Saturday, August 17, 2013

Race Report: PTC Sprint Triathlon

Sorry for the lack of posting... those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that this week has been crazy busy with homeschooling, and then just when it settled down enough to allow me some time to post, the internet went down! But I'm back up now, just in time to write a race report about today's triathlon!

First of all, the weather got extremely wonky on us here in Atlanta in the last couple of days. Our high temperature yesterday was in the mid sixties (and the low was about the same. Typical temps this time of year are lows in the low 70s and highs in the high 80s). And there has been rain almost nonstop. I was quite worried about the bike ride, especially, since I haven't trained in the rain at all. I was really afraid of skidding on the wet pavement and falling.

I woke at 3:15 this morning to leave at 4 AM. It was early, but not Disney early! Peachtree City was further away than I realized! Packet pickup opened at 5 AM and I like to arrive early. On the dark ride down, it started to rain. This did not help my frame of mind. I actually turned on the heat in the car! 63 degrees and raining - crazy!

I arrived around 5:15 and walked over to Packet Pickup/Transition with a couple of ladies from the MRTT Triathlon group. Everyone was very kind and helpful - asking if I knew where all the race numbers go. When I picked up my packet, they surprised me by asking me what size socks I wanted. Socks? You're going to give me socks?!? I love you, PTC Triathlon Club! LOL I just put everything into my bag, though, since it was drizzling. Picked up my timing chip and got my body marked. When I walked into transition, I was actually escorted over to my rack where a volunteer helped me out because someone had put their bike in my spot. Each race number had a sticker where you were supposed to set up your stuff. Truly this was a well-organized race!

I got all my stuff set up, including my new Triathlon Bucket. This turned out to be a lifesaver, for reasons you'll read about soon enough!

My transition area - optimized for the rain! Notice the trash bags and grocery sacks!
Ready to go!
I ran into one of my local friends and we talked and hung out before the swim. It was announced over the PA that for the first time in the history of this triathlon (and this was the 11th anniversary), it would be wetsuit legal! Absolutely unbelievable! I hadn't brought my wetsuit so it didn't matter to me. I only saw two people wearing them so I'm guessing most people hadn't brought theirs, either. I was surprised that the lake was just right there with no beach. Also surprised that the "two at a time every 5 seconds" start wasn't organized by swim time as I believed it would be. People were finishing their swim before we even got into the water!

It was my turn and I got into the water. I had never done a start like this before - not being in the water and getting used to it first. But it was OK. I just did my thing and started my swim. I was sighting every other stroke and couldn't believe that I was actually going straight. Suddenly, just before the first buoy, someone grabbed hold of me. When I got upright, I saw it was a man with a terrified look on his face. He said, "I need to hold on to you!" And he was still holding on. I yanked away and said, "NO! You can't!" Looking back, I should have told him to swim to one of the kayaks, or I could have gotten the attention of a kayaker for him, but in the moment I was too freaked out. And then my swim fell apart. My heart was racing and every time I put my face in the water, I felt like I was going to drown. I tried to do a breast stroke but just putting my face back in the water was overwhelming. I did a sort of doggy-paddle combination with some backstroking past the second buoy and around. I was really scared and afraid that I wasn't going to be able to finish. My goggles fogged up and I swallowed water a few times and it was really scary. I decided to do a backstroke for a few strokes and then flip over to sight. And I kept telling myself to try to calm down. I am disappointed that I didn't think to pray - but that tells you how freaked out I was. Finally, as I passed the third buoy, and I could see the finish in sight, I was able to put my face back in the water and swim. I took a breath and sighted with each stroke, but that's OK. It allowed me to get my heart rate down and gave me a bit more confidence. I breathed on the right for a few strokes, then on the left. At last I reached the shore! I've never been so glad to put my feet on land! This lake has no huge hill to climb to transition and I was so glad! (Swim time - 16:51. Honestly that's not too bad considering the freak out. I was expecting about a 14:00 swim time for the 600 yards. And my friend said she though the course might have been a little long, which would be even better. Regardless, I'm not upset about the time. Just glad I made it through!)

 I ran towards transition, but I started to realize that my heart rate was super high again. I started to walk so that I could settle down before the bike, which I was already anxious about. I got to my transition area, got my stuff out of my bucket, and sat down on it. I was SO glad for that bucket to sit on. The ground was wet and gross, and the ability to sit on the bucket and get my shoes on and collect myself was such a blessing! (T1 time - 4:18. Longer than I wanted but well worth the time so I could feel prepared to get on the bike)

I walked my bike to the mounting line. After the trouble I had clipping in at the Super Sprint in June, I was nervous. Would I get mud and grass in my cleats and not be able to clip in? Would my wet cleats slip on the wet pedals? I moved out of everyone's way in case it took me a long time, but it didn't! I clipped right in and didn't even have any trouble going up the starting hill! I took it nice and easy starting out. My legs were much more tired than usual from the doggie paddling and backstroking. There was nothing I could do about that now, though, so I decided not to think about it. I had to concentrate on the wet pavement and the drizzle. There were a couple of small hills near the start, and since I hadn't trained on any hills, it was harder than it should have been. But I remembered reading somewhere, "There is no shame in spinning up a hill" so I did that - I put it into a low gear and just did a spin, not worrying about my speed and not trying to wear my legs out more with pushing on the pedals. The roads were mostly closed off to traffic, which is a wonderful thing! I've never done a tri that closed all traffic and I was very grateful for it today. I took water to drink on the ride and a half a PB sandwich. Right around mile 6, I ate the first part of the sandwich, then I ate the rest around mile 10. The course was well-marked and I was pleased to see regular aid stations where folks were helping with tire changes, etc. Also, course officials in trucks patrolled the course and picked up people who could not continue. I felt comfortable that if something bad were to happen, help would reach me fairly quickly. I don't think it was actually raining, but there was drizzle, and it covered my sunglasses and water dripped from my helmet. At times, if felt like it was raining - but that might have been a combination of the drizzle and the speed of the bike.

