This past weekend I competed in and finished my first triathlon. I wanted to choose a race close to home that was beginner friendly. With that in mind I chose the 2013 Parris Island Triathlon put on by Setup Events. The Parris Island Triathlon is the first race of their 2013 South Carolina Triathlon Series and is touted as beginner friendly, flat, and fast. All of which it was.
My family and I began the weekend by traveling to Beaufort on Friday to check into our hotel and pick up my race packet. All went well on our trip and packet pickup. Looking back on things I wish at packet pickup I had asked to change categories for the race. More on that later. The remainder of the day was spent just chilling in the hotel room and me looking over everything I packed to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
We get up bright and early Saturday morning, about 5:45am to get all our things together at the hotel and get to the event site around 7:00am when the transition area opened up. Even though the race didn’t start until 9am I wanted to have plenty of time to make sure I had time to not miss anything. As soon as I arrive on site I set up my transition area. At this time there were not many bikes set up yet and I was pleased to see that because of my race number I had a prime position at the end of the bike rack.
After I got my transition area set up and met with a friend who was setting up near by, this was also his first triathlon. We went over to pick up our timing chips and get body marking completed. After this we just hung around walking about, talking with others and waiting for 9am when the first racers started.
The Parris Island Triathlon swim start is all based on how fast you expect that you can swim 100 yards. Your submitted estimated 100 yard swim time is used to determine your start position and therefore your bid number. I submitted an estimated swim time of 2:15 min/100 yards. EXTREMELY slow…… What I failed to realize was that this would mean that even though swimmers started entering the water at 9am I wouldn’t start until closer to 10am. I had eaten at 6am with the idea that I would be starting closer to 9am. In the future I will certainly have some nutrition closer to the race start if my swim time continues to be as slow to ensure I have the energy as I felt sluggish by the time I got to the run.
I finally got started close to 10am into the water I jumped and began my swim. Immediately smacking my right foot on the bottom of the pool. I failed to realize until I jumped in the pool that the starting area for the swim might have been 5ft deep, ouch! I began my swim and had a difficult time thought getting into a good tempo. I struggled with water splashing from passing competitors that just threw me off, BUT I finished.
Here is a picture my wife took of me during the swim:
Swim time: 12:59 I little slower than I expected but I finished. Lots of room for improvement here. I certainly am now considering getting some swim lessons to refine my stroke and help me do things correctly so that I can get a little quicker on the swim.
After this I headed out of the building to Transition one. Putting on my sunglasses, bike helmet(so grateful to have this!!) and my bike shoes. I struggled a little with my shoes but still managed to get out of Transition one in one minute even. Room for improvement but not bad for my first time with no practice
I hoped on my bike and headed out pushing hard. It was at this point that I realized that my trusty Garmin 910xt wasn’t going to be very helpful today. I had programmed my watch into the multisport mode before starting the race. Realized I hadn’t started it until halfway through the swim but remembered to hit the lap button regularly after that. The problem being that when I got on my bike and headed out and looked down to check my speed I realized that in Multisport mode everything defaulted back to KM and KM/Hr for speed. I normally train in miles and MPH. Thankfully the fields were programmed just as usual so I was able to monitor my HR and cadence on the bike.
Now here is where things got a bit hairy. I left Transition rounded the first two turns pushing as hard as I could and quickly came up on my first two competitors. And I mean I was coming up on them FAST! So fast that in a moment of reaction I locked up my rear brakes and went down. Thankfully nothing seemed broken and I got back up on the bike and got back to riding.
I loved how well the bike course was marked but the road surface on the military base left lots to be desired, that coupled with the heavy winds I was amazed I was able to move. In fact while on the bike I was never passed, well just those people that passed me while I was laying on the ground after my crash. Other than that I Think I must have passed 10-15 people or more on the bike. I quickly learned that because of where I started I was with lots of other people who were doing their first race and they didn’t understand the rules of the road. I lost count of how many times I had to cross the yellow line to pass people riding on the far left of the travel lane. Other than my tumble at the beginning of the bike I felt very pleased with my ride and my time. I may have been able to push it a bit harder if I had been able to see what my actual speed was but overall I was pleased with my first bike split during a triathlon.
Bike time: 33:14
After the bike I came back to Transition to switch to my running gear and get my run on. I struggled a little getting my cycling shoes off and getting my running socks on. In part looking back on it due to my injured elbow, but in part just lack of practice. I definitely need to work on my transitions. I also need to work on learning to run, training my feet, without socks. This would have saved me considerable time in Transition.
Finishing T2 I head out on the run. Looking down at my watch I realize that it is still in all the wrong units. So I quickly decide while running to just cancel out of multisport mode and switch to normal running mode to bring back my defaults so that I could get the information I am accustomed to seeing to help pace myself. Well that didn’t work. So I was forced to run the whole 5k by feel and an occasional look at my HR. Certainly not how I usually do things. I feel extremely sluggish and slow my first mile. I am sure in part that I only had one brick session this year before the race but also because it was before 6am that I at that morning. At the 1 mile mark there is a water station. I slow to a quick walk grab a cup of water and drink it then get back to running. Still feeling slow but I won’t let myself give up. As I continue going I feel as if there is a rock in my shoe picked up while putting my shoes on. I force myself to live with it till I get to the halfway mark and the next water station. I grab a cup of water, drink it, then proceed to remove my shoe to try and clear the rock. Quickly put my shoe back on and get back on my way. I am finally starting to get into a groove and feel like I am running good, but still have no idea how fast I am running. Looking back if felt as if I was doing one of my long slow runs pace wise. I still get the occasional “are you ok” from volunteers working the course as they see the road rash on my arm. Finally rounding the corner I see the finish line. I’m about to finish my first triathlon, giving it all I have I finish strong.
WOW!! Where did that run come from? I fully expected to see a run closer to 30 minutes and knowing that I just PR’d my 5k race distance a few weeks ago at 24:26 a very solid run effort.
Overall time: 1:14:28
Very pleased with my performance/time for my first race. Right around the time I expected it to take me. I have also learned several key areas for improvement.
1. The swim. I need a swim coach or some lessons. This is certainly my weak point.
2. Transitions Although pleased with my transition times. I did waste time in both transitions fumbling about trying to get shoes on and off.
3. The bike, work on some interval training to boost my overall speed. I average 19.4mph for the bike course but I know I can do better.
4. The run, nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. To help me feel better during the run. Continue to work on my run speed so I can finish in under 25 minutes on the run.
5. My Garmin 910xt watch. Make sure that the units are set properly on my watch BEFORE the race so that I can actually use my watch during the race.
Parris Island Triathlon was a great first race and I will be back next year. Setup events are a great event promotor and I look forward to doing more of their events. Falling off the bike at near 20mph hurts. Had x-rays this morning to find out what if anything is broken.