In a way, winter is our “summer”. The way it gets too cold to go outside during the winter on the East Coast is, in many ways, the same as the way it gets too hot to go outside during our summer. Better still, winter means we’re back to the races!
Last year I did my first sprint distance triathlon. I’ve done a few since but I was really looking forward to doing my first for the second time. None of the guys I did the race with last year came back for another go, so it was just me, and I couldn’t wait to see how 35 year old self would stack up against my 34 year old self. I’d been looking forward to this for a whole year. For me this is the baseline for how much I’ve progressed in my training in the last twelve months. Maybe that’s no completely fair to hinge it all on one race but it’s a baseline.
Race days start early. Revile was 5:30 AM to hydrate, shower, eat a banana, cliff bar, and drink coffee. The race was in Casa Grande, Arizona, about half way between Phoenix and Tucson. Arrived at 6:45 AM, got a good spot in the transition area to setup for my transitions. My grocery list of items included my bike, helmet, socks, bike and running shoes, sunglasses, gloves, shirt, cap, heart rate monitor, and water. Once setup was taken care of I checked in to get my race number and timing chip. Then onto line up for the swim with the other hundreds of folks racing.
The race starts with a swim, transitions to a bike ride, and is topped off with a run. A pool start can be the trickiest. Four or five folks get in the pool at a time. The first swimmer goes and someone else gets in the starting area of the pool. We take off ten seconds apart. It’s a “four, three, two, one, go” countdown. Yes, there are nerves. Finally, it’s my turn to go. I push off the edge of the pool and my goggles immediately filled up with water. I ended up doing the entire quarter mile unable to see very well. Makes it interesting at least.
Swim down, goggles off and drained, it’s a mad dash to the bike. Transitions are fun. Try putting all of your gear on soaking wet from the pool. Also, it’s a little chilly since it’s just 8:00 AM and here I go down the road at 20 mph. Fun!
No flats! The bike finished with, it’s time take off the helmet and swap the bike shoes for running shoes. Take one pair off, put another pair on, tie them up, and get to running those three miles. No goggles to fill up with water at least.
So, in the end, I finished and wound up beating my 34 year old self in each discipline. We’ll see how another year of work helps my 36 year old self do next year. My times were as follows for each. Swim (400 meters) / Bike (10.2 miles) / Run (3 miles). 2008: 9:49 / 43:31 / 27:25 (Total 1:20:45). 2009: 8:20 / 37:54 / 26:36 (Total 1:12:50). I have a few more of these scheduled for this year but you never forget your first. I can’t wait for next year!