Back Home to Complete My First Triathlon

author : bcshoe
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My first attempt two years ago was not so successful when a deck nail found its way into my foot a week before the race. But I kept plugging away the last couple of years to stay healthy and get back.

So I finally did it, I completed my first triathlon. Finally. My first attempt two years ago was not so successful when a deck nail found its way into my foot a week before the race. But I kept plugging away the last couple of years to stay healthy and get back to form for the triathlon.

Allow me to set the stage. The Pewaukee Sprint Triathlon in beautiful Pewaukee, Wisconsin took place on Sunday July 16th this year. I lived in that area for a long time, growing up in nearby Brookfield, so to have my family there made it extra special. I currently live in the Swiss part of the state (Green County) which happens to be extremely hilly. It made for a nice bike/run training regimen, as I knew the course was hilly. The morning of the race I got up at about 4 a.m., showered, ate an energy bar, downed 3 bottles of Ensure, and got my vitamins down. Then I headed down to the event site at about 5:15 am. The first thing I realized when I got there was that everybody decided to go early too! I figured the place would be empty; instead, it was packed with athletes setting up transition and even starting to warm up. “I'm late!” I thought.

I got to the transition area and found a place for my bike on the racks - it happened to be right on the end. What luck! I find out later, after setting up my transition spot, that I was on the wrong rack even though it was labeled for my race number. Long story. Anyway, after finding the right spot I got my run warm-up in and headed down to the water to warm-up and get my timing chip. After the water warm-up I decided to stay put and stretch for the race which was set to start in 15 minutes. They called everybody out of the water, and it was almost time! The tension mounts.

I was in the 4th wave so I didn't have time to worry myself too much. Now here is a bit of advice for newbies. If you are a good swimmer, or even an average swimmer, don't start at the back of the pack in the swim. That's what I did, and I have competed at high levels my whole life. The gun went off and my wave crashed into the water. I was at the back left of my wave pack, and I was waiting for the people in front to get moving. And waiting, and waiting.  I could not find a hole to get through and took a couple bumps to the chin. Finally I was able to pass the swimmers in front of me and tried to get into my rhythm, but every time I started to get my stroke timed I felt feet in front of me. After I caught the wave in front of me, I headed towards the beach where they had a large balloon arch to sight. Coming out of the water felt great - I knew I had a decent swim and felt ready for the bike.

I took a moment in T1 to get my bearings, to take a look around at the craziness, and admire the elite athletes. After getting my gear ready, which went flawlessly, I headed out on the bike course which went all the way around the lake-approximately 16 miles total. The first turn out of downtown goes up a hill that looks small but doesn't feel that way, then enters a relatively quiet suburban area. I felt like I was moving pretty quick. I got into my aero bars at least half the course and felt great. I hit 37 mph going down one of the hills and found my groove. I passed some bikers and got passed by better bikers, but I felt good. As I got closer to the end of the bike leg, I went over the transition in my head. Rack the bike, remove the helmet, put on the visor, drink some fluids. Before I knew it I was headed into T2, did everything I practiced in my head, and got out to the run in less than a minute.

The jelly legs hit right after the cheering crowd was out of earshot. Let's put it this way: running is not my specialty. Let me sprint a 200 or 400 m race and I can hold my own. Everybody and their brother was passing me on the run, but I continued to chug away and before I knew it I could hear and see the crowd again. I sucked it up and sprinted the last 1/4 mile as fast as possible, weaving in and out of other athletes. As I crossed the finish line all I heard the announce say was "you'd be crazy to sprint in 95 degree heat too!" And with one more step I was a real triathlete.

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date: July 30, 2006

bcshoe