Three weeks before the race, I finally signed up for the Blue Lake Olympic Triathlon (http://aasportsltd.com/events/race/bluelaketri/) in Portland, Or. At this point I knew that I was good at training, it was time to see if I could race. My coach was very encouraging in the days leading up to the race, he constantly reminded me that the only way to get good at racing is to race - I was excited to finally get out there and go for it. The day before the race, coach prescribed a 60 minute ride with 20 minutes at 158-162bpm right into a 2 mile run at an easy effort. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and prepping gear - wow, there is a lot of gear!
Race morning rolled around and I was up by 5am. Ate my typical pre-race breakfast of coffee, banana, oats and a big glass of water and the weather was looking great for the race: low 60's and partially cloudy. We got to the race extra early, as we'd heard that the traffic had been bad the day before for the sprint portion of the triathlon. I was setup at transition and ready to race by 7am which gave me an hour to go to the bathroom, catch up with friends who were racing, and get warmed up.
My age group started about 7 minutes after the first wave, it was so intense fighting off other swimmers as we battle towards the first buoy! Once we made the first turn, I was able to get into a rhythm and had some space, it was time to focus on my swim. I swam through what I thought was the half way mark in just over 13 minutes - on pace for an OK swim. I made the mistake of sighting off of someone in front of me in the last long stretch towards the finish though and lost at least a minute as we were swimming anywhere but straight. I ran out of the water in 27 minutes, not as fast as I'd hoped but I was thrilled to be heading towards the bike!
Transitioning wasn't as hard as I'd hoped, however, I found myself being extra courteous of others making sure my area was cleaned up and not in the way of others in the transition area - I spent a solid extra minute doing this (fail). On the bike I felt great! First time using aero bars on my road bike, I know they say not to try anything new on race day but I had to give them a shot. I held a pretty consistent pace the entire race and felt great the whole way, I found myself getting passed by guys that didn't seem to be in nearly as good of shape as me. I tried not to get discouraged, as I knew that they were all riding expensive triathlon bikes and had more experience than I did with racing. I picked up the pace the final 2 miles and rode into T2 in 1:10:01 which was around 20.5mph average for the ride.
My transition from bike to run was much faster and I was through in 1:30. As heavy as my legs felt, I was confident that I was going to be able to run a strong 10k, running is my specialty! My first mile flew by in 6:02 and I had already passed 15-20 people. I was able to sustain a constant effort of 6:06-6:10/mile for the entire 10k. I didn't get passed by a single person and felt strong the entire way through finishing the run in 38:25 which was good for 6:10/mi pace and an 11 second PR!
My final time for my first triathlon was 2:20:53 and I left the race with 3 major takeaways: 1) I need to learn how to swim more efficiently in the open water, this will come with time. 2) I need to push it more on the bike and work on my swim-bike transition speed (T1). 3) I am hooked on triathlon! I love the training, I love the community and I love the gear/tech that goes into this sport. It's such an art and I'm already saving up for a triathlon bike. Time to work on my swimming and bike strength - lets go!