The Oktoberfest Sprint Triathlon was our first triathlon. We woke up early to drive to Union Reservoir in Longmont, not sure what to expect. We were both nervous and excited at the same time.
Jessica got to my place early about ten past five. We loaded the bikes and headed towards Longmont. After exiting the highway toward Union Reservoir we saw cones on the right side of the road, followed by a sign which read “Bike Race in Progress”. We knew that we were riding next to the course. It was exciting, but it also made it very real.
We pulled into the reservoir following a long line of cars and were directed to a parking spot. We drove over a carpet which clearly was for the swim to bike transition. I was not crazy everyone was driving over this. It was still dark when we parked and there were a ton of people getting ready. We really were not exactly sure what to do at this point. I had thought to bring a head lamp, and was happy that I had it since it was still dark.
We decided we might as well check in and get our stuff setup in transition. We picked up our timing chips which were to be warn on our left ankle. Then we went to body marking and got our number written on our arms, and our age on our calf. I wasn’t crazy that everyone could see how old I was.
Next we set up our stuff in transition. We found a great spot right next to the porta potties. We figured they would be easy to spot there. We set our bike in the rack and set out our stuff. By this time the sun was coming up.
We decided to walk down to the reservoir and check it out. The sun was rising and it made for a beautiful view. We walked down to the beach and I stuck my toe into the water. It was not nearly as cold as I thought it was going to be. There were two red buoys in the water that we figured marked the swim course. It looked smaller than we expected. Flash forward they put the actual course buoys out later and it was a lot bigger.
Jessica’s Mom, Dean and Grandma had arrived to watch us. We walked to the other side of the parking lot to greet them. By that time we decided we’d bette get our wetsuits on as the transition area was going to close. We got suited up and walked down to the beach to watch the first waves go. We were the first timers, so we were in the 12th wave, the last wave to start. The advantage was that we could watch everyone else, but we also had everyone ahead of us.
This triathlon also had a collegiate division so there were several college teams competing. They went in the first waves, so that was fun to watch. Many of them were just waring swimsuits, I was really surprised.
Finally it was time for us to line up in the water to get ready to start. We were getting really nervous. We got in the water and I was surprised that I didn’t find it as cold as expected. The first time wave was the largest wave, but it was nice to know that this was everyone’s first triathlon. They made an announcement that one of the guys was a division one swimmer so we’d have some fierce competition in the water.
And then it was go time…
To be honest I don’t even remember hearing the horn go off. I told Jessica to kill it and off we went.
The water was murky and you couldn’t see anything. There were a ton of people and I was slightly annoyed as I wanted to swim around them. Right away my chest felt tight from the wetsuit. It was very hard to breathe. I wasn’t happy and not looking forward to anything at this point. We didn’t get a chance to do any open water swimming, so this was a first for us. It was not pleasant. I just wanted to get it over with.
Finally I got through the crowd and just kept swimming. I’d have to stick my head up quite often to sight and figure out just where I was going. I kept feeling like I was going strait, but then it seemed like I was going to the right. I kept turning, trying to get back on course. Finally I came around the last buoy and saw the shore. There was a read inflated archway that we’d run through to transition. I kept swimming and it looked like it wasn’t getting any closer. But finally I made it. I got up out of the water and ran towards shore.
The swim was not fun. I felt like I was going to throw up from all the pressure on my chest. It was a huge relief getting out of the water, but it was onto the next challenge, T1. Running out of the water was annoying because everyone was moving very slowly. I wanted to get on with the race. I dipped my feet into a pool they had set to clean off your feet. It didn’t really help though. By this time I had most of the wetsuit stripped off and was surprised how easy that went. I had my Garmin on, but I never even looked at the time to see how I did on the swim. It was done, I didn’t need to know then.
I got to my bike, and sat down. I pulled off the rest of my wetsuit and tried to wipe my feet off. Of course, just then, the guy at the bike next to mine came. It was crowded. I had trouble getting my socks on. My feet were wet and they didn’t want to cooperate. Once I got them on I put my cleats on and grabbed my bike. I realized just then I forgot my sunglasses. I stopped and and to find them on the ground. It wasted a few moments, but I definitely wanted them. I ran through the transition area. I was really surprised that is wasn’t all that busy.
I got to the area to mount the bike, it was dirt. This was a shock. The person in front of me had a mountain bike. For a second I questioned if the course was going to be on a dirt road. It was only the first section though. I finally got going and I pushed it. My strategy was to ride at 100% of my FTP, which was 218 last time I tested. I was cruising, but unable to hold that wattage. So I just went for it and was passing people like crazy. There were a lot of people on mountain bikes and beach cruisers. I was really surprised.
The bike course was fast, and I really enjoyed it. About the time I thought I was halfway I realized that I was already 10 miles in. I was happy this portion went by so fast. I made it back to transition and had to deal with the dirt again. My bike almost fell, but I was able to recover. I noticed the time, only 34 minutes. My estimate was 42, so I was very happy.
I ran back through transition to get my running shoes on. I felt that the last transition went too slow, so I wanted to pick it up. I sat down and put on my shoes. Tying them did not go well. I could tell they were loose, but I stood up anyway. I got my race belt on and topped off with my visor. I was off.
I left transition and started running. I felt good! I heard Lynne and Dean call out. I quickly realize the pace I was running was not gong to be possible to sustain. It was a dirt road, hard packed, but not flat. I found it very difficult to run on and my lower legs were sore. Then came the hill. It wasn’t anything big, but it was uphill and it took my pace way down. I got to the point where they were serving water and grabbed a cup. I tried to drink, but it was hard while running, so I just poured it over my head to cool me down.
At this point a guy passed me. He was killing it. I noticed he was in jogging shorts and a t-shirt. For a second I thought, I should pace him, but then I realized I’d probably not be able to keep up. The run was and out and back, and there was a turn around point. The run was halfway done!
As I passed the water station for the second time, I saw Jessica. I knew I was going to see her at some point. It was really cool and I yelled out something like “GET IT!” She waved.
The run did not feel good, and I wanted to push it, but with there bumpy road my lower legs were not able to put any more into it. It was slightly downhill towards the end so I could push it a little. I saw the finish line and went for it. There it was, the finish for my first triathlon. I was so excited. I ran down the shoot and saw Lynne. I went to give her a high five, but missed. I waned to cross that finish line so I just went. They handed me a water bottle and then someone came and took my timing chip. I hadn’t even stopped running yet, they must really not want to loose them.
I was also excited because I knew I’d get to watch Jessica finish. I quickly made my way down to Lynne and Dean. I got my phone which they had been holding for me. I got ready for the shot and there she came, down the chute. We both had finished our first triathlon. It was an amazing sense of accomplishment.
The award ceremony started and I wanted to watch to see how this all worked. I had thought that because we signed up for the first time devision we’d not be eligible for awards. They started calling out times and places. We were really impressed with how fast some people finished. Then they started calling out the first time division. We stopped talking and commented on how we didn’t think they were going to do anything. The called out the men’s third place. The time was a hour and a half. Everyone looked at me and asked what my time was. I thought it was an hour and twenty two minutes. Then they called my name.
I took second place! Wow, I was not expecting that. I was in shock. I ran up and got a plaque! It was very exciting. Not a bad finish to my first triathlon. Jessica had a really good time too. We walked over to the results board and looked up her results. She was the fastest on the bike and finished 5th overall. Quite impressive.