Swim. Bike. Run

On October 20th I did my second triathlon. It was the Pumpkinman Triathlon, there was a sprint, olympic, and half and I raced in the sprint division. I hadn’t really been training really at all for this tri. I had been doing some running here and there but really hadn’t been riding my bike and definitely no swimming, I hadn’t swam since the last tri in July. With moving and starting my internship combined with the fact that I don’t know where to train yet in Mesquite I didn’t have a whole lot of time or motivation to train more. I was already pretty nervous about this race due to my lack of training and I got a lot more nervous after looking at the bike route. It was a only a 12.4 mile bike but the route listed that over 5.5 miles climbed steadily at a 4.3% immediately followed by a 1 mile 6% grade right before a slight flat/downhill to the second transition. After I saw this I was terrified. I expected this race to be hard and it by far exceeded my expectations, easily twice as hard as I had feared. My last triathlon was really a small and pretty casual race, the Pumpkinman was completely different. There were tons of people, close to 1,000 people between the 3 races and 475 of those were racing the sprint. And these people looked serious, all around were the tri suits, expensive bikes, and racing attitude.

The start of the race on the beach at Lake Mead


I was getting even more nervous, especially since the swim was first and I hate the swim. I went down to the water to get ready to start, I was in the 7th wave. Everyone was down in the water in their wetsuits, at 74 degrees it was pretty cold standing in that water but once we were off I warmed right up.

Getting ready for the swim (I don’t think I was actually in the water yet)

Happy I didn’t commit to the wetsuit quite yet, then I didn’t have to worry about getting out of it. This swim felt so hard, it was .47 miles, shorter than my last tri and yet it took my more than a minute longer to get out of the water, 24:38 minutes in the water and it felt like even longer. Out of the water it was a ways back up to my bike and there’s no way my legs were gonna let me run. They had also recently repaved the road and it was the roughest asphalt I have ever felt, loose gravel would have been more comfortable to walk on. Finally got up to my bike and headed out of the transition area. I was barely out T1 when I had to get off my bike and stop because the start was uphill and I was still feeling the swim a bit too much to keep moving. After a quick stop though I was moving again.

Biking

The first 5 miles was an out and back that wasn’t too horrible, it was hilly and definitely not easy but I was handling it. Once we passed back by T1 it was ok for about a mile (I don’t know the actual distances, I can’t remember how to work my watch anymore apparently and only had my speed not distance). Then we started to climb. And climb, and climb, and climb…OMG absolutely the hardest bike ride I have ever done in my life, probably the hardest physical activity I have done period. I was already in my lowest gear and wishing it went lower and I was still climbing, and the hills were getting steeper and they just kept going. There was barely any relief from these hills, I stopped again at one point and thinking about it now I’m not totally sure why. I was definitely tired but it wasn’t even a really hard section, I think it may have been something like despair that stopped me, I had probably already started  to lose hope that the hills would ever end and I probably had at least 4 more miles to go. But again I was back on my bike and that was the last time I stopped till I got to T2.

T2

When I was going up the last hill at a 6% grade (at least, I felt like more) for a mile and this hill looked never ending it seriously took everything I had in me to keep going. What kept me from stopping was that I started thinking, “Do I want to have to say that it took everything I had and I couldn’t do it? Or be able to say that it took all I had and I kept going?” Well I would just like to say, I did it. Even though at one point I looked down and I was moving at a gentle 4.5MPH. This is barely a jogging pace, it’s more like the speed that’s really awkward because you can walk that fast but almost have to jog, that’s how fast I was moving on a BIKE and I could barely maintain that. Just to keep moving my legs was such a struggle but I was finally at the top of the hill and for possibly the first time ever I was happy to get off my bike and run. It took me 1:17:34 to finish a 12.4 mile ride, my average speed was 9.6MPH and I think it just about killed me, if something could have broken me and would have been that last hill. My second transition was quick, just 1:43 before I was running, one of the few benefits of not using clipless pedals yet. My legs were feeling rough after the tough bike ride but I pushed myself to keep going. I had left my watch behind because I knew I didn’t need it to keep a slow pace, a slow pace was the only one I was capable of at that point.

About halfway through the run, I was going so slow!

During my last tri I had stopped and walked during part of the run, the most disappointing part of that race and I didn’t want to do it again. This time I kept going and kept pushing myself. I had entered this race in the age group division and I had seen a couple girls in my division pass me (easy to tell when your age is written in sharpie on your leg) and during the run was the first time that I caught up to and passed any other girls that I was competing with. My goal was to not be last so when I saw them it was good motivation to go faster. The funny thing is that the run was where I passed the most people. I always thought my run would be the worst but in this race it turned out to be the best. I finished and was overjoyed it was over.

This picture shows pretty well how I felt, something like dying

My total run time was 35:28, not too terrible after such a brutal race. Proof that I really had pushed myself to the limit was the fact that as soon as I slowed to a walk after the finish line my legs immediately locked up. The whole outside of both legs was so tight it was like my legs were saying “Don’t you dare try to run again” and by then I was happy to oblige. I hung around for a little bit to enjoy the race vibe, it just a good feeling being around everyone after a race. This race was so hard and I’m proud of myself for doing it. With a finish time of 2:23:25, not too far above the sprint average of 2:09:10, a division place 10/13, gender place 121/184, and an overall place of 364/475 (race results) I’ve still got some work to do but I found my motivation and I know that triathlons are something I want to do seriously. So now who wants to train with me?

*All pictures from Zazoosh (one of the best parts of the race was the free digital downloads of all the race pictures)

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