Monday, July 29, 2013

Top Gun Sprint Triathlon Recap (My first tri!)

On Saturday I participated in my first ever triathlon! It was a day I had been looking forward to and training for for a while. The triathlon was a sprint called Top Gun, and it was a .25 mile swim, 10 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. Packet pickup was the day before, so I thought I'd start there. I was hoping official pictures would be up before I posted this, but I don't want to wait anymore; the photographers have already gotten enough pageviews from my incessant refreshing. Luckily my husband was there and got a lot of pictures.
 
Friday afternoon I headed down to Bill Jackson's Store for Adventure not knowing what to expect. The store was really cool, but my nervousness and hunger left me a little dazed and I didn't have time to explore. Luckily I did run into Tori and Patrick, and she reminded me that I needed to buy a race belt. I wouldn't have remembered that had she not mentioned it.
 
There were a lot more steps to this packet pickup than there ever are for races. I had to show my ID and grab a card that had a checklist on it, get my packet from another station, my ankle strap timing chip from another one, and my cap from the last one. I got a light blue cap for my age group, and I was a little jealous of all the age groups that got bright pink.

I headed home, setup a mock transition, and stuck all the stickers everywhere they needed to go (one on my helmet, one on my bike, and a wristband on my wrist to get into transition). I also put my race bib onto my race belt.
 
I shared this pictures on Facebook and asked if there was anything I was forgetting. I got so much great feedback including a key tip to put the race bib under my tennis shoes so I could grab it right after I put on my shoes to run. It worked and helped me not forget to grab that bib (it only has to be worn for the run).

I went to bed pretty early and set my alarm for 3:55 to get up by 4 and get out of the house by 4:30ish. I made a bowl of oatmeal to take with me, put all my stuff in the car, and got my bike on the back of the car. I was most nervous about that part because driving an hour on mostly freeways was something I hadn't done with my bike on the back before. Luckily it made it there unscathed.

The race was down at Ft. de Soto, and I was pretty familiar with where everything would be setup because I ran a few halves down there in the last year (including my PR race). Tim came with me since it was my first triathlon, and he was super patient as I maneuvered my way through body marking, setting up transition, using the bathroom a few times, and finding friends.

I got my transition setup and my bike racked and looked jealously at the super fast triathlon bikes with their zipp and disc wheels. I don't know how much of a difference that would make, but I can tell you I won't know for a while.
 
From there it was time to head to the water and get in for a little warmup. I practiced dolphin dives and running in the water and got in a few fast strokes before climbing out to listen to the National Anthem.

And before I knew it, it was time to line up with the rest of the blue caps! All of the 20-29 year olds and Athenas (women over a certain weight) lined up in this wave starting at 7:12.
 
And before we knew it, they were counting down! I wiped my goggles no fewer than 5 times and just hoped they'd stay fog-free for the duration of the swim. I didn't know what to expect, as I'd heard multiple stories of grabbing, bumping, touching, etc. I decided to line up in the front because the swim is my strongest leg by far. Growing up a swimmer is a benefit for sure in this sport.
 
And we're off!
 
 The swim was 400 meters in the Gulf of Mexico. We went 100 meters out to a buoy, turned left, swam 200 meters by a couple more buoys, and then turned left again to finish 100 meters to the beach. 
I asked Tim to take pictures, so he did. The green buoy in the picture below is one of the turn buoys, and you can kind of see how far out we were.
I have never denied having a competitive spirit, so I was ready to face whatever was placed before me. Once we ran into the water and ran over the waved for a bit, I saw people start dolphin diving, so I did it too. I did probably 5 or 6 dives before I started swimming. I surprisingly didn't get touched or kicked one time. Once I settled on my stroke I did some siting and just swam as fast as I could.

Eventually I caught up to the people in the wave ahead of me, so I just did my best to swim around them without impeding anyone's progress. 

I had heard to swim until you took two strokes that hit the sand, so that I did. Then I got up and started running up the beach to the timing mat.
 
