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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Desert International Triathlon

My first triathlon of the season was this past weekend near Palm Desert. 

I didn't have high expectations.  I took two months off -- after my ultramarathon at the beginning of December, which had followed a DNF at the Santa Clarita Marathon, I needed some clarity.  I needed to workout on my own terms -- if I wanted to run, I ran.  If I wanted to ride my bike, I did, but not very often.  And when I decided that the pool and I needed to break up for about six weeks, I did that.

So, official training started on February 1.  Most of that initial training was for the Bandit 30k on February 18, a crazy hilly course with 3,700 feet change in elevation.  And that race went okay, given my lack of training.  But, going into Desert Tri, I had done a total of three brick (combined bike and run) workouts, all crammed into the two weeks before the race.

I did not feel ready at all.  That said, who is really ready for a triathlon at the beginning of March, so early in the season?  Me, apparently.  But, my thought process going into this was that this would be a good practice run, and a great day to compete with other teammates from Team Fortius.

This is what a triathlon looks like seconds before the gun goes off.  A bunch of black neoprene clones in identical caps.  I'm in that picture, if you look closely, and you'll see a sliver of my face.   I lined myself up in the middle, a bit closer to the front.  I'm not the fastest swimmer, but I've done enough triathlons to have the confidence to hold my own and not get scared by the mass of swimmers around me.

Off we went.  To the first buoy, there were a lot of bodies, but I wasn't feeling crowded.  After that turn, the remainder of the swim wasn't too bad.  There were a few aggressive swimmers from the wave start after us who passed, and a number of swimmers from the wave before us who I passed.  The 3/4 mile swim took me 24 minutes.

And that's me running out of the water.  Normally I step out of the wetsuit, but for some reason I actually sat down in the transition area to pull it off.

Reeeally far out shot of me on my bike

Then on to the bike.  Mr. Cervelo (my tri bike) and I just became reacquainted less than 2 weeks ago, so expectations weren't very high.  But I had something new -- race wheels.  I had tried them out at Malibu Tri in the fall, but hadn't noticed much difference, possibly because of the hilly course there.  But Desert Tri was flat -- like a desert!  I looked down at my bike computer -- I was cruising at 20 mph!  For me this is unheard of.  But, I went with it. 

Finally the run.  Normally, I have no probleml putting my bike down and running full force.  But, my legs felt heavy, heavy enough that I didn't even want to know my pace.  As it turns out, I was running 8:35/mile pace, which for me is pretty good, but for some reason, it felt slower because my legs were so uncomfortable.  I was grateful to have a friend out there who was not taking the race too seriously, who ran with me for the first five miles.  I have a strategy when running with someone faster than me -- make them talk.  Ask open-ended questions.  Hear stories.  That way, I can focus my energy on running, not on talking, and listening to them I can forget the discomfort that comes with running hard.

And there I am, racing for the finish.  Total time -- 2:34.  14th out of 36 women in my age group.

I am pleasantly surprised by my performance.  The swim was in a time I would expect, my bike was faster, and my run was about spot on.  This is a good start for my season, which will culminate with the Maccabiah Games at the end of July... more on that later!

And finally, a big thank you to my friend Anthony, who was kind enough to be my sherpa for the day, put air in my tires, and take iPhone pictures.

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Beginning triathlons