Preface:I knew that I wanted to participate in a triathlon ever since I started cycling. The idea might have actually been planted in my head when I first found out that my AP Biology teacher, Mr. Rankin, was rumored to be an Ironman contender. Maybe it was after I completed my first 10K (Cow Harbor Race 2006), but that's all history. I will admit, that from couch potato to 10K taught me an important lesson in how sore one can get after a race like that, but it also started a chain of events that led to me to this.
First and foremost, I never really enjoyed running. Dating back to fifth grade, I was always a middle of the pack runner panting and breathing heavily and was the guy that insisted on walking around each of the four backstops that made up our track. I knew that I could swim since I was in the "advanced" swim class in high school phys ed. but it's been a ages (~14 years) and cycling extended distances with my Uncle Romeo and friend Ryan Espiritu forged the thought that hey, I just might be able to finish a sprint triathlon. My roommate for a short 2 months, Michael Mangan, another tremendous athlete, provided a little bit of encouragement to sign up, so I said, "Why not?" I also had another friend Kristen that was considering the goal. For my first triathlon, I set out two goals: To finish under 1:30:00 and not at the end of the pack; second to last would suffice.
I bought a book entitled Your First Triathlon by Joe Friel and began reading. I should have probably finished earlier than 1 week prior to the race and followed the 12 wk plan (being that I had a full 14 weeks before the race when I took delivery) but I guess I do what I do best; procrastinate.
I did a couple of bricks (bike workout followed by a jog or a swim followed by a bike) and began the slow and steady journey to getting into shape. That is until the month prior to my wedding when things started really piling up, I fell off the face of the earth. In other words, my training went from semi-existent to non-existent. I never really swam that much (laps in an apartment complex pool) or trained for that particular event and sporadically the occasional light treadmilling. I knew that I was just doomed from the start but I didn't give up on the idea. Essentially, you might as well just say that I did not train.
I decided that I needed a wetsuit primarily for the water temperature but more importantly, I knew that it would provide extra buoyancy. It's more than awesome that Xterra Wetsuits happen to be not only one of the best triathlon wetsuit companies but the fact that it is headquartered in San Diego fits into my procrastinating habit! I set out, tried one on and decided to rent last minute as the price tag proved to be a little steep. I missed the 40% off sale by one day and it was my first sprint tri so I settled on the Vector Pro. That same Saturday was the TriRock Expo and packet pickup so I went back downtown, grabbed my bike and I decided to head over .5 miles to the Embarcadero Marina Park.
Organized and well put together, I signed up for USAT
membership, picked up my packet and swag (schwag), watched a well put together Basics 101 by one of the San Diego VAVI
representatives. (I recorded it on my iPhone 4 but unfortunately the sound didn't come out that great at all but at your request, I can make it available)
I felt good after watching the him set up his mock transition area using my bike as his example and then that night, I laid everything out. I don't usually go that far but my nerves got the best of me so setup my own mock transition area. Every piece of clothing and race equipment I would be using, I checked it off using the checklist provided by Joe Friel with my wife calling out each item. I was a definitely nervous and then I found out that a buddy of mine, Renato Villena, was also racing! I had a buddy and that alone makes things a lot better. I put on the race tatoos (I got the age group one upside down, but I rocked it like it was intentional) and then went to sleep.
I woke up, already packed and just threw on some clothes. I threw on my new 2XU Tri Comp Short and Vest which ended up being a little tight and as Ryan Espiritu would later say, it make him feel like he wanted cupcakes! I was lucky to have my wife drive me to the race where I met up with Ryan and we set out to find our cubbies in the transition area. We got there rather early but it was relaxing. Near the time of the race, we put on the wetsuits and made our way to the start. The swim portion was starting off in the water already along with a band on a catamaran to entertain (as part of the Rock 'N Roll experience) but I would later find out I would be able to pay any attention to them. My nerves were calm, the swim didn't look too bad, I was ready.
I would just sum this portion up by saying, I need to find a coach and go at this with A LOT more training and effort. If it wasn't for the Xterra suit, I would have probably drowned or panicked but there were times where I was just floating there and near the end, since there were others backstroking, I started to backstroke too! I got out of the water and was definitely exhausted. I didn't come out last, but definitely near.
I also recently read that I could train or find a coach at the UCSD Swim pool and am excited to venture out that way and see what kind of training schedule we could come up with.
Transition 1 into Cycling:
Lightly jogging to the cycling portion, I saw and excitedly waved at my wife along the sidelines and got to it. I couldn't take off the wetsuit that easily and had to eventually sit down hence my really slow transition time. I got on what I needed and started to jog out with the bike. I got on thinking I was going to hammer, but then started to feel a light muscle twitch on my left calf. Along with that, my Garmin cadence monitor decided that it wasn't going to work either (off by 1mm???)! Oh well, but I did see my mom on the way out and that gave me yet another boost of confidence! Thanks for the support guys!
I could feel my rhythm but it definitely wasn't fast enough. I was getting passed up by some of the ladies in the 25-29 group that was in the wave behind me but the last thing that I wanted to do was cramp up. The course was longer than I thought but I got through it and then made my way to the running portion. There were quite a few bands along the way to keep me entertained at the rather slow pace. I also made a decision that day that I should at least get some clip-on aero bars. I could have really used the more aggressive position or at least the "rest" position.
Transition 2 into "Jogging and Finish:"
As I made my way to the cubby, I saw my fans (Ryan and Adelle + mom) grouped together and was able to start running. Handing them my bicycling gloves on the way out, I started to see the light! My legs surprisingly felt good and off I went. I neglected to put the watch strap adapter for my Garmin Edge 500 so I just ran with it in hand. (I've lost it since) Around 1.5 miles is usually when I start to tire a bit, but I was on pace with a couple of individuals that made it a pleasant run. One young lady told me that I was setting a good pace for her but I insisted that it was her that I was following. She eventually finished before me, but I was proud. Apparently, I would end up with a pretty good 5K time. When we reached the turn around point at the USS Midway, I could feel my mind take ease and my body start to relax but I kept on chugging. As I continued on, I kept on the lookout for the tatoos of people in my age group and felt relieved knowing that there were at least a couple of people behind me. Coming to the finish, I pushed it a bit more and saw my supporters cheering me on. I thought that I was done, but I still had yet to go around the bend for what felt like an eternity! I finally crossed the finish line and eagerly grabbed my first Rock 'N Roll medal, some coconut water, hugged it out and took some pictures. It was a great experience and I cannot wait for the next one wherever it may be. You can count on it to make this my yearly event!
Here are some links and pictures to the festivities!
To see my official times, check it out in the gallery!
Check out Ryan's Blog
and another awesome individual, Mary Harris
as she goes through training for half marathons! Also, two other sources of inspiration are Ray Maker
as of course Joe Friel