We did it!
We completed our first triathlon! Huzzah! So let’s cross that off the ol’ bucket list and give ourselves a pat on the back. Or a massage, because that’s what I really want after exercise.
We competed in the Beaver Freezer at Oregon State University, which was kind of a perfect setting for our first triathlon. This was just a sprint race in our attempt to start out small before we hit the big leagues in a couple of months with a half-Ironman (she says with a shudder).
Now, we’ve been training since the fall, but this was the first time in all of our training that we did all three activities at once: a 500-yard swim, a 12-mile bike ride, and a 3.1-mile run. I honestly had no idea what to expect as far as performance goes. Would this be incredibly difficult? Would it feel like a breeze? The total time spent exercising would be less than a typical training day, but we’d be working harder.
The good news is, it didn’t feel particularly difficult, and it was fun! Like, I actually enjoyed the whole thing. It was kind of crazy to not be miserable during a race. The last few races I’ve done were marathons, and let me tell you, there’s not much joy in the second half of those bad boys. But a sprint triathlon is really nice because you know you don’t have to do any one thing for too long. A 500-yard swim? That’s around 10 minutes. Then you get on a bike for around 45 minutes. And then you run for 25 minutes. And then you are done! Obviously, that’s not necessarily easy, but it seemed to fly by.
Let me set the stage for this race. We woke up at 5 am to eat breakfast and drink our coffee before hitting the long road to Corvallis. When we left, the temperature in Portland was 40-something, and it was a little foggy. By the time we got to Corvallis, it was so foggy we could hardly see the road in front of us. And when we finally arrived, it was cold. Like, freezing cold. And since this was the winter-that-wasn’t here in Portland, it’s been quite a while since we’ve experienced freezing temperatures. Not exactly ideal weather to strip down to your skivvies, but we did it.
In case you’ve never raced a triathlon before, let me explain how this one worked. I have no idea what other races are like, but this one was super relaxed. It started in waves based on your swim time (which we filled out in our registration forms), with the elite athletes going at the end. So we were somewhere in the middle, and joined up with 3 other folks in our swim wave to race with. Each group of 4 swimmers did 10 laps in one lane of the pool. What was supposed to happen was, if you wanted to pass someone in the pool, you tap their foot, and they should pull over at the end of the lap and let you pass. I tapped the foot of the woman in front of me on 3 separate laps, and she never pulled over, so I ended up swimming quite a bit slower than I wanted. So it seems I should have placed myself in a faster swim time group, but I was afraid of being the slowest one. Ultimately, I think being the slowest swimmer would be better than being the fastest in a slower group.
After the swim, we got out of the pool and ran to the transition area. You had the option of having a towel waiting for you right outside of the pool, which I did, but I’m not sure I really did much drying off in the 30 seconds of running to my bike. Now, I saw some really intense people just hopping on their bikes in their swimsuits, but seeing as how it was only 30-something degrees outside, I didn’t want to bike in just my swimmies, so I pulled on some capris, a t-shirt, and a jacket. Let me tell you, it is really hard to pull tight running capris on over wet legs. It only took a few minutes for me to get clothes and shoes on, but the woman next to me (who had done this race 5 years in a row) was in and out of the transition area in less time than it took me to tie my shoes.
The bike ride was beautiful. Twelve miles through farmland on roads with bike lanes, limited traffic, and beautiful scenery? Not too shabby.
We biked back to the transition area, hopped off our bikes, and ran to put them on the racks and begin the run. That’s where things got hilarious. If you’ve ever tried running right after cycling, you know how completely ridiculous it is. It’s like your legs can’t take themselves out of the cycling mindset and have no idea how to run. I felt like I was going to fall sideways as I ran with my bike. It wasn’t until about 2 miles into the 3.1-mile run that my legs switched to running mode. But I could tell that everyone else was having the same problem. Generally, in a short running race, no one looks really miserable, but it was clear that people’s legs were just not doing what they thought they should do.
In case you are wondering what those weird things around our waists are, those are race belts. Apparently this is a thing. I never really thought about it, but if you are racing in a swimsuit or tri suit, you wouldn’t want to put safety pins through that fabric to hold your racing bub, so this little buckled belt held our numbers on, and could be quickly strapped on in transition. What a world we live in.
Now that we are official triathletes (which I can prove with the numbers still written in sharpie on the backs of my legs 3 days, 2 swims, and 4 showers after the race), I think it’s time to kick back and enjoy some serious birthday eats (did I mention that my birthday is tomorrow?). Huzzah!