Back in August 2009 I did something new. It was the Luna Bar Duathlon, part of the Luna Bar Women’s Triathlon Festival. A duathlon is like a triathlon (swim, bike, run), except you run the first leg (run, bike, run). I hadn’t wanted to do the triathlon because I didn’t have consistent access to a pool to train for the swim, but when I was running the first 2-mile run leg on a hot, dusty trail… I thought that it might make a whole lot more sense to swim, too.
After the duathlon, I decided I wanted to try a triathlon. I could use more aerobic fitness and having a goal (a race) to train for helps motivate me. It was a long road. My first year at Stanford was a busy one, plus finding my awesome climbing partner, Sarah Kate, made me really psyched to climb. I had an awesome fall (of climbing), culminating in a fantastic trip to Indian Creek. But once 2010 started, I knew I needed to make it happen.
I signed up for the Silicon Valley Sprint Triathlon. I could’ve trained more, but I didn’t. There’s still school and climbing and personal time and I haven’t figured out how to schedule everything appropriately yet. I’m working on it. But I did train, especially running, which is my weakest leg.
On June 12th, it was go time. My stomach was full of nervous butterflies. I had a banana for breakfast (plus 2 shot bloks right before the start and lots of water) while we drove down to Lake Almaden in San Jose. I checked in and Luke helped me set up in the transition area. I’ve gotten a lot of new triathlon toys since my duathlon, including a tri suit, my sweet tri bike (thanks Luke, Mom, and Dad for helping out with that!), tri bike shoes (easy to put on + designed to wear sock-less), an aero helmet, and a racebelt (you have to wear your number on the run, so it’s nice to just clip it on without having to wear it the whole race or put on an extra shirt with the number pinned to it). I’m happy to say all my gear was awesome, but then I’m getting ahead of myself.
My transition all set up, including my aero helmet, tri bike shoes, and neon green race belt.
The men started in the first 4 waves, separated by age and road vs. mountain bike race. I waited around on the beach and tested out the water waiting for my wave (road bike women 29 and under), the first of the 4 women’s waves. A lot of people were wearing wetsuits, which worried me, but the water was actually a perfect temperature for swimming (if it isn’t somewhat cold when you first get in, you’ll overheat once you start moving). The shore of the lake dropped off surprisingly quickly, so when I paddled out to the start line with my wave, we were all treading water.
Waiting in the shade before my wave starts.
We started and there was a lot of splashing and jostling. Although the lake water felt nice, it was quite murky (I could barely see my hand when it was all the way extended at the end of my stroke). I hadn’t expected this (I mostly swim in a pool), so it took a while to adjust to how often to pop my head up and check my orientation with the next cone. I did it too much at first, but after a while I was able to do it less often as I started to trust myself to swim in a straight line. I felt like I wasn’t doing too great, although it turns out I was only about 10th in my wave (you don’t notice how many people are behind you, only in front). I made the two turns of the swim and jogged into the transition zone (passing my first dude, who was walking to the transition zone).
My wave (the neon pink swim caps) starts!
At my transition, I wiped some of the sand off my feet before sticking them in my bike shoes and grabbing my helmet. I jogged out of transition with my bike. I guess I passed a couple people who’d worn wetsuits (it takes a non-trivial amount of time to take them off). I wasn’t super fast getting on my bike, which is clearly something I need to practice. I got out onto the bike course and relaxed into a rhythm. We’d ridden the bike course before, so I knew what to expect – mostly flat with one hill at mile 3. I survived the hill, even passing a bunch of people (many were walking their bikes), which was impressive because my tri bike is not geared for hills, whereas a bunch of people had mountain bikes, which definitely are geared for hills. I was a little less comfortable on the downhill and some of the turns on the course than I’d like to have been, so I did get passed by a couple women, although I continued to pass dudes, which continued to be awesome.
Starting out the bike leg. I heart my awesome Quintana Roo Lucero!
At my bike transition, I was slowed down a little by the fact that my feet were still a little wet (I’d expected them to dry out more, but the bike ride was pretty short), so it took me a couple extra seconds to get my socks on. But I saved some time by putting on my race belt (with race number), headband, and sunglasses as I was running out of transition. I managed my initial adrenaline surge on the run well, remembering to save energy rather than going out too fast – I did still have a 5k to run. I continued to pass people on the run (I think I only got passed once or twice myself), which was great motivation to focus on the person in front of me, run them down, then move on to the next person. It was not too hot yet, so I didn’t stop at most of the aid stations.
Heading out of transition for the run!
I was still feeling good by the end of the run and starting building my pace in the last 1/2 mile or so and sprinted the last 200m. I love being able to really have a strong kick at the finish and I passed another woman in the last 100m (although I don’t think she was in my age group). I felt awesome when I finished, although I insisted on retreating to the shade before I’d talk to Luke (it was hot). We proceeded to wait around and eat free burrito and pizza to pass time until the awards ceremony. I ended up getting 3rd in my age group (20-24-year-old women) with a time of 1:13:17 for the 500m swim, 8.8mi cycle, and 3.3mi run, which I was very happy with. I also placed 3rd in my age group for each individual leg, so I was satisfied with that too. I did train, but not that much, so I could definitely do better if I train more (I’m in the process of trying that now).
Finishing strong! I just passed that girl behind me
Although the rest of the event was great, the post-race organization was pretty poor. I think we waited 2 hours from when I finished until the awards ceremony started (it was over an hour after they’d promised it would be). Then when I got up there it took them about 10 minutes to find my prize bag. But, on the bright side, my prize bag was awesome and included goggles, an insulated swim cap, and compression socks. Thanks!!!
So I learned that triathlons are awesome and fun, especially when they are short (so I don’t get that tired) and I am excited to do more in the coming months. I also love the feeling of passing dudes who started ahead of me And finally, I’ve been learning recently that it’s good to just do what I’m psyched on at the time, and right now that’s triathlon! I’m planning on doing a couple more in the next few months (including the triathlon at the Luna Bar Women’s Triathlon Festival in August).
Are you psyched on triathlons? If you’re a woman and interested in triathlons, I totally recommend trying the Luna Bar Festival! The atmosphere is great and there are Super-Sprint tri’s and du’s, along with a longer sprint distance race! Let me know if you’ll be there and we can share our pre-race nerves and post-race exhaustion!