Monday, June 30, 2008

Smile Train Sprint Triathon 6-29-08

( More photos added to album. See link at bottom of story)

A triathlon? Yes a lot of you might not know I used to compete in Tri's but I did for 6 years starting in 1999. Actually my first one was in the summer of 1998 but I'll tell you all about that later. Right now lets get back to this one.

I had lost interest in triathlons as I got more serious about seeing how I could do focusing on my ultrarunning so after a disastrous Kure Beach Tri in June of 2005, I had quit the sport. My bicycle had sat in the same spot in a corner collecting dust for three years now, still with the race number from that day attached. I had still done a little swimming but a couple of months later I quit the Y because I just wasn't using the membership enough.
So how did I end up doing a Tri this past Sunday? Well my friends Jerry and Margo have both signed up for the Beach to Battleship Iron Distance Tri in Wilmington coming up this November, (the same day as MMTR so I can't go cheer for them ). Margo had been looking for races to do as part of her training and came across this one in Wake Forest and she copied the Werners and I on the e-mail she sent out wanting to know if we all might be interested. Frank and Karla had just done one low-key tri at SJAFB last year and had expressed an interest in doing some more. It wasn't even on my radar after 3 years but since it was only 10 miles away from home and wouldn't interfere with anything else I had on my schedule I decided to join in the fun. With just a 250yd pool swim and 12 mile bike, I knew I could fake my way through it and the 5k run would be barely a warm-up so I signed up.

I had planned to go ahead and join the Y and start some swimming and maybe ride the bike some but I kept putting it off. I wanted to get Umstead over first and then I needed more time to recover before I started. I was putting in a lot of hours at The Athlete's Foot so I didn't think I would have much time to train so I put it off longer. Then as June was approaching I decided to wait until after my vacation. So finally 2 weeks ago today I finally joined the Y and began swimming and working out as part of my injury rehab. Last Saturday I dusted off the bike and lubed it up , then headed out for a 10 mile ride. I went back out this past Saturday for another 8 to make sure everything was working OK and those two rides would be my bike training over the past 3 years.

Sunday morning I was up at 4:15 and after a little breakfast I made the short drive over to Wake Forest. Since it has been so long I was a little nervous and kept going over what I would need in transition and planning my race. I shouldn't have worried because once things got started it all seemed so natural, almost like I'd never left the sport.
So, anyway, I had plenty of time to get ready. Margo was there along with husband Bill who also was competing as well as their older daughter Stephanie. Younger daughter Gabriella was there too but she was not competing but would be cheering us on. Frank and Karla were there with brand new bikes they had just bought the day before. They had been doing all their riding on Mt Bikes but with Ragbrai coming up next month they were ready to get some road bikes. And of course Jerry was there excited as ever. Also saw Mike Walsh there with his wife Denise who would be starting her first tri ever.

The swim would be 10 laps in the pool at Heritage Swim Club so I warmed up just 100 yds before lining up for the start. We would all start in 10 second intervals making it a time-trail format. They had a glitch in the computer that seeded us because they had me seeded 23 out of 300+ and Margo was 21st. We both should have been mid-pack but we would just have to do the best we could and hope not too many would swim over us. I got off to a good start and was doing a good job staying relaxed. I actually was a little faster than I had hoped and that was even after being held up by a slower swimmer I couldn't get around.

I was a little slow in transition partly due to my number belt being messed up. I should have checked it before the race, but after fiddling with it a while I just put it on loose and hoped it would be ok. The bike course had a few short but fairly steep hills in the first mile as well as 5 or 6 speed bumps but then we would turn onto some country roads for some mostly easy peddling. Of course with no training any slight incline was a problem for me to pedal well but I settled in and by about 3 miles I was feeling ok and breathing well. I expected to average about 16 mph but would have been happy with 15 so when I hit the halfway mark going 16.4 I was very pleased. It was a bit easier pedaling back and I was able to bump that up to 17 overall by the time I finished. Along the way I actually passed a whole 2 people and one of them had a flat. I lost count of how many passed me but it was about 20. Oh well, it was all for fun today anyway. (I'm competitive sometimes. I can't help it).

Yes, I was very happy with the bike but when I stepped off and headed into transition my legs were done. The lack of bike training was showing. It's always difficult to run off the bike but with training it does become easier. I'm a long ways from being there now though so I started out with numb, rubbery stumps that felt like I was wearing lead boots. I shuffled along just trying to relax and keep my breathing and heart rate that were still elevated from the ride under control. It was a hilly run course but I was determined to run the whole way despite the way I felt. I mean its only a 5k!!

Well finally after about halfway I started to regain some life in my legs but I was still quite slow finally finishing it in 29:43. My total for the event was 1:22:27 placing 8th out of 9 in my age-group. They had that wrong too. Before the start they had me at 41 ( I wish) and then still had me wrong in the results at 53 (I'm 52 ). All of us had a lot of fun and were happy with their results. Margo won her age-group and Karla was 4th out of 10. Very good considering she is a novice swimmer and just got her road bike the day before. Jerry also won his age-group and Frank was 4th in it. And Stephanie won hers too. Bill and I have a lot of work to do to move up in our group but we were both pretty happy with the result anyway.

While I was waiting for everyone to finish I saw a familiar face but couldn't remember why. Then she recognized me. It was Kara LaBella. She and her sister Laura had come to the Umstead series runs the NCRC and I put on last year. She had just begun doing tris last year and is doing well. Today she would finish 2nd in the 30-34 age-group and 8th overall woman. Pretty impressive for a relative novice at the sport. ( pretty face too )

Here are the results

Here is the website and some photos I took. I missed Margo and Stephanie and Jerry on the course due to timing with the staggered starts. Hopefully I'll have more photos to add that Frank and Karla took so check back in a few days if your interested.

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