I did it! Another triathlon completed. It was a beautiful fall day in the most beautiful place on earth, Lake Powell. There were about 300 athletes with lots of families there to cheer us on. The race got under way with the first wave of Olympic distance men at 8:00a.m. The second wave of Olympic distance men left about 7 minutes later. I was in the second wave.
The swim was two laps around a set of three bouys. As some of you know, I have always been a swimmer. So the swim is usually my best event. Well, I hadn't prepared for two things on this swim. First, I had not taken into account the altitude. Second, I had not done enough swimming in a wetsuit to get comfortable with it. The two combined to so constrict my breathing that during the first 500 meters, I really thought I wasn't going to be able to complete the triathlon and would have to pull out.
Still, I stuck with it and focused on my breathing. A couple of times early on I stopped and swam breaststroke for a few meters. Eventually, I got into a rhythm. I still struggled getting enough oxygen, but I didn't feel like I was suffocating. In the end, I completed the swim in about 25 minutes, three minutes longer than my goal.
From the water, we had to run up the boat ramp (very long) to get to the transition area. I was just glad to be done with the swim (never thought I would say that). Once I was on my bike, I felt I could breath a little better, though I struggled with my breathing even on my bike. The ride was beautiful. We swam alongside the shore of the lake. A breathtaking view the entire ride. Truly the most beautiful ride I have ever done.
Only one challenge. I was slow on my bike. I had neglected to put on my heart monitor, which allows me to pace myself properly. What a mistake that was. I was a good 15 minutes slower on the bike than I had been in training.
Then to the run. The dreaded run. By this time my lungs were burning and my legs wobbly. I was especially worried about my left leg and ankle, that has been bothering me ever since I started doing triathlons. During my training, I found that my left leg was seizing about 2-3 miles into my run and I couldn't run farther.
The triathlon distance is 6.2 miles. So I knew I really had to concentrate not to put too much strain on my left leg. Slowly, I made it up the first half of the course, running alongside the lake and concentrating on putting more emphasis on my right leg and not taking too long of a stride. I made it to the turnaround in pretty good time – about 6 miles/hour (which was my target speed). Most of the return was downhill, good for both my legs and my endurance. Still, by the time the end was in sight, I was barely hanging on.
When I crossed the finish line, I checked my time. I had completed the run in my target time of an hour. I was about 10 minutes ahead of my previous best time and 20 minutes slower than my overall goal. It was great to have improved my time, even with the altitude, wetsuit and mistake with the heart monitor. I was sad not to have reached my goal of 2:30.
What did I learn? Stay tuned tomorrow and I will cover all of that. For now, I need a massage and another day's rest. Tomorrow I will be back to training. Not as hard for awhile. Still, I don't want to let my fitness lapse in the least so I will continue working out at least an hour a day. Thanks for staying with me on this journey. There are more chapters and more learning to come.