Seems like there is very little left in my gas tank after the bike ride. My legs feel like jello – unstable and wobbly.
I just about fell. What a sensation! They are there, but I have this uncertain feeling that my legs would support me, or not. I just don’t know!
I have to take my time in Transition 2 (T2). I’m not even certain if I can put my running shoes on without having to sit or if I try it standing I might topple over. It’s quite nerve-wracking, really.
One-shoe-at-a-time… I get one on and I pull the quick lock up tight. HA! I didn’t fall! I get the next one on and pull the lock up. Success!
I read somewhere that after the bike leg the best way to handle the run is to go out with a faster cadence but not necessarily running fast, and to do butt kicks to give the quads a nice dynamic stretch and to stay light on the toes to fire up the calves. This tactic seems to be doing the trick. There’s sensation in my legs, but my quads are burning and my calves feel like they are in flames. I’m breathing pretty hard, too.
I’m out the transition area and it is a nice level pathway. So far, so good. This run is going to be easy!
Still going nicely a half-a-kilometre in and I round this sharp left turn.
“HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!” I’m too out of breath to actually shout, but those are the words I would have yelled if I could.
I am standing at the peak of this 1 km 20% grade hill! This is an approximation based on my rudimentary trigonometry using Google Maps data provided by the event organizers. I took the “inverse tan” of the elevation over the distance and got the angle.
Although looking at the graph below, the hill looked more like 50%. However, the math says it’s less.It seems I’m not the only one with my reaction, though. There are a good number of folks who have vocal capabilities still.
“Seriously?” One girls says.
Some guy retorts, “We have to go down that?”
And, “Shit. I wasn’t expecting that,” says another.
Just as my legs started to feel somewhat better, they’re about to get demolished again, right away. My thighs are screaming in pain the entire way down. Guess it’s “goodbye” quads, they’re not coming back for this run.
The base of the peak leads to a course that is flat and fast. I’m maintaining a much faster pace than normal. I may actually be on pace to complete 5km in 18 minutes which would be my seasonal best (after a swim and bike ride, no less!). The cost? My quads are gone, lactic acid is building up, my calves are burning. I find altering forms of high cadence, short stride with slow cadence, long stride helps to keep off lactic acid fatigue. This allows me to keep going by relying on fast twitch and slow twitch muscles; one group remains active while the other group rests.
I follow this guy who has the same pace as me and we remain together past the halfway point. We turn one corner and it’s still flat and fast. We turn another corner and…
OH SHIT! I did not think about that. That monster of a hill that we all had to go down is now staring at us off in a short distance, laughing, mocking, berating, intimidating, and looking forward to tormenting all of us as we ascend its concrete face.
We are approaching the base of the hill and the guy I was following keeps his tempo. I match him. There is one person who decided to walk the hill. Another dude with these massive calves supporting these slim quads, totally out of proportion, is chipping away at the hill. My legs are pooling with lactic acid and my heart rate and breathing is high, but it’s not enough to clear the stuff out of my bloodstream. At the halfway point up this hill, my legs give up and I’m forced to walk it instead. I opt for big strides walking.
The guy I was following? He’s probably crossing the finish line when I reach the peak.
I remember that there was about 500m from the top of the hill to the finish line and with my legs still burning and fatigued I decide to kick up the pace to the finish line. I sprint the final 100m as hard as I can across the finish line. I’m so out of it I can’t raise my arms in celebration for finishing my first ever triathlon!
My run time + transition 2 = 24 minutes.
I give back my timing chip and head over to the nourishment tent and get some food and a bit of electrolytes. Then this older fella comes up to me. If I had to guess, he looks like he’s in his early 50’s. I recognize him from the swim start. He’s the same guy that decided to slow things down and alternate swimming strokes, like I did.
“You’re fast!” He says to me in an Italian accent.
“What do you mean?” His compliment catches me off guard. “You were flying in the swim and you finished first out of everyone.”
“You know, that group was going way too fast,” he shakes his head as he tells me. “Good thing you and I decided to slow things a bit. I may have been fast out the swim, but I don’t think you saw me on the bike. You passed me.”
“Really? But you had a pretty good lead.”
“No, no. You flew by me. And then you flew by me in the run. You’re pretty fast.”
“Well, thank you. This was my very first triathlon,” I say.
He tells me this is his third and he loves it. He loves it so much he signed up to join a master’s club to improve his swimming. To hear him speak about his love for the sport is truly inspirational. I may join a master’s swim club because of him.
I signed up for this event by myself, but I met more triathletes at the finish line. I was introduced to this Filipino Triathlon Group composed of tri-newbies, tri-amateurs, and even a guy who did two full distance Ironman challenges. This group was approached by a couple of girls who asked, “Can we take your picture?”
My friend says, “Well, of course!”
“We’re going to Tweet it, is that alright with everyone?
“We’re going to be on Twitter? So, like, we’re going to be famous?”
The girls reply, “It’s for a scavenger hunt we’re doing. One of the things we need to find is a group of healthy and fit guys. You’re a group of guys and you all look fit and healthy.”
This shorter fellow in the group who has a decent round tire around his waist then says, “Oh, wait, I might get your photo disqualified.” The girls and all of us guys laugh.
Laughter sure feels good.
“Dude, you finished a triathlon! Get in the picture!”
I’m not sure what it is; the actual event and being in the moment; or the finale crossing the finish line met with cheering people; or the social aspect and meeting some great people who just did what all participants crossing the finish line did?
Some are first timers like me, others are novices, and others are veterans. Some may never do another one, but they will most likely stick with one or two of the three sports, or they’ll find something else to do. And others will be looking to sign up for their next events. While others will be reassessing their goals perhaps to do longer distances, or try to get better and faster.
Me? I’m not sure, but I want to do a season of Sprint Triathlons and work my way up towards Olympic Distance. And I’ll definitely do more bike training and join a Master’s Swim Club. I guess Triathlon hooked in a new addict.