Sunday, July 12, 2009

First Triathlon... completed!

Prairie Rose State Games Triathlon
July 11, 2009
Swim - 1000M
Bike - 12.4 miles
Run - 3.1 miles


The Prairie Rose State Games is a multi-sport festival for amateur athletes in North Dakota. The games encourage participation for all ages and skill levels participating in 28 events. The games take place yearly and alternate between 4 locations; Bismarck, Fargo, Minot, and Grand Forks. This year, it was anticipated to have over 4000 athletes and their families participating in Grand Forks.

The mission of the Prairie Rose State Games is to foster amateur sports competition within the State of North Dakota by providing multi-sport educational programs to promote knowledge of physical fitness and sports, improve sportsman like competition and provide participation opportunity and recognition for amateur athletes and the general public.

The Day Before:

I wasn't doing this race on my own. Jill (a friend of mine whom I have been doing a lot of training with as well) and I, were doing this one together! Her BF was going to be our Tri Sherpa. I don't think he knew what he was getting himself into!
We left Fargo early Friday afternoon, making the 1 hour trip north to Grand Forks. Most of the sports were taking place within Grand Forks, but our triathlon was taking place at the Larimore Park, just 30 miles or so west of Grand Forks. We wanted to get up there early enough to check out the location and mentally prepare ourselves for the race.

When we got to the park, nothing was set up and the person that was working at the time knew little about the race. We were able to look at a couple maps for the bike and run, but still were unsure exactly as to where the swim was going to start and how it was going to look. This caused a bit more anxiety... but not enough to ruin my appetite.

We headed back to Grand Forks and grabbed a bite to eat at one of my favorite pubs, Bonzers. The turkey sandwich and Bud Light Scooner with olives sure hit the spot. Being there brought back many fun college memories!

Afterwards, we headed back to my Aunt's house and ended up watching the replay of Stage 7 of the Tour de France.... climbing through The Pyrenees. Little did we know, watching this was going to be great motivation for the next morning.

I was showered and in bed by 10pm. Surprisingly, it didn't take long for me to fall asleep from the time my head hit the pillow. But, I did wake at 3am and tossed and turned until 445 when my alarm went off.


Alarm went off at 445 and I felt pretty rested. Our plan was to leave the house by 530 and I felt like I was running in circles with getting things ready, not knowing exactly how to use my time wisely. I did choke down a piece of peanut butter toast and half a banana, barely. I drank a glass of water and proceeded to fill my water bottles. I had one bottle with water, and another with G2 watered down. I also took along my nalgene bottle filled to the top with ice and then some water. I didn't want to be short, and you never know what the race is going to provide. Bags were packed and we were ready to hit the road. Remember, it was a 30 minute drive to the location of the race. It was 49 degrees when we left.... brr.

We got there by 615 and were one of the first ones to show up. We checked in, got our body marking done, and I asked for a smiley face on my right calf... kind of a shout out to another great triathlete blogger, Steve!

From there we took the time to set up our transition, arranging and re-arranging.
There were about 50 others participating in this event. We actually got to talking to another lady that looked familiar, and it turned out she is on the swim team with us. Then, it was the waiting game. I was ready to get this show on the road! At 700, a half hour before the race started, I took my Triberry Gu and drank 8oz of water. At 725 they gathered us in and discussed some of the rules. Before we knew it, it's was go time! It had warmed up to about 55 degrees by this time.

The Swim:
1000M - out and back

Prior to this race, I have been participating on the adult swim team for the past 5 weeks. I felt pretty strong in this area, having done drills twice as long as this distance at practice. At 730 exactly, they did a 10 second countdown we were off. The swim was out and back, with two buoys, one as a marker, and the second as the turn-around point. We were swimming directly into the rising sun. We found out later, that many of us started to drift too far to the right, which didn't surprise me at all.

The water temperature was decent. Not much warmer than the outdoor pool temp. But, It didn't take long before I started feeling overwhelmed with the swim; leading quickly into a full-on panic attack. I began to hyperventilate and before I knew it, I had to roll over onto my back. It took everything in me to concentrate on taking deep breaths and getting my breathing back to normal, or somewhat normal. When I did, I couldn't for the life of my swim with my head under the water. I couldn't see 2 inches in front of me, as the water was full of algae and weeds. It was horrible.

Only about 200M in and I was ready to call it quits. It was horrible. But, I had to keep reminding myself to calm down, and just do the swim, even if I had to roll over every so often to catch my breath. About 500M in, I started to feel like I was getting in a grove, but I was still struggling with putting my face completely under water.
My overall time in the water, 31 minutes, was a huge disappointment for me. It was almost 10 minutes longer than I was hoping for. But, quitting would have been a bigger disappointment. I still had the bike and run to do, so I had to focus on that.

