Monday, September 8, 2014

Tri-Factor Triathlon: a race report

The long and short of it 
Final result: 3:12:19 (22/42 women in the open category, 23/46) - not pi (3.14) as I was hoping (I saw the race clock at 3:44 coming into the finish and was crossing my fingers for a good nerdy number), but much better than my target time of 3:30 for a first standard-distance tri, and faster than nearly a third of the men who finished - I'll take it! 

44:05 swim (1500m)
3:21 T1
1:19:31 bike (36km)
1:43 T2 
1:03:41 run (10km)

There is no 'after' shot, for good reason. 

The scenic route
Pre-race: Painted my nails blue the night before. Had pasta for dinner. All of those little pre-race rituals that I'm so used to by now. And of course, I slept terribly. 

There was a little drama at 5.45am when I thought I'd have to go pick my friend up because her husband hadn't come back from watching tennis. And then again at 6.05am when I had a contact lens malfunction. Fun times. 
Blue nails are my war paint.
At 7 I got to the race site and got everything set up, did a swim warmup, peed in the ocean (hey, fish do it)... and then waited for the race to start. 

Swim (44:05): The swim was two laps long. Alas, it took me 1.5 laps to get into any sort of rhythm. To be fair, the midsections of those laps involved fairly big waves and a strong current that felt like two strokes forward, one stroke back. Somewhere along the line, someone kicked me in the head and my goggles came partway off (thanks for the concussion, mate). 

But when I finally remembered how to swim properly I overtook a bunch of guys. I was fairly dizzy coming out of the water into T1 and the sand had also been chewed up by 5 previous waves of men so the run-in was a bit slow...

Bike(1:19:31): The bike course was 6 laps of twists, turns, and small hills amounting to 36km -- not a fast course at all. The bike was fairly uneventful...thank goodness! I overtook some people and was overtaken by many people, but none of those were women doing the standard distance - and now I know why, there were only 46 of us.

The bike and I don't have such a great relationship, and I am now sore - maybe I just need a proper bike fitting? I am very proud that I managed to eat some shot blocks and actually drink on the bike (pick up water bottle, drink, look down, wobble, replace bottle) without falling off. Go me.

On all of those turns I kept in mind Hillary Biscay's very good practical advice: look where you go, and you'll go where you look. I also had a hamstring cramp coming off the bike. Interesting. (How do I know it's a cramp and not bum bruising? When I sat on the foam roller there was relief instead of yelping.) 

Run(1:03:41): Oh run. Where do I start. I was not tremendously proud of my performance at all. I can push on a 5K but have the magical ability to talk myself out of pushing uncomfortably hard on a 10K, let alone a 10K off the bike, and I'm really only satisfied with the ones I really PUSH myself on. Remember - I can go and go and go for ever but not being able to breathe isn't really my thing. 

The run was two laps of a (hot!) 5K course; I rolled into transition and snagged my sunglasses and previously-frozen water bottle (I'd stuck it in the freezer the night before and retrieved it in the morning; by the time the run leg rolled around it was the perfect temperature for drinking or dousing oneself with). Then I looked around for the 'run out' exit and set off. This is where I first spotted my husband, who'd done 30km from home on a training run for the North Face ultra (!!) - which was a nice boost. Our friend Rachel was doing the run leg of the relay, and he said she was just a short way ahead of me. Short distance, pah! She was perhaps 300m in front of me and it took me a full 5km to catch up to her. 

I just kept plodding on, knowing I had 10km to cover, and somehow still kept overtaking people. I didn't have my Garmin on so had no way of knowing what my exact pace was. I have a pretty good feel for pace normally, but running off the bike feels completely different from just plain old running. I was still breathing and I could definitely still talk, so what was my excuse? I just didn't feel like pushing it. Which is a lousy excuse for anything if you ask me. 

There were at least three water stations on the run leg, which is pretty great for a 5k loop, so I would drink from my handheld and douse myself in their little cups of cold water.  Coming around the curve on the second lap, I spotted a fellow tri-nerd friend who was there cheering his teammates on, and he ran with me for most of the second lap till the turn-off into the finish chute - thanks for the encouragement! 

One small sticking-point: the run leg volunteers were so dumb, they told my poor husband the run leg was 3 loops. He figured it out when he got to the far end and discovered the turnaround point was at 2.5km, but by that time he'd missed me coming into the finish. 

End point: Electrolyte freezepops for sale. Unlimited, ice-cold electrolyte drink at the finish. Well done Trifactor.

I hadn't measured anything (time or distance) and had to estimate my time by the race clock, my estimated start time, and the time stamp on the text message I sent my husband ("hey I'm done and in transition!") after I'd been wandering around for a few minutes. Type A, I am not. This morning they put up the official results so that's what I've got. 

And now I have all the chafes. A heel chafe from my ankle strap; a boob chafe from a bra that doesn't chafe the other 364 days of the year; and let's just say that if I happen to do another tri I WILL be getting those nice seam-free tri shorts I've been drooling over. 

For fellow triathletes and tryathletes - here's my full tri checklist, in order of item usage:
Pre-race Larabar 
Tri kit: top, sports bra (Moving Comfort Alexis fans, unite), tri-shorts
Swim goggles
Swim cap
Wrist tag 
Ankle strap with timing chip 
2 towels - one for transition, one to sit on in the car home
Bib on belt, to be put on in T1
Helmet, to be put on in T1
Socks and running shoes, to be put on in T1 (yeah I don't clip in; one of these days I'll learn to do that but I felt trying a totally new distance was scary enough. One new scary thing at a time!) 
Water bottle on bike 
Shot blocks for during the bike leg
Sunglasses (didn't need them in T1, put them on in T2 so I could look cool on the run and have the sun out of my eyes)
Pre-frozen water bottle in handheld 


  1. Awesome job, congrats!! I LOL'ed at your hopes to finish in 3.14/pi. Don't beat yourself up too bad about not pushing during the 10K -- you can put this on your list of things to do next time, when you finish sub-3. :)

    1. Thanks! Okay, blogger keeps eating my comments, but my next step is to do a few more of these things, go sub 3, then try a half iron distance race.

  2. That's a great race! You really blew your expectations out of the water! Congratulations!

    1. Thanks! It helped going in that I kind of had no idea what to expect. I've done standard distance aquathlons before but never with a 36km bike leg in the middle.

  3. Congratulations Grace. A very impressive result. But the thing I'm most impressed with is eating and drinking on your bike without falling off - coming from someone who no longer rides a bike or even owns one.

    1. Haha - you hit on exactly my proudest moment of the entire race. Did you know I actually managed to drink TWICE and eat shot blocks at four separate times?!

  4. Nice work, Grace! I'm always in awe of triathletes these days! I can also not eat or drink on the bike! I can barely indicate left!

    1. Oh man. I'm totally uncoordinated and can just barely indicate left too...

  5. Congratulations on your race! That was nice of your friend to run with you a bit. The first time I did a distance like this, I was so miserable during the run, and a friendly face would have gone a long way to alleviate that.

    I've also been looking at those seamless tri shorts. All of my tri shorts have seams in...odd places, and the chafing doesn't make me very happy. If you get them, you'll post a review?

    1. Thanks! (I'm hooked. Ulp.) I'm prepping for a huge international move so am desperately trying not to get any more Stuff at the moment, but when I eventually get a pair of those shorts I'll review them for sure!