple Canyon Lake, but somehow they figured out how to go even though my dad stated that I was right there is no actual sign, but he knew the golf course was right by the lake so he followed the golf course signs.  We turned around, and finally found our way to Apple Canyon Lake.  So, instead of getting to T1 at 6:30, we got there at 7:30.  I hate being in a rush and feeling time constraints, so knowing that it was only open until 9 made me feel anxious, mostly because I didn’t even know what I was supposed to do.  So, I just watched everyone else and started copying them.

For newbies, here is what you should do the night before:

Put your number on your bike.  Use the twisty ties to secure it, I put it on my frame since my “flat tire” kit sits right below my bike seat, and I’m short so there’s not a lot of room.  Many other people put theirs right below their bike seat.  Make sure to fold the twisty ties flat against the number so that they don’t stick out and prick you.  

I then pumped up my tires, made sure my pedals and chain were good to go and we headed down to T1.  

We then headed over to where golf carts were picking us up to take our bikes down.  I could have ridden my bike, but it seemed fun to get taxied down!  

Once we got down there, I still didn’t really have a clue what to do.  

I then saw my mom!  I was so excited when I saw her.  I thought, I’m so happy my mom and I are doing our first one together so that we can look and be clueless together:)  So, we pedaled around to make sure our bike was in the lowest gear since immediately out of transition there was a big hill, and well everyone else was riding around to put their bikes in their lowest gear.  

So we then took our bikes to the transition area.  

There were rows of bikes, and we had to find our row that had our number in it, and then you look for your number and it has your name and age on this sheet that is taped to the rack that is holding all the bikes.  Then to get your bike on the rack you have to roll the seat under the rack and then pick it up and set it on the rack, so that your bike wheel is off the ground and your front wheel is on the ground.  (I should have taken a picture to show you).  Then I left my helmet over night, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the morning.

By the time we got out of transition, it was 8:45pm.  We still hadn’t eaten dinner!  Our plan was to go to the local grocery store and pick up some groceries to cook in our little villa that we were staying in at The Eagle Ridge Resort.  But, it was too late and since it’s a small town it probably closes at 9pm.  So by the time we check in to the hotel, it was 9:15 and it was getting close to bed time, so we ate at the hotel italian restaurant (I hate eating out the night before races by the way but I sucked it up).  I had a pasta dish that wasn’t that great, in fact I only ate half, but it was good enough and I knew that it was healthy enough to fuel me for the race tomorrow, so I didn’t panic.  When we got to where we were staying, I quickly unpacked, and hopped in to bed.  I’m not a night person, so I would much rather get up early and prepare than stay up late.

The next morning, I had half a PB and honey sandwich and decided with a late race start I would have the other half in another hour, and then of course so gu 15min before the start.  Here’s what I did to get ready.  I woke up at 5:30am, showered as usual, and then set out all my bike and running stuff.  I put my number on my race belt, and lay out my cycling shoes, my tri suit, my sports bra, my running shoes, and my visor.  I didn’t need much more than that.  I just needed to fill my two water bottles up for the bike, and a towel to lay  my stuff down, and of course my wet suit, swim cap, and goggles.  Yay, I got it all.  I put my tri suit and sports bra on.  

Being silly in the morning and doing some on land swimming.  Oh yea, and above notice we put our chips on our ankles so that we wouldn’t forget.  

This race had two transition areas, so I put my running shoes, visor, and race belt in one bag, and then my wet suit, goggles, cap, cycling shoes, towel, and gu in my other transition bag.  We dropped off our T2 bags that morning, and then headed down to the race start.  I wore a long sleeve shirt, sweat pants, socks, and sneakers down to T1 so that I would stay warm all morning.  Then my mom and I got our numbers marked on us!  I was seriously looking forward to this, I just think it’s so cool.  

Oh yea, I had put my heart rate monitor and Garmin watch on before I put my tri suit on that morning.  Then it was time to set up T1, I put my helmet on my aero bars, put my towel down, my cycling shoes unclipped, and my gu, and then put my two water bottles one of water and one of gatorade in my water cages on my bike.  I was good to go, all I had to do now was get my wet suit, cap, and goggles on and wait.  The start was delayed 20min due to fog, but it was starting to pan out to be a gorgeous day full of sunshine.  

Personally I don’t have that hard of a time getting my wet suit on.  I have the Vector Pro X2 by Xterra, and I love it.  I don’t need glide, or wet suit juice, it just kind of goes on.  I left half of it down, since it is a little tight out of the water, and it was starting to get pretty hot out.  We then watched the start of the race since I started 30 min after the race start.  