(picture taken after triathlon)

(Approximately 2-3 minutes)
I felt that this transition went pretty smooth. Going with the one-piece trisuit was probably the best idea I had for this race. I attempted to use my shammy to dry off as much as possible, but a lot of water from the suit had dripped down my legs, causing my socks to get pretty wet.

The Bike:
12.4 miles

When I got on the bike, I was still pretty shook-up from the swim. I had a hard time getting my balance and getting on my bike. And it didn't help that we had to climb that nasty hill to get out of the park.

The first 10-15 minutes I was just trying to take in a lot of fluids and get my heart rate back down. I am pretty sure I was going only about 10-11mph during this time.

About 20 minutes in, I started to feel more comfortable and was ready to increase my speed. There were a few hills we had to climb, but coming back down them sure helped with my average speed. One hill I noticed I was going 34mph on the way down. Unfortunately, the last hill was super brutal, and it didn't help that this was the same hill we had to run down and back up again as part of the 5K.

However, going down a big hill, I lost my Gu that was taped to my bike. But, Jill was kind enough to share hers with me when we had about a mile left of the bike. It was at this point in the race that I was actually starting to feel hungry, like for real food.

I was pretty pleased with my overall bike time, but was hoping for a little bit faster. Next time!

(Approximately another 2-3 minutes)

The race director was yelling at me to get off my bike before passing a certain line, but that certain line was at the bottom of a very steep hill. Besides the fact that I had to dodge a big truck pulling a boat, I was thankful to be able to get off the bike in one piece. I didn't care what she was yelling. I kicked off my cycling shoes, grabbed my running shoes and visor and was on my way.

The Run:
3.1 miles
34:00 (approximately)
10:58/mile avg.

Once again we had to climb that hill to get out of the park. My legs felt pretty good transitioning from the bike to the run. I stayed with Jill, and we ran most of the way, only walking a couple times. Like I said, there were a couple nasty hills that we had to not only climb up, but go back down.

Our Sherpa, who did a wonderful job taking pictures actually ran the last 1/2 mile or so with us. What a great sport, huh?!

Surprisingly, this felt like my strongest area of the race. I don't know if it had to do with the fact that I was almost finished and ecstatic, or if I was just really ready for it. Best of all, there were no knee issues, what-so-ever!

After thoughts:

I was so happy to be finished when all was said in done. Good thing we packed a banana for after the race because there was no after race fuel to be found! We stuck around for awards. I know that there wasn't that many people participating, but I did end up taking 4th in my age division! Jill took 2nd in hers!

I feel like I did a pretty good job with nutrition before, during, and after the race. I wasn't very sore expect for some minor tightness in my left calf.

During our run, Jill and I decided to sign up for our next triathlon: The Detroit Lakes Sprint Triathlon, August 15, 2009! Only 5 weeks away! Time to get to business and do some better training in the next 5 weeks!


Unknown said...

Great job!! WoooHooo!! You are a TRIATHLETE!!!!!

Your swim experience sounds a lot like my first OW swim. It still freaks me out. I'm glad you hung in there. :-)

Kelly said...

YAYYYYYYY!!!!!! I'm so Happy for you!

I loved reading all about your tri too because I'll be doing mine next week. I'm so nervous about it and I know I am going to panic in the water because it's the ocean, ah! I feel better knowing this happened to you and you got through it. Thanks for sharing your story. I know I will not be as successful with the running as you, cuz my knee issues have sidelined my running training almost completely but I figure unlike swimming, I can always walk!

IronGambit said...

Try The Stick to massage out your calf before hand.

Kelly said...

Oh, one more thing...I am curious about your finishing the triathlon with your friend. I am doing mine with my sister (there will be a lot more people in ours too, I wish mine was small like yours). I know shes a faster swimmer than me. Did you two just stay together regardless of your differing speeds? We may just separate but it would be so nice to be together for the bike and run.

Badgergirl said...

Nice job Teacherwoman!

Michelle said...

Awesome TW!!! I am so very proud of your accomplishment!!!

You are a TRIATHLETE!!!!!

Marci said...

Great report, you did awesome. I love that you signed up for another one right away!

SavvyFitChica said...

You did AWESOME! I'm so pumped to read your report! I'm sorry the swim didn't go as well as you had hoped, but the fact you were able to conquer that mental roadblock early on in the race is really impressive.

Congratulations on your first triathlon! For your first ever, I think you did a kick ass job.

No after-race refueling station??? Yikes, that's no good though!


Anonymous said...

Nicely done. Sounds like you learned alot, especially during the swim with calming yourself down. This will only help in the future.

Jess said...

Congrats! It sounds like you really enjoyed the experience.

Marlene said...

Congratulations, triathlete!!!

You handled some obstacles well and finished strong. You should be proud! And I'd say it's a good sign that you've already decided on the next one. :)

Runner Leana said...

