I got through the swim leg without passing out! Sure I’m a bit wheezy from breathing in chlorinated water, but I’ll manage. I have to focus on Transition 1 (T1) right this instant!
Good thing I marked where my spot is, better yet, I have somewhat of an idydic memory. Trust me when I say this, it’s both a blessing and a curse.
My stuff is still there! Earlier, a volunteer was yelling at us trying to find the person who set up their transition area with some kind of box or bin. Not really sure what the problem was. I mean, I brought a small cooler with me, but apparently my setup was ok while the other person’s was not.
Inside my cooler is ice and water. In the squeeze bike bottle, I filled it with Gatorade. My little running bottle with the red top is plain water. On top of the entire package is my running hat chilling in the ice-water.
First thing’s first, open the cooler and toss my swimming paraphernalia into the ice and water slurry. Then, pull out the squeeze-bottle filled with Gatorade and take a nice big sip before putting it in the cage on my bike. After, take out the ice-chilled water bottle filled with water and pour it all over my head, body, and legs. So refreshing!!! Now I have to put on my top.
“Yo, how was the swim?” I hear. It’s my best friend who is standing in the spectator area taking pictures.
“Oh man, it was a lot more difficult than I expected,” I say as I struggle to put my stupid top on. My wet back is causing the shirt to roll. “Damnit! I’m having a wardrobe malfunction!” I laugh.
“I can see that,” he laughs with me. “I noticed you switching strokes in the pool.”
“I had to. The swim was way harder than I thought because of all the people.”
“We need to try and train for that, I guess?”
Finally I manage to get my top on. I put on my sunglasses then my brain bowl, snap the straps under my chin. I grab my towel and dry off my feet so I can roll on pre-rolled socks and slip my feet into my bike shoes. I don’t need socks for the bike leg, but I figure it’s better to eat up some time during T1 than in T2. I also prefer the look and feel of wearing double socks to prevent my feet from blistering.I take another drink.
This is what my T1 looked like. Sorry, no photos of my actual area on race day. Kinda hard to carry a camera and snap some pics when pressed for time.
“Not sure how we can. Talk to you after!” I un-rack my bike and walk to the mounting area.
I pass the mounting zone, clip into the pedals and I’m off! I hit start on my Garmin that I pre-mounted on my bike.
My breathing is still heavy, although my asthma seems to have all but disappeared. I settle on a moderate intensity where I’m balancing my aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Yet, I feel slow. My speedometer says I’m going my average speed, but something feels off. The swim must have taken much more out of me than I thought. I feel like I’m operating on empty. Looks like I will need to eat the energy bar I stowed in my Bento box after all.
All us riders are ascending this slight 2%-3% hill; most are scaling it slowly, few are scaling it like it were a decline! What!? This girl passes me as I’m passing someone else. Not even a sound of some kind of motor either. I’m sure this is what she looks like as she laughs at everyone she passes thinking:
She must be going 50 km/h because I’m going 30 km/h, and within a few minutes she was gone off in the distance, suddenly melting over some distant horizon. How? “My bike is a piece of junk!” That’s what I think. In reality, I’m not a rider, I don’t spend nearly enough time in the saddle. Oh look! A quick search finds this site giving it a raving and wonderful 2.5/5 stars! Good thing I got the bike at 60% off.
Mental note: I need to train longer and harder on cycling during the offseason. AND the bike is good enough.
Thanks Uncle Yoda for your always wise advice. The lil’ green Jedi Ultra-master makes a point, though. In any distance triathlon the bike leg is the longest. It makes sense to spend a good deal of our training time on the saddle.
The hill seems like it is endless. It keeps going and going with no breaks. I use this time to eat my pre-cut energy bar stashed away in my Bento box. Clif Bar White Chocolate and Macadamia, yum! Plus the box was on sale, so how could I say no?
I take a larger chunk out the Bento and toss it in my mouth and begin to chew.
Holy crap! It’s damn near impossible to eat this stuff! It’s like I’ve tossed a handful of dry flour and corn starch in my mouth! Well this is funny, there’s a medical term for it:
Xerostomia. Subjective? My ass! I can’t eat this chalk cookie! No one can (great generalization)!
