Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ft Desoto International Triathlon

Race #1,
May 7, 2016
A couple of months ago, I decided to sign up for this three race series. I figured it would be good training for the half ironman in September. Plus, I got a really good deal on it, when I used a coupon code a friend gave me. I like Ft Desoto for triathlons (I’ve done a couple of sprint triathlons there) because the bike course is closed to road traffic. That is not the case with other local races I’ve done. Plus, this international distance, has a shorter swim than the Olympic distance. Half mile swim, 20 mile bike and a 10K run.
During training for this race, I had gotten in quite a few open water swims. The last few had been in choppy water. I was still nervous about the half mile swim, though. The weather leading up to race day wasn’t so great. High winds and very choppy water at our local beach. Plus, the water temp had risen to 79 degrees, just on the wrong side of wetsuit legal. With the storm system that moved through on the Wednesday before the race, I had hopes that the temp might drop just enough on race morning, to make it a wetsuit legal race.
The finishers medal

Race morning: I got up very early and was out the door by 4:45. It was about an hour drive for me. I wanted to be up there with plenty of time to get checked in and get my gear set up. Once I arrived and got parked, I walked over to what looked to be the packet pickup. While I was waiting in line to check in, they announced over the loud speaker that the water temp was 73 degrees and wetsuit legal! I was VERY happy to hear it! I got my bib and green swim cap, I then headed to the shirt table. When I signed up for the race, I thought they had men’s and women’s shirts. Nope. I was handed a large men’s shirt which was huge! I was told to come back later to try and exchange. Note to self: get my shirt size changed for the other 2 races! I got my number written on me by a volunteer, before I headed back to my car. I attached the bib to my race belt, put my number on my bike and helmet, then grabbed all my gear and headed to transition. I was lucky to find a spot at the end of the rack! It looked like the other bikes were setting up in order, because there were 4 on the first rack already, but I asked the race official if they needed to be in order. He said they just had to be on the rack that included our number. I scored a great spot! I set up everything on my little transition mat. It’s bright pink, which will help me find my spot when running in to transition. I put my bike gear up front (shoes, socks, shirt, sunglass) and behind that, I set out my running gear (tank top, water bottle, race belt/bib, washcloth, shoes). I found Jennifer (part of the Kennedy Law Firm team and fellow former Santa Cruzian) and chatted with her a bit. She said I could leave stuff in their tent if I wanted to. So, I went to my car to grab my backpack with my change of clothes. I put my keys and phone in there, then grabbed my swim gear. I headed to the bathrooms, I then met Jennifer back at the tent. We walked out to the water, with some of her team, about 10 minutes before the start of our wave. We were in the second group to go off, at 7:02 am. We tested out the water, which felt fine to me in my wetsuit! We learned that the swim course had changed from what it was going to be originally. Before, we were going to swim north, parallel to the shore, then swing back around and swim south for a little bit before coming in. Because the waves were a little high, they decided to have us swim out much further, curve to the left, swim for a bit, then curve to the left again, swimming back to shore. We watched the first group go out (about 5 minutes late), then got ready for our group to go out. It seemed to be most of the international going out at once! Not sure of how the first group was formed, but it was men and women. I was feeling nervous, but also excited to finally get started!
The swim: we all crossed over a mat, the announcer said go and we were off! I ran in to the water, keeping to the back of the pack. Once I was about waist deep, I dove under water. I picked my head out pretty quick, though. I had forgotten to pull down my goggles from the top of my head! Thankfully, my eyes were ok from the salt water plunge. I adjusted the goggles and headed out. It was a little turbulent getting past the waves and all the people, but finally I was able to get to swimming. We spaced out pretty quickly, so there was only a few instances of me hitting someone’s foot or body part with my arm. I was feeling pretty good in my wetsuit, as it keeps you very buoyant! After the first bouy turn, I was pretty much on my own. I had one woman, just to the side of me, but we kept out of each other’s way. I got off course a little bit a couple of times here, as it was a little harder to swim straight. The current was pushing me to the left, and I was overcompensating for it. I made the second left around and started making the long swim back to shore. Now, I could really feel the current behind me. It was a nice push towards shore.  I actually managed to pass a swimmer before heading onto the beach! I crossed over the timing mat, then had the long run up the beach, through the parking lot and into transition. My time in transition was a bit long, but I really wanted to put on my cycle jersey to stay warm. The windy ride, after that colder water swim, might have been rough. Got on all my bike gear, then walked my bike out of transition. I guess I need to learn to run in those bike shoes! Swim time: 16:44 (1/4!) T1: 5:19

