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My First Triathlon

Okay, so it was only a mini-sprint (think real short, like George Castanza in a cold swimming pool) ...

The race broke down like this:

Swim: 250 yards in a pool (actually two pools)
Bike: 4.5 miles
Run: 1.5 miles

It all started on Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 4:47 a.m. when I woke up. I'd like to say that it started four months earlier when I started training, but the truth is, I didn't train for this event. On top of that, I have never really swam in my life ... Unless you count swimming from the boat to my water skis (with a life preserver on!) But, I'm making excuses ... Truth be told, I am in fantastic shape, and my whole life-goal of my fitness related hobbies is that I can participate in things like this, without specialized training or being worried. With that in mind, I succeeded.

Where was I ...? Oh yeah, 4:47 a.m. After letting the doggie out, and drinking four Ensures, I got a nice hot shower and dressed for my event (a tight thigh-length Speedo and nothing more). I loaded my road bike onto the rack on my car, threw my backpack with transition gear into the car and sped to a local event ( http://www.triitnow.com/SpringRidgeSprint.htm ).

I arrived very early (about 90 minutes before the race), based on advice from the Triathlete's Bible ... This advice turned out to be a lifesaver, because the time FLEW!!! I was the first person to get my bike into the transition area, which allowed me to put my bike on the end of the rack. I also got marked (they write your race number on your biceps and thighs, and your age on your right calf) and then walked the transition area and studied the path from pool to racks and then to bicycle mount/dismount area.

I had some butterflies, but not overly anxious. I actually felt really good. The Ensure started kicking in and was giving me energy. I had two bottles of mixed up energy drink (mostly water) and put one of them on my bike and then laid one in my transition area on my towel. I carefully laid out my running shoes, bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses.

Wandering around, I started sizing up the competition. I was actually surprised at how fit many of the racers were. I could see that I was going to have my work cut out for me.

The pre-race announcement was pretty straight forward and I was ready!!!

My buddy Mike and friend Heather showed up just before the race started ... It was nice to see some folks I knew!

My number was 40, and that meant that I would be the 40th person into the swimming pool. The way a swimming pool triathlon works is you plop in and start swimming down a lap lane. When you complete the length of the pool, you move under the lap lane divider and swim back down the next lane over. You continue doing this until you finish in the pool. Then we walked quickly over to the next pool and did the same thing there. The finish would include 10 laps, which is just over 250 yards.

When the race began, people were lined up in order and they entered the pool five seconds apart. It went very quickly (took me about 2 minutes and 35 seconds to get in the pool after the first racer).

I was seriously concerned about my swimming skills and ability to stay in the race. This turned out to be no big deal, because I was only passed once and I passed several people. I swam well and felt great. Once I got out of the pool, I was pretty winded. I was puffing away like crazy and made my way by running barefoot to the transition area. Before I knew it, I was there and looking at my bike shoes.

The plan was to pop on those shoes and leap out of there with only seconds wasted. That sort of fell by the wayside, when I tried to put on my first shoe. The second I bent over and raised a leg, the blood gushed to my head and I became woozy. It caught me off guard, and I nearly collapsed to the ground. Holding the rack, I stabilized myself and finally managed to get my cleated-bike shoes on. I hurried out of the area with my bike in tow. As soon as I crossed the mounting area, I jumped over my bike and sped away.

I was in my element on the bike and I chugged past about five or six racers. I was feeling good! And, it was showing as I cranked out the speed. Woo-whoo!!!

The bike ride was over in no time, and I jumped off and switched into my running sneakers. Starting my run I realized that my calves were extremely tight ... As a matter of fact, I could barely walk, let alone run!

I tried to muster the will to fight through the pain. I jogged and limped along. The pain got worse, and it felt like my calves were on fire. Not only that, but it also felt like daggers were poking and prodding different fibers of my calf ... OUCH!

I couldn't take it any longer, so I stopped running and tried stretching my calves out. The pain was excruciating, and I wondered if I would be able to complete the run. Pain welled into my head as I feared not completing my first triathlon because I pushed myself too hard in the first two events. I remembered what Toe had told me, "save some of your energy ... the most important thing is that you finish ..." DAMN!!!

My calves eased up after thirty seconds of stretching, and I felt as though I might be able to run on them. So, I gave it a go. Every step was painful, and I feared only running about half the course and then being stuck. After about 300 yards of that, my calves loosened up and I felt the pain subside. Suddenly, I was able to pick up my pace and try to save some dignity by finishing. Lesson learned!!!

I gave the run a good shot and completed it in a reasonable time. I think I passed a few folks and a few passed me. This part of the race is a bit hazy. One thing I will never forget is that I was passed by a ten year old boy!!! I know this, because as he ran by me, I was thinking, that little person is quick! Just then, I saw his age emblazoned on his right calf. Son of a ... That little person happened to only be ten!!! Boy do I need training!

As I ran in to the finish area, I passed a good friend of mine, Rob Mendez. He was just starting the run portion and he yelled my name. It was nice to see a familiar face ... Especially one that I wasn't expecting to be there.

Right as I finished, my wife and kids walked up to congratulate me. What a great feeling!!!

I must say that I have a new-found respect for these triathletes ... I could have ridden my bike or run ten-times those distances on their own. However, if you stack the three disciplines together, and run them at a race pace, it is a whole new ballgame! Basically I had my ass handed to me!

Anyway, after the race was said and done, I finished in 47th place overall (out of 178 finishers) and 5th in my age group (out of 12). Not to shabby for a first time ... But, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Here are my numbers:
Over all Race Time = 39:50.2

Swim (250 Yards) - Ranked 3rd in my age group
6:24.3 (pace - 27:50)

Transition One
2:33.2 (I got murdered on this one, because I almost passed out putting on my bike shoes)

Bike (4.5 miles) - Ranked 5th in my age group
15:11.7 (pace 3:22)

Transition Two
1:55.2 (fastest guy in my age group beat each of my T-times by one minute!!!)

Run (1.5 miles) - Ranked 9th in my age group
13:45.7 (pace 9:10)

I hope to see some of you at my next event!!!

-Vaughn

Posted by Vaughn Ripley

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Bricked Legs! Dizzy shoes! Cramps, pain, getting smoked by someone twice (or one quarter) your age! Welcome to triathlon!!!

  2. Sooooo proud of you!! I know you will keep taking it to the next level! The Tri I told you about is only for the ladies, but I will keep you posted on any others that I come across. I, myself will be doing my first Tri this Sunday. 400m swim, 10mile bike and 3mile run. Keep me in your prayers! 🙂


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