My first Olympic distance triathlon. It's also my first anniversary! Thank you God for an amazing wife who is a gifted athlete that I can share these experiences with! For those who don't know Olympic distance is 1.5K swim, 40K bike and a 10K run. My initial goal time for this race was 2:45:00. Once my wife Liz and I pre-ran the run course I dismissed that idea. The run course was extremely hilly (by my standards) and we had to run up Vista Del Lago. If your a cyclist in Orange County you know it as a short but very steep hill with a gradient topping out at 18%. My real goal for this race was to start my education of what triathlon racing is all about and this distance is perfect. This race would be ground breaking for what works what doesn't as far as eating, equipment, how I set up my transition etc. A goal time is nice but for my first race it's more about pacing myself and learning. I have to say my training (numbers below) coming in to this event was not that great as I was out of town for 10 days before the race.
Liz and I arrived at the transition area at 6AM and started our set up. How do I lay this stuff out? I looked around at what others were doing and sort of copied them if it made sense. As we headed down to the start area we found out that Lake Mission Viejo where we would be swimming was 79 degrees. Great! I hate cold water! Then the bad news, if you wear a wetsuit you will be timed but not get an official placing. What?? Now I was worried. I've been banking on the buoyancy of my wetsuit to get through the swim! I have to wear a wetsuit if I want to survive almost a mile swim without drowning! Was I going to be the only "dork" wearing a a wetsuit? I had this image of going to the start line in my wetsuit and all of the 45 year old men in my wave would start laughing and pointing at me like a bunch of Jr. High bullies. Oh well I'll have to take the humiliation, I'm not racing without a wetsuit! The horn sounded and my wave was off with 123 men taking to the water, 18 of us in wetsuits. I'm just learning to swim, yes I've been a certified SCUBA diver since the age of 14 but that's not swimming. My goal time for the swim was 40 minutes. Many of you are probably laughing at that goal but for me swimming is just tough and I have yet to build endurance or technique in the swim. After about 500 meters I was starting to flounder and lose my stroke as a result of going to hard at the start. Self doubt started creeping in as I looked at the distance I covered and the distance I still had to swim and it looked so daunting. I have to admit to you something said to me "you can never do an Ironman!" I pushed that thought out of my mind, gathered myself and settled in to an easy pace. The lake was now becoming littered with people trying to hang on. I learned a lesson on sighting after the turn around following a guy who took a bad line. I figured everyone here has more experience than me so follow any body...WRONG! I got out of the water in 36:52 I would have guessed it was an hour thirty six. As I got out of the water I couldn't wait to get on the bike, when I realized my legs felt like two cement pillars. I started to run to the transition but had to stop and walk for a moment. I had two problems in the first transition. First trying to get my wetsuit off with my timing chip on my ankle. I got it, I'll just take it off and put it back on...good idea! The next problem, I wanted to use compression socks on the bike and run. Try putting on knee high compression socks when your legs are still wet. It's nearly impossible and I was wasting so much time in the transition. I finally got them on, mounted my bike and was on my way except...my timing chip. If you ever want to see course marshalls go crazy, ride your bike backwards on a tri course and in to the transition. I left my bike at the mounting point and ran back to my transition area to get my chip. Transition One time: 9:28. Now came the 40K bike through my familiar training grounds of Santiago Canyon. It took me 10K before my legs started feeling like they should. I was passing a lot of people, of course they all swim way faster than me! I kept a close eye on my heart rate and held back slightly for a 1:13:30. I arrived at transition two which was at a different location than T1 and could not find my running shoes among all of the bikes. Transition two 3:12. I started the run and was feeling good. All of the hills are between miles 3 and 5. I looked at my watch and I was running roughly an 8:30 pace for the first two miles. Then came the hills and I was just trying to get to the last mile which I knew was flat. The last three miles I was racing back and forth with a guy from my age group which helped motivate me. I drafted him the final mile. When he started his kick and I stayed with him and as we approached the line I sprinted past him to take...40th place! Sometimes you cant keep down the competitive spirit even if its for 40th place. Run time 1:00:32 Total time 3:03:34
Looking back I see the many mistakes I made and hopefully know how to prevent them next race. I also realize now how much work I have to do on my swimming. Over all the race was a success and the desire to become an Ironman still burns inside of me.
TWELVE WEEK TRAINING STATS
Here are my training numbers for twelve weeks before this race.
Bike: 966 miles
Run: 103 miles
TYPICAL TRAINING WEEK
Monday: Swim 30 Minutes
Tuesday: Bike 1 Hour Hills
Wednesday: Run 30 Minutes
Thursday: Bike 1 Hour Hills
Friday: Swim 30 Minutes
Saturday: Bike 3 Hours (2 Hrs Race Pace)
Sunday: Run 50 Minutes