The Danskin Triathlon is a 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. The quick report is that I finished about 6 minutes faster than I did last year. My official time was 1:37:52. That put me 295 overall out of 2601 and 64 out of 477 in my age group. The breakdown is as follows:
Swim: 20:16 / 447th place
Bike: 42:52 / 484th place / 18.1 mph average
Run: 30:54 / 603rd place / 9:58 minutes per mile pace
For the long report, keep reading.
Before going to bed last night around 9:30, I set the alarm for 4:00 a.m. When it went off this morning, I got up, got dressed and made my way into the kitchen for breakfast. Before any race, I always have maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal and this morning was no different. After I ate I was ready to go. I knew I would be a little early getting to the race site, but I'd rather be early than late any day.
I arrived at the race site around 5:15. I parked with no problems and headed for the shuttle bus line. Since it was so early, there wasn't much of a line. They weren't suppose to start the shuttles until 5:30, but they let us on and as soon as the but was full, we headed for transition. When we got there I made a quick pit stop (one of many) and then went inside transition to lay everything out. (Next time I need to remember a flashlight)
The transition area is always interesting. If you are one of the first to rack your bike the day before, you never know how many other bikes will end up squeezed in around yours or which way they will face. Some people rack their bikes by the seat and some by the handlebars, so that affects space, too. When I got to my bike, a few others had indeed squeezed in and it seems most were facing the same way as mine. This is not what you want as that means everyone sets up their transition space on the same side and things can get crowded. A couple of triathletes noticed the same thing when they got there and turned their bikes, but some didn't. My thought was just beat them out of the water and not have to be in transition at the same time.
Since I had gotten there early I had plenty of time to lay things out how I wanted them. And as soon as the bike support was ready I took my bike over to have my tires inflated. I had deflated them a little when I dropped off my bike yesterday because of the heat. Some people say heat doesn't affect the tubes in the tires, but I've been in transition when some have popped and it hasn't been because someone was over-inflating them. I'd rather be safe than sorry. Then I took another pit stop, got body marked and put anti-fog in my goggles.
When it was time I grabbed my goggles and swim cap and headed down to the swim start. I was in wave 11, so I had about a half hour from the first wave until my wave went off. Waiting wasn't too bad and it was kind of overcast, so it wasn't too hot. For a minute, I thought we were going to get some rain. I was ok with rain during the swim and/or the run, but not for the bike. The Danskin bike course is hilly with some sharp turns and wet streets would not be good for that. Luckily, the rain stayed away.
When it was time for my wave to head down to the water I tried to get close to the front. I'm not the fastest swimmer, but I'm not the slowest either. I've tried being in the back before, but I get kicked in the face too much as I pass other people. I ended up being in the second row which worked out well for me today. When we took off it was kind of crowded and I did get kicked and bumped, but that happens in a triathlon. I just tried to stay to the inside and keep swimming like I know how to swim. It worked for me today. I ended up passing some people in the wave in front of me which always makes me feel good. As I reached the end, I kept swimming until I could grab the hand of one of the swim volunteers and then I let him pull me out of the water. And as I took the next step, I slipped. Ooops.
When I got out of the water, I took the goggles and swim cap off and ran to the transition area. After swimming, it's not easy as the path is all uphill. Ugh.
I got to the transition area, wiped my feet quickly on my towel (evidently not good enough - I'll explain later), put my socks on, put my bike shoes on, put my sunglasses on, put my helmet on, sucked down a Cliff Shot Energy Gel, grabbed my bike and took off running to the mount line.
Once I was on my bike and going, I tried to get into a decent breathing pattern again. Coming from swimming and quickly into transition, I always seem to be huffing and puffing when I get on the bike. Luckily, the first part of the bike course is mostly flat or down hill with gently rolling hills. The big hills come later. Somewhat early in the course is also a big downhill, a sharp right turn, and a BIG uphill. If you don't know about it and aren't ready, it could spell trouble. Many people get off their bike and walk it up the hill. Knowing your gears is important. I was prepared and went into the hill in an easy gear, but it sure didn't feel easy. There were also a few bumpy, narrow spots this year due to construction so we had to slow down for those. Overall my speed ranged from 5mph to 33mph.
When I got to the dismount line, I quickly got off my bike and ran it in. I put it back on the rack, got my bike shoes off and my run shoes on, took off my helmet, grabbed my race belt and gatorade and took off running. The past two years when I've done Danskin it has been so hot that I have had to walk at least part of the run course. Plus, the run course is more of a cross country course which I'm not use to. I run on smooth pavement, not uneven grass. This year my goal was to run the whole thing. And I did. There were times my run wasn't very fast, but I kept my feet moving in a running motion. I think the gatorade helped. And at one point about halfway through, the volunteers had big waterguns and if you wanted to be squirted by them they would squirt you. It felt really good. But then there is the hill at the end. It's not a big hill by running standards, but after everything else you've already done, it seems like a killer hill. I was determined NOT to walk up it. So I just kept moving forward. I finally conquered it.
As I crossed the finish line, I was happy to see that I had beat my time from last year. There is still room for improvement, though. I think my swim time has gotten worse every year I've done Danskin. Not sure what's up with that. But my bike time and run time have improved. I'll take it.
Since we couldn't get back into transition for a while, I found the food and then headed to the finishing chute so I could cheer on anyone else who came through that I might know. There were several Team in Training folks who did the race, so I cheered for them, too. And it was also during this time that I noticed what felt like something in my shoe. That's always possible in a triathlon since you run barefoot from the swim back to transition and on this course since it was in the grass. I sat down took off my shoe and then my sock to see what may be in there. I'm not sure if there was something or if it happened when I slipped coming out of the swim, but my big toe has two nice cuts in it. Nothing too bad, but it looked pretty nasty with all the dirt in there, too. Not much I could do about it at the time, so I wiped it off with my sock and then put my sock and shoe back on.
When transition opened up I went to get my stuff and then found a spot at the end of the finisher's chute to watch for the ladies from my church. I wanted to see them come across the finish line and I was able to catch all three of them as they crossed. If any of you are reading this, know that I am SO proud of all of you. You are now officially TRIATHLETES! I hope you had fun.
Once they were across it was time to head home. This year I actually rode my bike back to the parking lot. The distance from the parking lot to the transition area is probably a mile or a little more and it can be a brutal walk back carrying all your stuff and trying to direct your bike. This year, I put my backpack on and rode. Much better.
I'm back home (obviously), I've showered and eaten, and I am heading for the couch for a nap.