The race has started!  30 minutes til I hit that water!  The water temperature for the day was about 58-60 degrees.  FREEZING!  But, I figured everyone else was getting in it couldn’t be that bad.  Well it was my turn.  We lined up, and we were off.  I ran into the water, and started dolphining once I got in the water, and then I kind of went into freezing shock.  Seriously the whole swim is a blue kind of since it was so cold.  I did breast stroke out to the first “cone” and then when I made the right hand turn I told myself I was going to try to go into freestyle, I tried to put my head in the water and it was so cold I started to hyperventilate, so I decided I was going to do some more breast stroke and a little “tarzan” (freestyle with my head out of the water) until I warmed up, after another “cone” I tried to put my head in the water again, I still went into shock.  Seriously, I tried to put my head in the water 4 or 5 times, each time my body had the same reaction!  I just couldn’t breathe.   So I did the whole 660yds with breast stroke and tarzan.  I finished in 12:32 (1:53/100) not bad for tarzan and breast stroke!  I couldn’t believe how some of these other girls got their heads in the water.  I probably came out 10th to last in the swim, but I was okay with that because I knew my strong suits were coming up!  I was so happy to be done, but when I got out of the water I was totally out of breath!  My heart rate was 97% of my max!  

BRRRR…so happy to be out!

Here we go T1.  I quickly got out of my wet suit, and put on my cycling shoes, ate some gu, put my helmet on, and headed out on to the bike course!  T1 time was 2:24.  It took me the first two miles get settle my heart rate and to warm up!  But after that I was in the zone!  

The hills were crazy!  I have never been on hills like this before, unless I’m in a car.  I loved the challenge, I just wish there were hills like this close to me in Chicago, so that I could practice.  But for never doing hills I felt pretty good.  In fact, I was strongest on the climbs, and found myself passing people.  I seriously started getting pumped up!  I could do this!  I still was thinking about how awful the swim was, but I had to move on.  I met a girl that was my match on the bike, we kept trading positions, she would beat me going downhill, and I would beat her going up hill.  It was so fun!  I was having FUN competing!  I finished the 17.8 mile HILLY bike in 59:42 (avg. 17.8mph).  Here we go T2.  The whole race so far had been exhilarating!  I was in heaven when I got my bike racked and put my running shoes, race belt, and visor on.  I had never ran in my zoot race shoes, nor in my new visor and I was very excited to do so!  I definitely felt like I was still winded from the swim.  I know weird after about an hour on the bike, but my legs felt fine, but my lungs were like what have you done to me?  I got into my groove, but again the hills were killer, and I had never ran hills like this.  The Boston Marathon wasn’t even this bad with hills, but it was only a 4.3 mile run, so I cranked it out the best I could.  I finished the run in 37:11 (8:39 pace).  TOTAL: 1:53:35!

I couldn’t believe it.  It’s over!  HOW AMAZING!  I loved it.  The change from one sport to the next and pushing your limits was an incredible feeling!  I can’t wait to race my next triathlon in a month.  An olympic distance at Lake Geneva Big Foot.  I ended up placing 7th in my age group out of 50 girls, even though I came out of the water 10th to last!  This to me has given me inspiration and motivation that I can do this!  I have a chance at being good!  Unfortunately I couldn’t find a picture of me on the run, but I will tell you, I was HAPPY!  Thank you to everyone who supported me!  It meant the world!

The biggest lesson and tip I took away from this triathlon is get in the water before the race to let your body get used to the water.  There were a lot of people doing that, but I was like oh they are better than me, and I thought to myself I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m going to look like a fool.  NO, this girl is getting in next time with the best of them.  I think acclimating my body to the water would have really helped me have an overall better race!  Don’t be afraid to get in before hand!

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5 thoughts on “My First Triathlon Race Recap

  1. Pingback: What Have I Been Doing for the Last 2 Weeks « "Tri"ing for Pro

  2. Inspiring blog. Can’t believe your first tri swim is so reminiscient of my own which took place in the English channel in April. Just couldn’t put my head in that water either.
    Like you, I really loved the challenge and have already signed up for another in August. I’ve been doing lots of sea swimming and hopefully the water will be warmer. When’s your next one?

    • Oh my goodness, wasn’t it awful? I’m so excited for my next one which is this weekend, because the water is a lot warmer. I’m hoping I can also calm myself down and just get into a nice rhythm. I actually went to the race location this time prior to the race to check out the whole course so that I would feel more comfortable. When is your next one?

  3. Pingback: Sunday’s Weekly Training Report 5/23/10 « "Tri"ing for Pro

  4. What an amazing experience! You sounded like you had a blast! The swim sounds the scariest. Great tips to pass on to firs-timers. You placed really well! You’ll only get better and we get to witness it all through your blog. I’m so excited!! :-D

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