Home > Uncategorized > 30/30 – Day 3 – St. Patty’s Triathlon

30/30 – Day 3 – St. Patty’s Triathlon

Back in October, when I restarted my athletic journey, I thought running was as far as I would reach.  I was obviously lying to myself, but it was with that plan in mind that I signed up for the White Rock Half Marathon, the Cowtown Half Marathon (see previous post as to how I actually didn’t sign up for this one), and the Dallas Rock & Roll Half Marathon.  This last marathon was held on March 14.  It was not long after signing up for these events that I decided running wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to swim and bike as well.  Deciding to participate in triathlons, I knew that I would need some coaching, so I signed up for Team in Training.  Here I could get coaching and raise money for a great cause, eradicating Leukemia and Lymphoma.

After beginning my training in December (after White Rock), I saw that the Team planned on participating in the St. Patty’s Day Tri in Keller on the same day as the Rock & Roll Half.  After brief consideration and taking into account I had never participated in a true triathlon, I decided to forego the half marathon and compete in the tri instead.  I knew I would need some experience before Lonestar so the decision wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

As an aside, I did go to the Rock and Roll expo, which was awesome!  I love expos, and a well run expo makes for a great afternoon.  I saw friends, met great vendors, and got some great swag!

On to the triathlon.  This race is put on by Dallas Athletes Racing and is a ver well run event.  There were somewhere between 700 and 800 participants.  It was a pool swim followed by a two loop bike and a 5k mostly on a trail.  Entertainment included a bagpipe player on the low dive of the pool and an Irish band at the finish.

Conditions were a little cool.  I was told the race was notorious for being on a rainy day, so everyone was grateful that all we had to deal with was the cold and wind rather than the rain.  It was in the low 40s when I set up my transition area.  I took a bit of a jog and a couple of laps in the pool to warm up, and eagerly waited my turn to start.

The pool was a 50m pool rather than the 25m pool I’m used to swimming, so that was different.  It was a time trial start with people going in every 5 seconds or so.  This meant a long wait for the lower seeded people.  I was in the low 300s (based on swim time) so, while the race started at 7:30, I wasn’t in the water until 8:15.  Jumping in to the pool, I started at a good pace.  I found my rhythm quickly and tried to pay attention to my form and my breathing.  I was only passed once, right at the end of the 300m swim, so I was pleased with my performance in the pool.  I found out later that my time was 8:00.  It was a bit slower than I had hoped, but I was really trying to focus on form rather than speed, and I’m sure I lost speed since I only had half of the walls as I usually do when swimming.

Coming out of the pool, I felt my equilibrium trying to reorient to dry land.  This was my first true experience of the pool to bike transition, so I took it slowly.  The cold and wind didn’t help so my T1 time was almost 3:30.  I blame it on the cup of coffee I made while in transition 😉  No, I really just failed to set up my transition area well and spent extra time drying off so that I wouldn’t be too cold on the bike.

I left the transition area and spun my way out to the bike course.  As I said, it was a two loop course with a couple small hills and a quarter of it into an 18 mph wind.  It took me a few miles to really warm up (which I’ve also noticed on my longer rides – still haven’t figured out how to combat this).  I felt like I really found my cadence around mile 4, which isn’t good on a 12 mile course.  The wind was a challenge, but I was able to keep cadence up and didn’t lose too much speed.  Completing the loop twice, I pulled in to T2 at about 45:44.  Not the best, and was hoping for closer to 35:00, but I couldn’t complain.  There was something gratifying about passing people on the bike who I knew smoked me in the swim

T2 was a little better.  One of my purchases at the RnR expo was a pair of Newton Trainers.  I had heard good things about them and they mimic barefoot running, so I thought I’d give them a go.  This made the transition pretty smooth, but I took extra time taking a couple of drinks and having a bit of nutrition, so my T2 time was still almost 3:00.

I ran out to the run course, an out and back course on road and paved trail.  As usual, my legs still wanted to go at the pace of my bike cadence, so the first quarter mile was an exercise in slowing and smoothing out my gait.  I settled into my rhythm and got into a good race pace.  Once again I started passing people and it gave me some adrenaline.  I settled in with a guy who left transition a little ahead of me and we talked briefly and my Newtons and my normal running “shoes,” my vibrams.  I noticed that the Newtons were putting a strange pressure on my feet, especially where the lugs are located, but I think the truth was that I haven’t run in shoes for the past seven months, and any pressure would feel weird.  I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of running in them, but I couldn’t deny that they helped improve my performance (among other variables that also contributed).  Despite the discomfort (and a little bit of pain at this point), I could feel that my body wanted to open up a bit more so at the turn around we parted ways.  I grabbed a quick drink at the sole aid station on the course and told myself I was going to really push that last mile.  As I got closer, I could hear the band and the announcer, which gave me more energy to push.  I glanced down at my Garmin and saw I was at a 6:15 pace, which is almost 2 minutes faster than I consider my normal race pace.  I felt fine and didn’t feel that I was pushing too much, so I pushed a little more to get 6:00 as I covered the final quarter mile.  I turned the corner to the finish line and heard the announcer say my name as I finished.  My final run time was 25:13, which was a 2 minute PR in an official 5k for me.

My total time for the race was 1:26.  I was unfortunately in the lower half of my age group (which was a very fast age group), but I can’t be too sad about my performance.  I completed my first triathlon and learned that I need to get faster in transition, in the pool, and on the bike J  The race was a lot of fun.  It was well organized and even with trying to get 800 people in the pool, it went as well as can be expected.  The bagpiper and the band were great entertainment and the pancakes and beer at the finish line were excellent.  The pot of gold finisher’s medal was also unique and an excellent addition to the collection.  This will be a regular on my race calendar as a primer for the race season, and I look forward to seeing how my performance improves from year to year.

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