4th Annual My First Tri Race

author : Team BT
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James G. Lewis's First Triathlon Race

Well after a brief training period, I completed my first Tri yesterday. As my brief bio states, I am in the Navy, based in Pensacola FL. I am an instructor pilot and my job teaching new guys and gals how to fly keeps me very very busy. I work usually on the order of 12-14 hours a day every day and the occasional weekend as well! I have been making excuses at my job for staying out of the gym for a long time but have recommitted to the idea of getting and staying in really good shape. It is a definite challenge to train, but it's been going pretty well. I don't want to catch everyone up on the training that led to yesterday's race.

Suffice it to say, I've been doing a combination of weightlifting, biking and swimming for about the last six weeks. My wife has been training with me and has been great about keeping me motivated. We entered the race together and both finished. As you have no doubt noticed, I really didn't mention much about running, and that came back to haunt me yesterday. I was competing in the 4th Annual My First Tri race on Eglin Air Force Base. It was great for beginners: a 200m swim in a protected bay, only an 8 mile bike ride and then a 2.5mi run. Easy distances. I have been training hard on the bike ever since we got them about 3 weeks ago. I have a Cannondale R1000. I must say, it made a big difference in the race. More on that later.

The swim was frustrating because I could have done it much faster. My time was 3:52, but my problem was I went out in the mid-back part of the pack. I felt like I was a much better swimmer than a good number of people but every time I tried to get into a good rhythm I'd start to get kicked and wasn't able to pass many people. In fact, someone kicked my watch right off my wrist!! Oh well, my first Tri gear casualty (and I'm sure it won't be the last!)

My T1 went very smoothly. Although I had not practiced before, I had mentally organized myself as to exactly what I was going to do. There was not a lot of commotion in the transition area, so I quickly made it out of there and onto the bike.

 My biking skills are definitely my strongest. It helps that I have a decent road bike and that I had actually done some good long hard rides. I was able to make up a lot of ground, and passed nearly everyone in my age group and category (30-34, first timers). In fact, I found myself catching up to and passing the next two age groups of people so that by the time I reached the end of the bike ride, I had made up some ground. My time for 8.07 miles was 25:27 which works out to around 18.8 mph. Kind of slower than I hoped, but good enough. Many of the people in this race were on mountain bikes, but I did pass a lot of road bikes as well.

The run is definitely where I need improvement. I again had a fast T2. I had my straps from one shoe undone when I pulled into the transition area. Yanked off the bike shoes, pulled on the New Balance 764s, a quick swill of water and off I went. I had a slight cramp for the first 200m or so then settled in. About the 1/2 mile point I had a slight side stitch and never actually got into a good rhythm until about 3/4 of a mile. Once I settled in, it went pretty well, although my pace was pretty slow. Because my watch is now at the bottom of the Choctawhatchee Bay I don't know exactly what my run time was. In fact, while running, it made me laugh that my watch still has the timer running, and it will run until the battery runs out in a year or so.

Anyway, I finished the last 1/2 mile pretty strong and finished in 54:27, which met my goal of finishing in under an hour. My swim time was 3:52 and my bike time (according to my bike computer) was 25:30. I figure a maximum of about 3:30 total transition time which comes to a total of 32:52 which means my run time must have been in the neighborhoood of 21:25. This comes out to around a 8:36 minute pace for the run. This is obviously where I need to improve for the next time. My wife and I are signed up already for a sprint-distance Tri in September and will probably be signing up for another sprint-distance tri in late July or early August. As much as I hate running (and I despise running!!) I'm going to have to improve my run times significantly. I think my swim time is ok and I know I have potential to be a good on the bike. I'm going to have to mentally focus on improving in the one area that I am the least fond of. I will update later in the week to let everyone know how my traininig is coming along.

Any comments or questions about Navy life, flying or beginner tri stuff, you can email at [email protected] 





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date: September 4, 2004

Team BT