Last weekend after we did our metric century ride, a few of the people in my training group mentioned they were doing a pair of triathlons on Saturday. One in the morning and one in the evening. They suggested that I come along since it would be fun if we were all there! I declined because in my head that seemed insane but I figured I’d sign up for one since I wanted to do a race with them. When I got home after the ride and checked it out, I saw that both races were sprint triathlons of 1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. I figured, hey, if I can do a single race of 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 run then I could do both of those. Less than half the distance combined! So I signed up and joined in on the crazy fun. I mean, I want to do Ragnar if I can find a team opening so I should be able to handle this.
The first race was Top Gun down in Ft. De Soto. I’ve wanted to get down to De Soto for a while now so this was a good opportunity for it. Even though I didn’t have to actually travel for the race, it was still going to be a bit of a pain for me since the park is about an hour away and with a 7:00 am start time, that meant I needed to be on my way by 5am. Normally I’d have been in bed by 10 the night before so I could easily get up at 4am to have breakfast but the night before I went on a date. That’s always a good thing in my book but unfortunately that meant I was up until about midnight. So I was a bit tired when I pulled myself out of bed for the race!
But I was up, got my oatmeal and then some coffee at Starbucks and was on my way. I have only down a pair of small triathlons up until now so I was not ready for the crowd that awaited me an hour before the race. It took a little longer to get parked and I had about 45 minutes until race start. Plenty of time still to get my bike racked and gear set up though. Then I wanted to hopefully find my friends at the race before we started. I pumped my bike tires up at the car and that’s when I knew I had a problem. The front tire was not inflating. This has happened before when the liner shifted in the wheel and I suspected the same had happened again. I started ripping the wheel off so I could change it. Now my time was going to be a bit tighter but I could do the change in 10 minutes or so and be ready with time to spare.
This is when perhaps my tiredness from the night before inspired an epicly bad decision on my part. I got the tube off and had the spare ready to put on when I put some air in the bad tube. It seemed to be inflating. I got it up to 30 PSI and the thought that went through my head was “I must have not been pumping the tire correctly before”. I didn’t want to waste my only spare tire so I remounted the tube and tire and tried to pump it back up. In a shocking (not really) twist, the tire would still not inflate and I could hear the hissing. Now I was in a bit of a spot since I was still at my car, in the dark and I was getting tight on time. So I gathered my stuff and decided I was going to do the change at the transition area.
I got myself over to transition, marked up and in the pen. This is the first race I’ve been in with assigned transition areas. Naturally, then, I didn’t know I had an assigned spot and found an empty rack to set up on. With the announcement that I had 10 minutes to clear transition, I set about doing my bike again, all of my gear still in my bag. Once I had my wheel off a race official walked over and informed me I was in the wrong place. I was so confused and I asked what he meant. He pointed at my bike number and then the number on the racks. “You’re 754, you have to be over there.” Fortunately, he didn’t realize my number was actually 154 because that rack was quite a distance away from me. I also didn’t realize the mistake until later myself.
At that moment, one of my friends walked by. I called out “Hey Hugo!” and when he looked over the first thing he said was, “Do you need help?” I’m not too proud to get someone else to lend me a hand and I told him I really needed a hand, yeah. So Hugo took over redoing my tire while I got my stuff over to my new transition area. Unsurprisingly it was a tight fit since I was one bike too many. With the transition area closing as I basically just dropped a couple pieces of gear down with the rest in my bag, Hugo found he was also racked in the wrong place so I helped him move to his spot.
I got down to the beach and tried to calm myself back down but I had blown through a ton of adrenaline already. Not a good way to start. I could only think about the mess I had waiting for me at transition. I got through the swim fine since it was so short and got back to T1. This was when my lack of preparation time really started cause me issues. My shoes were out but I wanted my socks and my race number was not on my belt. I also needed my helmet. So now I had to start unpacking. In the end, my T1 was over 7 minutes. The bike went fine and I was feeling much better at this point but when I got back to transition I had to start going through my bag again. In retrospect I should have taken T1 to just completely set up my area. So back to the bag for my running shoes and looking for my nutrition which I couldn’t find. Then my shoes were still tied. So I got the shoes untied and back on and off I went after an amazing 6 minute transition. Now a sprint triathlon is not a crazy distance race for me but I still wanted some nutrition at T2 and I didn’t get it. Or water. I barely had any water on the bike since my mind just wasn’t there. Between that and having had such a bad adrenaline rush earlier…I felt horrible on the run. By the halfway point I needed to walk some and I decided to just go with how I felt. My first race time ended up being a horrible 1:30:45. I didn’t place last. That’s about as much as I can say about it.
