Sunday, August 2, 2009

I am now a Triathlete

I made it out alive!

My wife and our good friends Annie and Chris spent the weekend at New Braunfels, Tx in a little vacation house. Chris was competing in the Tri as well and it was nice to have a buddy with me.

We woke up at 4:30am this morning and got to the race site at 6:00am. We parked off in some field adjacent to the race location and walked our bikes up to the transition area. We found the bike racks that had our age groups listed on them (30-34) and began setting up the transition area. Once the transition area was all good we went to the lake to find our wives and see where we would be starting.

My first thought was that the swim looked a hell of a lot longer than I imagined. Then we found out that over 1000 triathletes were participating in the event and over 100 in our wave. After a quick warm up swim and some stretching exercises we were ready to go!

After the first two waves were off if was now our turn. The countdown started as it hit "zero" we were off. Now I had spoke with many people who told me that the beginning of the swim can sometimes be a little rough. That is not a correct statement. It was downright violent! Arms, elbows, feet, knees, just flying everywhere and I took a few solid shots! About a minute or two in I found a lane and was doing my Total Immersion stroke and "BAM" ... I swam right over top of someone. It was one of those situations where the only thing you can do is just keep going - so I did. And it was right at that time that I took a hard shot to the mid-section. More precisely, I took a hard shot a little lower than the mid-section - the nuts! It hurt like hell and I ended up rolling over on my back and breathing like I was in a Lamaze class.

From this point on the swim was absolutely brutal. I had an extremely hard time with my breathing and I laboured throughout the rest of the swim. Everyone says that swimming in a pool and doing an Open Water Swim are as different as night and day - they are right! Once I recovered from the ball bashing I found myself zig-zagging all over the lake. It was very difficult to see where you were going but once you did it was even harder to get there! The swim portion was 500 meters and I probably did 650-700 meters! My time on the swim was 13:59. I was hoping for 12:00 but was happy I just made it.

So once I finished it was a short jog to the transition area to grab my bike. I found it with no issues! I threw on my cycling jersey, helmet, sunglasses, socks, and shoe ... shoe, not shoes(s)! Yes, one of my shoes was missing, the left to be exact. I eventually located it on the other side of the rack. I jumped down on my stomach and reached under the rack and grabbed it! Off to the races! My transition time was 3:05. The shoe incident cost me a good minute.

Now I thought the swim was bad but it was nothing compared to the bike ride. Only it wasn't physically brutal it was a number of things completely different. One(1): my $119 bike sucks! Two (2): New Braunfels has hills, Houston does not! Three (3): The longest section of the course was just recently Chipped and Stoned by the County!

So what does each of these things mean to me? First, I did well on the bike when I was on a flat stretch (which was very rare) and when I was going uphills (which was not at all rare). The problem was that I would pass people going up the hills and then they would pass me going down? My bike just couldn't keep up with the bad-ass Tri and Road bikes that were a plenty. I passed one guy 4 different times going up hills and he passed me 4 different times going downhill. It was sort of frustrating because I was busting my arse but could not make and gains. And it wasn't like they were slowly passing me ...oh,no...they were passing me going downhill like I was sitting still. Second, the hills took me a little time to get used too. We don't have that type of terrain in Houston. After I got the shifting down it was pretty fun! Third, the roads were in awful shape. If you have ever seen an asphalt road recently chipped you know what I mean. Little rocks and other debris is all over the place! This is not a comfortable thing to be experiencing on a road bike. Maybe it is because I am a very inexperienced cyclist and have never been on rough roads like this, but the dudes on the fancy Tri and Road bikes seemed to have no problems with the poor conditions. Me ...? I felt like I was going to blow a tire at anytime throughout most of the race! After the race everyone was talking about it and I saw quite a few bikes with flats along the course, but since this was my first time, that may not be that unusual.

Despite the unusual road conditions I still had a smile on my face the whole time during the bike ride. I was not going very fast but it was a lot of fun! My time on the bike for the 14.8 mile ride was an unusually slow 55:32. One thing for sure is if I do this again I need a better bike.

I dropped my bike off at the rack and grabbed my hat, garmin 305, and water belt. I had a small rock in my shoe so I had to take it off and get the rock out. My time in the second transition was 1:57. Not bad, but still could have shaved a few more seconds.