Your first outdoor tri...CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I'm so proud of you! And I love that you signed up for your next one already too. Addicting, eh?

Sorry to hear about the panic attack during the swim. It happens to a lot of us. The best advice I can give is to practice more in open water when you get a chance. It definitely helps a lot. If possible scope out the lake you will be swimming in the day before and do a trial swim. That way you can gain some familiarity with the lake.

Can't wait to hear how the next one goes!

RunToTheFinish said...

DUDE you are a friggin proud are you right now!! Sounds like overall for a first race things really went pretty darn well...glad you had such a great support crew

Skye said...

I just did my first triathlon on the 11th too. And my swim was just like yours - I had so much adrenaline and went off too fast, then I couldn't catch my breath and freaked out. Ah well, next time will be better, right? Congratulations on your first triathlon! I can't wait for my next one either!

Carolina John said...

no after race fuel???? WTH??? that sucks! I always bring my standard recovery stuff anyway, but wow.

you did wonderful! having some strength left for the run is nice.

open water swims are totally different from pool swims. mentally and physically. i don't know if anyone ever gets used to it unless you swim in open water less often than you swim in a pool, and nobody does that unless you live on a lake. it's amazing how many calories you will burn during an open water swim. you HAVE to fuel up tons before the race start, or else you'll run out of gas during the bike. if you ever try an oly (which you should) this gets even more important.

so way to go ms triathlete! you look GREAT in that one piece tri suit. give us some more details would ya? brand, style, fit? I just bought a SUGOi Fuel one piece tri suit on saturday.

Stef0115 said...

Congratulations Stacy, you DID IT. I had no doubt that you would!!

My first tri OW swim was like yours but about 10 times worse. It gets much easier especially if you practice in the OW.

Congrats on 4th place too that is awesome!! Great pics.

Unknown said...

YEA!!!! I had the same thing happen to me in my first open water swim. I had to back stroke for a little bit to keep the anxiety at bay. Glad you stuck with it!! Way to go girl :)

Ashley said...

WAY TO GO!!!!!! I'm going to start to ease back into my training this week. My oly tri is 2 months from TODAY - yikes!!!!

Wes said...

Tri-Stacy! Has a nice ring to it :-) Open water swims, especially during races, will ALWAYS be different than being in the pool. Way to hang in there. It took me almost two years to get comfortable on the swim in triathlons. So proud of you for not giving up. Finish first, speed later!! Congrats again!!

Ms. V. said...

WOW~Great race report! You look fantastic!

Holly said...

Congrats to you! Great work - can't wait to hear about the next one! :)

Anne said...

Look at you -- you triathlete, you. I felt like I was gulping for air on the swim and racing down the hill (ignoring the race official) right with you. Thanks for the great insights. You really made us feel like we were a part of this historic event for you.

Unknown said...

Great job hon! You are an inspiration.

J said...

Great job on the tri and finishing it! I know we have all had those races where it just doesn't go as planned but you did it and you did great!!

jen said...

Congratulations!!! What a great first tri. You did great on the swim- that's pretty long for a sprint distance and you killed it. The bike too- way to go on that big downhill! And a very strong run to top it all off. Excellent job! Can't wait to see how the next one goes for you. :) Great job again and thanks for sharing the report and pics!

Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point said...

GOOD JOB :) :)

N.D. said...

Congratulations you did awesome! great pics

Unknown said...

Awesome job! It seems a lot of people are testing the tri waters lately. I have yet to sign up for my next one but I will be looking for one all week.

Jen's Journey said...

Congratulations!!! Great pics!! That is a long swim for a sprint and you did SO well!! Keep it going strong!!

Best wishes!

Jess said...

WHOOO GIRL! Congrats on an awesome first triathlon! You completely and totally rocked it! Good luck with your next one!

ChillyJ said...

You rocked it on Saturday and I'm so glad we were able to do this! I look forward to the next one and our Sherpa said he can take us to his parents lake home to work on the OW swim! Guess he is taking his role even more serious than we would have expected...he's even getting the GPS out to measure the distance for us!

Mike said...

Fantastic effort! Congratulations :)

Aron said...

congratsssssssssssss girl!!!! you did awesome!!! i LOVE that you decided to sign up for the next one DURING your first one!!!

Danielle J. said...

Go you! You did an awesome race recap and it seriously makes me want to do a tri!

Danielle said...

I feel like I could be a strong enough swimmer, but those crowds scar me, I have a feeling I'd panic too! Congrats!

Unknown said...

I'm totally late in saying congrats, but I'm just now catching up! You did great! And don't sweat the swim... we all panic at one point and the next swim will be 100 times easier! I give you all the credit in the world for sticking with it and rocking a 4th place finish! :)

Anonymous said...

Great job on completing your first tri!! When's the next race???

Scott McMurtrey said...


Looks like so much fun. :)