I finished the .25 mile swim in 6:13 and heard Patrick yelling from the side that I was the 3rd one out of the water. One of the girls was in the 20-24 age group, so I got 2nd in the 25-29 AG in the swim! From here I knew it was going to be all about holding on and letting as few people pass me as possible.

The run to transition was long and on the sand and then rough cement. I threw my cap and goggles down, wiped my feet on my towel, put on my sunglasses and helmet, put my socks and bike shoes on, unracked my bike and was off. Transition was still slow! I did T1 in 4:46. Room for improvement!

Tim didn't make it up to the transition exit in time to see me, but these are other bikes coming out of transition.
 
Once I got on the bike I felt great! I looked down and realized that my Garmin was set on run mode, so it was giving me pace in minutes/mile instead of miles per hour. I spent a lot of time on that ride doing math trying to figure out how fast I was going. I was glad to have the Garmin, but at the same time I need to remember to turn it to bike mode in the future. I think I would have started a little more conservatively had I known my pace.

I got passed quite a bit and did a little bit of passing. The people passing were mostly men from the waves behind us, but there were also a number of girls my age. Looking at the tri bikes and hearing them whiz past was fun. I loved riding, and the head wind never got unbearable. I did take it out a little fast, so I was struggling a bit at the end, but I still love riding the most. Doing it out on a course with hundreds of other bikers just made it even more fun.

I finished the 10 miles in 29:01 with an average speed of 20.7 MPH. That put me 13th in my age group. 

Into transition and onto the run it was! T2 took me 2:53. Too long!
 
 Ugh. I'm a runner. I'm supposed to be excited for the run, but I wasn't. It felt odd, and I felt slow. I was running around 9:30 for the first little bit and was just trying to catch my breath and get into a groove of some sort. It took a while. I didn't like it. Ah! I'm supposed to like this part. I always read about runners who like this part and wait to get to it! I felt like I'd dropped my running membership card somewhere or forgot to pick it up from transition

At the 1.5 mile marker I felt like I had run at least 2. There were no mile markers on the run and my Garmin was still ticking from the bike. We turned around to run the rest of the way back ON SAND, and as a man passed and said "home stretch!" to me, I asked him how far. I think I might have sounded like the grim reaper, as he turned around and said, "mile and a half!" I thought about sitting down. I thought we were over halfway! And, I have to run this on the sand?!

During this time it struck me that the two months off from the stress fracture did more to my running fitness than I'd let on. Maybe I could run 2 or 3 miles at an okay pace, but I've lost a lot of the endurance I worked so hard for. Blah. Not a fun realization to have.

I walked through both water stops and took a gatorade and water at both of them. I didn't know if the finish line was going to come at any point, and when I finally saw it I picked it up and just started running my heart out. Then about halfway there I realized it's one of those "not as close as it appears" mirages, and I couldn't sustain my kick. Oh well. Sudden stomach cramps surged, I pushed to just cross that line, and then I had finished! I'm a triathlete!
 
I'm looking for Tim in that last picture.

The run was by far my weakest link, and my 3.1 miles took me 29:54, or an average of 9:39/mile. It also put me 17th in my AG. Yikes. 

But then I saw Tim and got food. I was dying for a Gatorade and they just didn't have any at the post race party. All they had was Propel, which was too sweet for me. Oh well. I got two big slices of watermelon, which tasted divine.

Then I met up with friends! Everyone had great races. Tori got another PR (for the fourth year in a row) and Beth killed it with her new bike!
 Overall it was a great day!

My total time was 1:12:49 for the distance. Now I've got a bar set!

I wore my new MooMotion Indie triathlon kit and loved it! I'll have a whole other post on that in the days to come.

My next triathlon will be double the distance at the International Distance Triathlon FD3 at Fort de Soto on August 24th. Can't wait! Already dreading the run but aiming for improvement.

68 comments:

Genna said...

