While the distances of this tri weren't that different than my last, the difficulty definitely increased! Total distances: 200 yard swim, 5.4 mile bike, 1.2 mile run. The differences? The swim was in the Gulf of Mexico (as opposed to a pool) and the run was on the beach.
Conclusion? I hate sand. With a passion. But I'll get to that later. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?
I tried to go to bed semi-early, but laid awake too late, panicking because I wasn't sleeping. I woke up at 5am and started getting ready. Immediately I knew that my stomach was not cooperating. Uhoh. Enter: Immodium. Didn't help. Hmm. Just kept getting ready.
Dad and I headed out around 5:45am, on our way to Madeira Beach (about a half hour away). Yep, we had a bathroom stop at a nearby McDonalds. Luckily my stomach calmed down after that. For the most part.
We arrived at the parking lot with plenty of time to get set up. We grabbed our bikes and headed to the transition area. We got body marked and found our bike racks. Once again, I had great positioning! I was in the second rack back from the bike start. Awesome. But...there was no individual marking for each bike meaning it was a free for all as to whose bike went where on our rack. Not cool. But we managed. I recognized a few ladies from my last mini tri and we had a good time chatting. I guess it's true what they say about triathlon being a small, social family!
We all headed down to the beach for the swim. I expected to be running into the water, but that wasn't the case. They actually had us do an "in-water" start which was probably a much better idea since our route was only about 30 yards off-shore. We all lined up by the buoy and then got ready to swim straight down the beach to the other buoy, then turn into shore to run out onto the beach. Everyone crowded near the buoy, but I went deeper, away from the crowd. Best. Decision. Ever. The current was going to pull us in toward the last buoy anyway, so I decided to use it to my advantage rather than fight it. And I am so glad I was not in the mess of women down by the buoy! The buoys were so close to shore that they could stand - and many of them ended up walking through the "swim" portion! Not me. I was deep enough that I swam the whole thing. It was TOUGH! I'm not sure why, but the swim took a LOT out of me. I definitely need to get some more open water swims under my belt before my next tri! But before I knew it, I was heading to shore, on my way to transition! Official swim time: 5:11 - but the timing mat was at the top of the beach so count some running in that too. Don't you love my swim cap? :)
My first transition felt pretty smooth. Having the trisuit helped so much! I poured a water bottle on my feet to wash the sand off and toweled off quickly. I threw on my shoes and socks, put my helmet and sunglasses on, as well as my race belt, and headed out on my bike. My first transition time was 2:39 - a full minute faster than at my last triathlon!
The bike is my favorite portion of the triathlon. I know I'm not a strong swimmer, and I am a REALLY slow runner, so this is the point where I can gain some ground. And I did! I was passing people left and right. My only complaint about the bike portion is that you had to do 3 laps, and each turn was a hairpin turn - not good for time! But I had the fourth fastest time in my age group on the bike - 19:22! My last triathlon (also a 5.4 mile bike ride) took me 21:53! Those new tires really helped!
I rode into the transition area, put my bike up, took off my helmet, put on my visor and took a swig of Gatorade. I guess I spent too long here since my T2 time was 1:20 - ten seconds slower than my last triathlon.
But then, it was all finished. I crossed the finish line, once again a TRIATHLETE. My total time? 42:24. Better than my last tri time, but not good enough to place in my age group. I was 7th out of 10. :(