Sunday, August 5, 2012

Race Recap: My first sprint triathlon!!

Yesterday I achieved one of my lifelong goals and completed my first sprint triathlon!  I swam, biked, and ran in the Fronhofer's Tool Triathlon in Cambridge, NY.  It was a really fun day and I feel quite proud of myself for this accomplishment and for reaching out and tackling this goal.  I was warned that triathlons are "addicting" and I might find myself hooked after this one.  And although I wouldn't quite go as far as saying I'm "addicted" -- I would like to do another!

I started prepping for the race months ago and building a training workout.  I wasn't as disciplined as I would have liked to be over the past couple months but it was a motivating factor in getting in some tough workouts and practicing exercise transitions.  The week before the race I started to get focused on really eating healthy, fueling foods for my body, drinking lots of water, and making sure to get a lot of sleep.  I wanted to have no excuses come race day!

I'm a lucky girl and my mom was nice enough to come out to NY from Rhode Island to come with me to the race (and see my new apartment!)  Being an avid exerciser, I know it was tough for her to watch me in a race and not be able to compete herself (we've done a number of races together) so I really, really appreciated her cheering me on!

The race was a little unique as the sprint triathlon started at 2:00 p.m.  The Olympic distance of this race started in the early morning, and since they have some [crazy] competitors who compete in both Olympic and Sprint, they hold the Sprint later on.  This meant that when we arrived at Lake Lauderdale in Cambridge, NY at around 12:30 p.m. there was already a bustling crowd and high energy.

I checked in for the race, got marked with my bib number, and was even able to get an incredibly helpful tune up for my bike from the people at Saratoga's Blue Sky bike shop who were on site.  The Blue Sky staff were so kind and so willing to help out -- completely for free for race participants!!  I wanted to be sure to call them out here, because they were so so wonderful!

Once my bike was all set, we set up my stuff at the transition area.  It was really organized, by bib numbers.  I didn't really know what I was doing so I just copied what everybody else was doing, lay out my sneakers, socks, some Powerade, a protein bar in case I needed it, a towel, helmet, sunglasses, etc.

We then found a little place to hang out where I could stretch, rest up for the swim, and flex my muscles for you all :)

At 1:45 we gathered for a pre-race meeting where they explained the rules to us.  Perhaps it is the same at every triathlon, but as they were explaining the many "rules" my pre-race jitters went into full force at this point.  I was already nervous but all of a sudden I felt like there was so much to remember! What if I messed something up?  I was so amped up for the day, I would have been so bummed if I had been disqualified for breaking some weird rule or something!

Don't laugh! I am sharing this picture because I love you.
The race went in two waves, men first and then women.  I had heard stories of getting kicked in the face and random stuff like that during tris and I wanted NO part in that so I decided to go to the front of the pack for the swim.  Why the heck not, right?

The race started well and I felt good in the water.  I tried to just keep my head down, pretend I was in a pool, count my breathing, and just get comfortable in the water.  I had to poke my head up a few times to make sure I was headed in the right direction and to navigate around people but for the most part, I just swam.  I also was thinking to use my arms as much as possible to save my legs a bit for the rest of the race.  Generally when I swim, I have to remind myself to use my legs, so it was a nice change of pace to feel comfortable really just focusing on my pulls.

During the swim I had no idea how I was doing in comparison to everyone else and really just tried to pave my own way and focus on feeling strong in the water.  However, when I started catching up to some of the male swimmers (who had started 4 minutes before the women) it gave me some confidence.

When I finished the .5 mile triangle-shaped lake swim and ran to the shore, I felt good.  I left the water and with my mom cheering for me I headed to the first transition area.  I threw on my shoes, bib number, sunglasses, helmet, grabbed some water, and headed out on my bike.

Now, the bike portion is what I trained for the least.  I anticipated the ride would be about an hour and I didn't really prepare for the race well in terms of gear... I realized once I was on my bike I had no way to gauge how far I'd gone, what time it was, or really anything at all.  It was just me and my bike.

Annnd I pretty much hated almost the whole ride.  The first five miles were incredibly hilly!  One hill was so steep that people were actually off their bikes and walking up.  As well, people just kept passing me and passing me and passing me.  I literally felt like I must be in last place at this point because EVERYONE was passing me.  I did realize I probably had a stronger swim than some of these people who were stronger bikers (most triathletes I know have the hardest part with the swim, whereas that is probably where I feel strongest) but it was still depressing to be pedaling up at a hill in my lowest gear hating my life and having people fly past me!

