On Saturday the 17th, I ran the Jerseyman Triathlon, hosted by TMB Racing at Spruce Run Reservoir in Clinton. To say I was under-prepared for competing in a tri less than a month after Boston and so early into the “tri season” is on paper an understatement. Looking at the numbers, this race marked my: fourth swim of 2014, third ride on my new bike, first open water swim of the year, first time wearing a wetsuit, and second hard-effort run since Boston. My goal was to have fun, see where I was starting from before seriously triathlon training, and further testing out the new
toy bike. And of course, I was itching to race, so I was looking forward to getting back in the competitive spirit.
I was exhausted from a week that included a lot of work, pre-dawn wake-ups, and training, but all of the above motivated me for just one more 5 AM alarm for the drive up to the park for race-day registration. In addition to learning last-minute that Brian (of biking in the shed and delicious beer adventures, who also owns this bike) was going to be there after all. I ended up seeing a familiar face (Pat of RunBucks) at the registration table, which was nice. I am very social pre-race, and when I don’t see anyone I know I get more nervous. Transition was closing sooner than I thought, so I didn’t have time to do a [running] warmup before. I decided the 24-mile bike would do the trick anyway…I should focus on putting on my wetsuit and feeling it out down at the lake before the first wave went off. The water was surprisingly not too bad, despite the rain that had occurred nonstop the previous day. Just as I was freaking out that I wouldn’t survive (this always happens to me), I found Brian – a difficult feat considering everyone was in wetsuits.
As pictured above, the swim course was a long rectangle that fortunately did not appear long from where I stood on the beach. Brian and I were in the same wave, since we both registered on race day…along with females 40 and over. Waves were three minutes apart and there were seven or so of them, so by the time I began I was already dry again after my initial dip in the water. Fun fact: in all of my tris (three…), my wave has always been assigned white caps. How boring is that? Anyway. It was my first time running into the water for the start, but it was sort of fun. Right before I entered the water, I saw Pat, who said, “Have fun,” probably after realizing how nervous I looked. I lost some time at first because I panicked over the neck of my wetsuit…once horizontal in the water, it felt like it was strangling me. I cursed myself for not getting up early the day before and testing it out in the pool like I’d planned. I told myself, you’re just out for a swim. To have fun. That calmed me down immensely, and I got on with it. The wave of people was much smaller than I’m used to, which was so nice. The turn buoy never seemed too far away, and I was there before I knew it. I found myself a “lane,” albeit a but farther over from the buoys, to get out of everyone’s way and make up some ground. There, I was able to keep my head down more and speed up a lot. This was such a good idea, I thought. This is really fun. My back started to spaz out towards the end from only breathing to the right (I was trying to see the buoys and not go off course), but I made it to the beach and it felt okay.
The first transition involved running over the beach, on some concrete path, over the parking lot, and into the transition area. I felt a little dizzy, and managed to accidentally rip part of my bib off of the shirt I’d pinned it on. Fail. I wasted time pinning it back on, and then more time shoving Shot Bloks into my shorts pocket, since I don’t have a bag on the front of my bike and didn’t want to drag the Bloks through the water with me, obviously. I knew T1 was taking too long, but…ugh. I got through it, and got on my bike.
I wasn’t sure what my pacing plan was for the bike. I hate holding back in a race situation, but I knew this was 24 miles of rolling hills. I wouldn’t say I “held back” at any point exactly, but first of all, I was still getting used to my new bike and the gears and whatnot, and second, I’m just not in tune with what that means yet like I am with running. I also had no bike computer or anything on the bike, and was saving my Garmin to use for the run, so I didn’t know how fast I was going at any point, or what mile I was on. The bike course was definitely challenging, but also very scenic, which was a plus!
I had all the Shot Bloks periodically except for two, because they were starting to make me feel sick and I’d choose less energy over feeling sick on the run any day. I went through the second transition in less than a minute, and headed out to hunt people down. This is my absolute favorite part of the tri. My only complaint/worry was that I could not feel my feet at all. I hadn’t been able to feel them on the entire ride either – I guess they were numb from the water and never warmed up since they weren’t getting much blood flow on the bike. It was the weirdest feeling, and I was concerned that I would end up injuring them, from stepping wrong and not feeling it at the time…like maybe my tendons and muscles wouldn’t support them or something. A strange thing to think about mid-race….The run course was fairly flat, with a slight uphill on a trail at the beginning. It was an out-and-back to the boat launch on the paved paths on the park. We ran along the beach that we had started the race on, which was cool. I passed Brian and Joe when they were on their way to the finish and I was heading out. I kept waiting to feel tired and slow down, but I was very comfortable at 6:40-6:50 the entire time (except for the numb feet…). Four miles felt incredibly short, mentally. After the part along the beach, there was the same path up to the parking lot that was part of T1. I saw a woman ahead of me. I could see from her bodymarking that she was 25, so, just shy of my age group. I debated if I was too tired to try to catch her anyway…I thought of Boston, and how I was definitely nowhere near that level of fatigue, then went for it. This happened just as we entered the parking lot area, and I could hear people I knew who had finished cheering me on. There was another woman just ahead, so I sprinted after her and caught her too. The finish line was at a strange angle – I knew it couldn’t be over just yet – and sure enough, we had to run down and turn around at a cone before heading straight toward the finish line. This is hard to explain, but basically, the cone thing was such a tease. Regardless, I was pleased with the final push I gave at the end. I forgot to stop my watch right away, but the splits for four miles I have from my Garmin were: 6:49, 6:43, 6:47, 6:25.
A triathlon isn’t really over until the results are published. That’s when you can over-analyze everything for days and figure out how you really did….
Overall: 2:12:51 Place: 114/240 Swim: 18:26 Pace: 1:45 Place: 148 T1: 3:05 Place: 175 Bike: 1:23:30 Speed: 17.2 Place: 145 T2: 0:54 Place: 56 Run: 26:56 Pace: 6:44 Place: 23 F20-24: 1st
Random thoughts: There is definitely room for improvement on the bike. No one who finished ahead of me overall had a slower time than me on the bike. I am very happy with the run. I’ll have to figure out how to make my feet not go numb in the future, but otherwise I ran faster than I thought I could after a hilly 24 mile bike. I should probably work on my 10k PR now….I also had the fastest female run split (by a second). T1 was worse than I remembered. Overall, I had so much fun in this race despite not being totally prepared and despite what my race pictures would suggest. Sorry I look angry when I race, I’m really just having a great time, I swear. I need to pick my next tri now, since I now have a conflict with the one in a couple weeks I really wanted to do…I’ve definitely got the fever. Now, it’s time to ride.