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2013-05-22 11:21 PM

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Subject: First Triathlon (Olympic) Impressions
I completed my first ever triathlon this past weekend. I did an olympic distance. First I want to say that I truly enjoyed the experience and the challenge. It was amazing. I am sure I will be doing more events in the future. Here are my impressions and lessons learned.

My background: I have been running for the past 4 years at distances ranging from 10k, half marathon, marathon and ultra. I am not a fast runner at all and simply do the long distance for the challenge and enjoyment with my best friend. I started riding about 9 months ago. I started swimming about 9 months ago as well. I had never swam in open water but am very comfortable in the water and a lake. I was not nervous at all about being in the open water. I have never swam in a wetsuit either. Please don't flame me for not having ever trained in open water or with a wetsuit. I understand that I should have but it wasn't an option. I have been training by running, riding and swimming 4-6 times a week depending on the week. I would ride or run 4-5 times a week swim usually once but sometimes twice. I always rode at least 20-25 miles, ran 6-8 miles and swam 1.2 miles. I have recently completed a century (100 Mile not Kilometer) ride.

Race day conditions: 65-75 degrees warming to about 80. Slightly overcast and a slight 4-7 mph breeze. Water temp was 66. Great in my opinion.

1. Swim--I started in the last men's heat because of age (40+). It was a water start. We all jumped in at the end of the dock and I took my place towards the outside and towards the back. There were about 60-70 in my heat. The gun went off and I started swimming. It was a madhouse at first and as expected. I simply put my face in the water and started swimming at my pace. The course was a rectangle out and back. The water was murky to the point you couldn't see the swimmer in front unless you were just about touching them. I tried to follow the group to stay on course. I was swimming well and found myself passing many of my group and keeping a good pace and comfort level. At times I had a very hard time staying on course. I was zig zagging all over. That was frustrating but I dealt with it and tried to stay straight. I exited the water feeling pretty good. My left calf had cramped during the swim and I am not sure why. I am not sure if it was because of the wetsuit being tight on my calf and not being used to it or what. I am not a large kicker when I swim so I don't think that was it. Not sure. Anyway, got out of the water and was a little unstable/dizzy. I have experienced this a bit while swimming in the pool as well. So I knew it was coming. I made it to the transition, took off my wetsuit after almost getting elbowed in the face by a guy helping someone else take their wetsuit off and falling backwards into me. It was close. I decided to sit on the ground to put my socks and shoes on. I took my time but tried to hurry as well. 2:40 T1 time which I was happy with for my first one and to make sure I didn't forget something as some did and had to go back for such things as helmet etc. On to the bike.

2. Bike--I started out on the bike just easing into a gear and riding. I felt good and pushed kind of hard but did not want to push so hard that I was spent on the run or would have to drop out. My calf was still tight but felt fine. I rode well in my opinion and felt good throughout the 21.5 miles. There was one big hill at the 4 mile mark. 300+ feet climb in less than a mile. I passed plenty of people and got passed by some as well. It was very surprising to see the gear some had and how they rode. I ride a road bike that I have modified with a Profile Design FFC seat post and aerobars. Nothing special for the bike, aluminum/carbon fork, that works for me. I like it. I passed some on really nice tri bikes and got passed by some of the same. The most surprising was a kid that passed me like I was sitting still. He had no shirt on, had flat pedals with cages, rode a bike that was maybe worth $100 and was flying. He was taking many of the fast looking tri bike guys also. I pushed on to the end of the bike saving some for the run. Off the bike and on to the run.

3. Run--I have done some brick workouts to get a feel for the transition from riding to running. So I knew what to expect to a certain degree. I had a T2 of 2:00. I took my time to make sure I had everything again. I had shoes to slip on, running belt and hat/glasses. Then I was off and trying to get my running legs. At this point my left calf was hurting. It was tight and would not loosen up. I set a pace that I felt comfortable at and just ran. I went out at a faster pace than my goal and felt fine. There was an aid station at each mile and I made sure to take water at each. I had been drinking GU brew on the bike. My nutrition felt fine. I made it to the turn around and my calf was feeling much better. I actually was trying to pick up my cadence and shorten my stride which seemed to help. I came back at a pace 25 seconds faster per mile. I was happy about that. I came up to the finish line running hard and enjoying the crowd. It was awesome. I finished and felt great. I was not winded, hurting or totally spent. I know I could have pushed harder looking back throughout, but am glad how I did and how hard I worked. Overall, it was awesome.

Overall impressions: I enjoyed everything about the event. I was not nervous at all. I prepared myself with training and nutrition. I went out to have fun and finish strong which I did. Now that I know what to expect I know I can push a little more in areas and know some areas I can work on for the future to challenge myself. I will never be a top performer but know I can push to beat myself and improve.

Olympic distance: I truly enjoyed this distance. I like events that push into the endurance side of things. I do have aspirations for HIM and IM in the future but this was a great first start and I feel I will enjoy many more Olympic distance races in the future

I look forward to more events this year.

2013-05-23 12:11 AM
in reply to: rcwso

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Bellingham, WA
Subject: RE: First Triathlon (Olympic) Impressions
Congratulations on your race and thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like you were fell prepared and had a great day.
2013-05-23 12:27 AM
in reply to: rcwso

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Canyon, Texas
Subject: RE: First Triathlon (Olympic) Impressions
Thanks for the post. I just did my first intermediate a few weeks ago and now ramping up for my first HIM in 6 weeks. My experience and situation was extremely similar, although it sounds like your swim went pretty darn good for a first open water event. When is the next one??
2013-05-23 1:08 AM
in reply to: tlancer23

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Iowa City, Iowa
Subject: RE: First Triathlon (Olympic) Impressions
Nice recap for everyone! I like to read these because I am training for my first tri and want all of the advice and opinions I can get! It's funny how it seems there's always a guy with an old bike blowing by everyone :-p
2013-05-23 10:45 AM
in reply to: ChemNerd23

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Central Coast, CA
Subject: RE: First Triathlon (Olympic) Impressions

Originally posted by ChemNerd23 Nice recap for everyone! I like to read these because I am training for my first tri and want all of the advice and opinions I can get! It's funny how it seems there's always a guy with an old bike blowing by everyone :-p

Check out the "My First Tri" articles here on BT, it's a wealth of great anecdotal advice from all ranges of first time triathletes.

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