Yesterday was me and Matt’s very first triathlon!
It was really cool to actually do something that I’ve read/heard so much about. Triathlons involve some serious logistics — I was impressed with how well organized this race was! We did the Bucker Mission Man Triathlon in Burlington, NC.
Burlington is about an hour away; we had a beautiful drive all through farm land to get there. We arrived at the triathlon bright and early at 6:45 a.m. with a car full of bikes and all sorts of transition equipment!
Our first stop: packet pick up and getting marked with our numbers. We had our numbers written on our legs and both arms, and also wore a timing chip on our ankles. In addition, we had our age written on the back of one leg. I guess this way people can figure out who their competition is!
After checking in, we went back to the car, got all of our stuff, and headed to the transition area to get set up. Exciting!
I brought two bags for my transition — one full of stuff for the bike transition, and the other for the run.
For the swim to bike transition, I had:
- Towel to dry off
- Shoes and socks
- CamelBak filled with water and ice
- Garmin watch + Road ID
- My shirt (with my bib already pinned to it)
- Hair tie + bobby pins
- Fuel (Hammer Gel and Stingers)
Plus, my helmet, sunglasses, and more water bottles (one regular water, one water with a dose of honey) were already on my bike:
Told you this was complicated!
For the bike to run transition, I had:
- A visor
- My SPI belt to carry fuel and/or my camera
As for what I was already wearing, I had on my awesome tri suit that our family friend Jill so sweetly sent to me. For the swim, I just wore the shorts and a black sports bra; I put the shirt (with my bib already pinned to it) back on for the bike and run. It was perfect — super comfy!
Before we knew it, it was time to start!
Swim: 750 meters (half mile)
The swim was in a lake — the triathlon was set up right at the marina. It was a gorgeous site for a triathlon!
Matt was in the earlier swimming wave, so his wave his started at 8:04; mine started at 8:12. We got swim caps in different colors based on our wave starts.
Matt was a bit nervous about the swim — our original triathlon for this weekend (the one that was cancelled) was only 250 meters (in a pool). He’s not a swimmer and a half mile (750 meter) swim was a large step up!
Matt did so well — I was very proud He said it was one of the hardest things he’s ever done, though, and unfortunately he swallowed quite a bit of lake water and didn’t feel so hot starting the bike ride. He says if he does another triathlon he’ll be practicing swimming first
As for me, I enjoyed the swim. I took it nice and steady and alternated between freestyle and breaststroke because I was worried about burning out, but I definitely could have gone faster because I wasn’t really tired when I finished. The hardest thing was just making sure you were going straight and not running into anyone else! And being careful not to swallow water since it was choppy with everyone around you swimming.
Bike: 15 miles
The bike ride was by far my worst event, even though I probably enjoyed it the most. I felt great the whole time, the scenery was beautiful (lakes and bridges and gorgeous country roads), and the cool breeze (and the fact that I was wet) meant that I never felt hot, but I was getting passed by basically everyone and their mother. Apparently I’m a really slow biker, haha. A 73 year old woman did this triathlon and she actually passed me on the bike, lol! How badass is that?! I was so proud of her I couldn’t be upset she passed me
During the bike, I ate a few Stingers chews for fuel, drank a ton of water from my CamelBak, and had some of my honey water, too. Matt stayed just behind me the whole time (let me lead the way to set the pace since I’m slower — though he said I was actually going just as fast as he would have been able to since he was tired from the swim)! It was much flatter than the bike rides Matt and I usually do, too, so that was nice!
Before we knew it we were coming back in to the transition area and ready to run! The bike portion seriously flew by.
Run: 5k (3.1 miles)
The bike —> run transition was MUCH faster than the swim —> bike one (which took me forever). Way less logistics! Basically I changed my helmet out for my visor and put on my SpiBelt with some fuel and my camera.
And then we were off!
We saw Matt’s parent’s at the very start of the run — they came to cheer us on! I handed his dad my camera to get some action shots
When we started the run, Matt said he wasn’t feeling that great — not surprising given the inhalation of about half the lake during the swim portion (and the fact that he just came back from an overseas work trip on Thursday evening that required 26 hours of travel and completely threw off his sleep schedule); I was really impressed he’d made it this far. We started off at a good pace and entered the woods onto a trail — it was nice and shady (though hilly), which made the run much more manageable in the heat.
Unfortunately, once we started onto the trail Matt started to really not feel so awesome and said he was going to walk and that I should go on ahead. Since I was feeling really strong still, I kept on running and ended up finishing in 26:57. My Garmin watch said it wasn’t a full 5k (only 2.8 miles) and that I was averaging about a 9:30 minute mile (the trail was hilly AND rocky!), but I’ll take it!
The run course was a loop — I hate when races do this; no one wants to see the finish line and then have to leave for another lap — and unfortunately Matt got some really bad leg cramps (Charley Horse style) just as he reached the finish line area after the first lap, and decided that he needed to stop. Smart decision on his part — seriously injuring yourself for 1 extra mile is totally not worth it, but when I finished the race and found out that he had had to stop a lap early, I felt so bad that I hadn’t stayed with him He said he wasn’t sure he could have finished either way, but I felt like such a jerk that I had left him on the trail, even though he told me to.
At the time, it made sense; he was exhausted and wanted to walk (though apparently he ended up running again a minute later), and I felt good and wanted to see how well I could finish out the triathlon given that the run portion would easily be my best of the three events. But thinking about it afterwards, I realize that it would have meant so much more to me to finish holding his hand vs. finishing faster on my own. I hate how hindsight is so 20/20 Oh, well. Lesson learned — if you’re supposed to be doing something just for “fun”, then check the ego at the door next time, Anne!
Either way, it was pretty sweet to see this:
They handed us icy wet towels and a bottle of cold water right after we crossed the finish line — best thing ever.
- Swim — 750 meters — 17:11.
- 8 out of 12 in my age group. Could definitely go faster next time now that I’m more used to swimming in a group environment and know I won’t burn out as fast as I think.
- T1: Swim —> Bike — 6:27
- Slowest transition EVER. Most people did like 1:30 or 2 minutes for this. Yikes!
- Bike — 15 miles — 1:07:15
- 12 out of 12 in my age group — fail. I am a really slow biker, apparently. Got destroyed by everyone else even though I felt like I was going at a good pace, though admittedly I wasn’t pushing it too crazy hard. Most everyone else came in at about 50 minutes. I just like looking at scenery too much I guess
- T2: Bike —> Run — 2:03
- Still slower than everyone else, but not by much. Upgrade!
- Run — 5k — 26:57
- 5 out of 12 in my age group. I may not bike well, but I can run, dammit. But I still wish I’d waited for Matt instead so we could have finished together like we planned. Boo.
- OVERALL TIME: 1:59:50.
- Triathletes appear to be good swimmers, awesome bikers, and not so great runners. Interesting. (Broad generalization alert)
- If I do another tri, I need to amp up the bike training.
- If I do another tri, I also need to not take like 4 hours to transition from swim to bike Can you imagine how long it would have taken me if I hadn’t been wearing a tri suit?! Lol. Jill, thanks for saving me from a 30 minute transition time.
- Push it more on the swim next time; you won’t burn out like you think you will.
- Doing a 2 hour triathlon is a lot easier than doing a 2 hour half marathon, at least in my opinion. I was tired after, but not completely dead, and I’m a bit sore today but nothing crazy. However, that might be because I didn’t push myself super hard!
- That was fun
All in all, a successful first triathlon experience! You guys are right about these being addictive — is it too soon to sign up for another one?