I've mentioned on here a few times about how I've changed my perspective of the sport of triathlon this year. The sport has changed me a lot, and has changed my mentality towards it, in very good ways.
As mentioned a few posts ago, my time last year in the My Way or the Tri Way was 2:10:56. 750 meter swim. 14 mile bike. 3.5 mile run. In 2:10:56. Did I finish? Yes. Was my time something to boast about? Hell no. Let me break down the numbers further:
Swim - 27:04 for a 58:04 per mile pace
T1 - 2:29
Bike - 58:19 for a 14.19 mph pace
T2 - 1:39
Run - 39:49 for a 11:22 per mile pace
T3 - 1:38
Yeah, not impressive, is it?
This year, I trained better. I trained harder, better, faster, stronger (cue Kanye west and Daft Punk). Most importantly, I approached this triathlon season with a sense of respect. I have tremendous respect for the sport and the athletes that participate in it. I approached it with a more humble attitude and an understanding that finishing a race isn't guaranteed. You have to work at it.
We arrived in Cheyenne the day before our triathlon at about 6:00. We drove towards the park where the triathlon would take place so we could get an idea of what we were up against and have some idea of how to get there (we were planning on riding our bikes to the tri that following morning). We dipped our feet in the lake (cold!) and chatted very briefly with the race organizers, who seemed to be packing up after finishing a race meeting that we missed (oops).
We then drove to our hotel (ghetto!) and checked in. We hauled our bikes to the room and then ventured out to explore Cheyenne and find food. We were going to drive back down to Fort Collins for Famous Daves, but we both determined the drive would be too far and settled on finding something in Cheyenne. However, that was easier said then done. Our options were Village Inn, Mexican food, or Arbys. I'm serious on that. We kept looking in vain for another place and finally settled on Village Inn. Not ideal, but allowed for some protein consumption and some salad consumption. We then drove to the Taco Johns event center (yes, Taco Johns) and played some mini-golf. Hooray for me getting two holes in one!!!!
Then we headed back to the hotel and wound down. We watched some Legally Blonde 2 and some Million Dollar Baby, then crashed out.
We woke up Sunday morning and got ready to go. We determined if we left the hotel by 6, we'd be fine for transition and whatnot. Waiting on continental breakfast could push that back, but the front desk guy the night before told us that it is usually put out by 5:30 each morning, so no biggie. Yeah...
The breakfast was your choice of cereal, some sort of pastry, and oatmeal. That's it. No eggs, not even hard boiled. No bread. No bagels. Not a good way to start off the morning, considering T and I both need protein in the morning.
However, we manned up, ate what we could, and rode our bikes to the park. Didn't take more then a few minutes to head over there. We found a spot in transition right next to each other and dropped our stuff off, then headed over for packet pick-up and to get marked. They gave us pullover jackets, which was pretty cool, and we got body marked with our numbers + smiley faces, in a shoutout to our very good friend Steve in a Speedo. Then we grabbed our timing chip and headed back to transition to get our area set up.
With transition set up, we hit the porta-potties, then I got into my wetsuit. T wasn't wearing hers this morning for reasons she'll explain, but I was very glad I had mine. Some lady behind me was saying she needed some goggles, so I tossed her my spare pair and said if she returned them, great. If not, no biggie. Then we listened to the race director remind us about the drafting rules and other fun triathlon stuff.
Then it was time to head to the swim start.
The girls/women went first, followed by the guys. It went in descending age order, so I had quite a bit of time to wait. First though, we were able to get a quick swim in and get used to the water. It was cold, but not horrible. Both T and I felt ok. Then T got herded into the starting gate while I stood by and watched. As the women took off one by one, I waited for T to start. When it was her turn, I hugged her, told her good luck, and smacked her on the butt (hehe!). Then I watched her go. I didn't have much time though, as then I was herded into the starting gate.
I chatted with a guy behind me about triathlon in general and he said to just have fun. I told him he was going to be done with the bike by the time I was done with the swim and he laughed. Then it was my turn to go.
My triathlon season was underway!