The bike: The bike was great, right from the start. Since we were all spread out so much, and the sprint distance athletes where still in the water, or yet to start, I had lots of space to ride, without worrying about other riders on the road. I passed a couple of riders and then got passed by a few. The bike course is an out and back on the Island. So, I got to see the lead pack heading back in while I was going out. When we came back around to transition, the international distance atheletes had to continue on for a second loop, while the sprint athletes went in after one loop. After a while, there was no way for me to know if riders passing me where in the sprint division or the international division. At about mile12, a female rider with a #45 on her leg, passed me. I figured she was probably in the longer distance race with me, so I tried to keep her in my sights. It didn’t take her long to pull far ahead of me. It was a little windy, but because we changed directions a few times, we did get a break from the wind. When the wind was behind me, I tried to push the pace. At the last loop, before heading into transition, I saw the woman in my age group. She only had a couple of minutes on me. I was hopeful I could catch up to her on the run. I walked my bike through transition, letting my legs loosen up a bit. I found my spot, changed out my top, changed shoes, added my bib, grabbed my water bottle and wash cloth, then headed out. Bike time: 1:08:45 (3/4) T2: 1:43
The Run: I wasn’t sure what to expect on the run. I hadn’t had a good run in 2 weeks! But, the weather was perfect for running. I felt good, right from the start. We followed a trail next to the beach, which was hard packed sand/dirt. We ran along this for a mile, before turning to the left and joining the sidewalk. I passed a couple of people in the first mile, but none of them in my age group. During the entire run I really had no idea if people where in the shorter or longer distance or first loop or second loop of the run. There was a water stop just past mile one. On this section of the course, we run out, then come back the same way. There was another water stop just before the turn around, so plenty of water spots available to the runners. Like I said before, I was feeling great. My first mile was 8:35! I did start to slow down, gradually as each mile passed. The second mile was 8:45ish. Just before we turned to head back, I saw the runner from my age group! I knew I could catch her. I did, just after mile 2. It was my goal to stay ahead of her, so I knew I wouldn’t be last in my age group. We headed back towards the transition, but before making the straight shot to the finish, I had to make the left turn to go out for my second loop. I passed another water stop, before getting back onto the sand/dirt tail. I was definalty slowing down, but still feeling good. Just before mile 4, I took the Gu I had brought with me, and then grabbed some water at the water spot. Just before mile 5, I saw that other age group runner, on the other side of the side walk, a few minutes (at least!) behind me. I refocused on my pace, keeping it as close to a 9 min. mile as I could. Once I hit the parking lot, just before mile 6, I turned to look behind me. I could see no one back there! As soon as I got closer to the finish area, I picked up the pace, crossing the finish line strong. I was so happy to have completed my first middle distance tri! Run: 55:34 (2/4)
Finish time: 2:28:05
2nd in age group
One of the things I really like about this race is that you can pretty much instantly see your finish results and how you placed. I walked over to the giant tv screens to find my name. There I was, with a 2nd in age group listing! What! So surprised!! What a great day.

My goal with these races was to use the first race as a starting point to improve from. This will be tough with this race because the weather was so cool and I got to wear my wetsuit. I won’t be able to wear it for the July and August races. And both of those races are bound to be super hot! So, for the July race, it will be my goal to improve my bike speed and to keep my swim and run times to as close to this races times, as I can.