Yesterday I participated in the Iron Girl triathlon in Columbia, MD. It was my first tri, and it was awesome!
And, ouch, my aching body is a constant reminder of my accomplishment!
Anyway, my day started early, with my alarm schedule to go off at 3:40 a.m. A friend was meeting at my house at 4:45 to carpool to the event, and I just need a little extra time to wake up!
We arrived in the dark, around 5:30, with thousands of other athletes and spectators. It seemed very early — my start time wasn’t until 7:53 a.m. based on age group — but there actually wasn’t much downtime.
We got our body marking done — race numbers written in marker on both arms and hands, and age on the back of our right leg. I ate my peanut butter sandwich, waited in line for the port-o-pots, and set up my transition area.
We didn’t have a lot of space, but I brought a crate for my supplies that fit nicely under my back tire. I placed my shoes and helmet by the crate and should have been ready to go after the swim.
We got kicked out of the transition area before the elite athletes got in the water — 6:45 a.m. The quickest finished the .62-mile (1K) swim in under nine minutes so they wanted to make sure we were out of their way!
I had a bit of a wait before my wave start, but it went fast. Eventually my group was ready to go. It was an in-water start, and we had to tread water for a couple minutes. Next time I’ll practice this! I had a bit of a rough start trying to catch my breath and get into a rhythm because of the treading and not being used to all the people in my way.
It thinned out a little bit, and I got comfortable and made it through. Before the race, I was thinking I’d do the swim in about a half hour. I clocked in at 29:57.
As people were running out of the water, I took my time walking to my bike. I needed the breather! Only once I got there, my helmet was gone. I looked under my bag, under my bike-neighbor’s towel. No helmet.
And then I spied it four or five bikes away. Somebody kicked it in their hurry to get out of transition! So I may have lost a couple minutes there. Oh well.
The bike course was 17.5 miles. 17.5 very hilly miles. I came close to the mileage in my training, and I thought I trained with enough hills. These were more difficult (and plentiful), but I managed to keep a decent pace. I made it up all of the hills — there were women walking their bikes up some of them.
I was passed by plenty of people. I’m not the fastest biker and I was riding the bike I had (a hybrid) rather than a racing bike like many of the participants. I wasn’t the only one, though, and I felt good whenever I was able to pass someone going up a hill!
Before the race, I was thinking that if I had a good ride, I would be able to finish in an hour and a half. I did it in 1:24:16. I was happy with that! (Well, I was happy until I saw some of my friends did 10 and 20 minutes better on their race bikes. Though, another friend with a fast bike was only two minutes ahead. I guess I can’t blame the bike entirely!)
I am a bit of a chicken on the downhills. I don’t always take full advantage once it starts getting really fast. I tend to ride the brakes if it gets too fast for my comfort. I’ll have to work on that. My race ride was actually quite good, looking back at my past rides. According to my Garmin, I averaged 12.5 mph. I only exceeded this on two training rides — and they were shorter and flatter!
I was pretty relieved to be done with the bike portion. I knew I could finish at this point, even if it wasn’t my fastest pace. (Of course, I probably lost some time in this transition, too. The girl next to me racked her bike facing the wrong way, and left her bag in my way. I ended up resting my front tire on her backpack because that was the only way it’d fit!)
It wasn’t as slow as the “lost helmet” transition, though. I traded my helmet for a visor and grabbed my water bottle, and was on my way!
Aside from sore calves, I felt pretty good. I kept a decent pace even with a couple walk breaks, water stops, and to gladly accept a sponge soaked in icy water to wring over my head!
I didn’t really have a goal time in my head to finish the 3.4-mile run portion. I expected the run to be a little slow, and I was just hoping I could finish the entire race under three hours. I didn’t realize I’d do this well, though. I finished the run in 34:44, just over 10-minute miles.
I did a trial run of the course back in July — 34:45. While I wasn’t exhausted from swimming or biking that day (other than a 30-minute spin class), it was 90+ degrees and humid. I can’t believe it was the same!
We were blessed by a much cooler day. While the sun still pretty hot during the run portion, it could have been so much worse.
My overall time (1K swim + 17.5 mile bike + 3.4 mile run + both transitions) was 2:38:58.
I had a great time, and can’t wait to do it again!