My First Tri

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My First Tri

Postby BC » Fri May 30, 2014 9:56 pm

My First Tri – Comox Valley Tri-K Triathlon 2014

Despite calling this my first Triathlon, I have in fact completed one in the past. It was the Kai Iwi Lake Triathlon in New Zealand. However, I feel like that was a completely different incarnation of myself as I was not the slightest bit competitive then and was not in fact a runner at the time. It was an open water swim and I waited for everybody else to get into the water before jumping in for the swim. The safety boat chugged along beside me for the entire swim and I was the last person out of the water as well. I then toweled myself off and changed my clothing before heading out for the bike and the run. So perhaps we could say this was my first competitive triathlon, with competitive meaning that I wanted to push myself and see how well I could do despite a complete lack of training.

I started thinking about doing the Tri-k about two weeks before the race. I mentioned the idea to Clay and he invited me to join him for a swim workout. So on the Wednesday before the race, I was up at the pool with Clay doing the longest swim of my entire life! It was hard, but it was also a blast and I could definitely see myself getting into it. We started out with a 6 lap (150m) warmup, followed by 6 laps of arms with pullbuoy, and then six laps of legs using the kickboard. After this nice warmup, we did 2 x 10 laps (250m) as a tempo. Clay timed it and we used my time to estimate a swim time of 15:00 for the 750m in the race. Finally, we did 100m hard. So in total it was 4200m of swimming. I was beat, but it was a blast. Needless to say, for the next few days my arms, shoulders, and back were all tight and achy!

The day before the race was the check in and a little expo. As part of the expo, Clay gave a presentation on transitions. One of the big tips that stood out to me was to put glasses on before the helmet, that way when you take the helmet off after the bike your glasses don't get tangled and cause an extra distraction. Mostly it just reinforced the idea of having a step by step approach to the transition so as not to waste time. I bought some swim goggles, picked up my race package, and was ready to go!

On race morning I got there early and got my transition zone set up. I laid down a bright pink towel that was easily identifiable (another tip of Clay's) and then laid out my gear in chronological order. Shirt on handle bars so that I would put it on first. Glasses and timing chip inside the helmet so I wouldn't forget either of them. Shoes with laces opened up and ready to put on. Socks on the correct side and ready to go. With that taken care of, it became a long game of waiting around.

Swim (750m – 30 laps)
There was no doubt that this was my weak point. Despite Clay's optimism, I decided to predict a more conservative15:30 to give myself a buffer for the inevitable slow down later in the race. Hilariously, Marion predicted the exact same time so we were placed in the same lane with her in position 1 and me in position 2. Because of the heats in the race, there was not chance to warmup. I chatted with Brad Allen before the race and asked what he would usually do as a warmup. He told me that he would usually do the events in reverse order: start with a couple k warmup run with a few strides to loosen the legs, then a short ride making sure to leave the bike in a good gear to get started on, and finally about 250m of swimming just before the start of the race. Makes sense and I will remember that for the next time.

Finally, the waiting was over. Swim caps on (I'd never used a swim cap before), goggles on (they were brand new – I ducked my head under water and luckily they didn't leak!), ready to go! BEEP! Marion is gone. BEEP! Now my turn. I push off and try to settle into an easy stroke. Very quickly I catch up to Marion and decide to pass. I push to get past and then settle in. Almost immediately I am in turn passed by the third swimmer in our lane. Only a few laps have gone by and already I have lost count. Crap! Every time that I turn I can see Doc watching at the side of the pool. I am tempted to yell out and ask how many laps I have done, but I don't want to be “That Guy”. After about ten laps Marion passes me back and we are back where we started. The swim feels way too hard and I struggle the whole way. I'm aware of the fact that I am ignoring the biggest piece of advice that Clay gave me (look down, not ahead – it helps keep your legs up), but I don't have the energy or attention to keep focused on that. All I can do is concentrate on surviving and estimate how many laps I have left. Finally I get tapped on the head: two laps to go. Still Marion is just in front of me, and we are keeping pace quite closely! Hilarious! We jump out of the pool one after the other and I follow her as we dash out the door. My legs feel dead, and my head is throbbing! It's a joy to rip off my swim cap and goggles. As we head out the door there is a big stanchion there. I follow Marion as she ducks around it and runs off. It seems like the most natural thing in the world. But the marshals yell at us that we are off course so we duck back under the rope and carry on across the parking lot. Our swim times end up being identical at 16:31.


Everything felt like it went smoothly in the transition. Having to put on a shirt obviously slowed me down. Also, I put on socks as I knew that there were enough new things that I was doing already that I didn't want to chance blisters with not wearing socks. Definitely something I will have to practice for in the future to speed myself up. I was quick enough here that I passed several people in the transition. T1 Time was 2:32.

Bike (20km)

As I ran out to start the bike I managed to pass someone in the chute. It felt good to know that this was just the beginning and that I would be reeling in many more over the course of the race. I pushed hard throughout and felt solid and strong. It felt like more work for the legs and lungs, but I kept it at a solid and consistent level. It was fun to be familiar with the far end of the course, which turned around at the end of Headquarters Road where the Merville 15k course runs. The shifting on my bike is not very smooth so I threw it into high gear on the way back as it was downhill, but had to gear down quite early in anticipation of the hills as we got back towards the Sports Centre. As I neared the bottom of Vanier Drive, just after Dove Creek Road, I went into an easier gear to spin faster and get my legs ready for the run. I blasted into the dismount zone and planned on doing a flying dismount. I suddenly had visions of my foot staying clipped in as I leaped off the bike, so I quickly changed plans and did a slow and controlled dismount. Despite the fatigue and heaviness in my legs from the ride, I felt strong getting off the bike and running into transition. Bike time: 36:00.


All I had to do for this transition was switch from bike shoes to run shoes. But it took forever! I just had my regular laces and I never had thought about how long it takes to tie your shoes, especially when you have to double lace! Even worse, there was a group out watching and they were heckling me the entire time. “Slowest transition ever!” “Isn't this a race!?!” Pretty funny! T2 time: 1:21. This was actually not a bad time overall, but I could definitely have been much faster if I had had some elastic laces to just slip on my shoes. Notes for the future!

Run (5km)

Ahh! Now I was in my element! I raced off, and felt surprisingly strong. A few people along the way yelled out that my stride looked really good. I opted for my Fuji Racer trail shoes, thinking that the toe box is a little wider so they would be easier to get into and get going more quickly. I had forgotten that the tread was relatively worn out, so on some of the wet concrete surfaces they were a little slick. I just tried to focus on catching the next person in front of me and running hard. I found it hard to gauge my effort during the run, as I was constantly passing people. Could I have pushed harder? Definitely. Would it be worth it? Hard to say. Without that direct competition of people running a similar pace around me, it was hard to push to the limit. Probably just as well! I ran to the finish, and the hilarious thing was that as a racer it was hard to tell exactly where the end of the race was. Doc and a bunch of others were there to cheer me in to the finish, which added to the fun of the event. Run time: 21:15. Second fastest time of the day, behind Clay.

Overall, it was a blast of a day. Lots of lessons learned, and many things that I will keep in mind for whenever I try the next one. Certainly something I would like to try again in the future. An added bonus was that I finished 3rd in my category with an overall time of 1:17:39. This put me about 9th overall for the race. Stoked!
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Re: My First Tri

Postby LesDisher » Sun Jun 01, 2014 3:00 pm

Good job Brad. Sounds like it was a lot of fun.
Uh-oh! Has a can of worms been opened? Should we anticipate a half-iron, and, dare I say, a full Ironman just beyond the horizon?
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