Sunday, Oct 13th was supposed to be my first triathlon, but Mother Nature had other plans, so the swim portion was cancelled and we just did the bike/run.
I chose the Oktoberfest Triathlon at Cross Creek Ranch for my first triathlon mainly because when I signed up it still gave me 12 weeks to train and they also had a newbie swim wave (the part I was most terrified for). It took place in Fulshear, TX, which is a suburb of Houston. It still took about 50 minutes to get to and that was without traffic.
I drove out Saturday afternoon for packet pick up and realized it was going to be a very small race when I saw how few tracking chips they had. I got my bag of swag with some gu’s, my small tech tee (which is more like a dress on me) and my swim cap. I was supposed to get orange for the newbie wave (which was last), but got my age group color–pink! Since there weren’t that many girls in my swim wave- 29 and under. I drove the bike course just to have an idea of where I was going. I had ridden out in Fulshear for my first organized ride ever and I remember it being open fields and terrible wind. As I was driving I noticed that the bike course was mostly lined with trees and only 1 mile on a busy road. I decided it seemed do-able and drove back home. During the entire drive it poured and I told myself it wouldn’t be like that the next day. I came home, briefly practiced my transitions and packed my bag. I tried to go to bed early, but sleep didn’t come that easily.
At 4:45 AM my alarm went off. All I had to do was put in my contacts, put on my tri top and shorts, brush teeth, eat my overnight oats, make coffee and load up the car. Brad was a trooper and got up early to head out with me. Poor Nolan was so confused and happily went into his cage to go back to sleep when we left. The drive out there was pretty smooth and we made it there shortly after 6. I was able to setup my area quickly, but was a little concerned that when I hung my bike from the saddle my front wheels didn’t touch the ground. I asked the people next to me if it was ok and they thought it was fine. I got my age marked on my leg and then it was time to wait. I was so nervous I barely said any words to Brad for 30 minutes. While waiting it started lightning in the distance and there was some talk of whether the swim would go off. Around 6:45 the race director said we would swim and the group walked over to the swim start, it was still dark out, but looking at the buoys 400 m suddenly seemed really far. We stood around waiting for it to get light and watched as it continued to lightning. I put my swim cap on and Brad snapped a picture of me. Right after that they cancelled the swim 😦 It was decided we would start in age groups at the swim exit and run into transition to get our bikes.
Everyone made their way back to transition and on our way back we saw an alligator in the lake we were supposed to be swimming in! He was pretty tiny, but still! I was pretty happy the swim was cancelled.
We started lining up by age group and it started to rain 😦 We were the second group off and there was about 15 people total in my start group (age 29 and under). When everyone took off I decided I would be in the back and follow them. I was out of breath just running into transition. I think it was all the adrenaline. I managed to get my socks, shoes and helmet on. I had my bike gloves there, but decided to skip them. I took off on my bike going way faster than I had trained. I think I averaged 18 mph for the first half of the ride, minus a stop at a major intersection while the police officer switched the light. Even going that speed I was amazed how many people passed me, especially from the age groups behind me. I was definitely breathing hard during the bike ride and this was something I hadn’t really trained for. Overall the bike was pretty good, a bit of a headwind at the end and we were fighting rain the entire time. Coming into transition it was a slight downhill where you had to stop and get off of your bike. I saw Brad as I was coming in and I was scared to death that I was going to fall on my face. I got off the bike feeling pretty wobbling, but made it to my area in transition. I threw my bike up on the rack and got grease on my legs somehow? I quickly put on shoes and a hat (which I was really happy to have to keep the rain out of my eyes) and took off.
Two words after I left transition: NO WAY. I thought there was no way I would make it under my goal of 12 minute miles and would probably be more like 15 min miles. My legs definitely did not want to move! I would say it took me about 3/4 of a mile to get my legs moving. After that I gradually picked up the pace and started passing people who had passed me on the bike 🙂 I even passed a girl in my age group! Once I could see the finish line in sight I gave it all I had and finished strong.
I averaged about a 10 min mile pace and came in 4th out of 7 in my age group! Not too bad for my first race. Afterwards I almost missed getting my medal, then had some beer before we packed the car off. It was pouring at this time so we really just wanted to get the bike in the car and get some warm food. I came home, showered and took about a 3 hour nap. Overall it was a great experience and I think I have a lot to learn before my next race (and I still officially have to complete a tri). Here’s to training for next year!