Attempt #4 at a sprint triathlon…

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”

African Proverb

Ok, it wasn’t all that bad, but yet another valuable lesson learned and worth sharing. Be prepared for what can happen. So sprint-tri #4, the TriItNow Summer Super Sprint, was going to be the most taxing for me in the swim as this was going to be a pool setup in 50m lanes at 400 meters total.

Swim 400 meters – Bike 8 miles – Run 2 miles.

Seeing as how comfortable I’ve been getting with the road bike, and seeing how terrible I’ve been at swimming, this was easily setup to me my worst race with the swim being longer than I’ve done/practiced and bike/run both being shorter than my past events.

So leading up to this event I started looking around to see if I could find any Master’s swim classes, so I could start getting tips/drill from people who can see my terrible stroke and help me work on things. Sadly there aren’t any close to my house, but there was one at the GMU Freedom Center which is where the next race was gonna take place. I went and it was less a class, and more a “club” with only 3-4 people there.

Thankfully the main guy that night did help me with a few things I could try, one of the drill being with flippers in which I was still running low on air which even more points to my issues with breathing technique. So I’ve still got a lot to do there, but also got a chance to eye up the upcoming race course, I was all set for being familiar with everything.

Myself aside for a moment I just want to say that I LOVE the atmosphere of triathlons vs. most other races. Of the ones I’ve done so far they’ve all had kids-tris attached and its been great to see and be a part of all the encouragement for kids trying this out but also the srint-tris themselves have a great comradare about them, we’re all giving this a go.

So I finally have setup down pat, this was probably the fewest people in a race I’ve done around 150, but like all races so far saw that I’m not the only one figuring this out, doing what I need. Just ahead of me one of the swimmers went out in butterfly stroke, and thankfully the lanes were wide enough to let folks pass easily. No hardships, just people doing their races.

I definitely felt the difference in switching to a 50m pool as I ran out of breath quicker as I was missing the wall touch/breath coming sooner. but alas I once again switched to backstroke around the 100m mark, but then something new, I was able to switch back into freestyle after catching my breath a few times, something I hadn’t been able to do as of yet in a race so I’m making progress. My past 2 races were 250m and 300m so going up to 400m really was a step up, my avg. per 100m time dropped, but I finished it without dying, so I’m considering it a success 🙂 So then onto my strengths.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve spent the last 15+ years on hybrid-style and mountain bikes predominately riding on natural trails. Riding on trails are everything but smooth, tree roots, rocks, holes in the ground, streams and whatnot, part of the joy and technique in mountain biking is learning to attack the obstacles or get through them without losing your momentum. This is a skill that is pretty ingrained in my riding, and one I now need to learn how to switch off…

Chelle Folts Winslow Photography

I knew I wasn’t the best swimmer so I was determined to go our and up my bike and run and I was starting that way. my quickest 1st transition and I was up there on my bike pace. Specifically I was taking turns fast and tight and making moves to get around folks but this is where it came back to bite me. The area around the GMU Freedom Center is a lot of less used-rural type streets, meaning there is a lot of debris/rocks etc. on the shoulders.

As I was just finishing my first of two laps on the bike I went into a shoulder area to pass someone in a turn and powered through the bumpy rock area on the side of the road and as you likely guessed, popped my rear tire.

I actually own a great tire repair kit complete in a carry bag that goes under the bike seat complete with spare tube… on my mountain bike…

Especially doing these quick sprint 8-11 mile bike rides for these sprint tris and on flat pavement, I just never thought getting a flat was really going to happen. The lesson of course is Murphy’s Law… be prepared because if something can happen, it will. As a mountain biker you expect to hit sharp things or wrong angles, I just hadn’t put 2 and 2 together yet that the tiny road bike tires mean they are that much more sensitive, meaning smaller rocks can do the trick when you hit them at much higher speeds.

Thankfully I got the flat as I was just about to start the 2nd lap so I was close enough to walk the bike in to transition, I let the timers know I was going to go finish the run but to take my time off the board. Everyone was so helpful, some even asked if I needed help changing tire, I just didn’t have the tube to do it; again that great community atmosphere.

Chelle Folts Winslow Photography

So I didn’t really log an official time for the race but I got in some much needed lessons learned and time in the pool. I know I need to keep working to get to a full sprint open water 750m swim but it doesn’t feel totally impossible.

I’ve also learned via the official race photographer that I’m not sure I like a full tri suit, however, it did drive me to this hilarious thread.

I’ll be finishing up my “sprint-tri season” with another event from TriItNow, the 14.06 which is 1/10 of an official Ironman: Swim 425 yards – Bike 11.2 miles – Run 2.6 miles, so my furthest swim distance yet, I have a month to figure out how to do that…