Lesson learned: the body stops producing saliva during activity. Did. Not. Know. That.
I have to take massive sips of my Gatorade to get the cookie soft enough to swallow. I need to eat half of my bar now so it will be available for my run later. This is going to be a challenge and I also didn’t want to drink all my Gatorade all at once at this point of the race. And of course, I didn’t bring water with me, so what choice do I have? I’ll try to leave a bit to drink at Transition 2 (T2).
Oh no! Someone is off their bike and walking back towards the Transition Area. Damn, her race is finished. I look down on my Garmin, it was only 5 km into the ride. That really sucks. I can’t help but wonder what went wrong.
A seemingly uneventful stretch of road has me look down on my Garmin to see what distance I’ve covered. Big mistake. It’s been around 25 minutes and I’m only closing in on the halfway mark. That can’t be right. I’m on pace to do a 50 minute 20 km ride? All my training sessions have been around 40-42 minutes and that’s on steeper hills! I’ve lost 10 minutes somehow! Now my ass is starting to hurt. That’s what happens when I decide to forgo wearing my riding shorts over my swim jammers. A pair of riding shorts would be real nice right about now, that it will!
I see the roundabout up ahead and my Garmin display indicates that that was an 8 km uphill battle, yet this isn’t the midway point.
The good news is now that uphill is going to be a fast downhill! Sweet! I can finally eat something quick for the run leg, that’s if I can chew and force myself to swallow these little nuggets of cotton balls! But I gotta do it now or else it won’t take effect by the time I go for the run.
I’m passing a lot of riders on the way back. It’s hard to imagine that all these people were in two waves before me. What’s impressive, however, is I’m being passed by athletes who started after me. No time to think about how in the hell they do that!GO AWAY, YODA! I know I ignored the bike portion in my training to focus more on swimming and running. My mistake! I’ll make up for it during the offseason, okay?
My butt is hurting more and more as the end of the ride draws near. The pain has now progressed to this:
40 minutes and 17 km in, I have 3 km to go! My legs are feeling ok but I decide to lighten the gear and opt for a faster cadence which should make the running leg more bearable. Still, my rear is really not happy with my decision to go in my swim shorts.
Closing in on the transition area a volunteer has a car stopped to let riders through. Except for me, of course. In a panic or fit of confusion, she signals me for a stop and just as she was about to signal the car to go through, she flips her sign and signals the car to stop instead to let me go. At this point I’d already begun to do an emergency slow down, which is a huge NO! I am in the wrong gear. The race rules say that riders have the right of way, and now I have to exert more energy to get going again. This can spell trouble, only I don’t know how it will affect me.
“You made me slow down! You freaking made me slow down!” I shout at her, “but thank you!” No use in arguing, I’ve got a run to tackle soon. Besides, I’m not sure what it’s like to be a volunteer in one of these events, and I admit, I was a bit frustrated, but I quickly realized that I have no clue how to do their job, so that’s why I still thanked them. Not only am I frustrated, but now my ass feels like I’ve been riding on this:
I hit the dismount zone, unclip my shoes, and… I was going to say run to my transition spot but that would be a lie… try to not fall down under my jelly legs. I have to pretend my legs are there and have a leap of faith that they won’t give out while I walk to my spot. In hindsight, I should have been in a higher gear with a higher candence when I was about 10 minutes away from the transition zone. That additional time at an easy gear could have relaxed my legs and hip flexors and get blood moving. Not doing so made my hips and quads quite tense.
I’m reaching to undo my helmet when some huge alarm inside my head went off telling me not to. Close call! Doing so would have given me a warning, or time penalty, or worse, a disqualification!
I rack up my bike, pull out the little Gatorade I had left and drink it all. Helmet pops off. I open my baby cooler and pull out my running hat that’s been chilling the entire time. The chilled water drips and trickles down my head and body as I slap it on my head. Damn, does that ever feel good. I kick off my cycling shoes and use the cooler as a step stool to help me put my running shoes on. I pull off the Garmin seated on my bike and slap the thing on my wrist. I pour cold ice water over my head. My legs are wobbly, but I’m ready!
Just one more leg and I’d have graduated from triathlete in training to triathlete.
By the way, 47 minutes was my total time on the bike + transition 1 time.