As a former collegiate athlete and someone who had always prided himself on staying in shape, it was with no small amount of disappointment that at 38 years of age I had, like so many of my peers, fallen into an all too common rut and in February of 2009 was tipping the scales at a portly 301lbs!
My wife had always been supportive of me getting into shape and I was getting the sense that I was not the only one who was suffering due to my obesity...yes, obesity, and I knew I needed to do something for her as well as for me. It was time to do something about it and having always worked well with goals on the horizon, I figured what better way to do it than to pick a triathlon several months out and get my butt in gear. I had always wanted to do a tri but never made a firm commitment to one and this was it. I picked a date four months out, searched for an event and paid for my registration...I was locked in.
For the next 16 weeks, I committed to eating well and got back into the pool and started riding to start and finally added in running once I had dropped about 40 pounds. As race day approached, I am pleased to say that four months in, I have lost 60 pounds, am training 5-6 days a week, up to running six miles and was ready to tackle my first triathlon.
So here’s the race recap. The event was the Redfish Lake Triathlon and I signed up for the sprint distance event (500m swim, 12.4 mile bike, and 5K run). This is a beautiful part of Idaho, smack dab in the middle of the Sawtooth mountains, near the Salmon river and incredible scenery. I figured if I was going to give this whole triathlon thing a go, it made sense to make it in a fun location where both Laurel and I could enjoy a nice weekend and do the tri. We stayed at the lodge right on the lake and that made the whole weekend an easy and low stress event. I would HIGHLY recommend this triathlon, as it was a fantastic venue, well run, not overly crowded but still competitive and the food was incredible!
Race day was met with a bit more weather than I think anyone really wanted. It was cold (50 degrees) with rain and wind in the forecast - less than ideal but I was stoked to get going. There were a total of 59 athletes (women and men) in the sprint distance event (another 70 or so in the longer Olympic distance) and we headed off on our swim at 9:30 a.m. in the balmy 54 degree F water...it was freaking freezing. I had hoped that my swim would be a strength, but adrenaline and the cold water were concerning as we got started. It was crowded but not as bad as I had anticipated at the start, and while my heart rate was a bit higher than during my training I got into a good groove and the swim went really well. I ended up finishing 3rd overall (sweet!) on the swim portion in just under ten minutes and was happy to be out of the water with some feeling still remaining in my extremities!
The first transition was fairly uneventful and I was able to get out of my suit (a surf wetsuit) easily and, thanks to my quick laces, into my shoes with little fuss. I was out of T1 in 2:26 and into the bike and that was when the wind and rain started to kick up...fun! I was riding my mountain bike since this was my first event and it would have been nice to have a better bike but I knew that I would be a bit hampered going into this and I just planned to pace myself and not get freaked when people passed.
The ride was a rolling hill course that was out and back, and it was tough to figure out where I was in the pack since we had Olympic distance athletes, duathlon athletes, and sprint athletes all mixed into various waves, so I figured I would ride hard and figure it out when it was all said and done. I forgot to put on my windbreaker in the transition and regretted that pretty quickly as I was pretty cold after about two miles into the ride...feet were numb...fingers were numb...but I was having a blast. People were having a good time, talking when passing and the volunteers were great. I knew I was passed by a couple of my sprint competitors on triathlon bikes but I was trying to pace myself and make sure that I didn’t die on the run (my worst discipline by far). I finished the ride in 41 minutes (about 18MPH) and that was 22nd out of the 58 competitors.
Thankfully the weather dried out for the last transition and run and I headed out onto the run course feeling pretty good. The feeling began to return to my feet and fingers, which is a good thing and I got into a pretty good pace (for me anyways) with a group of 4-5 runners. I could see ahead of me a guy I knew was in the Clydesdale division since he had passed me on the ride and figured it would be good to try to give it a go to close the quarter mile gap he had on me. Across the final mile of the run I gave it all I could (dang it, why didn’t I work on my sprints!) and after he picked up the pace near the finish I missed catching him by 1 SECOND! UGGH! Turns out he ended up being the winner of the Clydesdale division...yes, 2nd place will have to do for this one. I would have preferred he kicked my butt to be honest rather than lose by a measly second, but it was fun to have some competition and provide the crowd with an exciting sprint finish (if you can call two 200+lbs guys gasping to the finish line a sprint).