My First Triathlon
by Jenni Kirk
Fortunately, and thanks to several previous marathons and half marathons, I seem to have gotten that pre-race jitter thing out of my system. I slept really well on Friday night, and woke up at 4:30 on Saturday morning with no problem. I had spent about an hour and a half getting all of my stuff together the night before, so all I really had to do was get dressed and eat breakfast. I ate my massive bowl of oatmeal and quadruple checked my tri bag to make sure I had everything I needed, and then I headed over to my parents' hotel so we could drive to the race. My friend Katie, who was volunteering at the race, met us at the hotel, we loaded up my bike and drove out to Treasure Island.
If you've never been to Treasure Island, it's a trip. It's like the Twilight Zone – almost completely deserted, and covered in weird, ugly buildings that are on the verge of falling down. It used to be a naval base, but now it just looks like the scene of a horror film! The weirdest part is that it could be prime real estate – it's got great views of the city, but right now it's just home to some pretty sad-looking section 8 housing. Anyway...
It was DARK when we got there, and that's when I realized that the only thing I had forgotten was a flashlight to set up my transition area! Oops. But by the time I got to my spot, it was light enough for me to unpack my bag and set everything up. My dad got coffee, and I did my best to remember where I was supposed to put everything (I really must practice my transitions a little more often!). I got everything laid out, had some stranger body mark me – what a strange thing, to have some random person writing on you with permanent marker – and then I waited. You see, the first wave (men 29 and under) started at 7:15. My wave (women 29 and under and women 40 and older) didn't start until 8:45!!! So mom, dad and I went and watched the first four waves start before I even thought about putting on my wetsuit. Unfortunately, this did not do very well for my nerves! It was fun to watch though – some of the guys were insanely fast, and I did manage to see a couple of people who I knew, so that was cool.
Finally, it was time for me to get ready. I pulled on the wetsuit, slathered my neck with Body Glide, and headed to the starting corral. Have I mentioned that wetsuits are extremely sexy? Haha. Right. Anyway, I was happy to see my friend Katie near the start, and my parents were there as well. Much to my surprise, Dorette, the head coach of the Nike training program, tapped me on the shoulder and wished me good luck. She was there to support another friend of hers, but did her fair share of cheering for me as well, which was really nice! About five minutes before the start, they herded us down the ramp and into the water to warm up, or begin to freeze our asses off, whichever you prefer. Did I mention that the water was 60 degrees? Almost tropical! I did my best to try out my stroke and numb my face, and then I got ready for the countdown.
1500 meter Swim - 35:58
After the horn there was lots of kicking and floundering about, but I got into a groove just behind the pack. Somewhere about halfway through the first side of the first lap (we swam twice around a 750m triangle marked with buoys) I started to panic – it looks A LOT farther to the next buoy when you're in the water than it does when you're on land! It took me a few minutes to catch my breath and regain composure, but I kept swimming, and eventually got into a groove. I did a pretty decent job at sighting as far as I can tell...I checked every few strokes, and the buoy always seemed to be straight ahead, but I'd like to see a video to see just how on I was! I only had one run in with another swimmer. She obviously wasn't watching where she was going, and she swam right into me...I tried to get out of the way, but I kicked her a couple of times in the process. Oh well. That's what she gets for not watching where she's going! Once I made it around the last corner, I knew I was home free, which made for a nice, strong swim finish!
T1 - 2:39
A couple of guys helped me out of the water (I wish I knew who the one guy was because he was CUTE! And no, I wasn't actually checking him out when I was getting out of the water...I noticed him when I was watching the earlier waves!) and I ran up the stairs and to my bike, removing caps, goggles and wetsuit all at once. The wetsuit came off without any problems, and I did my best to put on my socks, shoes, shirt and helmet without wasting too much time. The socks were definitely the most difficult part because I couldn't really feel my hands or my feet, but once I got them on, it was all good. I grabbed my bike, and ran (rather awkwardly) to the bike exit...