Congrats on a great race!! I loved the recap! Now you know what to expect and how to practice for the next one! yay Triathlete!

B.o.B. said...

Again, congratulations!!! I'm so dang proud of you and may need to swim with you to get stronger. You blew those people outta the water!!!
We can work on transitions together. LOL! xoxo

Jina said...

Congratulations! I loved reading this. So exciting!

Chrissy said...

Congrats on your first tri! I feel the same way when I get to the run portion!

Jesica @rUnladylike said...

Yay!!! Congrats on a great race. I am so impressed by your swim time and bike speed. You will be a major force to be reckoned with when you get more experience with your transitions and are fully healthy from your stress fracture for the run. So proud of all your work and effort!!! Can't wait to see what is next for you!

P.S. Get a Garmin 910 now that you are doing triathlons. It automatically knows when you are swimming, biking and running and also records your transition times. It is awesome.

Jessica B. said...

Congrats again. You did awesome! You should mention you placed 5th among all the newbies. That is an amazing accomplishment. :)

Rick Stiles said...

You are truly amazing! Congrats on your first tri! I love reading your posts, thanks!

Stacey said...

Congrats on a great race! This gets me so pumped for my first sprint tri in August!

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

How awesome!! These are such great pictures of you and the race. Very cool!

I used to produce 2-day bike rides and that pic of you at bike parking early in the am brings back so many memories!!

Meghann said...

You did great! This was a great beginner's race - you picked a good one!

Kat @ Sneakers and Fingerpaints said...

awesome job Meghan! I can live vicariously through you reading these tri recaps now ;) I know it's hard to run any 5k, even for you being off an injury, as you're used to using that distance as a 'warmup' too, so you still did great!

Tori @ In Love and Peanut Butter said...

So so so proud of you! I've really enjoyed training with you and watching you become a true triathlete. Congrats again! Can't wait for FD3 next month!

Kristin @ A Mom on the Run said...

You did awesome! Tri's still intimidate me, I love reading about your start in them! My brother wants to start doing them too, so after the marathon in January we may start training for them. I'll probably be hitting you up for LOTS of tips!!

Laura @ Mommy run fast said...

So awesome, Meghan!! That's a speedy bike time, and you look so strong. Congrats!!

Amy @ A Glimpse of the Gouglers said...

To say that I am so proud of you and excited for you is an understatement! You did it and you did it WELL! Congrats friend! Can't wait to hear about your next one!

Oh and for the record, I don't do a lot of swimming workouts but I did one yesterday and thought of you and your tri!

Heather @ From Here to There said...

Loved reading your re-cap!! I wish my swim would improve. I got out of the swim and slowly walked to transition, it was painful... but when I got off the bike to transition for the run, I was running. You did great, I'm so proud of you! :)

We Run Disney said...

Nice job Meghan, It must be hard to attempt a first tri and you did so well! Congrats and good luck on your next one. You must be really proud!

Nichole said...

Congrats on your first Tri!! You look great in your pics, and I know you were down on yourself a bit about your transitions, but you really did well! My husband is the tri nut in this family and one day maybe I'll "try" it. ;) I'm a really weak swimmer, though, and that's what concerns me!

The Unlikely Runner said...

Congratulations!!! What an awesome race for your first one!! I'm super impressed and very motivated now for sure!

Jamie said...

Yay, congratulations triathlete!! :) So speedy on the bike!

I'm not sure how many bricks you are doing, but they will definitely help you feel better off of the bike (especially for your Olympic distance tri).

Britton Yar said...

I loved reading your race recap! What an awesome race!! Congrats to you!!!

Kristin W said...

Haven't been reading blogs any lately, but I knew I had to hear your recap. It's so cool to follow this experience with you! Congrats on completion! So proud and I've loved watching this change in sports.

Kristen :) said...

Reading this makes me want to do a triathlon - and then I remember I can't swim...oh well.

Lauren said...

Congrats on your first tri, what an awesome feeling I bet!!!!

