It's in the books! I completed my first triathlon, albeit with a few bumps along the way. Overall, I'm happy with how it went (low expectations will do that for you) and SUPER excited to do another one.
The Pine Hollow Triathlon is held at Pine Hollow Reservoir near a small town in north-central Oregon. The reservoir is home to a campground and "RV resort" where athletes can camp for the weekend, or -- like we did -- rent a stationary RV (the "Camp Trailer") in a village of year-round RV-dwellers. We had no idea what to expect, since this place is old-school: reservations made over the phone, no email confirmations, no website photos of accommodations. When we arrived, we found the Camp Trailer to be larger than expected, very clean, and furnished with a satellite TV and air conditioning. I wish I could say I was disappointed that we wouldn't be roughing it, but I'm not above a little luxury when we've got a baby, a toddler, and three 95-degree days ahead of us.
We arrived on Friday, and the tri was on Sunday, so we spent all day Saturday relaxing by the lake, swimming, and watching the stand-up paddle board races that were running all day (an X-Dog Event I hope to do next year). Meg and her family showed up on Saturday, along with race buddy Elliot and his family, and we had a giant spaghetti pot luck on the (ahem) DECK of our (ahem) TRAILER.
Sunday started early with a 6am kiddo wake-up, and the next couple of hours passed with breakfast (cooked in the trailer's fully-equipped kitchen) and setting up my transition area. Meg was a HUGE help in making sure I remembered everything and generally keeping me calm.
After a night of sinus pressure and congestion, I couldn't fully catch my breath all morning, a feeling that persisted through the swim leg of the tri. My breathing issues didn't doom the entire event, but it did make things more difficult. Elliot complained of the same thing, so we were likely suffering from weird allergies or a bit of altitude adjustment.
Notes from prepping for the start:
- This transition area was VERY informal -- in most triathlons, helpers can't join the athlete in the transition area or the athlete will be disqualified. At Pine Hollow, Meg set things up with me, and she and Liz were chatting with me during transitions and snapping photos. It was a friendly way to start my tri career!
- Wetsuits are shockingly unflattering. I swear mine somehow packed all my parts into a thick sausage casing while simultaneously creating rolls that did not exist before I put it on. Fun times.
- I really should have had a little laminated list of what should go where (transition area, back at camp, coming with me to the start), because Meg and I ended up taking several trips back and forth when I realized I'd left something in the wrong spot. Thank goodness everything was close together!
At 9:30am (and at probably 80 degrees already), we were off and swimming. I felt really strong for the first 10 strokes or so, then realized I would have to breathe with every slow stroke in order to make it through the 750-meter swim leg. I had practiced "sighting" the buoys so I knew where to go, but every time I peeked out of the water, all I saw were the rescue boats hovering nearby. In the isolation of the swim, I felt sure that a) I was the last swimmer in the water and b) the rescue boaters were watching me with concern, ready to swoop in if I took too many rest breaks on my back. I never felt like I wasn't going to make it; I just felt REALLY slow. All I could do was keep moving forward and hope that mine wouldn't be the only bike left at the transition area when I got there.
When I finally reached the blessed shore, I realized that everyone must have been feeling the same way, and that I was smack in the middle of the pack. PHEW. Of course, as soon as I got going on the 15k bike leg -- after a smooth and simple transition -- I was tossed to the back. Let's just say the bike is not my strong sport. I spent the least amount of time training for it because, well, I like running better and I knew I wouldn't drown on the bike.
After a slooooow and hilly and HOT bike leg, I was happy to start "running," by which I mean I was happy to be shuffling along on my feet instead of on wheels or through the water. That feeling lasted for a while, as I passed a few people who had passed me on the bike (score!) and chatted with folks along the way. The 6k run course goes all the way around the reservoir, and the views were lovely.
Then, my worst racing nightmare--I missed a turn.
Honestly, it could have been worse. I followed a few runners who missed a sharp turn onto a trail, and it added probably .5 to .75 miles to get back on course. I was never really "lost" and if it weren't for the heat (and the fact that I'd been swimming and biking for more than an hour at that point), I wouldn't have been too annoyed, but it added enough time that Liz and Meg and families had started to get a little worried by the time I got to the finish. And those folks I passed early in the run? Yep, they beat me to the finish line. I finally got there in just over 2 hours, which only added insult to injury--if I hadn't missed the turn, I likely would have finished in 1:55:00 or so.
So, now I have a new sport to love! Big thanks to Meggie (and apologies to my wife). I look forward to training more seriously for my next one to see if I can swim more efficiently and maybe even bike without feeling like I could have walked the course faster. If 2016 were not already The Year of the Trail Run, I'd be signing up for a late summer tri. As it is, I think we can already dub 2017 The Year of the Triathlon. Yay!