After the race everyone went off to do their thing for the day. It was great having people to hang out with afterwards but I was a little happy there was no plans to do anything during the day because I knew I had to take care of my bike. Even though it had held up for the ride that was the second time in a couple months I blew a tire overnight. I got home and when I checked, sure enough, the liner had exposed some sharp metal surfaces again. So I pulled the liner out and put a brand new one in. I made extra sure that it was firmly in place. I did manage to rip another tube doing this (I’m an idiot) and now I was completely out of spares so I’d have to pick some up before the next race.
In the meantime, I wanted more lights for the night race and discovered there was some random lights that Sports Authority was trying to get rid of. So I picked up a bunch and decided I’d light up the roads at Crystal River! I spent the remainder of the afternoon getting a big meal and then re-prepping my gear for the second race. This time several of us were carpooling up so I met up with them for the long drive. Its really so much different doing this with other people. Its been years since my brother and I have done a few races together and I forgot how much more enjoyable it is to be with people you know.
We got up to the race with over an hour to spare. The race was much smaller and getting set up was much easier than before. Especially since I didn’t have to deal with a flat tire! I got my transition area set up how I wanted it and then went for a relaxing warm up swim. There is one huge way that triathlons beat running races during the summer months. Waiting for the race to start while swimming at the beat is a lot better than just chilling on the road for an hour. Maybe the winter that’s not the case but I’ll take this while I can.
The race started at 7:30pm and they had special towels for anyone doing both, which seemed to be a fair number of us. I knew that there was no way I’d do as poorly as the morning but because the morning race was SO bad, I decided I was going to push as hard as I could for the night race. Which still meant I was going to be slow but I wanted to see what I could do, starting with the swim. I’m still new at swimming and I try to avoid the crowd since there’s a lot of jostling. Avoiding the crowd becomes fairly easy since I’m so slow but I went right in the middle of it this time at least. My swimming isn’t great but I’m happy to say my swimming was faster than a lot of people who ended up beating me. That tells me I’m doing ok on the swim and need to focus on other areas, especially the bike. My T1 time was quite a ways off from the morning and I got through T1 in under 2 minutes. I basically shaved 5 1/2 minutes off of my first transition.
The ride went pretty well and I went out pretty hard. The course was flat and I had a bit of a tailwind so I managed to average 20.5 mph on the leg out. The leg back was another story since I then had a headwind but overall I managed to hold an 18.3 mph average over the race which beat my morning average by 0.2 mph. I made sure to hydrate during the ride this time and got through T2 in just a bit over 2 minutes. The best part of this is that because I wanted a ton of lights, my transition was a tad slower than I would have been otherwise since I had to get them all on (5 total!) which cost me at least 30 seconds. It was taking long enough that I almost decided to ditch some but I stuck to it! So another 4 minutes saved at that transition.
Now I hit the run which was 3 miles rather than 3.1 and held a much better pace. Really my only goal was to have about a 10 min/mi pace and I managed that by finishing the 3 miles in 30:39. I wasn’t the fastest but I was the most light up for sure! About 1/10 of a mile from the end, I could see the finish line and someone started to pass me on my left. Now, I’m not a speed demon by any stretch but I do have a fairly decent burst at the end of most races. I wasn’t going to let her pass me and picked it up a bit, pushing ahead of her. A moment later we came around the last curve where the crowd was and someone close to me shouted, “Common, you can beat that guy!” I could tell she was still right there and that was when I turned it up for the last stretch.
I finished in 1:17:35 and she finished in 1:17:39. Yes, we were in different categories by gender but I’m not going to be passed if I can help it! Overall I finished 13 minutes faster than the morning race which is a huge difference in such a short race. Everyone else did great (better than me) and one girl even placed 2nd in her age group category. The race itself was well run though the course was a bit rough since it was completely open and cars were pretty close the whole time.
Overall it was a blast riding there and back with friends and keeping each other awake until we got home. I was happy that I wasn’t extra sore after my double race day but I did turn off all my alarms and sleep all the way until 9am on Sunday! No training. My legs needed a day off and I’d say I earned it.