Hey Guys! This is a littler late by 2 weeks but better late than never. I decided to sign up for the race last minute as a way to practice open water swimming in a wetsuit as well transitions. I knew there was no way I would be tapered enough 2 weeks post-marathon in addition to reamping my training but I figured why not get some more experience and have some fun with my Arizona tri friends before I leave in July! 😦
The Race: The race is located at Tempe Town Lakes, the same resevior that hosts Ironman 70.3/140.6 Arizona – pretty local and common area of triathlons in the Phoenix Area. The race offered 2 distances Sprint and Olympic with relay options for both. The race was borderline wetsuit legal but we got a small storm right before so the water temps dropped just below the wetsuit mark and made it wetsuit legal which I was excited about because I have no experience with wetsuits and racing. Additionally the weather due to the storm was slighly cooler than normal – Mid 60s in the Morning and High 80s in the Afternoon (cool for summer in Arizona lol). However the storm had also brought quite a bit of wind and if you are a cyclist I think all of us can agree wind sucks. lol. But like I said practice makes perfect so I was thrilled to be doing this as a practice race!
The Expo: I went to the local packet pickup at the local triathlon store in Scottsdale on Friday night to pick up my packets since I was going to in Life Support all day on Saturday. But they held an actual expo/event on Saturday at Tempe Town Lakes with multiple vendors and it looked like it would have been fun. I was happy with going to the local triathlon shop because I ended up scoring a pair of tri shorts for $36 (originally 90) so thats always a good day!
The Swag: The race provided a technical shirt, technical ball cap, and race day medal. All were good quality and comfortable. They actually did not have enough medals at the finish which was kind of sad but they mailed them the next week so it was all good.
- Bike and Accessories:
Race Day Morning/Prerace Setup:
If you have never done a triathlon then let me tell you the prerace process is quite intensive compared to running – THERE IS SO MUCH STUFF. You have to get there super early to rack your bike, set up your transition, and get body marked before they close the area about 30-45 minutes prior to the race start. Basically at this race it was a free for all for bike racking which was pretty annoying and unorganized but like I said PRACTICE so no big deal. I am still getting used to the whole triathlon thing but the way I set up my area is rack my bike with water bottles in the cages and my bike fuel in my bento box and place my helmet on my aerobars with my sunglasses inside. Then I place one towel on the ground and then put an additonal folded towel to dry off with after the swim and then set my bike shoes and socks first on the towel followed behind my run shoes, handheld water bottle, and ballcap. This way everything is in order that you are going to use it.I also suggest a bucket or a large medical basin filled with water to rinse the dirt/sand off your feet from transition from swim/bike and then an empty bucket you can sit on to put on your clothes. Once transition is set up – you get bodymarked and grab what you need until the race starts – fuel, water, goggles, swimcap, wetsuit (if legal) and find somewhere to hang out and wait.
I have to say even though I am 100% confident in the water when it comes to triathlons I still get way nervous before the swim. I think its the combination of race day nerves mixed with the fact I hate cold water. This was my first ever triathalon in a wetsuit and only my 2nd time in one period so that in itself was pretty stressful because I was unsure how it was going to fit or if it would rub or be constricting. I have a thing about constricting clothing around my neck I can’t even wear turtle necks and wetsuit are inheritingly tight around the neck minus one brand that is like $400 and mine was $130 so I figured I would just have to learn to deal. I had a few moments during the swim I had some discomfort around my neck but otherwise it went well. The swim itself was a wave start we all start in one big group the olympic women and olympic relays at the gun so basically it is a free for all the first 200m or so and everyone is trampling over each other and if you are not a strong or comfortable swimmer this is by far the most stressful and when most people panic. I just try to stay calm and find my space and pull out in front. Once I got my space I started getting into a rhythm even in open water I swim pretty straight. I just had to do some breaststroke intermittingly to spot the buoys for turns and ensure I wasn’t getting outside the pack and wasting energy and time adding on extra milage. My trick to spotting is basically to side spot the other athletes during breathing and it seems to work pretty well but this is technically my only 2nd olympic and I have done 4 sprints 6 -7 years ago. Overall things went very well I was at the front of the girls and even passed some of the slower male olympic swimmers and when I got out I heard an annoucer say it was the front pack of the women which was pretty cool. Once we got out of the water they had wetsuit strippers to help remove the wetsuit. The only issue I really had was getting the wetsuit off over my triathlon watch since the arms are very tight but once that was good you sit on the ground they pull it off and you take it and go running into T1. My watch time for the swim itself was 0.9 Miles and approx 22 minutes which comes out to 1:32/100m. This is way faster than I normally swim and I attribute that mostly to the wetsuit those things make you wicked fast!
Transition 1 (T1):
T1 went pretty smoothly roughly around 2-3 minutes. I ran into the choute found my bike immediately laid down my googles and cap and whiped down my legs from the excess water and grass. I wish I would have taken my moms advice above about the water basin to wash my feet because the grass made them gross and hard to whipe off but you live and learn (more to come on that). Once I was sorta dried off I attempted to put on my socks – THIS IS BY FAR THE HARDEST PART WET/DAMP FEET AND SOCKS ARE LIKE FIRE AND ICE – and then I placed on my bike shoes put on my sunglasses and helmet (with chin strap clipped) and out I went with bike in hand to start part 2 of the triathlon
The dreaded bike – ugh. Me and this bike are not friends (yet) – I am trying but I am not quite there yet but think alot of it is also I am very hard on myself and comparitive to my tri friends who are super speedy on the bike. However, with all that being said for me I felt like I had awesome bike. Despite a harder course and much windier conditions I ended up averaging around 17.3 mph for the 23 miles the same as my previous olympic. Additionally I felt much stronger and more comfortable on the bike and in my cycling technique – I really felt things coming together and felt strong and like a real triathlete. So even though I am not the fastest cyclist I was very pleased with how my bike went especially being untapered and 2 weeks post marathon. Bike Time was approximately 1:17:15 for 23 miles.
