Monthly Archives: July 2011

Firecracker Triathlon

Yesterday was the Firecracker Triathlon here in Tucson, and the results are in. As it was my first triathlon, the silver lining is that it’s a PR.

I’m not sure who is stupid enough to race in Tucson in July, but there were over 350 signed up, and exactly 300 finishers. One of those was me. So the day started off by waking my sorry butt up at 3:30 so I could get to the venue by 4:30. This required lots of planning, mostly on how to get tired enough so I could fall asleep by 7:30-8:00 so I could still get 8 hours of sleep. And even though I got in bed around 7:30, I don’t think I fell asleep until 9:00, and it was a restless sleep at that. But I was able to wake up, eat, shower, and get to the race for my 6:08 start time.

The swim was in an Olympic sized pool, which if you haven’t seen is absolutely humongous. Because it was in a pool and not open water, they had to start each person individually. They did this by having the slowest swimmers start first. Well, they had waves of swimmers, and in each wave the fastest started first. I was ‘seeded’ one of the slowest swimmers in the slowest wave. This meant I was one of the first in the pool, and had barely any time to warm up. My swim coach says it takes me a long time to warm up, and he’s right. It usually takes me an hour to fully warm up for a swim. Unfortunately, because of my start time, I had precisely 23 minutes from when the pool opened until my start time. This included the time needed to wait in line before starting as well as a ‘team’ photo. (We weren’t really a team, we all just had the same triathlon coach.) Anyway, by the time the photo op was done, I had 8 minutes to warm up and wait my turn. I was about to get in the pool when they announced that the first wave should start to line up. I hadn’t even swam one length yet!

When it was my turn to start the swim, I told myself to just pretend this was the warm up and to go really slow. A lot of good that did me. I started off too fast either because of all the people watching, the adrenaline or both. After 150 meters (of 750) I was spent. After the third turn, I made it about 10 more meters before I had to grab the lane line and catch my breath. As I was sitting there, I saw some people doing the breaststroke. Great idea! So I started doing that instead of sitting on the line. Even that got tiring after about half a lap, so I flipped onto my back and did the backstroke. I figure I did about 1/2 of the swim on my back, about 1/3 doing the front crawl, and the rest doing the breaststroke. After all that, I finished in around 27 minutes. Good enough for 300/303 place. Hah. Good news was my swim coach predicted I’d do it in 30 minutes. Sucks to be him!

After the swim, I run (more like a walk because I was so tired) to the transition area. As I’m putting on my shoes, I stand up and hit my head on the bike rack. I think I gave myself a mild concussion. As an aside, this guy was 4 bikes over from me in the transition area. He ended up 3rd overall. I was tempted to grab his bike instead of mine. But no, I grabbed mine, ran to the mount line and off I went. As I exit the transition area, I try to start my watch to pace myself. Only something went horribly wrong between when I left it to do the swim and when I put it on. It’d be easy to fix if I wasn’t trying to race a bike, so I just say “fuck it” and forget about it. The bike course was a square with about a mile on each side. There was only one mildly difficult corner. Going from Broadway to Euclid on the second lap, I overshot the exit and went past the cones. If an official had seen it (and more importantly cared about the 3rd to last place swimmer) I could have been DQed. Whoops. Anyway, the bike was 36:17. About 4 minutes slower that I had hoped. It was still good enough for 78th overall; not bad considering I’ve only had the bike 9 weeks.

T2 was fun. Got my bike shoes off, my running shoes on and off I went. As I was exiting the transition area, my coach yells that my helmet is still on! Doh. I take it off and throw it into the grass. As I do, my sunglasses come off and some nice spectator grabs them for me and hands them back. As I don’t have my watch to pace myself, I now have to do it by perceived exertion. It’s been awhile since I’ve run like that. 3 miles later and I’m done. At the time, I had no idea what my bike or run time was. Based on the finish line clock, I knew my total time was around 1:30. As it turns out, my 3 miles run was in 23:33. My fastest 5k (3.1 miles) is 20:12 so this was close to PR pace after a tiring swim and bike. Even so, it was 33 seconds slower than my goal. 23:33 was good enough for 59th place. Nothing to be proud of, but not embarrassing either.

There were quite a few photographers on the coarse taking pictures… they even got a few of me on my bike. It doesn’t look like there was an official photographer for the race, so hopefully I’ll be able to get a photo somehow. If you were one of the photographers and have a picture of number 33, get in contact with me!

I’m scheduled to race in 2 weeks in an open-water tri. But I’ve already decided that I’m not going to attempt it. For one, there is a time cut-off on the swim. If I don’t make it, I don’t get to do the bike and run. Secondly, it’s in Flagstaff. And I don’t feel like driving all that way to DNF. Instead it’ll be my first ever DNS. So my next race isn’t until September, and it’s just a half marathon. That’s why I just ate a quart of cookies and cream ice cream. That’s my post-race treat; now it’s back to training and eating right.

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Filed under race reports, sprint, triathlon