Allie said...

I've been reading your blog for quite a few years now. I've read about you becoming a half marathoner, marathoner, and now a tri-athlete! You are awesome! Great job on your first tri! I can understand your frustrations with running but don't beat yourself up too much. Just think of how much you'll improve at your next race :)

Amber said...

Meghan, this is amazing. You're such a rockstar. It all sounds so exhausting to me, but you just sailed right through! Maybe if the run had been first, it would've been easier? Either way, I'm proud of you :)

Crystal said...

I finally had time to sit and read this uninterrupted. I LOVED it. All of it. I wish that I were a strong swimmer. If (or when) I finally decide to do a triathlon it's going to take quite a bit of coaching in that area. You were strong all throughout. Maybe you didn't feel great during the run portion, but as you said, you're coming back from an injury.

Excellent job!! I wish I were that speedy in all regards.

Amanda said...

You did amazing! I'm so impressed. It's been fun to watch your journey into multiple sports.

Kacey said...

WOW! I am so proud of you! I could never do that... no way could you get me on one of those bikes. I can't wait to see the official pictures too!!

kilax said...

Congrats on your first tri! Wow, you did amazing! I need to learn some swimming tips from you (if you haven't already shared them!). It was interesting to see all the pics of swimmers in bikinis, as most of my friends out here in the Midwest are still using wetsuits.

I am happy you linked to your kit! I was going to ask about that!

I am sorry you felt so frustrated on the run. That must have been disappointing and a shock. What do you plan to do to train differently for the international distance?

Congrats again!

orangespoken.com said...

YAY!!! Congrats!!!! Tris are so much fun. One and you're hooked! :)

Rachel said...

DUDE!!! You KILLED the swim!! Awesome job!!! That is an excellent first tri!! I am so proud of you!! And I, too, never feel like less of a runner than running during a Tri. The run is what we are good at, right?!

meghan said...

Thanks Rachel! And I'm just going to work on more bricks to try to improve how that run feels. Yikes! There was nothing fun about that part!

meghan said...

Thanks so much Steph! Which ones have you done?

meghan said...

Thank you so much! I should do a post about swimming. I grew up a swimmer since the age of 6, so that has helped me transition into the sport. Those girls in the two piece tri suits can really pull them off too, huh? The water was warm without a doubt. I think getting used to swimming in a wetsuit will be a little different for me.

That tri kit worked out so well for me. I'll be wearing it for my next on in August without a doubt. I love that it transitioned so easily between all the sports.

I'm going to start building more in mileage before the international distance. This stress fracture set me back a lot, and though I kept a bit of running fitness, I don't have the same endurance that I did when I got the injury back in March.

meghan said...

Thanks Kacey!!!! You definitely could.

meghan said...

Thanks so much Amanda! I have enjoyed adding to the things I focus on. It takes some of the pressure off of running that I had started really putting on myself.

meghan said...

Thanks so much Crystal! I really appreciate it. I saw you tweet about starting to get a swim coach! That's exciting! You'll be great at tris. You succeed at everything you put your mind to! And your biking is awesome from what I've seen on DailyMile! I know you mountain bike a lot; how often do you road bike?

meghan said...

Thanks Amber! It has felt so good to grow into loving these sports. I think if the run had been first it would have been better, yes, because I think I lost a lot of endurance through my injury. And thank you!!

meghan said...

Thanks Allie! It's crazy how much I've changed since I started my blog a while ago. It has absolutely made me a happier person, too. And you are awesome as well! I'm excited that you signed up for a fall marathon! Your training seems to be going well already! And I can't wait to see improvement in my running as I go!

meghan said...

Thanks Lauren!! It was! I can't wait to do another and continue to improve!

meghan said...

Thanks Kristen! They're a lot of fun. You can find ones with shorter swims and even pool swims to get started!

meghan said...

