swim | bike | run … San Diego Spring Sprint Triathlon!
One of the items on my 101 in 1001 list was “participate in a sprint triathlon” I listed it along with a 5k, half marathon, etc. Honestly, when writing these items down I doubted I’d ever really pull it off. Not because of physical ability but because of a history of chickening out when wanting to try new things. I have a completely uncalled for and irrational fear of failure and it constantly keeps me from doing things just because I don’t want to look like a “clueless newbie”. I know… slightly ridiculous.
Anyways, back in February (the day after I hurt my knee) I searched online for the shortest local triathlon I could find and stumbled upon the Spring Sprint in Mission Bay, San Diego. The website suggested that the mini-sprint was a perfect intro for newbies. I pulled the trigger and paid the registration fee (knowing in the back of my mind that $65 was something I’d be willing to lose if I wimped out). Then I decided to share the news on facebook and tell a few friends as a way to not allow myself to change my mind. It worked. On Sunday I completed & LOVED my first triathlon!
The mini-sprint really was the perfect introduction into the sport. The race consisted of a 200 meter open water swim in a very protected part of Mission Bay. The biking was a 6 mile long flat closed course and the run was just over 1.5 miles. The distances were all goals that I could reach without any additional training. This turned out to be very important since my tweaked knee bothered me until nearly a month before the race. I probably shouldn’t admit it (and wouldn’t do it again) but I didn’t train specifically for the race at all. I continued my Bar Method classes three to four days a week and I think I was secretly assuming I’d use my lack of training as an excuse to back out. I had been swimming on & off over the past few years so I knew I could rely on instinct (I swam in high school) to get me through. I ran three times on the treadmill the weeks before just to make sure I could complete 1.5 miles without stopping. Then a week before the race I decided I really wasn’t going to back out, so I dusted off the road bike that hadn’t seen sunlight in three years & dropped it off for a tune up. I road my bike 6.5 miles each way to & from my Saturday morning Bar Method class the week prior to the race… and with that my training was done!
One of the biggest fears I had regarding the triathlon had nothing to do with the swim, bike, or run. It was the transitions and the fact that I had never done any sort of race before. How would I know what to do? What in the world happens if I screw up and can’t figure out where to go? What the heck is the transition anyway? Well luckily one of my favorite bloggers had done a series called “so you want to do a triathlon” and these posts became like precious gold to me. I must have reviewed her packing list for transitions and race recaps at least three times to help convince myself that I wouldn’t be a clueless newbie and more importantly make me realize that it was OK if I was! Her blog posts combined with a great talk given by one of the triathlon coordinators the day before the race really calmed my nerves. By the time I woke up on Sunday morning I was actually more excited than nervous!
Of the three legs of the triathlon I was most worried about the swim. Not because of the distance but because of the cold open water & the images of ironman triathlon starts that danced around in my head. You’ve seen them… starts where 1000′s of swimmers practically drown each other swimming for position at the start. Luckily this race was nothing like that! The swim was divided into waves that left approximately 2 minutes apart, and instead of running down to the water it was a floating start. My plan was to hang near the back to avoid being kicked or pushed and then slowly work my way to the front if I felt I could. At the start I made it a few strokes and then had to pause to pull seaweed off that had already wrapped around my neck… oops! After that it was smooth sailing. I popped my head up every few strokes and looked for a route between the swimmers in front of me & soon began making my way to to the front. The swim was over so quickly and as I exited up the boat ramp one of the volunteers yelled “great swim – you’re fifth out of the water”. I couldn’t believe it! I had managed to swim past over twenty other swimmers. At that moment I knew this wouldn’t be my last race!
Next up was the bike! My assigned transition area was a great section near the back fence so between each leg of the race Daniel would run over on the other side of the fence and snap a few pictures and see how I was doing. I would certainly move quicker next time, my transition times were SO SLOW. But it was nice to have time for a little chat and it certainly kept my nerves calm.
I headed out on my bike without any of the other gals from my wave. It wasn’t long before a few caught up & passed me. I didn’t push too hard on the bike and instead kept a slow & steady pace of about 14-16mph. Totally cruised. I was really concerned that my legs would feel like jello when I tried to run so I stuck with my original race goal of just finishing strong. It wasn’t easy because I’m a super competitive person and I wanted to catch every biker ahead of me, but because I hadn’t trained I really didn’t trust my body to keep up with my mind! Soon enough I was back at transition and ready for the run!
I’m not a runner. Part of me has always wanted to be, but I have yet to find a way to keep from getting bored five minutes in. I think this may be why I like the idea of a triathlon so much… by the time you get to the run you’re tired & the thought of finishing is enough to keep going! 1.5 miles isn’t a long distance by any means and yet I had planned to do a combo of running for three minutes following by walking for one as a way to get through it. I knew my legs were going to be tight and I’d likely be tired so it seemed like the best option. There was just one problem… I’d forgotten to bring my watch! I knew that without the watch to keep me on track that if I stopped to walk I’d never run again. So I started running immediately from transition and didn’t stop until I crossed the finish line. It wasn’t pretty & my run was probably the same speed as a walk but I did it. I didn’t stop. I finished strong. I completed my first triathlon!
Going into the race I really wanted to love it. I really hoped that I’d finish happy and excited about my accomplishment and maybe even be inspired to do another. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with the race before it was even complete! I absolutely loved every minute of it! During the athlete talk the day before the race coordinator said that many of us would become addicted. He said that once you complete one you immediately want to do another. I laughed when he said it… but he was right!
In the back of my mind I had a goal to finish in under an hour. I finished in 53 minutes & 56 seconds which placed smack in the middle of the group for both overall and women only. I feel confident that I can improve upon my times (hello slowest transition ever) and I can’t wait to start shooting for my own personal records!
Mini Sprint Triathlon – 53:56
Swim – 4:02
T1 – 4:38
Bike – 26:40
T2 – 2:27
Run – 16:07