Blue Lake Sprint Triathlon Report

I had my first official event…and it was AWESOME! I had such a great time and, great time! The weather was perfect, slightly overcast and warm, water was warm, and Mother Superior (my mom) came as my support crew and cheerleader.

The Swim – 0:21:18 – 0.5 miles

Mom asked me after the end of the event what my favorite part was, and I answered, “The SWIM!” If you recall from my Mock Tri report last month, I had a rough experience with the swim and it really was only 0.25 miles. Since that time I have worked with adjusting my wetsuit, practiced at Blue Lake and other locations, and have had some individualized triathlon swim coaching and it has made all the difference.

The water was 63 degrees, ten degrees warmer than the weekend before at a practice swim. As I learned from my tri clinics, I donned my wetsuit early and did about 15 minutes of warm-up swimming and practiced my entries and exits. It seemed to take the edge off. I was in the third wave. I positioned outside as far west as I could, halfway back. This gave me a great vector line and set me up for the turn at the first buoy.

When the swim started I dophined my entry and set myself in drafting position behind another swimmer. And then that swimmer stopped swimming and I ran into her. So I swam around her, found another swimmer to draft, and BOOM, she stopped and I ran into her! This happened about four times and then I stopped trying to draft. This is obviously not what the pros experience when they talked about drafting! I made sure to use a consistent stroke tempo, paid attention to my form and stroke timing, sighted occasionally, and made my first buoy turn like I learned from the Athlete’s Lounge clinics. There were jet skis out on the course for swim support and my one complaint is that they put out a lot of awful choking exhaust. I would have preferred kayak support, but I continued forward. I did find a swimmer to draft at this point but I noticed she was not sighting well, heading across the lake to the other shore instead of toward the next buoy, and while drafting can often accommodate course corrections, she was heading so severely off course that I had to leave her. After the second buoy some faster swimmers from the men’s wave after us caught up, so I drafted when I could, but mostly swam on my own, which went fantastic. I swam all the way in until my hands hit sand before getting up and out. I swam freestyle the whole way, no stopping, no backstroke, face in the water! An altogether different swim than the Mock Tri.

T1 – 00:03:59

Coming out of the water from the swim.

The transition area for this triathlon is a looooong way away from the water and is huge (had to accomodate 500 racers, a few more than Mock Tri)! Since I hadn’t expended all my energy in poor swimming technique, I was able to run up the exit, peeling off my wetsuit while I ran. I easily found my bike (practiced my approach after setting things up) thanks to my flashing red taillight on my saddle bag carrying my tubes and tube changing kit. (This was a fortuitous mistake, I removed the taillight before the Mock Tri thinking it was unnecessary and excess, but forgot to remove it for this tri and realized after setting up that it would be a great marker to help me quickly locate my bike in the long rack of bikes). I got out of my wetsuit, into my helmet and sunglasses, got my Garmin out of my swim cap and twisted it into the holder on my bike, donned socks and shoes, grabbed a quick gulp of water, and I was off…to run another 0.17 miles with my bike to the mounting area. Total transition distance appears to have been about 0.25 miles!

Bike – 00:43:23 – 12 miles

The run from the transition area to the mounting area was a mother! It’s a lot of work to run in bike shoes on uneven grass! The bike itself was pretty uneventful. I tried to stay on the white fog line as much as possible because it was smoother than the pavement! Got passed, passed others. It was mostly flat with one little hill at the underpass for Interstate 205. I sipped water about every 15 minutes.

T2 – 00:02:42

Running out of T1 with OJ with all kinds of strangers cheering my name!

Back to the transition area, running over grass in bike shoes again! A little bit before entering the transition area I saw Mother Superior. As I approached her she and a bunch of other people I didn’t recognize started cheering my name and clapping and yelling and jumping up and down—it was FANTASTIC! After the race I asked her who all those people were and she said, “I don’t know, I told them I was waiting for my daughter Cindy and they got excited and cheered like crazy with her when I came into view!” What a shot in the arm that was…look at my smile!

Run – 00:30:21 – 5K (3.1 miles)

Coming in for the finish!

No foot numbness after the bike this time. I focused on my posture, form, and tempo, everything I learned at the Good Form Running Clinic. My Garmin showed my pace at 9:00 to 9:30 min/miles initially and slowed a bit. I started to feel a shin splint on my left, something I’ve not experienced before in any of my running. I don’t know if I was running differently due to a fall last week or if the tongue of my left shoe being out of center was causing it. I just kept running, though, and took a few fast walking paces at a couple of points to ease it. It wasn’t debilitating, just an irritant. Overall pace was 9:46 minute mile, faster than my 10:33 Mock Tri pace!

Crossing the finish line at my first official triathlon!

There I am, crossing the finish line! I felt great! I knew from my Garmin that I had a pretty good event time as I started it about 5 minutes prior to the swim in order to secure it in my swim cap and forgot to stop it until about 30 seconds after the finish due to my excitement.

My official time: 1:38:43!!!!

Un-frickin-believable!

I finished 29/45 in my age group, but here’s a little extra…I thought I had registered for the Athena (150 pounds and over) division, but apparently had not. Had I been in that correct division, I would have been in second place and only 45 seconds behind first place! Holy Cow!

Happiness at the finish line!

Lessons Learned:

  • Get to the race site as soon as you are allowed. We got there right after 6AM when they opened the park. I know it was really early for my race partner and support crew, but it did a ton to reduce jitters by not being rushed, being able to deal with the unexpected (like accidentally locking the buttons on my Garmin), walk through the approaches and exits for the transition area, do a swim warm-up, etc.
  • Do the swim warm-up! I did, and it really helped mentally. I knew how the water felt, knew my suit was adjusted properly, knew my goggles were adjusted right so they wouldn’t slip and fill with water when I did the dolphin entry at the start.
  • Put Garmin from swim cap onto wrist band rather than onto bike mount at T1. I put the Garmin on the bike for the ride and then had to switch it at T2…would be much more efficient to only move it once. It works on my wrist just as well as the bike during the ride.
  • Have support crew! Having Mother Superior there was priceless. I’ve never had support crew or cheering section at any of my other events, really never thought much about asking people to come. What a difference it makes to have someone to assist, stow stuff during the event, take photos, and CHEER YOU ON!! A familiar face is so refreshing and is such a boost! Thank you, mom, for everything you did that day—I love you!

Mother Superior and OJ

  • Be true to yourself! Ok, so the fault in not being registered in the Athena class is mine. During registration there was a spot for weight and I didn’t enter it…typical girl…and I didn’t understand why it was needed. Now I know! I will be checking all my other registrations now to make sure I’m in the correct class.

So that’s the race report for Blue Lake Sprint Triathlon 2011! I have a ton more pictures posted on Facebook and incorporated some into the new blog banner. My next event will be the Vancouver Half-Marathon Sunday, June 19 and my next triathlon will be the Girlfriends and Dudes Sprint Triathlon July 19 at Frenchman’s Bar on the Columbia River in Vancouver, WA. The Iron Girl Triathlon scheduled for June 26 at Hagg Lake was canceled (more on this in the next blog).

I do want to thank everyone who texted, tweeted, facebooked, emailed, and called with their wishes, support, and mojo the days before, during, and after the event! You have no idea how much that meant and how it helped. You all rock!

I missed a posting for last week and I do have a ton to talk about, but I didn’t want to clutter my race report or make this post any longer than it was. So stay tuned for “Is That Poop or Pudding?” coming up!

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