When I decided that I was going to try this whole triathlon thing, I was most worried about swimming. To me, running was what I knew, biking was just what kids did, but swimming was HARD and new and I had issues wrapping my head around it. With that in mind, I signed up for the Millheim Sprint Triathlon. The thought, in my mind, was that I would have a short swim just to get the hang of it.
So, I signed up thinking “how hard could this be.”
The Millheim Tri is small. Less than 80 people did the “full” sprint. They also have a mini triathlon as well. The “full” is a 300 meter swim, 15 mile bike and 5k run. The swim is also in a pool, which is heated. You get to basically choose, on the honor system, where you will start in the pool swim. Not having a clue where I would be at the time I signed up, I said it would take me 10 minutes. Lesson number 1 learned – seed yourself properly. I was able to finish and get out of the pool in under 7 minutes according to my friend Debbie, who was there cheering me on. While I was really glad that I was faster, the pool swim at Millheim in a serpentine swim. For this swim, you went down and back, and then under the rope to the next lane to repeat for a total of 12 pool lengths. There was only 20 seconds in between each swimmer. That meant I stuck myself in the middle of a pool filled with swimmers that were slower than I was and a few others that had misjudged their time.
Prior to getting in the pool, the race director said that if you needed to pass someone, tap their foot and they should let you pass. In reality this didn’t happen. I was bunched up with several people and none of them would let me pass. I finally let the person behind me pass me, just so I was at least only dealing with people in front of me. Of course she wasn’t able to pass either. Lesson learned for the future, seed myself properly, and if I’m in the situation where someone needs to pass me, just let them go.
Once I got out of the pool, I grabbed my sandals (there were rocky parts of the transition area) and headed to my bike. The transition took me longer than I would have liked, but that was because everything was wet and muddy. I was trying to somehow keep my feet dry, and also not sit in mud puddle. Lesson 2 learned, bring something to sit on so you can more easily transition.
The bike started off awesome. I was actually passing people early on and feeling amazing. Then I hit a hill and some of my bad decisions from earlier in the day hit me hard. See, I had woken up nauseous and wasn’t able to eat. I took a bit of a banana, but other than that my stomach wasn’t handling anything. Lesson 3 – eat SOMETHING. I was totally dead at the top of the hill. I could not keep going. I pulled out a Gu and also a ginger chew from Trader Joe’s. I drank some water, took a breather, took off my long sleeves and stretched. After that I was able to get back on and finish the bike. This was another lesson as well. The huge hill I stopped on the top of was THE big hill, but I thought it was before the biggest hill. So I was riding cautious and worrying about getting to the biggest hill, when I had already done it. Lesson 4 – stay in the moment.
Pulling in with the bike was awesome. The hubs had brought both kids to see me, and I wasn’t expecting it. So I saw them both when I got off the bike. My daughter was a great cheerleader and so was Debbie. My son ran away and my hubs had to chase him, but I’m sure he would have been a great cheerleader given the chance.
The run, well, it sucked. I totally underestimated running off the bike. I had not had time to do brick runs and was over confident considering I just ran a half marathon in May and felt like I was ready. I was not. I walked the first hill and ran/walked in the slowest pace I’ve had in a long time. I was pretty upset with myself. I had left my water pack on for the run, which was also a mistake. It added weight and heat, and there were water stops on the run, which was short enough that I didn’t need them. That will be my Lesson 5- be more minimalist in the run. I’m thinking no water and no headphones. It’s only 3 miles, I can do without.
When I finished I saw that friends of ours had also come to see us, which was a nice surprise. After I rested a little and got changed, we all went to Elk Creek Cafe for lunch. I got a free beer as a race participant. The only problem is that I was still not feeling great and wasn’t able to fully enjoy my lunch because of it.
The rest of the day Saturday I was wiped. I napped and then I slept 9 hours that night. Sunday I felt like I was getting sick, but I napped again and ate some ice pops (I think I needed sugar) and was much better. By Monday I was pretty recovered. Oddly enough, I was never sore. I was more sore after a half marathon or a weight training session than I was after this race.
My Next race is in Cayuga in August. I have signed up for swim lessons and have a healthy fear/respect for the bike and run now, so I know what I need to work on. I’m hoping to improve. Since the swim is longer, finishing in a similar time to what I did in Millheim would be pretty respectable I think. Hoping that since my training is moving in to peak weeks I will see some definite improvement before then.