A person who doesn’t understand that one sport is hard enough – My First Triathlon

The schedule for the 2015 Rookie Triathlon showed the transition area opening on May 3rd 2015 at 6am and closing at 7:30pm. Our initial thought was that we would leave at 6:30 take 30 minutes  to get there. Instead we left at 5:45, there was no traffic all the way up to Walter E Long Park and then there was a line of 30 cars.

Decker Lake

A photo posted by Russell Sellers (@_rsellers) on

It was 64 degrees and a beautiful morning. The water temperature was in the 70s but wetsuit legal.
I felt great and basically considered this a medium early morning workout. The only thing I was really nervous about was if I was going to get run over in the swim. To mitigate this they only allowed the veteran open start to perform a wave start. All other starts were time trial starts where they stagger each individual by a few seconds. This is suppose to keep people from bunching up and causing the problem I was concerned about.

2015 Rookie Triathlon

A photo posted by Russell Sellers (@_rsellers) on

I was in the Rookie 45-49 wave. I positioned myself in the first 10 or so people with the hope that those in front of me would be the fastest swimmers and those behind slower.  When it was my turn I waited 5 seconds, waded into the water and started swimming. I took about 5 strokes and sighted the first turn buoy and made sure I was on a straight line. I basically kept my head down and kept swimming. I sighted one more time and was on a good line. Then I ran into feet and had to stop swimming. I looked up and there was a wall of more than 5 people. We had reached the first turn buoy and everyone seemed to have just stopped, several had flipped over and were either treading water or doing backstroke. I had to navigate thru or around these people and make the turn.

Once I was thru the blockade things opened up nicely and I was able to swim unimpeded almost to the next turn buoy. When I felt I was getting close to the next turn buoy I sighted and found that although I was generally in good shape I was starting to veer off away from the buoy towards one of the kayaks that quickly paddling back. I readjusted made the turn and completed the swim.

After coming up out of the water I was met by friendly volunteers directing me. The sent me to the wet suit strippers who quickly removed my wetsuit and handed it to me. On the way to T1 I realized two things. I had never put my name in my new wetsuit and my kidneys were telling me they were full.
Half way up the bank my wife was along the course cheering me on. I dropped my wetsuit, goggles, and swim cap at her feet as I jogged by. All I heard was her say as I got further up the hill was “what the” “we didn’t discuss this” and some other woman laughing and saying “Honey I have been there”. I kept going to T1 and took a quick detour at a porta potty to empty my kidneys. So much for T1 time….5 minutes 8 seconds.

2015 Rookie Triathlon Swim Finish

A video posted by Russell Sellers (@_rsellers) on

I got my socks on, shoes on, and helmet on, grabbed my bike and I was off. Unfortunately I started trying to leave T1 the wrong way. A volunteer quickly grabbed me and pointed me to the big sign that said “bike exit”.

We started out on Decker Lake Road. I built up some speed and passed several people fairly early on. We turned onto Decker Ln and that was a bit more challenging. We had varying hills. I don’t maintain power well on hills. I end up downshifting to maintain a comfortable cadence. The ride continued with what were probably light hills but I might call light to moderate. About mid way thru the ride I was riding next to a guy in his 30s on a felt triathlon bike and a girl between 13 and 15 on a road bike. Every time we would get to the top of a hill we would shift and build up speed and pass the young lady, then we would hit a hill to climb and we would downshift and struggle up the hill and the young lady would catch and pass us. It quickly became clear that the man on the triathlon bike was getting frustrated that she could catch and pass us so easily on the hills. 3/4 of the way thru the bike we encountered the turn that I had been warned about. A volunteer was standing in the middle of the downhill with a sign that said slow down and she was yelling slow down turn and hill ahead. So I downshifted to my lowest gear and bled off some speed, I made the turn wide and kept a fair amount of speed then started the uphill. Even with the warning there were two people off there bikes walking at least one had lost their chain.

The last 1/4 of the ride had 2 hills that I passed people that had dismounted their bikes and chose to walk them for one reason or another.

2015 Rookie Triathlon Bike Finish

A video posted by Russell Sellers (@_rsellers) on

T2 went better than T1. I came in the right way. While I was putting my bike up I heard someone calling my name, Lewis from the Bicycle Sports Shop Triathlon club had finished his veterans wave and was cheering me on. I was really surprised and it felt great having someone from the club cheering me on. I put my bike up took my helmet off put my running shoes, hat and number belt on and I was off in 1 minute 36 second.

The run was basically a trail run down a power line right of way, along a fence thru a wooded area  and down along the lake edge to transition. It was reasonably uneventful but had mulch and a few holes that kept me from going at a faster pace.

2015 Rookie Triathlon Run Finish

A video posted by Russell Sellers (@_rsellers) on

I finished my first triathlon! I had a great time.

Things to Improve:
On the swim – I should have had a plan for dealing with the congestion on the swim. I had plans for being run over by people not for being there person running into people.

T1 – was too long, bathroom break didn’t help.

On the bike – I am weak on hills. That needs to improve.

On the run – The trail run gave me pause to run a faster pace.

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