40k (24.9 miles) Bike – 1:31:18
This was definitely my worst event of the three. I have a feeling a lot of it had to do with the course, and I'm still not all that comfortable making really quick or risky maneuvers on my bike, so this probably wasn't the best course for a bike debut. Treasure Island, in its lovely, crumbling state, is full of potholes. Fortunately, they were nice enough to mark them with red spray paint, but they were still a pain to get around sometimes. Also, since the bike course consisted of six loops of the island, there were LOTS of corners. By the fourth loop I was getting comfortable with going around the corners rather quickly...I'm kind of a wuss when it comes to that (and rightly so...the only people who fell off their bikes did it on sharp turns!). So anyway, the bike was rather uneventful. I just kept counting down until it was done. I was sniffling the entire time because of all the seawater that I had swallowed, and in true triathlete fashion, I blew my nose however I could...note to self, blow nose on swim to bike transition next time around. Triathletes are so gross, aren't we? I think my favorite part of the whole thing was the one hill on the course – that's where I passed everyone! The advantage to the loopy course was that I did get to see my mom and dad and Dorette several times throughout the bike ride. When I made it to the final loop, I was so excited to finally be done – my ass was cramping on the left side, and I kept having to stretch my hamstring, which is something that has never bothered me in the past. Oh well! I rode into the chute and unclipped my feet, and I was happy to see that Katie was directing everyone as they were coming back into the transition area. I said hi, got off my bike, and awkwardly ran back to my spot to change my shoes.
T2 – 1:39
This transition went MUCH more smoothly! I took off my helmet, pulled on my running shoes (with the elastic "cheater" laces as Dolly calls them), grabbed my race number and took off for the last time.
10k (6.2 miles) Run – 51:59
This was the most painfully awkward run I've ever done. My feet were actually still numb from the swim, so I felt like I was just shuffling along. It was a two loop out and back course, which was actually nice, because there were a lot of other people around even though there weren't too many spectators. I did my best to pick people off, but it was frustrating because the really good runners in the 30-39 age group kept blowing by me from behind! Oh, and did I mention that I had messed up my watch? I pretty much did this whole thing by feel. I had no idea how fast I was going – it felt like a 12 minute mile, but I knew it couldn't possibly be that slow. All I knew for sure was that I had started the run a little before 11:00. Much to my surprise, it turned out to be my fastest 10k to date! 8:23 miles! As I made it back for the final stretch, I was happy to see Dolly and Herb, who were nice enough to come out and watch the finish, Katie, my dad and my mom – It's so great to have people out there cheering for you!!!
Total time: 3:03:28
I know it's not spectacular, but I think it's pretty damn good for a first try! I'll definitely be doing this again, but I'm going to need to do a lot of training on the swim and the bike if I want to step it up a notch. I guess that's what the off season is for. I'm so lame...I'm happy with my time, but I keep thinking to myself that I could have done better. What I keep forgetting is that I just did a marathon two weeks ago! Of course I could have done better if I were fully rested and not still recovering! Duh.
This recap wouldn't be complete if I didn't fill you in on Sunday morning's events. As if I'm not a big enough glutton for punishment, I ran the US Half Marathon on Sunday morning. Since I'm doing CIM in a month, I needed to get in the extra miles, so my dad and I signed up for this half marathon. It was a beautiful course that ran from Fisherman's Wharf, through the Marina and Crissy Field, in the Presidio, across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Absolutely gorgeous, and it covered most of my favorite running spots in San Francisco. It was nice to be able to show my dad around that way! My dad's funny...when they picked me up from work on Friday, he says, "Guess what I did yesterday?"
"What did you do, Dad?"
"I ran 12 miles!"
(Oh jeez.) "Dad!!! WHY???? We're running a half marathon in two days!"
"Well, I wanted to make sure I was ready..."
Too funny. So needless to say, we were a little slow. He was cramping up at the end, and we didn't cross the finish line at more than a jog, but our 2:29 finish was a 10 minute PR for him, so I was proud!
Next up: a 24-mile training run to Tiburon, and then it's TAPER TIME for California International!!! Woo hoo! Finally, I get to taper for real! Sub-4 marathon, here I come!