This morning was my first triathlon of the season! Hopefully it will be followed by many more! This was a new race, the Gateway to the Bay Tri in Kemah. There was a sprint distance race yesterday, and this morning was the olympic distance — 1500 meter swim, 40 kilometer bike, and 10k run. I didn’t have any serious goals going into this race other than to stay strong and get my tri season off to a good start. And I did just that!
First, the data:
Swim – 38:16.7
T1 – 4:07
Bike – 1:26:53.7 (17.2 mph)
T2 – 1:46.1
Run – 1:08:04.6 (10:59/mile)
Finish – 3:19:08.1
That was good enough for 1st place Athena!*
The swim was unlike any I have done before — a deep water start with a straight shot back to shore. We boarded boats at 6:30 a.m. All the women were on one boat, and we followed three boats full of men. Those of you who have seen it will be amused to hear that the lead boat was the Boardwalk Beast, a huge power boat that runs tourists out into the bay to give them a speed ride. It was hilarious to look over and see the Boardwalk Beast filled with orderly rows of men quietly sitting in their seat and facing forward.
Boardwalk Beast & triathletes in the water.
(Photo from the GTTB website.)
All of us women were in the last wave to start, so we had to sit out there on the boat for a half hour while everyone else got underway. Finally it was our turn to jump off the back of the boat and EEEK! The water was colder than I expected, even with my wetsuit. My arms and feet started to go a little numb, but thankfully we got underway pretty quickly and once I was swimming, the cold disappeared.
What else to say about the swim? It was long. I haven’t done much swimming this year, and it showed — not in my time, which I was happy with, but in my comfort level. I didn’t feel very comfortable in the water, and the constriction of my wetsuit didn’t help matters. (I have a love/hate relationship with my wetsuit. It’s hard to put on and it’s too tight on my neck, but it keeps you warmer in cold water and, most important of all, it’s buoyant. I don’t like wearing it, but it makes me faster. It is what it is — there are only a couple races in this area each year where wetsuits are legal anyway, since by next month the water will be too warm for them.) The water was pretty calm overall, especially after seeing and hearing about the swim in the sprint distance race yesterday. They had whitecaps; we had gentle swells. Though the swells were moving towards shore and thus helping us, I swam and swam and swam and I swear the shore wasn’t getting any closer. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally reached shore and scrambled up the ramp to dry land.
I stopped at the wetsuit strippers for help getting my suit off, then headed towards transition, which was in a parking lot 3 blocks away! The race organizers had thoughtfully laid a strip of carpet the entire length of the short run, so at least we didn’t have to run on the pavement in our bare feet, but it did make the transition times longer than most races. I ditched my wetsuit, swim cap and goggles in favor of bike helmet, shoes, and sunglasses. I also took a moment to spray my arms and shoulders with sunscreen. Sunscreen was totally worth the loss of a few seconds.
And I was off! The bike was pretty straightforward — two out-and-back loops on Hwy 146. The catch? Each loop began with a trip across the Kemah bridge and back. Up one side, down the other, a quick loop underneath, and another climb back over it. The first trip over the bridge and back went well, and I headed off for 10 miles. The wind was mostly crosswind, so I maintained a pretty steady speed the whole time…maybe slightly faster on the way back, but not by much. The second trip across the bridge and back was ROUGH. I struggled up the incline at about 7 mph each way and was quite happy to have it done. After that, it was another 10 miles on 146 and I was done! I thought I’d be able to go a bit faster than the 17.2 mph average I ended up with, but c’est la vie.
The transition from bike to run was much quicker, even with the added time for another dousing with sunscreen. Ditched the shoes and helmet, slipped on my sneakers, grabbed my visor and number and I was on my way. My legs felt SO HEAVY. The first aid station was only about a tenth of a mile out of transition, and by the time I got there, I was already worried that the run was going to be an epic sufferfest. My legs just felt like lead. But I told myself to keep shuffling forward, since I knew I would probably feel better after I got a mile or two behind me.
And I did! In fact, the whole run was GREAT. Just like yesterday at the Yuri’s Night 5K, I concentrated on keeping things comfortable, and not pushing so hard that I felt like I needed any walk breaks. The route went from Kemah under the bridge and into Clear Lake Shores, which was a lovely area for a run. It was about a mile over there, and once in Clear Lake Shores we did two laps of a 2-mile loop before heading back to the finish. The water, the boats, and the houses (both fancy and weathered) provided lots to look at as I jogged along. As I’d hoped, my legs felt a bit more peppy by the 2 mile mark, and I decided I’d try to finish the entire run without walking at all. (Well, I did take a few steps at each aid station, but just long enough to take a few swigs of water or Gatorade.)
I was about halfway done and just starting the second loop when a girl jogged up next to me. We started talking, and ended up running the rest of the way together — right up until she turned on the jets just before the finish line! She was from Oklahoma and was doing her very first triathlon, so that was cool. It was awesome to have someone to run with, and talking to her made the time pass really quickly. The only negative to the run is that right around the 5-mile mark, I started to feel some blisters forming on my feet. I didn’t put on socks in transition, so it was just my bare feet in the shoes. I’ve done this in the past, but only for sprint distance races. It seems that 10k was a bit too far to go without socks, and I’ve got 2-3 small blisters in various spots — on each foot. Quite annoying.
My finishing “sprint” was not so sprint-y! Ha.
(Video taken by my friend Vic.)
Before I knew it, we were crossing the finish line! I ran the WHOLE 10k without walking! Of everything that I did in the race, that one little thing makes me the happiest. I can do this — I can ditch the run/walk!
After finishing, I was able to hang out with my fellow BAMmers. We had quite a few people place in the top 3 of their age group. I stuck around to get my award as well — 1st place in the “Athena under 40” category!* The plaque is really nice. I’ll add it to my collection! I’ve earned quite a few since I began racing as an Athena.
All in all it was a great day for a triathlon and a great way to kick off the tri season!
* There were only 2 Athenas under 40 registered, and the other one didn’t show up. I win! Hahaha.