After the first couple of miles, I felt surprisingly strong. I didn't want to brake too heavily on the descents because I was afraid of my tires skidding. Thankfully, there weren't too many really big downhills or sharp turns. I think training at the park really helped me with my comfort on the turns. I did better on the rolling hills than I was expecting! The funniest part of the bike was that I kept wondering when I would get to the turn-around. I had seen folks coming back as I was going out so I kept waiting for the turn around where I would start to see other cyclists! Slowly, I started to recognize my surroundings and I saw a sign on the opposite side of the road: Mile 3. I was already on the turn-around, there was just nobody starting out! I was REALLY bringing up the rear! LOL! I got back to the dismount line and another volunteer asked me if I was ok when I hesitated to unclip my other foot. Everyone was really very helpful! (Bike time - 56:13. I think the bike course must have been a little short because that time has me at 14.9 mph. I felt strong on the bike, but I'm not sure it would be THAT strong!)

As I walked into the transition area with my bike, a volunteer directed me to the run start, which was on the opposite end of transition. It was great having the volunteers being so proactive in making sure I knew were I was going. I didn't once have to ask! Back in transition again, I was feeling much more positive after a strong bike ride. I'm really glad that the bike went so smoothly and I didn't feel like I was slipping or skidding. After the scary swim, I'm not sure if I could have mentally handled a scary bike ride, too! I didn't rush through transition again. (T2 time - 2:25)

At least when it comes to running, I have more confidence. My legs were more tired overall, though, and I felt it. And not wearing a Garmin (due to the rain), I was having to go by feel and not by pace or, in the case of the bike, RPMs. I was passing people quite frequently, and I have to admit that it felt good and helps to make up for being passed like I'm standing still when I'm cycling. I was 40th out of 44 in the swim and the bike, but I was 25th in the run! LOL I carried Cherry Limeade Nuun with me in my handheld bottle. I almost didn't carry it because it wasn't hot but I'm glad I did. I drank almost all of it. I carried Pomegranate Honey Stinger Chews with me but didn't need to eat them.

The course was all on the famous golf cart paths of Peachtree City and was a lovely place to run. It was mostly shaded, and I can imagine that if it's a hot, sunny day like it usually is in August in GA, that would feel very nice!  Again it was an out and back, and again there was nobody going "out" when I was coming "back"! That made me laugh out loud! Several times I felt like I wanted to walk, my legs were so tired and I was breathing harder than usual. But it was important to me that I run the entire way this time. And I did it! (Run time - 30:11. So maybe that's why I was breathing heavy? 9:44 miles on some pretty used-up legs!)

I gave a big smile to the course photographer at the 3 mile mark and made my way up the hill to the finish line! It was wonderful to hear my name called as I crossed the finish line! It felt like a long journey from the swim freak-out to the finish line, and I gladly accepted my medal! I'm so glad this tri had a medal, because I really needed it this time! :) (Overall time - 1:49:54. 569/637 overall, 40/44 age group, 190/234 women. Right about where I figured I would be based on looking at last year's results.)

Finisher's medal, thank you very much! LOL
All in all, I really loved this race! It was well-organized and everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful. I would absolutely do it again next year. The only negative was the guy grabbing me on the swim and freaking me out, but that has nothing to do with the race - it could have happened anywhere! I would highly recommend this race, especially for first-timers! I will definitely be putting it on my list of races for next year if it works out in my training schedule and with finances. It was a long drive for me, but I think it's worth it! Especially since they gave me socks! LOL And the shirt is really cute and comfy!

Seriously... aren't these cool!?

There's even a "swim-bike-run" logo on them!

Front of the cute race shirt!

Back of the cute race shirt!

I am hoping to get over to the lake in the next couple of weeks and practice my Open Water Swimming. I need to get back out there and make sure that I am "OK". I think I will be since I was able to put my face in the water again towards the end of the swim, but I want to be sure. Besides, I definitely need to practice. I haven't been done any OWS since the tri last September!

Wow, did you make it the whole way through this race report?? You are awesome! Thank you! :D


  1. awesome!!!!
    Just wondering, did you see that man again? Was he having a freak out/panic attack or something?

    1. I did not see him again. I checked in the results and only saw 3 males who didn't finish the race. None of them were the age he appeared to be. I'm not sure if he was having a panic attack or not, but he definitely was freaking out. I hope he was able to hold on to a kayak for awhile so he could calm down and continue!

  2. It was great to see you today. I am so glad you enjoyed the race. I think you did awesome in the swim. It isn't easy to calm back down in open water. Congratulations on a great performance!

    1. Thank you!! So glad to see you this morning, too! Have fun at Calloway Gardens!

  3. You are amazing. I really like how you detail what was going through your mind and so many small things that many wouldn't think to post. I am sure it will help others as they gain experience.

  4. Congratulations on your finish!