Thursday, June 16, 2011

Try the Tri

Tri4SuccessMom and IronTexasMommy
Last weekend, the Try the Tri finally arrived.  This would be my wife's first triathlon.  It was originally planned to be my first as well but swimming is a work in progress.  As it is geared towards rookies (which made up about 2/3rds of the field), the distances are a hair shorter than the typical sprint tri with a swim of 250yds, a bike of 8mi, and a 2mi run to finish it off.  We knew the venue - it was the same as the Hooty's Kids Triathlon.  We also knew one of the volunteers, Shannon (aka IronTexasMommy).  She recently completed Ironman Texas and where did she get her start?  Yep, 2 years ago at Try the Tri.  If you're not familiar with her story, check out this article.

With the hour-and-a-half drive to Decatur, TX and correlating early wake-up, it seemed prudent to ask the boys whether they wanted to come along or stay with my dad.  The little one chose a day with Paw-Paw while Julian wanted to witness his mom's first triathlon.  All the usual pre-race stuff was taken care of in terms of fueling the body, loading up the gear, and hitting the road with plenty of time to spare.

When we arrived I got her bike all set up while she checked in and got marked.  The field was capped at 100 athletes and Angelia would be starting 36th.  Then it was off to transition to get everything organized.  The racks were well labelled so there was no jockeying for position.  I thought it was nice that family was freely allowed in this area pre-race.  It probably helps a number of first-time competitors relax.  A stark contrast to the complete banishment of parents pre and post race at Julian's last kids tri.

Angelia just after entering the water in the top lane.
And they're off!  At 10sec intervals they enter the water starting with the swimmer that projected the fastest time.  I can only imagine what goes through the minds of those in the back of the line as they see that first swimmer glide through the water executing perfect under the rope flip turns.  Has to be nerve racking but that's the cool thing about this kind of event.  Almost everyone there is a bundle of nerves so you can't help but root for each other (which is pretty much standard for this awesome sport anyway).  Angelia entered the water and looked to be on good form.  Sure she got passed by the long-armed dude behind her but she made a pass as well.  Then around the 125yd mark I noticed a bit of a pause as she turned around.  The head was starting to lift and each time she hit the wall she seemed slightly less enthused to keep going.  I had no idea at the time what could possibly be bothering her on a swim of this distance.  Later it occurred to me the pool was heated and to put it simply - my wife and heat don't go together.  Post-race she confirmed that she was indeed over-heating in the pool.  Unfortunate and something we should have seen coming but she still completed the segment in a reasonable time.

This went fairly well with only the small mistake of stepping on the transition mat with wet, grass-covered feet leaving her with no clean spot to stand while getting her shoes on.  Next time it'll be towel first then transition mat!  This combined with the lack of anything to grasp and a body recovering from overheating led to some balance issues while getting her socks and shoes on.  She ran out of transition with her bike looking ready to go but a traffic jam at the mount line slowed things for a moment.

With only 8mi for the bike leg, it didn't seem like this segment would present too much of a challenge and indeed she came in on the faster end of what we projected.  Apparently the course did have some toughness to it, especially considering this is a beginners' event.  Stretches of rough pavement were reported as well as it being a bit hillier than anticipated.  Check out this video where you can see Ang running to T1 at the 0:55 mark and on the bike at the 1:28 mark.

As a side note, while Angelia was out on the bike course Julian and I stood next to Shannon applauding each and every athlete as they came running towards transition from the pool.  The looks on their faces tell so many varying stories.  Shannon is such an enthusiastic volunteer, truly excited for these people and the journey they're beginning.  I appreciated having a moment to share in that.  Very inspiring.

Angelia came flying in towards transition and had no problems with the dismount, unclipping a little early but not excessively so.  This being a rookie event you could see the fear in many as they had both feet unclipped and were slowing heavily a solid 200m from the dismount line.  As for Ang's transition, this one went very well.  The bike was on the rack in a flash, shoes changed, and she grabbed her Rockwall Running Center Race Team shirt to put on while running.

Sponges were being handed out at the exit from transition and Angelia took advantage.  While the athletes clearly appreciated the opportunity to help control their body temps it should be pointed out that the weather that day was awesome!  When it has been triple-digits out recently and you manage to get a whole triathlon in with cloudy skies, minimal direct sunlight, lower wind speeds, and just flat-out great conditions you can't help being thankful, both as a competitor and a spectator.

Ang said the run started off uphill right away and her legs felt like bricks for about a mile and a quarter.  Replaying everything she ever heard from her running coach in her head is what kept her pushing through.  Most popular mantra?  "Suck it up."  Gotta love Coach B.  Eventually the legs did start to open up but she didn't push it opting to hold it steady to the finish.  Angelia came in right on target with a time of 1:06:39 for the event.  Big congrats!  Afterwards she said the run was the hardest segment for her but she's making great progress since the scary episode with the atypical migraine.  It's only a matter of time before her running returns to form and she knocks minutes off these times.  Congratulations to her and all the first-timers that slayed the triathlon dragon that day!

Look, I got a water!!! ..... and some bling too.

Angelia, Julian, and Vicki (another runner from our area that did her first triathlon)


Jason said...

great recap. Congrats to Ang as she did wonderful.

Isn't Shannon just the best? She is a true inspiration.

Mike said...

Congrats on Ang's first tri! Well done indeed!

Michael said...

Congrats to Ang!! Sounds like she did GREAT!

B.o.B. said...

congrats!!! the first tri...careful the addiction starts there! lol!

Lesley @ said...

I would've drowned prior to T1. Go Ang!

Tri4Successmom said...

Thank you everyone! I had so much fun and what a great race to be my first. I can't wait for my next one. Lesley@ you may not be a strong swimmer but you run circles around me!

Shannon (IronTexasMommy) said...

How did I miss this post?? I was searching online for any reviews and found it... I'm posting a link to it on our Fit-N-Wise Tri Series Facebook page! I think it will be really helpful to other newbie triathletes! You did so awesome out there Angelia! :)