Saturday, May 19, 2012

Women of Steel Tri 2012 - FIRST TRI EVER!

Well, after months of thinking about it, training for it, reading about it, dreaming about it, IT finally came!  My first triathlon, the Women of Steel Sprint Tri in American Fork.  It was such an awesome day, I will take you from the beginning!


I woke up at 4:15 so that we could get down there super early so I could pick up my race packet.  I have never waited until the morning of a race to do this, but with it being an hour and half away, I didn't want to make the trip just for the packet then come home.  So, we all got up, ate a quick breakfast, and hopped into the car for the drive down.  Thank heaven there were no accidents and no one else on the road that early, and we got there plenty early enough.  Here I am just after getting there, getting my stuff out of the car, and getting my bike tire back on, right before heading to packet pick up.

 I picked up my packet and they were very friendly, and I could tell that there was already a really good energy to this race.  I headed over to body marking, where they put my official race number on both arms and my age on my leg, and I have to say, I felt like such a rock star at body marking!  No idea why, but I did, and I had Ken take a picture.

 I headed with all my race stuff over to the transition area where they had these labels on where you were supposed to rack your bike and set up your transition area.  I know that this was my first race, but it seemed like there was hardly any room to do it, the labels were so close together!  I was glad that I was one of the first ones there so I could get set up before others were.  Here is my name label, and my bike racked, ready to go, and my transition area, or launching pad, you could call it.

 I was quite pleased that my race number was 306.  Six is my favorite number, so I took it as a sign of good luck.  Dork, I know....

 After setting up transition, I had an hour and half until the race started. I made a few visits to the bathroom, and chatted with those around me.  I love this aspect of racing, the people around you, getting to know them, talking about race goals, experience, training, families, etc.  I was around several newbies like myself who were doing their first tri, and there were others that were clearly more seasoned that were on teams, or had completed long course events, and women of every age, size, back ground, etc.  I loved it!  Every one was so friendly and encouraging.

They then had us listen to their pre-race meeting where the USAT officials went over some rules and let me tell you, these people mean business!  They were even telling people how to set up their transition areas, correcting people on how they had their bikes racked, and threatening to give time penalties or disqualifications for sneezing wrong on the course.  It became very clear that this was one new aspect from running events, because there really is no governing body over them, at least not one I had ever seen that had this kind of presence.  It was welcome and annoying at the same time.

We headed over to the pool for the National anthem, and got seeded according to our time estimates.  It was really organized chaos, and I had been really nervous about the swim from the perspective of not knowing what to expect at all.  I guess you could say that applied to the whole race.  I told Ken I was nervous and he didn't understand why as I have done many races now.  I told him that in running events, I know what to expect, but with a tri, I had no clue what to expect, what race protocol is, etc. so I was pretty nervous from the time we got there till I literally and figuratively got my feet wet.  

The swim portion I was dreading as I had seen tons of YouTube videos of pool swims for tri's where people get backed up bottle neck style because no one is really accurate on the times that they turn in, and it can be a mad house.  So, I knew it was advantageous, but I went ahead and seeded myself with the people with faster times than I had thought I was capable of.  I knew I would either be that guy  that every one was backed up behind, or it would be a smart move by not being backed up behind other people.  It was a move that proved to be smart as I never once got passed in the pool, but in turn passed 3 people :)  I'm not going to lie, it was a great feeling.  I knew right away in the swim that there are things I need to work on.  First thing is flip turns.  I know there is much debate about whether these are even necessary for tris as most time you are in open water and who needs them, right?  Well, I found that they would benefit me in that they help with that idea of a long continuous swim where you aren't breaking every 25 m to take a quick breath and push off the wall.  This was a 50 m pool, and I kept thinking, "Shouldn't I be at the wall by now?" Mentally it really was something to get over, but I did fine.  I felt strong on the swim, but kept having that ARE WE THERE YET? feeling.  Definitely going to practice more of those.

I left the swim feeling out of breath, but very pleased with my performance.

Total Swim time: 6:43, as recorded by the chip, and I finished 20th in my age group of 140 for the swim portion. SWEET!  Never would have expected that!

Here is a picture of the start line at the pool.  Ken got some good pictures of the rest of the race.  I love the next few at the pool! 

 I have to interject this picture of Janae, she was obviously trying to stay entertained during the swim portion...LOL


I headed into the first transition  running somewhat but also trying to catch my breath as I burped the whole way from swallowing tons of water in the pool.  I ripped my swim cap off, with my goggles, quickly found my area, sat to put on my cycling shoes, socks, helmet, gloves, and sunglasses, grabbing my bike and running awkwardly to the mount area on those darn cycling shoes with the annoying clips on the bottom.  It went smoothly, but I probably could have shaved some seconds off by doing a few less things.  But, this was a learning experience right?

