This morning I raced my first ever triathlon, the Strathmore Women’s Sprint Triathlon.
I woke up at 4:30…well before my alarm was supposed to go off. I enjoyed lounging in bed for a few minutes, then got up to shower, get ready and have some breakfast. It took just under an hour to get to Strathmore as we headed east away from Calgary toward the prairies. It was looking nice and flat out there. The first thing I did was set up my transition area. I had a towel, my bike shoes, socks, bike helmet, gloves, sunglasses, race belt and running shoes. I also gave my tires one last pump. Here’s a shot of me looking nervous in transition:
For the record, I was following the plan of alternating how bikes were hanging on the rack until a nearly identical Kona Lisa RD bike next to me hung her stuff up… Anyhow… You could tell that there were all kinds of women at this event just by the different types of bikes hanging up. It was neat to see how many first timers this race attracted. At 8:15 it was time for the pre-race meeting which was a pretty standard summation of all of the pre-race literature. It was then time to get read for the swim.
Pool Swim – 500 m
The pool swim worked on a continuous feed. The slower swimmers started first. We were in groups of 4 according to similar swim times and once a lane of 4 swimmers was complete the next group of 4 would jump in the pool. I found a group to go with that I figured would be a bit faster than me by maybe 30 seconds. There didn’t seem to be anyone in my same time range nearby so I just hopped on with them. Because of the continuous feed there was a whole bunch of standing around on the pool deck just waiting for the line to move. It was a great chance to chat with other ladies around though. Finally around 10:30 it was our time to get in the lane. I jumped in last since I knew I’d be the slowest. It took me a bit to get into a groove. Maybe it was nerves but I kept getting water in my mouth when taking a breath. On the second half of the first lap I had a head on with the first swimmer. What the? I thought we were swimming counter-clockwise and I was pretty sure I wasn’t drifting out my lane… We actually collided a few more times during the swim. She was also pretty fast as she lapped me about half way through. The other two girls lapped me on my second to last lap. Oh well, I kind of figured I’d be the last one out of the pool. Apart from the collisions I thought my swim went pretty well.
Swim – 180/257 – 13:51
Transition times were included in our bike split, but I estimate I spent about 2:38 putting socks and bike shoes on, and all the other assorted gear.
Bike – 20 km
I had my bike in a nice easy gear heading out of transition and the first thing I did was move into my big ring to start powering through the bike. Almost immediately I passed one of the girls from my swim lane. I felt like I was flying on the bike – I passed the other two ladies from my swim lane probably within the first 5 minutes on the road. The course had a slight downhill on the out and by the time I hit the turnaround I thought I’d barely spent any time on the bike it was going so fast. I kept passing people on the way back, impressing a couple of volunteers as I passed girls on the uphills. I thought I worked my legs pretty hard on the bike as I was really spinning so I wasn’t sure what I had left in my legs for the run, but I really wanted to push myself. No one passed me on the bike.
Bike – 27/257 – 39:53 (although I hit the lap button on the Garmin too late, so it is actually slightly lower than this…)
I hit the lap button just after I racked my bike, so it took me 00:45 to swap out shoes, remove the bike gear and hustle out of transition.
Run – 5 km
I ran out of transition on what felt like pretty awkward legs. The first water stop was right away and I walked to grab a quick drink, but then kept going. I looked down at my Garmin and saw I was running an 8:30 pace… I can’t believe I was going that fast! Of course the pace didn’t hold but I kept picking the people off in front of me and passing them. About a mile in my left shin started to bug me. I told myself that this was a 5k and I was supposed to run fast and it was supposed to hurt! With that in mind I just kept going… I stopped to walk the second water stop and was pretty happy to see the turnaround. When I hit the water stop again I grabbed another cup of water and stopped to walk. One of the volunteers was this really perky lady that came up to walk with me. She asked what I was doing walking. Well, I was drinking my water. She pushed my cup in to form a spout and said to try that. Hey, that was better! She told me that there were three walkers just ahead of me and that she knew I could catch them. I promised that I would and I took off. By the time I reached all those walkers they were running but I did pass them. As I hit the last kilometer I knew I still had lots left in my legs and that I wasn’t pushing hard enough so I worked to really pick up the pace. As I rounded the corner and saw the finish line I looked down and saw 27:xx on the Garmin. I figured I might be able to reach the finish in 2 minutes so I kicked it in, but didn’t look down at the watch anymore. Pretty soon I heard Karen cheering my on from the sidewalk since she had finished her race earlier. I can’t remember what she said but it made me fly even a bit faster. I hit the finish line and heard my name, then hit the stop button. Sarah was there cheering some friends on and she grabbed a shot of me just as I crossed the line, then introduced herself. Sarah, it was nice to finally meet you! After saying hellos I finally had a chance to look down at my watch. And oh yeah, no one passed me on the run either…
Run – 98/257 – 29:12 — a 5km PR!!!!!!!!!
After the race I grabbed some snacks and took a quick shower to freshen up. It was time for a delicious lunch of hot lasagna with friends afterwards. The final results went up on the wall just as we were eating.
- Final Time: 1:26:17.5
- Overall 60 out of 257
- Women 30 – 34: 13 out of 60
- For first time triathletes: 11/97 overall, 3/25 in my age group.
I had a fantastic time and I loved, absolutely loved, this multisport event. Apparently this was the key for me to finally PR that 5km and smash my sub-30:00 goal. Neil came out to make his final appearance as my sherpa/race photographer (as we broke up a few weeks ago) and he commented how much my running form had improved since my duathlon in May. Less shuffling, more nice long strides it seems. Check out my run shots – such air! I definitely see more tris in my future…