When I started the run my legs felt strong but goofy. Which from my brick training this was about right. I finally found my rhythm and started to feel good about a 1/2 mile in. At this point my energy level was a lot better than I thought it was going to be and I was beginning to feel guilty about not busting it on the bike more. At around the 2.3 mile mark I could hear people cheering at the finish and I decided to kick it in some. At this point I probably passed a good two dozen people and sprinted my way into the finish. My mile splits were - 9:11/8:55/7:52 for a total of 25:58. My goal was 28 minutes. I was hopeful for 26 minutes so I was very happy with this time. I was even more happy that I got stronger with each mile on the run.

Overall I had a wonderful time. The swim was violent, the bike was frustrating,and the run was awesome! I wish I could have had better times in the swim and bike, but a lot of my difficulties can be chalked up to inexperience and in hindsight I had an absolutely awesome time so I can honestly say I am not at all disappointed. I believe I trained enough because not at any single point did I feel like I was too tired or even struggling. The funny thing was that I felt like I was prepared for certain things to happen like a flat tire or leg cramp. But things I never even considered were what occurred - Like the crappy roads and getting hit in the boys.

So, the question is can I see myself doing another Triathlon? I am not sure yet. I might need a day or two to reflect and consider if this is something I want to do again. If I do decide than the first thing I need is a bike that is made for this. A good bike could have knocked probably 10 minutes of my time! I guess I just don't know right now.

Also, we have a bunch of photos and some short videos from today. We are having some flash drive issues and I don't have the energy to work it out right now. Tomorrow I will get them all posted. My buddy Chris took a header on his bike during the dismount. He only suffered a small scrape on his knee so we can laugh about it now and our wives got some good pics of him eating asphalt! Pictures tomorrow.

I am going to take the rest of this week nice and easy. A few slow runs on the treadmill and that will be it. Next week I am considering starting a full round of P90X again. But am just not sure with that either ... I am quite indecisive today aren't I!

Thanks for Reading,



  1. Congrats Jeff for completing your first triathlon! Man that swim sounded rough!! Good job persevering through it all. I still have not got my p90x, just been doing calisthenics and pushups. I'm still a LONG way off from completing a triathlon.


  2. Wow! Wow! Wow! I loved reading every word about your initiation into the "tri world". Sorry you had a few, ahem, bumps and hits along the way but what an accomplishment! Jeremy and I teamed up on a mini tri a couple of weekends ago. He did the swim and bike and I ran. I have a feeling we'll be going back for more and trying to do it on our own. We have a A LOT of training to do. I'll have to read over your whole blog again to get some pointers. Anyway, congrats again and I can't wait to see the pics and vids!!

  3. Jeff... I really enjoyed the race report. Only after one's first triathlon event does one have a full appreciation for the swim!!! Hope the boys are better. I now feel absolutely fortunate about my first triathlon swim (and my second)... I didn't take any shots where I live!

    The bike sounded crazy! Having a rough, chipped out road is a bummer. The hills are definitely no fun too.

    Your T2 time was pretty good! I knew you would hammer your run. Hey, great job. Sorry to hear that your friend got road rash.

    Again, I really enjoyed your race report and all the posts leading up to your race. I am looking forward to the photos and videos.

    Making a decision for your next endeavor can wait. Although, I am interested in your decision. At any rate, you have my support with whatever you decide upon.

    Welcome to the triathlete club!!!

  4. Jeff, that was a great description of what it was like! Your bike ride did sound frustrating - its a wonder you didn't have a flat.

    Your training pulled you through though. It's clear to me that you were properly prepared and that equipment (bike) and local conditions (hills, road) were matters you couldn't anticipate your first time out. I do believe a different bike with clipless pedals will make ALL the difference if you choose to do another tri.

    At any rate, I truly enjoyed your report...and no where did you mention the heat! You were probably having too much fun to notice. :)

  5. Chuck, Thanks man! I am starting another round of P90X on Monday if you want to jump in!

  6. Christina - Thanks! Annie and I found a couples tri that happens at the beginning of of the year. We might have to check it out. She is going to begin biking so it maybe a lot of fun!

  7. Boomer and Steve - Thanks for the support throughout this whole thing couldn't have done it without you guys!

  8. Steve - The heat was a non-factor! It was hot, probably 85-90 at the start of the race but we had a nice breeze and it was completely overcast the entire race. Living in Houston, I am used to hot and humid. The poor roads and how lucky we got with the weather was what everyone was talking about after the race. I was really concerned about the heat going in but we got really lucky.

  9. Jeff, Monday the 10th? This sounds like it might work. Hopefully i can get my p90x this weekend and dumbell bar.

  10. Hey Jeff,

    Congrats on the Tri finish!! That's so awesome! Sorry to hear about the swimming "mishap" but you did it! Can't wait to continue to follow your next round of P90X and more tri training! You're definitely an inspiration!