On August 5 2007 I competed in my first real triathlon the 2007 Cayuga Lake Triathlon. I only did the sprint distance portion which is 1/2 mile swim, 14 mile bike ride, 3.1 mile run.
I had been talking about it / training for this event for almost a year now (although my times wouldn’t suggest that) and so it finally came time for me to take the ham out of my mouth and actually compete. My thoughts after the jump. I woke up at 6am the morning of my race feeling like I wanted to keep sleeping. Once I got up I took a multivitamin, sudafed, aleve, and a big glass of sweet tea. I loaded up my car with my bike, and milk crate full of stuff, grabbed a pop tart and vitamin water and headed out the door at 6:20. The drive out to Toughannock State Park was quiet (not many people up that early on a Sunday) but full of other cars with bikes attached (weird).
Once I got to the park it looked like a pretty big production. There were going to be 700 athletes, plus all the volunteers, race crew and spectators. I parked my car and set up all my stuff in the transition area and wandered around for a while looking for people I knew. Lots of people started filtering in, and eventually I saw some of my friends that would also be competing.
They announced that the transition area would be closing, so I put on my wetsuit (a nice guy here at Cornell that is the same size as me let me borrow his tri-specific wetsuit for the race) and grabbed my goggles and cap and headed toward the water. Those competing in the intermediate distance would be launching first. While watching them head out into the water, nervousness crept over me and I started to get nauseous. I again met up with my friends and we watched the first wave of swimmers, and decided to test out the water ourselves. It was pretty warm for a lake in New York at 8:30 am. As my start time approached I began to think more about the race and my nerves got the best of me, I quickly made friends with the nearest bush and lost most of my vitamin water.
I headed toward the launch corral where about 50-60 men were waiting for the official start signal. They counted us off and then said go. I let all the aggressive swimmers take off first, I had no intention of getting kicked in the face, or running into someone. I made my way into the water and started swimming away. The wetsuit helped keep me buoyant but acted like a parachute sometimes by grabbing water in the back (it didn’t fit quite snug enough). I learned: 1 – swimming against the waves is a pain in the ass, and 2 – I can’t swim straight without the lines in the pool. For the sprint distance they launched 3 waves of swimmers 5 min apart. The course was like two parts to a triangle, and by the time I completed the first part, I was being passed by the swimmers in the heat behind me. By the time I finished the second part I was being passed by the third heat. That should tell you how the swim went. I didn’t want to tire myself out too much, and I did a lot of zig-zags. I got out of the water and was very lightheaded heading toward the transition.
I took my time in the transition stripping off my wetsuit and putting on my biking gear. Once I got my ducks in a row, I headed out toward the road. My legs felt pretty good so I started to push up the 2 mile uphill at the beginning. The ride was pretty quiet, I passed about 20 people but I think many of them were from other heats etc. I hit the downhill part ready to finish the bike part and start running. I made it into the transition, took my sweet time putting on my shoes, headband etc and headed out.
My friends lined the exit out of the transition heading out to the run, and they gave me a boost of energy as I went by them. After about a mile, my calves started to cramp and I ran to a water station and instead of drinking and running, I walked for 100 feet and drank some water. My legs felt better so I headed out toward the trail again. The trail took us to the falls, and then to another water station (where I again stopped for a min or two) and then back into the park. By this time I was quite exhausted and looking for another water station. When I stopped there for more water (I should have hydrated more on my bike) my friend Bec caught up with me. She and I decided to run the last mile together. We were both pretty tired, but the end was within sight. We passed our friends again on the way in and I got a boost of energy when I saw the finish line. I sprinted the last 100 yards and made it through the finish line.
My times for each part were almost exactly as I predicted. 22 min swim 48 min bike ride, and 30 min run. My run time was about 5 min slower than I guessed, but I didn’t factor in the water breaks or how tired I would be. My transition times were pretty slow, but I am ok with that too. I would probably do a race like this again, but I need to become a better swimmer and should practice run/bike combinations because my legs felt like jello.
Check my pictures page for more pictures of my friends and me.