I had originally thought about doing a local Olympic distance triathlon in June, but my response to exercise was still so variable and I hadn’t done nearly enough training for that type of distance that I scrapped those plans and instead registered for a sprint triathlon put on by my local YMCA.
I hadn’t done a triathlon since the Patriot put me in the hospital but I’d done this sprint event in the past, with some some success, so knew what to expect and thought it might provide a softer re-introduction than a two plus hour event.
The event is run by a regional endurance outfit (same people that do the Cranberry and Patriot events I’ve done in the past) that has always put on well organized and well attended events in the past. This event is ideal for beginners and much of the field is first-timers. It has a friendly, easy going vibe and a pretty forgiving course. Not a bad way to get my feet wet again and see how my body would respond to the exertion of a triathlon.
The swim is in a medium-sized lake. The lake is relatively shallow and all the past years that I ran the water temperature precluded wetsuits. Some years its almost up to 80! This year was in the 70s so no wetsuits, but not super hot either. It can get weedy and rocky near the shore, but fifteen yards out, it’s murky but the plants stop bothering you.
It’s a short quarter mile swim in a simple rectangle. Straight out, take a right, swim the short side, then another right and straight back to shore. You need to sight, but it’s so short, there’s almost not enough time to swim far off course.
I’ve been in a swimming funk and haven’t really gotten to the pool enough recently to expect much from the swim, so I was happy to keep it under nine minutes. According to the Garmin, I swam 496 yards so about 50 yards long. Not bad.
Official chip – 8:33 for 1:56/100 pace, 38/236 in the swim
I’d put some time in on the bike, not as much as running (you’ll always be my first love running!), but more than swimming, so I was hoping, as is typical in sprints or Olys to keep my average speed over 20 mph. Even a little light in training, that should have been possible given this short course without many difficult climbs.
And I was able to pull it off. The only real climb comes near the beginning between miles 2 and 3 and after navigating that, I stayed aggressive and tried to keep pedaling on most of the downhills. I finished the nine mile loop in 26:21 and saw the girls right outside T2 to spur me onto the run.
Bike split: 26:21, 20.4 mph, 30/236
The biggest difference in this race versus the past times that I’ve competed was the reversal of the run course. Ninety percent the same course, but just going the opposite direction. This meant the “hilly” section comes at the start. Hilly might be a bit of a misnomer, but there is a net gain in the first mile, so technically a hill.
I’ve definitely had a faster run split in the past on this course (even in the opposite direction), but I was pretty happy with this consistent effort especially coming off the layoff. My GAP mile splits were 7:26, 7:26, 7:27, so I liked the steady effort even if the pace was slower than I would have liked. I finished the 5k in 23:13.
Run split: 23:14, 7:19 pace, 39/236
Total time was 1:00:22, 21/236, 1st in the 35-39 AG
Looking at my individual splits nothing was better than 30, so how did I end up 21st overall and 1st in my age group? Transitions. This is where the race trending toward a higher percentage of triathlon novices helped me out and bumped me up a number of places. My T1 times was 1:18, good for fourth overall and my T2 time of :56 seconds was also good for the top 20.
Those no-tie laces really came in handy.