Sunday, October 7, 2012

Atomic Sprint Triathlon

My support crew.

Dawn broke over Melton Hill Recreation cloudy and humid.  The atmosphere was thick with tension and


Just kidding.  I'm pretentious but I'm not going to make people slog through that.

Sick, too, poor thing.

I woke up race day morning still harboring some evil virus I'd picked up a few days earlier.  I'd gotten no sleep the last week before the race.  I think it was a combination of taper and a medication snafu but I spent most nights last week in paralyzing anxiety attacks.  It was some kind of awesome.

Swim started hanging from that yellow boom.

However, thanks to some benadryl, I slept pretty well the night before the race and woke up feeling better than I thought I would.  I'm pretty sure I cheated myself on breakfast: half a bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  I just couldn't get any more down and I'm pretty sure I paid for that mistake in spades.

Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck.  I was sure I was going to forget something important or not bring something that anyone who's done one before would know to bring.  Like a bike pump!  I didn't bring one because the info on the race said a bike shop was going to be there for adjustments.  What they didn't say is the bike shop would be there on Sunday for the Half, not on Saturday for the Sprint.  I did have a little emergency pump that I had bought and never used and promptly used it to deflate my rear tire about 25%.  I spent the entire half mile walk to transition with my bike looking for someone bringing a pump with them.  No luck.

When I made it to transition I hung my bike up in a fairly empty spot next to one other bike.  By the time I started setting up my spot, the owner of the other bike was there turning his bike around because both of ours were facing in the same direction.  At first I thought he was being a jerk but he ended up being a very cool guy and introduced himself as Dave.  Dave gave me all kinds of good advice (like putting my timing chip on my left leg... duh) and a pretty good pep talk as I started to sweat over the swim.

Me and (Super Nice) Dave
Then as I was trying to kill time and nerves I found a guy, not even racing, who had a pump.  Day saved!

The swim started at the beach on the lake.  Well, near the beach.  We started our waves hanging on to the boom protecting the beach from boats.  You had to either crawl over or swim under the boom when your wave started.  I didn't really like hanging there in the cold water but it allowed me to get away from other swimmers and swim by myself for almost the whole first 100 yards.

Waiting to start.

The swim was the one part of the race I was worried about but it went off without a hitch.  I sighted well, kept a good pace and had a good strong swim throughout.  Apparently I was a little excited because I kicked more than usual and my legs were a little more tired than usual when I hit the beach but I was elated to get 500m done in about 16 minutes.

I'm the one leaving the wake.

I started the bike way too fast (contrary to Dave's instructions).

Not going way too fast, yet.  Reminder, make sure bike is in gear and ready to go before hanging it up.

I had seen the elevation chart but, stupid engineer, I had never bothered to appreciate the scale of the chart.  It struck me as I started up the first long hill... the long hill in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains (never occurred to me, either).  By the time I had gotten to the top my legs were toast.

Now, I hadn't paid much attention to nutrition for this race.  I figured it was fairly short so I wouldn't need to worry about it.  But as I said, I hadn't had much for breakfast and as I was coasting down the other side of the hill, my tank was feeling empty.  And I still had 15 miles to go.  I had brought one packet of GU and some pieces of a Power Bar.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the Power Bar for during exercise so I used the meal replacement one I had.  I know, stupid.  First race, remember?

By the time I got back to the hill on the return trip I had nothing left.  I actually had to get off the bike twice to push it to the tops of the hills.  I flew down the other side knowing I was getting close.  As I reached the bottom and began the last climb back into the park, my bike started feeling weird.  I looked down and sure enough, my rear tire was flat.  I made an executive decision and rode the flat the last two miles to transition.

I hit transition with nothing left but a packet of GU.  I sucked it down put my bike and helmet away and headed out for the run.

Bookin' it, no?

The run starts downhill so I did pretty well until I hit bottom.  Then it was a struggle until I got to around the end of mile one.  Then it felt like the GU kicked in and the run/walk wasn't too bad from there.

One of the best parts of the race happened during the last mile of the run.  A young lady whom I found out later made the podium in her age group (I think it was 25-29) was cooling down on her bike and rode passed me and said, "You're almost there."

"Yeah, I think I'm going to make it," I said.

She smiled and said, "You want me to ride with you?"

I politely declined but that question right there is a big reason why I'm doing more of these.  The people that compete in this sport are awesome.  Most of them are doing it entirely for themselves, not to win.  And they understand that everyone else is there for the same thing.

Later on, as the awards ceremony was coming to a close, two young ladies that barely finished the swim came in on their bikes.  Everyone... everyone... stopped what they were doing to applaud them and encourage them keep going; to finish.  It brought goosebumps.

So I finished.  It took me 2:28:18 and I only beat 5 people but I finished.  I actually finished strong.

Which is why I think I just bonked and needed to think about nutrition more.  I had the energy to sprint across the finish line once my GU was flowing through my bloodstream.

I had no pain, no soreness.  I was tired as hell but I haven't felt so good in years.

I can't wait to find a race for the spring.  And I will volunteer every time I get a chance next year just to be around these amazing people.  Amazing people like me.


  1. Loved reading this recap! It seems like the people participating were seriously awesome people - that's what makes a race spectacular. I just realized - this was like 90 minutes from me, too!

  2. Nice work and well done! You are awesome! Yes, nutrition is more important for folks "like us," but you'll get it straight and it will make a difference. So proud of you! Way to go.

  3. Great job on finishing your first tri!! That is awesome! Andrea and Steve are great people!! They took me out on my first open water swim too!! Do you have another race planned? If you do what is it? Keep up the hard work!