Transition 2 (T2):
T2 was my big learning experience – guys I spent like 4 – 5 Minutes in T2 I was there for a while lol. When I came in from the bike I could not for the life of me find my running gear. I literally was spinning around in circles walking back and forth like a lost puppy – a guy even asked me if I needed help lifting up my bike to rack it – I must have looked so lost. It took me at least 3 minutes to find my bike and why that doesn’t seem like long it is a long time in transition. Once I found my stuff I racked my bike, removed my helmet and sunglasses (I dont run in sunglasses), put on my running shoes and grabbed my nathan handhled with my gel and took off out of T2. Big lessons learned during this process is to find a way to mark your spot to remember where your stuff is – like a balloon, end rack, bright ribbon where you bike was – something you can see, recognize, and remember.
The run is usually by safe heaven. For me the transition from bike to run has not been a difficult one and my legs seem to adjust pretty easily to the transition however as I get more intense on the bike I think this might change but for now for me it is not too bad. The first 1.5 miles were good and I was around 7:50 – 8 min/mi and then my legs started remining me – HELLO WE JUST RAN A HARD ASS MARATHON 2 WEEKS AGO! lol Basically my legs were sore, heavy, and cramping the last 4 miles or so but it was horrible just not as comfortable as I am used to. The run went well it wasn’t as hot as previously expected but it was still pushing mid 80s with no cloud cover so it definitely was no where near ideal. They had quite a few water stations but I was glad that I brought my handheld it was definitely a saver in keeping me hydrated. However the course was not well marked and I ended up turning into a boat ramp area and taking on another 0.2 miles or so the last mile which kind of blew after my incident in T2 but its exactly why I was doing this triathlon – TO LEARN AND MAKE MISTAKES – so that I can correct them when it counts at my half and full ironman. The Run time was 51:53 for 6.2 Miles and an average of 8:22 min/mi.
- Swim: 22:00 for 0.9miles – 1:32/100m
- T1: 2-3 Minutes (they didn’t give us transition splits)
- Bike: 1:17:15 for approx 23 Miles – 17.3 mph average
- T2: 4-5 Minutes (no transition split again)
- Run: 51:53 for 6.2 Miles – 8:22 min/mi average
So far in my traitlon journey all my races have been for training and fun so the pressure just insisnt there this race included. I signed up for this race last minute knowing there is no way I was recovered from my marathon and PR at Revel Mount Charleston but also knowing there was no way I could turn down the opportunity to hang out with some of my amazing friends and triathletes and get practice in open water swimming, wetsuit usage, racing, transitions, etc. This race did exactly what I wanted and I learned some valuable lessons on what to do and what to fix for my upcoming 70.3 and 140.6 – being a newbie to the sport there is ALOT to learn and it is kind of overwhelmig.
Some of the highlight lessons learned…
- Make note of your bib number before you go to get marked
- Make sure you have someone with you to hold your last minute items that you need after transition closes but before the race starts – friends and family for the win
- Bring a balloon and bright colored markers to be able to find your bike and run gear during the transitions and try to find an end rack if it open racking
- If its going to be hot freeze all your water bottles and handhelds overnight so they are the perfect temperature when you hit the bike/run
- Never try anything new on race – HELLO! I always try new stuff and its practice so I figured why not I would try the Honey Stinger Protien Chews and while I love ALL of their products this one was not my favorite at all and almost gagged getting 2 down. Not so important for an olympic since it really isn’t a super long race but BAD idea if it was my 70.3/140.6
- Bring a large medical basin with water to wash your feet after T1 and a bucket to sit on during transition to put on your gear.
- Roll your wetsuit up over your Garmin but be prepared for it to maybe get stuck when the wetsuit strippers try to get it off
- To strip your wetsuit off you have to sit on the ground and they pull it off your feet – I kinda knew this but in the heat of the moment it sorta slipped my mind after we had issues getting my wetsuit off over my garmin
Some of the Highlights of the Race Experience:
- Wetsuit make you SWIM REALLY FAST! Holy crap they are bouyant and make swimming so much easier however they can be a litle restricting around the neck region but I was so pleased with my swim performance.
- I felt very strong in the bike portion despite it being rougher conditions and was able to utilize my aerobars and get more used to the triathlon position. Huge feat for me as my bike and I still aren’t friends like my running shoes
- Having friends on the course – gosh this makes it so much better racing and seeing your friends rocking it – it totally lights a fire in me and a happiness I cannot explain
- I LOVE THE TRIATHLON! Triathlons are hard but fun – I love the 3 disiplines and being able to break up the endurance load into 3 events. This makes recovery so much faster at least at the olympic distance we will see after my half and full ironmans
If your still reading god bless and thank you so much for following along with my journey today and always…
With Love and Racing
❤ Kindal (RunningWithStrength)