I signed up for my first triathlon Labor Day weekend - in Maine; 1/2 mile swim, 26 bike, 6.7 run. I am a roadie through and through so I have been riding all July to get some fitness. I started running 8 weeks out because I felt that would be my weakest leg and I just jumped in the pool this last week. I know I said the run would be my weakest leg but I have done 5K running races so I know that "feel", especially without training. With a 6.7 run I knew I had to buckle down and train. I am off to a good start with my training running three times a week slowing bumping up the mileage for the last five weeks (1,2,2 / 2,2,3 / 2,3,3 / 2,3,4 / 3,3,4 / 3,3,5 / 3,3,5 / 3,3,6 / 3,2,race). No sprinting (unless chased by scary bugs in Crisfield), hills, intervals, etc. Just run, walk, jog, etc.
About a month ago I thought I should do some local tris to get a "feel" for the swim with all those people. My first triathlon will now be my third (or maybe second). I signed up for a mountain bike tri and road tri this month, both through Trimax Endurance Sports. I figured the off-road triathlon would be great because I would have trails to run on (3.2 miles) and I mountain biked (5 would be so easy), so a 1/4 mile swim would be a great tune up. The other triathlon at the end of the month the weekend before Labor Day is on the road; .75 swim/18 bike/3.2 mile run.
Let's just say I did not start the day out right with my first triathlon today. I had an idea where Macungie, PA, near Allentown. I google mapped it, looked at the map last night online and printed the directions. Oh - that's easy, go up 222 N. Well, the directions printed something totally different and I did not know that until we were driving. I usually question these printed directions whether from map quest, google, yahoo, whatever. And that's how I get lost. They are usually right. I talked a friend into doing this race and it would be her first, too. She is young and chipper, willing to try anything.
I didn't want to drink any caffeine because during my practice swims I just started this past week, I swam on full test one day and could not ever catch my breath. I was breast stroking, otter swimming (not using the arms because they are SO weak), or just swam with my head above water. We followed the directions into the middle of hill and dale - State Road 2026. Okay, it had a name; Pricetown Road. At first I thought it would be okay. We were going to a ski resort, it should be in the middle of nowhere. After we drove twenty miles beyond the 54 miles to get there (the BACK way), we finally got close to Macungie via Route 100. I was fuming inside and some of it seeped out. I let Terri know it was not her fault. I should have read the directions and reviewed the map. I usually do that, too (because I am too cheap to buy a GPS). Why stress about getting there without any time to warm-up, set-up properly in the transition area, etc. It is not worth it but I was a little stressed.
We arrived at 10 after 7 and the race started at 7:30. I was laughing because I just saw the "pond". Terri and I registered and just laughed because we were going to swim in a drainage basin. How gross is that?! How does swimming in a pool prepare one for a drainage basin?! I should practice at our "pond" at work.
We started in waves; the XTERRA racers who were doing double of what we were racing went first. The groups were split about equally. I watched the first group and as the rounded the second buoy, they looked like the evolution man. They went from swimming to walking! I was SO excited. A chance to rest and breath!! Yay! I was really hoping to walk/run the swim but the basin was pretty deep about two feet from the edge. I didn't think I panicked but I must have as I had trouble breathing when I swam. And I had a moment or two of awful gulps of the scary water. After walking around buoy two, I swam like an otter.
I forgot mountain biking is not road cycling. I should have practiced some but I figured I was doing this for the swim so I rode conservatively until I found a groove and had some fun riding. The end of the ride brought us out of the woods on the far edge of one of the ski slopes onto a gravel road that was at least a 12%+ grade. Gravity pulled pretty hard and the gravel was pretty loose. My tires were not knobby enough and I couldn't let go of the brakes as I yelled at myself to do so and I fish-tailed and crashed the left knee into the gravel road then popped up with the bike still attached to the right foot with gravity still pulling pretty hard. Luckily, I only gashed open my left knee pretty good. Not much gravel rash anywhere else as I sit on an ice pack where my right butt cheek stopped me from rolling down the gravel hill with my bike.
I tried riding down in the grass after I assessed I didn't shatter my knee cap. Almost crashed again as I rode into a ditch. I dismounted and rode when I was on paved road around the resort. I swore like Muttley the dog.
Terri was a sweetheart as she ran circles with me to find the ambulance to clean up my knee so I could finish the race. The trail run would have been fun if not for the bum knee. Great trail to run (without a mountain bike! :-). I did have fun all things considered. I won a prize for the most gnarly race wound (but I think unwrapping the gauze helped). Not sure if I would do this race again as ironically the winner of the event said something of the sort; Wow. You chose this race to be your first tri? It's deceivingly hard with the technical ride and run. Now I am not sure about doing the next race as I need to practice for the .75 swim and don't know when I can get into a pool. I should be able to bike and run in a few days but I just don't want to get any more crap into my wounds from a pool. I am not sure otter swimming will work for .75 miles as there probably will be more than 100 participants. So Maine may be the next (and last?) triathlon for me.
Tried to take this picture "upside down" but it focused on the car so here is post drive home/showered and hopefully cleaned out knee shot.