Surprise! I did a triathlon yesterday!
I was on such a post-Seattle high, I’d almost forgot about the Siesta Beach Sprint Triathlon until my co-worker asked me earlier this week if I was still in. I’d registered for the race – of course I was still in. Nevermind the fact I hadn’t been in the pool since Ironman Florida or on my bike since my ride a couple of weeks go. It wouldn’t be the first triathlon I’ve done without training, probably won’t be the last. (p.s. do as I say not as I do – it’s not smart to do a race without training, unless you’re crazy. Crazy = Me)
I was up super early Saturday morning and made the hour and a half drive south to Siesta Key. It was a small race, so check-in was a breeze. I got my number, my unisex race shirt (when race shirts are unisex I ask for the large and give it to Derek – he loves wearing race tech tees around the house), timing chip, and got body marked.
After I set up my transition, I found my co-workers and headed down to the beach for the start.
The Siesta Beach Triathlon has two distances: the sprint and the olympic. I did the olympic version a couple of years ago and hated it. The bike portion was on busy roads that remained open and the entire 6.2 mile run was on the beach (aka nothing but sand). It was hot and I was miserable the entire time. Pretty sure I came in close to dead last, too.
However, I always said that though the olympic version of the race sucked, I wouldn’t be opposed to registering for the sprint version. Half the distances – double the fun, right? Plus, it’d been a couple of years so the memory of the hot and humid race had all but faded away.
The water was absolutely stunning at the beach. It was calm, clear, and an ideal low-80 temp. I put my swim cap on and dove in to warm-up. It was like riding a bike. My stroke, breathing, and love for the water returned immediately. Why the heck haven’t I swam before this? It didn’t hit me until I dove in how much I missed it.
The olympic distance triathletes went first, then after a 30 minute break it was our turn. There were probably 30-40 girls with green swim caps in the 39 and under wave – gotta love small races! I didn’t have any goals for this race – nor was I expecting much – I was just there to cheer on my co-workers and enjoy the beautiful day.
At 7:45 – it was time to race.
I continued to surprise myself with how great I felt in the water. I pushed through the back of the pact and found myself staying strong right in the middle. The water was calm and refreshing – man, I miss swimming!
The quarter mile swim (really 1/3 according to my Garmin) went quickly. Before I knew it we were making the final turn at the red buoy and heading back to the shore. I swam until my hand scraped the bottom, then started my run to transition.
1/4 mile swim: 12:59
The run to transition was long – at least 1/2 a mile in loose, crazy sand. I felt loopy and disoriented making my way up the beach. I found my bike, threw on my helmet, sunglasses, and shoes, and headed to bike out.
I went to mount my bike and my pedal spun way too easily. I looked down and noticed my chain had fallen off of the big crank. I’d pumped my tires that morning, but completely forgot to check my chain. Dang it. Luckily it was an easy fix. I popped it on, spun the pedals a couple of times to make sure it was secure, and I was good to go.
The bike course takes place on busy beach roads that remain open during the race. Luckily it was still early enough where there weren’t too many cars out there, but it’s still nerve wracking for a nervous cyclist. The sprint course is a 12-mile loop, while the olympic racers complete two loops.
Cycling has always been my weakest sport out of the three. I’m slow and I’ve learned to accept that. I settled into aero- position and was prepared to start being passed like crazy on the left. However, they didn’t come in droves like I was expecting. I was being passed, but it was mainly fast men, who I assumed were on their second lap of the olympic course. I didn’t start being passed by women until over halfway, but all of them had calves that read 40+ and looked like they were in awesome shape. I did pass a handful of participants myself (huge shocker – I never pass anyone!) and one of them had 28 on her calf.
It was a great morning for a bike ride. There was little-to-no wind and I found I was able to comfortably maintain 16 – 17 mph on the bike (not speedy to most, but I was happy with that). The intersections remained scary. There were cops at each one directing traffic, but I NEVER trust vehicles when I’m on the road. I’ve seen too many motorists with attitude to trust them. I glided through most intersections, just waiting for something to go wrong.
I hit the final stretch and gunned it to the finish – forever thankful I was only doing one loop and not two.
12 mile bike: 44:46 ( avg 16.6 mph)
I forgot my race belt this morning, so I had to waste precious seconds pinning my number to my top during transition. That slowed me down big time. I switched shoes, grabbed my water bottle, and headed for the run
Eh. This is where things go sour. I knew it was going to be bad, but I forgot just how bad. The ENTIRE run is on the beach, with the first part being the same loose sand we ran into T1 on. My ankle twisted and turned and I tried my best to keep a steady pace.
Once passed the loose part, you do spend the majority of the run on hard-packed sand, but it’s still sand and it’s still tough to run on. There’s also zero shade and the sun is only getting higher and hotter. I took my first walking break .25 mile in, and it definitely wasn’t my last. I continued to walk on and off every time I got a stitch in my side. I was okay taking it easy on the run and not feeling like death the entire time.
The best is all the families you pass settling in for a day at the beach. I was super jealous – I wanted to be sitting under an umbrella or floating in the water.
I grabbed a cup of Cytomax at the aide station. Gross – tasted like pure sugar. Yuck.
I hit the turn around at mile 1.5 and started my final stretch back to the finish line. The run got better, knowing it was almost over. I saw my co-workers and wished them luck for a strong finish. I saw another friend going out for his last lap for the olympic course and was thankful I wasn’t him.
I fought my way through the loose portion of sand and headed towards the finish line. This was it – I was done!
Definitely not the race I was expecting. I felt strong in the swim and on the bike, but flopped on the run – not like me at all. Still, it was fun just to be out there. I’m hoping to squeeze one more sprint triathlon in this season.
I headed back to the beach after brunch and spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up some rays.
Not a bad Saturday if you ask me. 😉
Have you ever done an impromptu race and surprised yourself?