Went into the race nervous, excited, and a bit scared!! Normal isn’t it?
Had trained hard, but never kept any time goals, except for finishing the race within the cut off time.
But based on my training, and my nature, I made up the following time goals.
Swim ~50 mins
Bike ~3h: 45mins
Arrived on the pre-race day for the packet pick-up, and look for the parking areas, and understand the logistics. I had to be clear on this, as I did not had the luxury of anyone driving me around.
On the race day, first thing I did waking up at 3:30am was to eat my bowl of grainless cereals, with berries, and a banana. Would have loved some coffee, but had none. Drinking and eating early helped me clear out my bowel movement. Prepared my water bottles with nutrition drinks. Set up the car, with my bike, and all the bags.
Driving up to the race site was crazy, because of the windy road and race-day traffic. Funny thing was, that my friend Jeff arrived to support me way earlier than I was in the parking lot. Took me around an hour to reach the race site, I had to park my car away from the transition area, and then carry all my gears, packets, bike, bike pump. Doing this I ignored the fact that my stuff was scattered in two different bags, especially my race tattoo, race number on the helmet, even my towel.
Still reaching the transition area, with all the important things in hand 40 mins before the start, was good. But for all future races I will keep atleast an hour in hand.
30 mins before the start of the race, I put on my wet suit, using good amount of body glide.
The swim start was pretty haphazard, and even though I knew what it would be like, I did panic for the first 50m or so. Water was not that cold, but I kept popping my head up and down, rather than moving ahead. Controlling my nerves, I started with breaststroke and kept doing it for a good 25m or so, till I understood the brawl going on in the water. Though I had no thoughts in my mind of winning the race, or beating anyone in the swim, but as I started passing some of the swimmers, I gained confidence. Now it was just the regular spotting of the buoy, breathing every two strokes, and getting good thoughts into head. End of the swim was a little funny, the support boats and the buoys both were in orange color, and I took one of the boats as the buoy, and assumed that to be the last buoy to be touched. Did realize it soon enough, and finished my swim strong in 46 mins.
Asked the strippers (they are called ‘wetsuit strippers’ 😉 ), to rid me of the wetsuit.
The first transition into bike was awful. I realized that I forgot my towel, and so picked up the socks to dry my feet. I was totally blank at that point figuring out what needs to be done next. Eat or not to eat, drink or not to drink. Ate some nuts, and dark chocolate, they provide a ‘feel-good factor’ to me. Took a leak, just before exiting the transition area. I guess that did cost me 2 mins ;), so a total transition loss of 10 mins. Not to mention that I did not put my Garmin into Multisport mode, and did not start it way beyond the bike start line.
I started easy on the bike, ate alittle of Cliff bar and some water. The ride starts with a good climb, so it was pretty easy for me to move ahead of the pack. And as soon as I saw some downhill, I switched gears to go faster. The route had 6 cat-5 climbs, and lot of rolling hills. One thing that I did do well in the ride was, to controll my temptation to go real hard. Hammered on the flats, and kept spinning on the bigger gear while downhill, but did not let myself tire. The plan was to go all out after 35 miles. I kept myself fuelling with Roctane, and energy gels every 45 mins. In the last 18-20 miles I went all out, sometimes joining a pack, keeping myself just behind them, and using the downhills to move past. Passing riders, who transitioned into bike way earlier than I did, was quite confidence boosting. Finished a good ride in 3h:09m.
I did the mistake of not taking in salt capsules, which cost me 6-7 mins in the first 3 miles of the run. Suffered bad cramps, even causing me to stop. Thanks to the guy, who pushed me for the run, I actually ended up finishing around 30mins ahead of him J. The run course had rolling hills, but I kept a consistent pace. Continued to eat pretzels, oranges, and drink water, consumed only two Roctane gels on the run. Finished my worst half-marathon in 2h:08mins.
Finished the full course, in 6:18:00, damn impressive for me J. Chatted with strong people on the run course, funny that most of us were having thoughts of eating “Denny’s”.
Quick look at the mistakes that I don’t intend to do again-
- Always keep the things in just one bag for the Transition.
- Never ever forget a Towel, or a Transition mat.
- If using Garmin, put it in the MultiSport mode.
- Use a Transition Basket- it is useful to dump things.
- Take salt tablets before T2, not during T2.
- Legally you are not allowed to help anyone on the bike, which I did L. Helped a lady struggling to mount her chain. She was still on her half way mark, and I was about to finish L. Don’t even remember the face.
- Carry a fuel belt, for your own nutrition.
Most importantly, whatever is happening, let it happen. It’s your first, so enjoy the race moment. Will work on winning the goals in the next one, as this is an adventure, not a destination !!