I walked into the water, not running. I felt this would help keep my heart rate and anxiety down, which it did. I also waited to begin my swim until I was at least chest-deep, which helped me further stay calm. I knew anxiety was a big reason I struggled last year, so I did my damndest to control it. I started swimming slow and just was enjoying the swim, but within the first 100 meters, felt that my breathing was not good and was beginning to get anxious.
So I slowed down, told myself to relax and just enjoy myself, and to not worry about it. And it worked! I was able to breathe the way I like to breathe, my sighting was great, and by the time I made the turn around the giant duck (a big rubber duckie, which was maybe 200 meters out) I was into a nice groove. I started passing people and actually felt myself getting stronger on the swim. Talk about a confidence booster!
As I turned for shore, I knew that there was going to be no problems and began to think about T1. I continued passing people as well. Finally, I saw people around me standing up. I however decided to wait until my hand touched the bottom of the lake. When it did, I came to my knees to stabilize myself, then stood up. I jogged out of the water and unzipped the top half of my wetsuit. Running into T1, I slipped off my swim caps and goggles.
T1 was interesting. I felt myself get a little lightheaded, which was probably just due to the rush I had, but regardless, I had to slow myself down. I told myself to relax and take a couple breaths. I got into my cycling stuff, sprayed myself with some SPF50, and headed out of T1. My time wasn't great in T1, but I wasn't too worried about it. The most refreshing thing was seeing that T's bike was out of transition, meaning she completed her swim and was on the bike course.
The cycle, again, was something I looked forward to. Two schools of thought there. You're out of the water, which feels good, and riding your bike, quite frankly, is just fun! The course started nice and flat, which was nice. I felt myself in a nice groove and began to rehydrate. I also downed a gel packet.
This course was definitely hilly though! Man! Again, my weakness on the hills showed. As much as I tried to power my way up the hills, I struggled on them. The whole time though, I kept repeating to myself, "energy management". If I was going to be a triathlon coach, the first thing I would teach my athletes would be energy management. It's fun to get up to 40 miles an hour on the downhills, but you're going to wear your legs out quicker. It's fun to get a cadence of 110 going, but that's a waste of energy. Keep your cadence between 80-100 and you're getting the most out of your body and your bike. That's what I forced myself to do.
Near the turnaround point, I saw T. She looked strong and yelled something to me that I couldn't understand. I learned later that it was she wanted to murder the hills. Ok then.
The ride back was quicker and more downhilly. Hooray downhilly! I roared back on the 2nd half of the ride with a fury. I was damn bound and determined to get back to T2 and start my run. I was feeling great, if not starting to feel a tiny bit fatigued.
Coming back into T2, with about a quarter of a mile to go, we were in a coned area, and I was stuck behind some hooker peadaling way too slow for my taste. Not wanting to lose any time, I hustled around her and beat her into T2. I don't think she was too happy about it, but really, I'm racing here, people! I got into T2 and again, I felt pretty good. I racked my bike and changed into my running stuff. I ran out of T2 nice and slow to regain the feel in my legs and I was off!
Whether it was a different mentality or my training has just been that much better, the run was hiccup free! I was passing people left and right! I had rabbits throughout the whole course and was picking them off left and right. I never walked and was really proud of that fact! When I got to mile 1, I knew I was going to have a good rest of the run. As much as I wanted to pick it up and go faster, my legs were not allowing it to happen. But still, I was just feeling jubilation.
Coming into the finish, a guy asked me how to pronounce my last name, then I heard BRANDON GEIST IS COMING INTO THE FINISH! I picked it up slightly, then I finished in an interesting way. Right before the timing mat, I walked for a second or two, pointed towards the time, put out my arms, and stepped across the mat. To me, it was such a rewarding feeling that I didn't feel the need to barrel my way across the finish line. T and I differ on that, but that's another story. :-)
Anyway, here's my times from the Cheyenne Sprint Triathlon:
Swim - 13:33 for a 36:20 per mile pace
T1 - 2:39
Bike - 52:08 for a 16.11 mph pace
T2 - 2:00
Run - 32:28 for a 10:26 per mile pace
Total time? 1:42:48.7
Very respectable, in my opinion. :-)