Here is the full wrap up of my first triathlon experience. I am posting a picture per segment with a couple of tips. Here are the summary stats:
I got to Pacific Grove on Friday afternoon for the registration. After that, went into the water for a very quick swim. Idea was to get used to the water (and the kelp!) but not use up too much energy.
In the evening, all the Team In Training participants got together for a pasta dinner. Load up on them carbohydrates. Early to bed, early to rise. Woke up at 5:30 am, left the hotel at 6:30 am, all set up in the transition area by 7:30 am.
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My wave went into the water at 8:30 am. Some tips I learned:
- Eat a packet of GU just before getting in the water. It really helps.
- Unless you are going for time, or are super excited, stay on one side towards the back. Let the adrenaline junkies go, kick each other, claw through the kelp. You can have a much better start to the race and not really loose that much time.
- Be careful of where you are headed. This unfortunately requires popping your head out once in a while to orient yourself. My huge problem is that I swim left. Apart from running into people, this caused me to loose a lot of time by going off course twice.
- You will feel weird when you get out of the water. I think it has something to do with blood going out of the head or something. I don't know the medical reason, but you don't feel 100% normal as soon as you stand up out of the water. My cure for that was to just focus immediately in front and start pounding your feet. You get out of the water faster plus it starts your blood circulation.
A quick (for me) 4 minute transition, and I'm off on the bike. I ate another GU packet. Plus some Gatorade. More tips:
- Keep hydrating. I figured out that I was loosing a lot of water through perspiration, although it's hard to know since it evaporates quickly. But as a Team In Training coach said, if you feel like you're thirsty, it's already too late.
- Pac Grove has 4 loops of the bike path. You loose count pretty quickly. Have a good way to keep track of this. I put 4 small tape strips on the handle and took one off at the end of each loop (a tip from a Team In Training coach).
- Try and have good foot movement. Don't keep your feet pointing down or pointing up. Your foot should move as if it's "scraping the floor" at the bottom of each stroke.
- Pound with the quads :) Running is hard on the glutes, hamstrings and calves. Use the quads more on the bike.
5 minute transition, longer this time due to a restroom break. And my glutes are hurting like crazy. This is by far the most painful time during the race. Of the 6 miles, the first mile was mostly walking and stretching. 2nd mile was a consistent but restricted leg movement to keep moving. At the end of the 3rd mile, I lost all sensation of pain :) and then I started running and maintained a good pace till the end.
I developed a good sense of how much energy I had left, and reserved some of it to finish with a sprint. The crowd loved it, and it felt fantastic. Tips again:
- Focus on the moment. I was so tired and in so much pain, that I could not concentrate on running. The thing that really helped was looking down at the ground, about 2-3 steps in front of me, and focusing on that. Just take those next steps, don't think about the end.
- Run in the middle of the road where it is more flat. On the edges, the slope is not good for your feet.
- Pick someone in front of you and focus on keeping pace or beating them.
I did much better than my guess of 4 hours :) Below is the official report from their website (click for full size).
I was very hungry, very tired. In some pain, but that went away very quickly. Now it's all about recovery and then trying to maintain some athletic level.