UPDATED TO INCLUDE: A few official race photos 🙂
Yesterday was the I Love the Tavern Tri put on by Richmond Multisports in Midlothian (right outside of Richmond), VA. I decided at the last minute to do this triathlon because 1) I haven’t done any tris yet this year–and I did a ton last summer and 2) I wanted to see if I had any endurance left. I basically haven’t biked or swam in 6 months! I proved to myself that I can do just fine and still have fun even though I haven’t trained 🙂
But the fact that I signed up on a whim only 4 days prior to the race and I felt so nonchalant about the whole thing made it really enjoyable! I just told myself over and over that this was “just a workout”. I wasn’t worried about the swim at all and was only mildly concerned about the bike, because it was much longer than a traditional Sprint tri, 19 miles (that’s much closer to an Olympic tri distance). But I knew Ruby and myself could do it 🙂
So when I woke up at 4:30am (EEEEEEeeeeek) on Sunday morning and drove to Richmond–about an hour drive–I felt calm. Tired, but calm. I just had a pretty decent 11 mile run 2 days prior and was excited to get a good workout in. And the morning sky was beautiful When I got to the race site, I thought I had plenty of time. Sure, I still needed to pick up my bib and bike #, rack my bike and prepare my transition, and walk to the swim start, but I had over an hour!
Unfortunately all of those things took longer than I thought they would…because I forgot my googles in my car and at the last minute needed to run back to get them. The swim was also a river swim, something I’ve never done before. So the swim start was a 15 minute walk away from the transition area (where the swim ended).
Suffice to say, I made it to the start just minutes before my wave got in the water. It was just enough time to warm up my arms a bit and reassure a few ladies who were worried because it was their first triathlon. I told them what I tell everyone who says they’d love to do tris but are worried about the swim: the swim is by far the shortest segment. You’re in the water for no time at all compared to the bike and run. Even at the half ironman distance (in fact I think in longer distance tris the swim seems even shorter…the half ironman tri swim took me a little over 30 minutes. But I was on the bike, 56 miles, for 3 1/2 hours!) There is no pressure. Sure, the hardcore swimmers are off like crazy at the start but just get into a groove. Some people like to do some breaststroke or backstroke. Even in my half ironman I passed some people who were like “la di da, I’m just out for a nice swim”. I like to do freestyle the whole time because I like to get into a rhythm, but everyone does their own thing.
Our wave got in the water…and this is the most amazing thing about a river swim: everyone spread out so there was no craziness in the beginning with people swimming over each other. Other than my half ironman swim, this was probably my favorite tri swim I’ve ever done. The water was warm…almost too warm (83 degrees), but calm and nice. The swim was short: 650 meters. My arms were tight at first because it’s been so long since I’ve swam consistently, but I eventually warmed up and by the end of the swim, I wished it was twice as long. My official time: 10 min 40 seconds. A really great time for me, especially because I haven’t been swimming!
I expected my transitions to be a bit longer than they usually are because I wanted to put my Garmin on after the swim before I got on the bike. It took a bit for it to sync up to the satellites but that was fine. I needed to throw my bike shoes on anyways and velcro them up. I always have the same transition 1 routine: googles and cap off as I run from the swim to the transition area; towel my face off; throw on my top; socks & shoes; sunglasses and helmet; and I’m off! My T1 time was 2 min 13 sec, about 30 seconds slower than it usually is.
Like I said before, the bike segment for this race was longer than most sprint tris. The bike distance for sprint tris are, on average, 12-15 miles. This was 19 miles. 5 additional miles, especially if they’re hilly, can mean an extra 20 minutes on the bike! The course was pretty nice. The roads were smooth, which I always appreciate (I hate it when I have to be jostled around for 15 miles straight). It was an out and back course and at the mile 9 turnaround there was a killer hill. Now, I knew it was coming because I was talking with a woman before the race and she warned me. She said a lot of people would have to get off their bikes because it was so long and steep. And she wasn’t kidding! But because I was prepared for it, I took it nice and easy, got Ruby down to an easy gear, and slowly worked my way up. Then on the turnaround I flew back down in the aero position 🙂 Ruby never fails to disappoint. Overall, my bike time was 1:07:01, not bad but definitely not great. If this was last summer I would have killed that time, but I told myself if I could finish around 1 hour I’d be happy. The last 2 miles of the bike I slowed down a lot just because I haven’t trained at all. But, as I kept telling myself, “this was just a workout!”
I knew my T2 would take even longer than the first and even longer than usual because I now wear the PT strap on my knee. I didn’t end up wearing the ITB strap, but I need to run with the knee strap because it keeps my kneecap in place so my cartilage injury doesn’t worsen. So my T2 time was 2:43. Seriously longer than usual (it’s usually well under 2 minutes), but I wasn’t even in the race mindset so at the time I didn’t even try to go faster. My usual routine for T2: Run from dismount to bike rack (legs feel like jello); Rack bike; Throw helmet off (even when I try to be careful, I usually throw it to the ground haha); Slip off bike shoes; Put on and tie running shoes; As I run out of transition area put on my visor.
If you read my blog, you know that I’ve been focusing solely on running over the past 8 months (and the race calendar on the right sidebar shows that as well). Running on fresh legs is totally different than running on dead legs after the bike portion. That’s why tri training usually involves brick workout (Swim to bike workouts and–more importantly–bike to run workouts). Obviously I haven’t been doing any of those because I haven’t been training for any tris. I’ve just been running: 2 short runs, 1 medium (6-7), and one long (building every week, around 12 now) per week. Regardless of how much training I’ve had, though, I knew the first mile of the run would be tough. It always is! I just tell myself, “get through this mile, it gets better”. And it always does. This time around my legs were a bit more dead than usual but nothing I couldn’t handle. Plus, once again, this was just a workout! My run time for the 5k was 31:30 because I walked a good bit the first mile but I was fine with that. The run for this race is all on shaded trails, which was much appreciated. Then I approached the finish line, happy that I proved to myself I can still get a pretty decent time for a tri, even though I don’t train at all 🙂 It is such a luxury to be able to incorporate these on a whim still! My overall time: 1:54:16.
I really can’t compare the time to my other sprint tri times because the bike was longer than typical sprint tri races. The fact that the bike distances for triathlons can vary so much is quite frustrating. Most times sprint tris have a 700 meter swim and a 5k run but the bike segment can vary. Same for olympic/international tris: 1500 meter swim and 10k run, but sometimes the bike can range from 22-26 miles.
Regardless of my time, I was happy I finished under 2 hours and with a smile on my face. At no point in the race did I feel completely unprepared or that I couldn’t do it. Sure, I could’ve cut 10 minutes off my overall time had I trained, but who cares? It was fun!
And the food at the finish was amazing! A whole cooler of pulled pork bbq and pasta salad, which a fellow tri friend so wonderfully displays 🙂
All in all a great time!!!! I look forward to getting back to my regular running routine this week…after my calf muscles aren’t sore anymore 😉 When I get some official race pics, I’ll update this post.
Do you like to bike? Spin?
Do you have any remedies for sore calves????