At the end of last month, Nate, Bruce and I did the Golden Gate Triathlon together. This was only my second triathlon ever (after last year’s Tri for Fun), and I intended to train hard for this sucker.
Given my plantar fasciitis, this was slow going. Fortunately, this gave me a lot of opportunities to focus on bike and swim: long bike rides with the Regen cycling crew, open water swims with Nate in Alameda and Jeff every week in the DeFremery and Lions pools.
The course was: 0.93 mile loop a little off the Crissy Field beach. Then an epic 25 mile bike ride up and down from the Crissy Field Warming Hut lot, up over the Golden Gate Bridge parking lot entrance and down Lincoln (past an __epic view of the coast) and then back – six times. Finally, a 6 mile run out and back over the Golden Gate Bridge. It goes without saying that the views were generally epic.
We huddled up by the beach and listened to the race director describe the course. Two loops around three buoys.
Wetsuit: I got a month rental at Sports Basement in early June. That sucker chafed at my neck a LOT. Remember next time to Body Glide it up. I was surprised at how buoyant the suit was. I also need to work on my swim technique. I pop up too often to look, when I could keep my head down and do a few more strokes before I take another look.
The plot got interesting when we saw the first wave of women jump into the water and start their wave. Within seconds, they started drifting sideways – really drifting – and fighting the current. I thought nothing about it, figuring that’s just how it is when you swim open water.
But no, when I got in it was frickin tough. I rounded the first buoy, keeping up at the end of the pack when we turned the corner and bam. Treadmill status. I paddled for what I thought was ten minutes, and noticed that I had basically moved 10 feet. What?
So I panicked a little. And then had to calm myself down by reminding myself two things:
You won’t drown.
You’re strong enough
I figured I needed to swim harder and started to kick a bit more and kind of mentally prepared myself to dig in and be swimming for an hour or so. But by then I had fallen really far behind (I’m not that strong of a swimmer) and I couldn’t quite make out the target buoy in the distance because I was staring into the sun.
Then another swimmer grabbed me and yelled for me to go back to shore. “They cancelled the swim!”
I really just felt relief. Upon hitting shore folks were kind of in a daze, confused. Some were sprinting for the T1 station, so I kind of jogged on over. The tri had just become a duathlon.
I checked my watch and realized I had been in the water for 32 minutes and hadn’t even made it halfway around the first lap. So good thing they cancelled the swim. I woulda been out there for a long time.
I had a horrible T1. I figured before the race I was just gonna strip the wetsuit and throw on my bike jersey. No way. Skin’s too wet. I fought with my jersey for a couple of minutes as Bruce and Nate blew on past me. Ugh. Finally I got my jersey on and I was on my way.
I figured I was an okay biker, but I had made a mistake and gone on a workout the morning prior to race day. I’d normally never do this on race day, but I figured somehow that it wouldn’t hurt.
But the course hurt a lot more than I’d anticipated. If you weren’t zooming down a hill, you were climbing one. There were next to no flats. And it was a bit mentally taxing keeping a count of the lap you were doing in your head. I half expected to either ride one too little or one too many laps.
It was kind of fun riding a loop course though. And the view down Lincoln was epic as usual. Every time I’d pass Nate going opposite directions I’d give him a little grunt of encouragement. Next time I’m gonna have to catch him so I can ride with him.
I finished the bike ride at 1:43:14.
25 miles later we hit T2 and I threw on my shoes and was outta there…
I was both the most confident and the most shaky about the run. Running’s my strength, and I knew I could crank out a 10K pretty well. But I hadn’t run over 4 miles on a workout in months. I’d have to trust my general cardio training on the bike to sustain me for the run.
We looped Crissy Field and headed up to the bridge. I didn’t feel as much quad burn as I noticed after my first tri. I actually stopped to use the john halfway up… I drank too much on the bike!
I felt great on the steps going up – taking them two at a time and generally feeling springy. We hit the bridge and it became a game of catch-the-next-guy and dodge-the-tourists. There was a lot of dodging (and I nearly had a couple of close calls with unwary tourists). I felt really good dropping runners though.
One crazy thing happened – the runners went through a low tunnel on the way up. The girl running ahead of me smacked her head on the top of the tunnel and flew backwards and landed on her back. We stopped and grabbed medical help for her – there was a good amount of blood and it could have been bad. She was conscious though and able to talk through it though. Scary.
I finished the run in 43:46. Which is 7:04/mi pace, including a pee break and a quick detour to grab a course volunteer. Awesome.
I finished with an overall time of 2:28:20, placing me 10th in the race and 2nd in the Male 30-39 division (sweet! Also: they had registered me at 36 years old :D). Nate edged me out by 39 seconds at 2:27:41, and Bruce finished with a respectable 2:58.
Afterwards we enjoyed the postrace glow with a lot of peanut butter jelly sandwiches (glory!). And Clif bars. Then I found a cafe and had a big mocha. And took a fat nap.
Sweet! So I’ve still not technically finished an Olympic-distance race, but maybe that’ll be next time. All in all, I’m happy with my performance, especially on the run.