Thanks Kristin! I've been bad about reading blogs lately too. I'm spending today catching up. Thanks so much for following along and for the congrats! You'd be great at transitioning into tris to with all the crosstraining and bike time you've gotten lately!

meghan said...

Thank you Britton! I appreciate it!

meghan said...

Thanks Jamie!

I actually haven't done any official "straight off my road bike onto a run" bricks. I had done a couple where I drove home to secure my bike then ran or got off a stationary bike then went to a treadmill but I don't think that's the same. I'll definitely be integrating more...

meghan said...

Thanks Lauren! I appreciate it!!

meghan said...

Thanks Nichole. I really appreciate your response! That's awesome that your husband does it. It's a pretty addicting sport. I really am enjoying getting into it, but I'm also looking forward to starting marathon training again here in a month or two. The swim seems to be an area that a lot of people are newer to and more hesitant about, but it also seems to be the one that matters least distance and time wise, so don't let that stop you from trying it!

meghan said...

Thanks Pam and Christine! It was a little nerve wracking preparing for it and really digging into training once I could run and had to juggle three sports, but I'm really enjoying the variety! I'm proud, and I appreciate all the support and encouragement I get from the blogging world!

meghan said...

Thanks Heather! Having a swimming background has been helpful for the transition for sure. The run from the swim to transition was definitely the hardest part of the day. I was short of breathe and wondered why the run was so long! I appreciate your support!!

meghan said...

Thanks Amy!! I appreciate it! And I'm so excited for the next one! Glad you hopped in the pool. I know it's definitely good from running cross training too! Maybe you'll find yourself in a tri one day soon? :D

meghan said...

Thanks Laura! I really appreciate it! I enjoy biking so so much. I'm a bit addicted.

meghan said...

Thanks so much Kristin! It'll be nice to be able to train with your brother too! Which marathon(s) did you decide one? I think I remember you said you signed up for Space Coast and Disney and that one might be more for fun? Is that still the plan?

meghan said...

Thanks Tori!! I really couldn't have done it without you. And I'm excited for FD3 too!! And the medals!

meghan said...

Thanks Kat! I really appreciate it. It was hard to realize that I lost so much endurance. Here I was all along thinking that biking had kept my running fitness, and while it did keep my running fitness in the sense that I could run a mile or two at an okay pace, I can't run the same distances at the same paces as before.

meghan said...

Thanks Meghann! I was glad to be out there. Looking forward to my next one! I'm doing the FD3 International one down in Ft de Soto August 24th. Hope it's as newbie friendly.

meghan said...

Thanks Leeann. It was so much fun. I didn't know you put on 2 day bike rides!! That's awesome!! How fun.

meghan said...

Thanks Stacey!! What is your first going to be?! Good luck!

Megan said...

Wow! That's an incredible first tri! I'm jealous of your swim expertise - that's my weakest discipline for sure. But you did an incredible job. Congrats!

meghan said...

Thanks Jess! Congrats to you too!! They moved me down to 6th place in the newbies behind someone I think had been wrongly categorized as a male. Oh well! I was still excited! How did you feel after it?

meghan said...

Thank you Rick! I always appreciate your supportive comments and tweets!

meghan said...

Thanks Jesica! I really enjoyed it and am definitely going for the 910 soon. I know that once I get my running fitness and endurance back things will be better. It was such a tough experience at the end. These triathlons are no joke!

meghan said...

Thanks Jina! It was a fun race and I'm already looking forward to my next one!

meghan said...

We totally need to...Thanks so much for all your excitement and support! And yes! Let's swim together!

meghan said...

Thanks Chrissy! I don't like feeling that way! I want to feel the excitement that others refer to! What's your next race?

meghan said...

Thanks Genna!!

meghan said...

Thanks so much Megan. I really appreciate it. Growing up as a swimmer was helpful for triathlon, but it also seems to be the least important sport of the three as the distances continue to get longer.

orangespoken.com said...

I did the Tarpon Springs sprint tri 2 years in a row. Next up, IronGirl Clermont! :D

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