Well, I guess it is a rite of passage to share the story of my first triathlon. Unlike most beginners, I started with a Half Ironman distance. At the outset I should say that I not only finished the race but also put up a 6:36 on a tough day at the Gulf Coast Triathlon. Prior to this race I had competed in exactly one 5K about a year earlier. It is fair to say that I may have a problem with overconfidence.
Anyway, I had been training with a team for this race for about five months (by the way, they did not know of my limited endurance sports history, they did not find out until after the race in the tent when I broke the news). Training with a team was essential for me and I don't think I could have finished without this support network.
A little more about me. 6'7", 230, so well into the clydesdale division. Okay in the water, comfortable on the bike and poor on the run (IT Band injury during the course of the training...wonder how that could of happened?). The week before the race I focused heavily on my diet and maintaining a low to moderate level of activity. I was really concerned about being too sedentary during my taper. Felt like all that went well.
We got down to the race and were faced with a very, very choppy ocean. The surf was so strong the first day that we just swam to the first buoy and back for a little practice. The second day it was about the same. Needless to say this got the butterflies going for me. We also took the opportunity to head out on the run course for a bit to see what we would be facing. All in all, that went well.
Race day!! Woke up with plenty of time, ate a whole wheat bagel, peanut butter, one Ensure and some fruit. Headed down and set up my transition. Everything was going well but I was having some difficulty with my Aerobottle. I secured it and made my way down to the beach. The next thirty minutes absolutely flew by. I got in the water for a bit to just get a feel for the water and get comfortable with all the bodies around me.
The gun went off and we were in the water. I headed to the outside to get myself some distance from the pack and to allow me to try and find my stroke. The first half of the swim went really well and I made my turn for home at 20 minutes flat. I cut the buoy a little tight and found myself in the pack for the leg in. This was a little frustrating but I still got out of the water in 40 flat, so I was happy. Especially since this was my first open water swim (other than getting in the days before)
T1 went well. I took a little extra time to ensure that I didn't forget anything. I knew everything was in it's place, but still a little nervous. Took my bike off the rack and my Aerobottle fell right off. I kicked it to the side and headed out of transition (only had my water, still had my other three bottles). We had a great tailwind taking us out on the first half. Twenty miles or so on a rough logging road that really beat me up pretty good. Tough headwind coming in but got through the ride without much trouble. Finished the bike around 2:49.
T2 was looking much better. Got everything on and headed out of the transition zone when I realized I forgot my salt tabs (it was 91). Headed all the way back to my bike and picked them up. Headed out again. The run was brutal. No other way to put it. With all of my 5K experience under my belt I headed out and just toughed it out as best I could. Came in with a disappointing 2:48 or so, could have done much better if I had been able to run during training. The IT Band injury was, and still is, the most sports related injury I have ever had.
Still, coming across that finish line was pretty amazing. I finished in the middle of the pack in my clydesdale division and a little higher in the overall field. Can't wait until next year. I have been bitten by the bug.