This morning I did the Firecracker Sprint Triathlon. When I found out it would be taking place while we were in Hawaii, I thought “why not”. There were brief moments this morning I second guessed my decision.
I woke up around 3:15 this morning,which really didn’t seem that bad since it was 8:15 back home. I ate breakfast, got ready and we were off to the race site. We weren’t exactly sure where that was and since I still had to pick up my packet, I wanted to get there early. Well, after going a round about way, we found the place and we WERE early. I was the first racer there.
When another racer arrived and went up to the transition area, I decided it was time to go ask about packet pick-up. I was able to get my “packet” which consisted of a t-shirt and a race number. That was it. No swim cap. We would have to provide our own so I was glad that I had brought one with me.
I went back to the car to drop off the shirt and get my race gear so I could rack my bike. Being the first one there, I had my pick of spots, so I chose the rack closest to the bike exit and, as always, got on the end. It didn’t take me long to set up my stuff so I had a lot of time to people watch as the rest of the folks started to arrive. And what I saw was interesting.
I’d say about 75% of the people came into transition with buckets of some kind. Usually these were shallow tubs. They also had gallon jugs of water. As I watched people set up I realized these tubs and the water were so that people could rinse their feet off at their transition spot. Hardly anyone at home does this. I started thinking that it might be because of the sand and starting wondering if I should have something there to wash my feet off with. Luckily Joel had a bottle of water he said I could have.
The other thing I noticed was that some people don’t know the rules of racking bikes and some people take up way too much room in transition. For instance, the lady next to me. She appeared to be an experienced triathlete. She had a nice tri bike with race wheels on it and had the fancy aero helmet. However, she was next to me and racked her bike with her wheel on the same side as me. That’s not correct. AND, she took up about 2 feet with her towel, which had her bucket to wash her feet off. Big no-no as well.
At this point I decided it was time to find some restrooms. I had to walk a little ways to get to them and it was during that walk that I saw the ocean for the first time. And it was at this point that I started to second guess why I was doing this. The waves were rolling in and there were white caps. Yikes! It almost looked worse than Florida. Oh well, I was here so I would at least give it a shot.
I walked back to transition and hung out until it was time to walk down to the beach for the swim start. During that time I learned there was a lady from New Jersey doing the tri. Her sister had gotten married on Saturday night and, like me, she decided since she was here to do the tri.
Soon enough it was time to have the pre-race meeting. There would be two swim waves – men would go off at 6am and the relay folks and women at 6:03. It would be a beach start. Other than that, we were just supposed to follow the course on the bike and run, both of which were out and backs.
At 6am the gun fired and the men ran into the ocean. I put my goggles on and got ready for my turn. When our gun went off, I took off running into the ocean with the other women. The water was a bit chilly, but did not seem as cold as the water at our resort. I stayed on my feet while the water was shallow and then went horizontal and started swimming. I had told myself this was for fun and I didn’t care what my swim time was, so I didn’t want to go out real hard. However, I didn’t want to be the last one out of the water either. I sighted frequently and as long as there were other swimmers around me I was ok.
The waves were not as bad as they looked, but every now and then I did get slammed by a pretty big one. Someone had said the swells were 2-3 feet which really isn’t that bad. Before I knew it I had reached the first buoy and made the turn to swim horizontal with the beach. This part was a little trickier. With the waves coming to one side, you had to breathe on the other side. Luckily I can breathe on either side so it didn’t bother me. The thing that did bother me was my goggles were fogging. I couldn’t spot the next buoy so I decided to stop and rinse them off. It was much better after that. I rounded the second buoy and headed toward shore. When I got out of the water and looked at my watch I was happy to see a 13:XX. (Race results show 13:19).
I started running up the beach and into transition. The way they had us go in and out of transition, I had a little run. I got to my bike, sat down to wash my feet off, put on my socks and shoes and then put on my glasses, gloves and helmet. I was ready to hit the road. (T1 time: 2:17)
As I got on the bike I realized I was in the small ring up front. Since this was a flat course I wanted to be in the big ring so I worked the shifters until I found a gear that felt good. The bike fit was ok, but I think the seat was still a little bit too high and honestly, it felt weird not being in aero bars. And it felt really weird not having a computer on the bike. I had no idea how fast I was going so I just went by how it felt. And if I saw someone a little ways ahead of me I tried to catch them. I tried to not let anyone catch me either, but a few did. Oh well.
As I was heading out on the course, I saw the lead cyclist come back. I glance at my watch. I had only been racing for 27 minutes. Wow! And there was no one behind him for a while. I just kept going along my merry way.
I finally hit the turnaround and started heading back. I would push for a while and then have fun for a while. I did have to be careful because this course had several USAT officials on the course. I finally got back to the start and dismounted the bike. (bike time: 40:55 for a 16.6mph)
I ran back into transition and quickly got ready for the run. (T2 time: 1:31)
The run was an out and back as well. I didn’t know if they would have mile markers or aid stations so once again I was going by perceived effort. I hit mile 1 and guessed based on the time I was around 9 minute miles. I knew I had it in me to go a little faster. I started trying to pass the person in front of me and then the next person. I could tell my pace was picking up. And I was glad I had my water. The only aid station was at the turnaround point. As I got close to the finish line I passed a couple more people, including one in my age group. I had no idea how many people in my age group were ahead of me, but if I could see one I was passing her. (run time: 27:11 for a 8:46/mile pace)
I crossed the finished line and stopped my watch. I was pretty happy with my time but had no idea how it would work out. I grabbed some grapes and a bagel and then checked the results they were posting. It appeared that even here there were fast women in my age group. I had come in fifth with a time of 1:25:12. We hung around for a few of the awards and it was frustrating to hear that the winner of the 35-39 age group had a time of 1:25:09. If I were two years younger I would have gotten
2nd. My age group always seems to have fast women in it. Oh well.
Doing a triathlon in Hawaii was fun and I was glad that I did it. It was a different experience.