Right now its nine at night and I am really tired… this morning I completed my second triathlon. My goals for this race were pretty straight forward, finish way better than I did in my first triathlon. A couple of weeks I assessed my last triathlon and set some goals for this triathlon (here). Basically my two big goals were to ride the 18 mile bike in less than an hour and thirty minutes and run the run leg in 45 minutes. Additionally I was hoping to have a better nutrition strategy going into this race. In the end this race ended up going better than expected and I finished in 2 hours and 24 minutes, 6 full minutes better than I had planned (give or take some seconds). The Allatoona triathlon is hosted by PTS Sports/PTS Solutions for the last three years and has become a local race favorite. Compared to my first race which only had 150 athletes, this race had about 450-500 total athletes of varying calibers and abilities. The race organizers do an amazing job of handling the chaos that is a triathlon race. The race starts at a local lake beach spot with a well managed transition area and the run finishes in downtown Acworth. From what I have seen, few triathlons finish in a different location than where transition and the start areas are located. But its really cool to finish this race in front of the PTS sports shop in downtown Acworth. Following is my summation of my triathlon experience.
The swim was a 500 meter lake swim around some buoys. As this was my second triathlon and my first one was a pool swim, this was my first experience with an open water race swim. I had been practicing allot but was uncertain what to expect with all the other swimmers. The race organizers had broken the swim start into multiple groups or waves to keep the number of people on a course area limited and spread out. It was amazing standing there huddled up with all the other athletes as the anthem was sung and the last minute rules were gone over. There was something special about being shoulder to shoulder with other triathletes ready to undertake and start the race.
At the start of the race I just tried to find an outside area that was uncrowded and set myself to a lane to the first buoy. It was amazing just starting a swim with that many people at once and I found I had ran into some one and then some one grabbed my feet, it was madness. Eventually I found a lane where I could draft a bit off a person. I continued to fight a bit and just kept sighting and swimming feeling in control, yet the nerves did kick in and my stomach cramped temporarily at first. As I got to the final lane of the swim I pushed forward. I found it involved a little bit of a fight for a bit. As I pushed on I estimated where I could stand and start running to transition. Unfortunately I misjudged and hit a deeper patch and had to swim a bit more to get to a standing and running point. As I came out of the water I jogged to the pool of water to get sand off the feet and then hustled into transition.
Last race this one killed me as I struggled to put on socks and felt out of sorts. This time, as I exited the water I began to think of what I was going to do once I got to my stuff in transition. As I pulled up to my spot I put on my skull cap, helmet, gloves and shoes and ran out of the transition area. Overall I finished this in about two minutes and just need to work on putting on bike shoes on wet feet. Overall I was happy about my end performance in this transition.
The bike leg was a major mental hurdle for me. First off it was long for a sprint at 18 miles and second off I had ridden some of the course before and knew there were some challenging climbs. I might have taken it a bit too easy at the beginning, but I still went my pace and watched for drafting. The beginning of the course had some small hills and a few long straight aways. Then the long climbs started and did not end til the end of the bike leg of the race. I probably should have ridden a bit more aggressive but I wanted to save a little bit of energy for the run leg and the last hill. Usually I average a speed around 14 mph, but on this course I was averaging closer to 13. I took two gels on this leg, one at eight miles and the second around seventeen miles, mostly to help give me some energy on my run. Overall I really enjoyed the bike, even though I was passed allot, I did not care though as I was riding my own race and having a good time with it. As I pulled into transition I unclipped in the appropriate time and ran into T2 to start the last leg of my race. At this point I realized that I was almost done and that at most I only had 45 minutes or 3.2 miles of running to get to the finish line.
Not much to say here, I ran into transition and changed shoes, grabbed my race belt and hat and started running. I got mixed up and started off in the wrong direction but quickly corrected this.
The run comes out of transition and immediately goes up and around the parking lot, steepness is pretty good. My Total Trainer did not show a time completed on the bike mode as cadence was in its place. As I switched to run, the watch showed my completed time around 1 hour and forty minutes… if I continued to finish in 45 minutes of running I would finish and reach my goal of 02:30:00. I grew excited but had to focus as I immediately started the climb up the first of many hills. I found throughout this course I had to stop numerous times as my pacing was too much or too little. Also there were allot of up and down hills to run. I pushed on and kept working to run when possible. As I got to the street that was downtown Acworth, before seeing the street, the party that was the finish line could be heard…. I had made it and it looked like I was going to finish under the time. I began to jog a little harder, yet I was spent I pushed, I was not going to walk down the finish shoot and I was not going to turn the road leading to the finish shoot walking.
I turned onto the main street and saw the finish shoot and the erected blow up structures and the music was growing louder. I pushed myself into the shoot and heard my brother, who ran the race as well and finished and hour earlier, shouting. I saw the finish line and I saw the time listed as 2:24:00 and I knew I could beat my time by five minutes. I let my brother’s shouting and the noise of the crowd and the promise of food to push me forward. I had nothing left and I gave it every ounce of reserve that was hiding, I finished that race as strong as possible and had nothing left when I crossed the finish line. Of course I was ready to puke, I was spent, running down the shoot took everything out of me, but it did not matter, I finished under 2:25:00!!! I was almost crying, it felt so awesome to have my brother there an to have had an excellent race. I was riding on cloud nine, besides walking on the run at times, my race was great.
The after part was a blast and I wolfed down some muscle milk. As I walked around I ran into numerous people I knew from my open water swim training sessions(I attend two different groups, something most people do not do, so I have a very large group of people I know from each) and my gym. It was an amazing experience and I got a finisher’s medal in the end. This is the way I want all my future races to feel at the end. While I am now ready to go and sleep forever, I loved this race. Its hard to believe they managed it so well with so many people and made a truly phenomenal race experience. And I beat the time I expected! Til next time.
- Assessing My Last Triathlon and Looking to the Next (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)
- Allatoona Triathlon Week 1 Review (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)
- Its Time To Race: Training Week 4 Wrap Up and Look Ahead (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)
- How do They do That? Olympic Triathlons (running.answers.com)