My second attempt at this thing called triathlon went a lot better than the first. For starters I did not fall down a single time! That was some pretty major progress given my poor showing in that regard last time. I went into the event feeling pretty comfortable because it was on the same course as the last one, shouldn’t be any surprises on that front. On the flipside of that though I was feeling a bit more self-imposed pressure to finish quicker than I had previously. It wouldn’t really be enough just to finish this time. I would also be going out in the first wave instead of the last wave.
We arrived smoothly enough and got everything unloaded. I made the decision to fiddle with my tire pressure the day before, prior to my shakedown ride, and not mess with it the day of the race like last time. A girl setting up for her first triathlon was having a hard time getting her front wheel back on after taking her bike out of the car, so I helped her with the quick release and getting her front brake re-connected. I wheeled my bike over to the transition area with my transition bag on my back and got my body marking and timing chip. Getting there early gets you through the line much quicker. I laid out my towel and made two piles on opposite sides of my rear wheel with run stuff and bike stuff.
The cloud cover this time kept us from seeing the sunrise as well as last time but did keep the temperature down pretty nicely for the event. We wandered down to the beach to check out the preparation for the swim portion and so Susan could get a better sense for where I would start and where I would come out of the water before going back up to the transition area. More people were getting chips and bodymarked by now and someone’s race supporter was frantically trying to get their triathlete’s chain back on the chainring so I walked over and helped her get that remounted, still trying to pay it forward from the awesome help I got from the guys from the Trek Store at the last race.
I dropped my phone and flip flops in my bag and grabbed my goggles and mask and we headed down to the beach for the race meeting and the start. It was very different lining up with the first wave rather than in the last wave. There were a lot more people and a lot more excitement as the start approached. I lined up towards the outside, giving myself a conservative line to the buoy and not so many people around me. When the gun went off we were on our way, the swim felt more crowded than last time but I didn’t notice any big differences in pace, I found a group of guys and we all sort of swam together. There were some lovely globe jellyfish in the water this time too. I’m still not sure if they bother humans but I tried to avoid them nonetheless. As I rounded the last buoy and turned to shore I started to notice that I had exerted a bit more than last time, breathing heavy as I began to run out of the water and up the beach. The run back to T1 seemed shorter than last time but it might not have actually been. Not until after the race would I learn that my swim split was about half of what it had been last time…apparently having other people around me is a good thing.
T1 was much quicker for me this time, no switching shirts today. I threw on my Camelbak first followed by skullcap, helmet, and gloves and then slid into my shoes and was off, shuffling to the exit of T1 and the mount line and away I went.
I felt comfortable on the bike, much more than last time as I managed to stay upright the whole time. About 4 or 5 miles in I started making more of an effort to not hold back. The course seemed a bit less chaotic this time, fewer people riding out in the middle of the lane and not nearly as much traffic until I was on my second loop. As I made the second to last turn leading up to the last roundabout I looked at my time, around 46 minutes and knew I could be off the bike in less than 50 this time, I pushed a bit harder, riding faster into the last roundabout and around the last corner. I cruised up to the dismount line and got off my bike, also without falling down, and was into T2 in 49:26.
I decided to abandon the Camelbak for the run since it was only 3.4 miles and there was water on the course. Ditched my sunglasses too, wasn’t really that bright. Tightened my sneakers, threw on my visor, slid my number around to the front and I was on my way out of T2. I went out pretty fast and had a sense I was not going to be able to maintain that pace but tried to hold on as long as I could. I talked to a lot of people on the run as we made our way around the course. I spent too much time focused on the distance elapsed at the start before I quit looking, kept my head up and ran. By the second half of the run my watch was underestimating the distance I had traveled so my actual pace was a bit quicker than it was telling me. As I got closer to the trail run to the finish I tried to push harder. The final bit of the run was on a combination of soft and harder packed sand, a bit of a challenge at the end of a run but I navigated it much more confidently this time around, still finding a bit left for a kick at the end. The clock time at the finish actually reflected my time since I went off in the first wave but it wasn’t until a few minutes after finishing and looking at my watch that I realized I had done it that much quicker than last time. That was an awesome realization!
Susan was pretty excited when I crossed the line and seemed pretty excited to have been able to see the whole thing, or as much of it as you can see as a spectator. She even made it into one of the race pictures that were taken by the photographer from the newspaper.