Kelly the Culinarian: Niles Leaning Tower Tri Race Report

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Niles Leaning Tower Tri Race Report

Spoiler alert: I won my age group at my first triathlon with a time of 1:09. I feel like a beast.

Today I started my triathlon career with a Tower Tri in Niles. It's a sprint tri with a 450-yard pool swim, an 18K bike ride (11 miles and some change) and a 5K run (3.1 miles). The packet included some sweet swag, like a tech shirt that was way too big, an REI water bottle, gels and lots of samples.

I've been training for eight weeks using a Hal Higdon plan and I felt ready to kick some ass on the race.
Except not this morning. Tim and I got to Niles around 5:40 a.m. and I got super nervous. One of my tri-related nightmares was that I couldn't find my bike, so I bought a helium balloon to tie to my station. I set up my transitions, got my body markings, picked up my timing chip and checked in at the pool. My estimated swim time qualified me for the first wave and I warmed up briefly. I split the lane with a woman who said this was her second triathlon, but first with an indoor swim. She was surprised we had to split the lane.

By the time 7 a.m. rolled around, I was very anxious. I was most concerned that I underestimated my time and would be the last out of the pool with the next wave waiting around staring. They had someone from the next wave counting the laps, and off we went.

The first lap felt really hard and my goggles kept flooding, but it was over before we knew it. I was the second- or third-to-last woman out of the pool, I couldn't tell.

The bike course was mostly empty, which was fine by me. Each athlete did five loops and it was a flat course. The first loop was confusing and I lost some time when I couldn't tell which way to go and the police officer at that turn didn't even get out of his car to point in the right direction. The pavement was a little jacked up and I lost a water bottle on a bump, but it was a fast course. In the last lap, I really pushed it, making it my mission to run down and cyclist I could. You had to cross the timing mat single file, so I picked it up in the yards leading up to the mat, knowing it was my last chance.

Oh dear lord, is it over yet?

When I hit the second transition, I was spent. The first mile off of the bike was tough. Thank sweet baby Jesus that MacKenna was there to run it with me, or I would have crashed right there. After my breathing went back to normal, she encouraged me to run people down and tried to distract me from the actual motion of the running. It was the best thing a girl could ask for in a race.

When I crossed the finish line, I was so incredibly happy ... until the woman I split a lane with stopped me. I thought she was going to reprimand me for my poor form or getting in her space, but instead, she told me that we both swam one extra lap because our lap counter was wrong. WTF.  I was livid. The woman I split the lane was the first overall female, so I guess it didn't hurt her that much. I learned the same lesson that group projects teach you: trust no one.

I hit the snack tent hard. They had electrolyte stuff, water, bananas, watermelon and bagels. It was like heaven.  I knew pretty quickly that I had at least place in my age group, and wanted to wait around. How often will I win a triathlon?

I am so happy to have my medal! I really feel like I accomplished something.

Here are my times:

Swim: 9:50 minutes (even with the extra lap, not so great)

Transition 1: 1:11 minutes

Bike: 31:39:70 minutes (21.2 miles per hour)

Transition 2: 32.8 seconds

Run: 25:51.7 minutes (8:20 overall pace)

My reluctant medal model
Other than minor snafus that was out of the hands of the race, like my freaking extra lap, I think things went OK. It would be nice to have a course with fewer turns and there wasn't a single port-o-potty anywhere. I never had to go, thankfully.

Cost: $75, plus $10 USAT daily fee

Time: 1:09:05, first female 25-29

Pros: Completely flat bike and run course, indoor pool swim, plenty of food at the finish, very nice swag bag

Cons: The shirt is waaaay too big. I was certainly not the smallest on this course, and an extra-small is still too big. The bike course had some crappy pavement and the run course was a boring out and back.

Would I race it again: Maybe, but now there are so many other tris I'd like to dominate, too.


Unknown said...

Congratulations on your first Tri and the age group win!!!

stephanie said...

woot! congrats! and seriously I am so impressed- what an accomplishment.

Kelly @ Running Kellometers said...

Congrats on the age group win!!! AMAZING!!! Not too shabby for your first tri ever! :)

Erin said...

Congrats on the win!!!

You have so many more amazing tris in your future. Looking forward to hearing all about them.

Kim said...

Congrats on your AG win and first tri! It sounds like a nice one to start of tris with the swim being in the pool. Minus the stupid extra lap. And not knowing where to go on the bike! Did you figure out why your goggles were flooding?