Total T1 time: 3:30

Bike Portion

I mounted my bike and it immediately had a slight incline with a very short downhill where we turned and went up the hill again.  What a way to start a course!  But, I found that I was automatically just shifting on my bike without thinking about it, and that was a key moment for me as I realized the climbs and rides I have been doing had lead to this kind of automaticity on the bike, and I was pleased with that.  I have to be honest, I am loving my bike more and more, and this was a fun part of the race.  The total bike distance was 12.96 miles, and you did a 6 something mile bike loop twice.  It had an uphill the first part of the loop, and then evened off, then you got the downhill.  It ran mainly through a residential neighborhood, and then down a Main Street in Highland and American Fork.  The uphill was tough, but doable.  The down hill was pure heaven.  I loved that I caught a tailwind, and loved every minute of it.  I felt like I was maneuvering my bike in and out of other people, and passed a ton of people, but I had tons of people passing me as well.  I just loved the whole thing, I felt strong, got some good speed, and just had a blast on the bike. It went way too quickly for the amount of fun I had on it!  

Total bike time:  46:18, which is an average speed of 17 mph

Not bad for the uphill on that!


I dismounted my bike and ran across the grass to rack it as quickly as I could.  I tried to do so without taking out other bikes or messing up other racers transition set ups.  I stripped the cycling shoes off, the helmet, the gloves, threw on my running shoes, my race belt with my number, and my hat and I was off!  I saw the my cheering section of Ken, my Mom, and the kids as I left T2, and here is a picture they took as I threw my arms up waving.  

Total T2 time:  3:12

 The run, which in many ways felt like "coming home" as it is the sport I have the background and history in, started out rough.  The obvious was the lead legged feeling of just coming off the bike and switching to the run.  It feels like you have anvils attached to both legs, I was out of breath, and while fighting through his feeling, was running uphill at the same time.  NOT pleasant.  I started to get myself mentally discouraged, as I had people passing me, and thinking I should be doing better.  But then I was at the crest of the hill and it felt much better.  My legs felt like my own again, and I started to pick up the pace, mentally started feeling like myself, and enjoyed it.  Then we turned again as we headed down the same hill.  People passing me on the bike loop cheered me one, people were on the ends of their drive ways cheering, and I had the same familiar race feeling, and it was fun to coast towards the finish line like that.  Here are some pics Ken took of the finish line:

 Here I am rounding the final corner onto the field where the finish line was, and starting the sprint for the last 25 yards or so to the finish

 Yeah for a strong finish!

Total Run Time: 28.01, which averages out to a 9:02 minute/mile...SHUT UP!  


 I love this picture.  I had just finished and had a total rock star feeling as I realized I was OFFICIALLY a triathlete, and it was hard and fun at the same time.  My kids ran up to give me hugs, and I got the finisher's stuff, it was just awesome.  The finish line was clearly designed by women for women.  They hand you a necklace and a Diet Coke as you cross the line, and then lead you over to massages and chocolate.  Oh yeah Baby!
 They had also featured a booth that kids could color signs for their Moms running, and here are my troopers with their signs for me.  It was so sweet!

 Here's my Mom and I at the finish.  This was the first race she had ever seen me do and it was great.

I love this pic as well, it shows in closer detail the sign Joshua did for me.  I am totally framing this one.

So, the day was a complete success.  The weather was in the low 60's, but the pool was heated, so that was no biggie, and the rest of the race I felt temperature wise like I was perfect, not too hot or too cold, and I only wore the tri suit the whole time.  There was tons of crowd support, it was great to have my family there, and the race was very well organized.  I wasn't prepared for how much FUN this was!  I have loved running, and still do, but this race was so different than that.  There are so many facets to triathlon with the multi sports to train for, more phases of the race to formalize your plan for, and then the whole smooth transitions piece.  But I loved it!  I can't wait to do another one in a few weeks!  I went into this wanting to do well, obviously, but more than anything just to LEARN as this was a totally new thing for me.  I LEARNED a ton.  But before I get to that, I was guesstimating my time to be around 1:45, knowing what I typically do for each sport time wise in training, and planning for things like possible bumpy transitions, pool back ups, etc.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised, okay shocked when I saw my official finishing time as....drum roll please....


I was in the top 20% of 900 finishers, and placed 55 in my age group.  I was very pleased with the times I posted, and the whole experience.  LOVED LOVED LOVED IT!

So, here are my LESSONS LEARNED for this race:

-Invest in Body Glide.  That tri top was awesome, but I need some Glide to make it even better
-Do more bricks
-Spend more time in the pool with more flip turns/no breaks at the ends of lanes to be better prepared for OWS where there is none
-Make sure to reset bike computer from previous ride BEFORE heading out of T1
-Practice smoother transitions including running bike mounts/dismounts
-Triathlon is going to be very, very fun, if this race is any indicator.  So excited to do more

My next race is the Daybreak Sprint Tri on June 9, three weeks away.  Can hardly wait, and will be doing some open water swims between now and then!

Happy Training all!

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