When I saw a marker for five miles in I thought to myself, "Are you kidding me? That's all we've done so far?!?!"  Ugh.  I was already drained.

And then, it started to rain.  Light at first so it almost felt good, but then harder and harder.  The sky got darker and big pelts of rain that HURT when they hit me started to fall.  Then the thunder and lightning started.

For anybody that knows me, I am terrified of thunder and lightning.  I hate it.  It scares the crap out of me and I'm always convinced that I, or whatever building or car I am in, is going to get hit.  And here I was on a bike, on the side of some road, with corn fields all around me, with nowhere to go and no clue what to do.  So I just kept riding.  Through the pouring rain and thunder and lightning.  I started to imagine the headlines of "Albany Girl Dies During Triathlon When Struck By Lightning" and the irony akin to what Alanis Morissette sings about.  Getting struck by lightning trying to accomplish one of my lifelong goals.  Lovely.

This part of the race truly SUCKED and I just was hoping around every corner to see the turn that brought us back to the transition areas and meant the bike portion of the race was almost over.  This marks the only time in my life where the thought has ever been in my mind of, "I just wish it was time to run right now.  I just really, really want to be running right now!"

Eventually, the bike portion came to an end -- and at that same time, the thunder, lightning and rain let up as well.  The bike to run transition was pretty easy.  I dropped my helmet and bike, grabbed some water, and headed out to run (of course, fixing my hair first as you can see in the picture below.)

Off I go!
My legs felt like lead.  I had practiced this transition and I knew I just needed to get into a groove but I just felt so heavy, my legs did not want to move.  And it didn't help that my shoes were filled with water and squashing around.

I had a few goals going into the race.  One was simple -- to finish.  The other was to finish in under 2 hours.  And one I ended up giving up .75 miles into the run -- which was to finish the run without walking.  During the first uphill section of the run, I had to walk.  I finished the rest of the 5K running mostly, but with a few walks here and there to rest a little.  I was determined to finish strong and ran the last .75 miles repeating the mantra "Just keep going. Just keep going. Just keep going and then it's done," over and over in my head!

It was amazing to see the finish line ahead and know how close I was.  It was comforting and exciting to hear my mom cheering for me at the end.  And it STILL feels so good to know that I accomplished something I've always, always wanted to do, finishing a sprint triathlon!

Smiling at the finish :)
The clock said 2:03 when I crossed the line so I was a little bummed to think I was so close to my goal, but missed it.  However, when I said this to my mom, she reminded me that the clock started 4 minutes before when I actually started because of the men's swim heat.  And sure enough -- my official time was 1:59:43!!!!  Not too bad for not having a CLUE where or what my time was like throughout the entire race :)

Immediately after the race.  All smiles!
I, of course, celebrated the only way I know how -- eating.  And eating enough that the entire race was irrelevant in terms of calories burned.  But oh well, whatever.

Thanks Mom, for the lovely picture :)
This morning, the race results were posted online.  It turns out, I did really, really well in the swim portion of the race.  I finished the swim first in my age group, and 31st overall out of the 173 people who competed.  I swam a faster time than more than half of the top 10 men and top 10 women in the race.  And two minutes faster than the woman who won!  I guess that really was why SO MANY people were passing me during the bike portion :)

I also finished the run in about 34 minutes -- which is faster than my 5K time from about a year ago and still about an 11 minute mile, even after having swam and biked and walking some of the run!

So, all in all.  I feel great about how I did.  And I know I will have to do at least one more so I can tackle that run without having to walk.  My first 5K and my first 10K I ever did I had to walk a portion of them and have since gone back and beaten those goals.  So with more training and experience, I know I can do this too :)

Happy Sunday everyone!

P.S.  Thank you to the many people who "Liked" and commented on this picture on Facebook.  As always, your support and encouragement means so much to me!!


  1. Awesome job Katie! I can't believe it started to thunder and lightening. I would have been freaking out right there with you! xoxo

  2. Well done Katie! Needless to say your dad and I are so so excited for you!

  3. Whoop whoop! Go KTB! - Nikki

  4. Thats awesome! I just finished my first Triathlon