Monday, March 28, 2011

Tri Not to Freeze


The next triathlon will most certainly take place in nicer weather.  One, because it will be in May or June which are traditionally warmer months than March and two, because if I show up and it is colder I am refusing to race.   It was 39, windy, and threatening to rain when we arrived at the Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatic Center and it stayed that way for the rest of the day.  This was a sprint with an extra short, 250 yard, swim, a 20k bike, and a 5k run  It was pretty ideal for someone with a weaker swim (i.e. me).    

About a week out, Chad & I sat down and came up with some goal splits, some more arbitrary than others.  6:00 swim, 1:30 T1, 41:00 bike, 1:30 T2, 20:00 run, for a 1:10:00 total time.   I was going to bike and run in my borrowed tri kit and work on having fast transitions.  In light of the nasty weather, on Sunday morning I decided to forgo my original plan and instead put on some clothes for the bike and run.  To that end, I decided to skip the watch and just race on feel.  At that point I thought it would be depressing to see slow times and make the entire experience less fun.  Just about an hour after the first swimmers started it was finally my turn!  I jumped in the water for the warmest  part of the tri and was off.

The results: 1:10:20, 16th overall, 4th age group.  104th ranked swim, 20th ranked bike, 3rd ranked run.  One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not the same.  

Going in, I had been working hard on my swim and felt confident that it would go well and I would be in the top half.  I have no idea where this notion came from.  My swim time was ranked in the bottom quarter, so it should have been clear to me that it was unlikely I would magically end up in the top half.  I suppose it was simply a case of me refusing to realize just how poor my swimming is comparatively.  Well that myth has been shattered.  Setting up swim lessons with Nicole has moved to the top of my “To Do” list.  Even though I took the swim easy in an effort to stay relaxed and not get flustered, triple digits is unacceptable.  I did pass two girls though and Chad was yelling and telling me how great I was swimming, so I thought I swam well, which helped to boost my confidence going into the bike.  False confidence is better than no confidence!

T1 was slow because I was busy drinking some gatorade (still don’t dare reach for my water bottle on the bike), putting on socks, gloves, and a light coat.  Everyone around me was also putting on pants.  Hmmm this is a bad sign.

The bike was very cold.  All I really remember is passing a lot of people and being incredibly cold.    The straightaways were the worst, the wind really got to blowing hard and it made me want to slow down.  I tried to pick it up but my motivation to go faster would diminish every time I picked up the pace but then got even colder thanks to the biting wind from the increased speed.  The lone bright spot of the bike was the fact that the wind forced me to ride in the drops, which I successfully did, except for the turns, the whole ride.  I have never been so happy as when I heard Chad screaming for me as I neared T2.  I was almost done freezing.

T2 was less slow, but still not fast because I had trouble getting my helmet off thanks to frozen fingers.  Apparently, I was not the only one who struggled with the helmet.  One friend had to ask for help from a fellow competitor in the transition to get his helmet off and a woman ran the entire 5k wearing her bike helmet because she could not get it off.  Talk about dedication.  Luckily, I did not suffer the same fate.  Soon enough I was off, onto my strongest leg.

I couldn’t feel my feet, but that wasn’t anything new and at least I was starting to regain feeling in my legs.  Yea running!  The course was a double out and back, which meant I had to go up one nasty hill twice, but also had tons of people to pass and Chad, Chris, Sarah, and Joey cheering for me throughout the run.  The run was less cold  than the bike and I was passing people like they were standing still.  I didn’t feel like I was going fast at all, but my legs were too cold to go any faster, so I just  kept at it.  As I was “sprinting” down the finishing chute, the announcer made some nice comment about me having a great run, which was cool, and I could see Chad holding up a sweatshirt.  Victory!  

In spite of the terrible cold, I had a great time.  Totally different than run races and in many ways more fun.  Perhaps that is because during run races I have very high expectations.  With no prior experience, I just wanted to have fun and not crash or drown.  Mission accomplished.  Only 20 seconds off my goal time as well; I am confident I would have biked and transitioned faster had it been warmer.   And it will be for the next tri-  or I’m biking in a parka!

This was an incredible experience for me.  I want to thank Chris and Sarah for being our triathlon couple role models and for all the advice and encouragement at Cool Breeze.  Sarah also lent me a sweet tri kit that I promptly covered up with a jacket in order not to suffer from hypothermia.  

Also, congrats to One2Tri Racing teammates Kim Eagens and Joey Church.  Kim was the 9th overall female and won her (our) age-group.  A great race for Kim.  I hope to learn from Kim how to improve all of my splits.  Joey was the 9th overall male, won his age group and had the fastest bike split of the day!

We finished off the day with salads, mimosas, and college basketball with friends.  Can’t get much better than that :)


  1. great job danielle!! way to gut it out in terrible weather on your first ever tri!

  2. Great job out there in some brutal conditions!