Triathlon Review

I finished my first official tri season with Suncoast at Ft. Desoto this past weekend.

I did a wee bit more training this go around incorporating bricks into the scene a little more often than I did for my last race – taking a spin class and then hopping on the ole ‘mill for 2 miles the week of your race doesn’t really cut it in terms of ‘brick’ workouts.    I felt decent at Top Gun, and I knew I had lots of room to improve.  I was excited (and nervous) for my next race.

I had what I thought was a decent training plan going into Suncoast.  My swim game is easily there.  My bike game needs improvement, but I have a bike now and can work on that.  And my run game has been improving with each long run.  I was confident and ready for Suncoast.

I arrived at Ft. Desoto annoyingly early (on time is late in my book), and got my things set up in transition.  The transition area was very well lit in some areas, but our bike rack was neglected on the light front.  I survived without getting attacked by bears and then came the long waiting game.

It was nice that I was in the second heat set to leave at 7:03 am, but it was apparent the race directors forgot to take into account that the sun doesn’t rise till way past 7 this time of year.  It was the waning of a full moon and a crisp fall Florida morning…. perfect it I was bundled up in my fleece sipping some hot chocolate.

Instead I sat freezing on the wet sand and decided waiting is the worst part of triathlons.  Waiting on a beautiful beach that you can’t really see because it is dark out, about to pee in your pants you’re so nervous, thinking you could go in the water and relieve yourself, but it is too cold and that sounds like a horrible idea, so you will just sit in a ball on the sand and wait some more. I tried to talk to the girl next to me, but she wasn’t really having it.  So I just waited and waited. Later I learned I could have been getting a free massage all this time.  (more on that later).

After what seemed like forever (close to 2 hours), the collegiate teams were doing their cheers (UF first, then USF, then UCF, and then Florida State) and off they went.  I jumped to the start of the swim line and before we knew it they were counting down from 10, and here I was just cleaning out my goggles.  My swim coach always laughs at the swimmers because we are so late to get our goggles on.  He’ll put his on 3 minutes before the race and doesn’t take them off until his swim is over.

3, 2, 1….GO!

The swim start was shallow with a sandbar half way to the first buoy so there was a bit of running, diving, jumping at the start of the swim.  Before I knew it I was rounding the corner of the first buoy.  I was able to settle into a good rhythm.  The water was very calm and a perfect 74 degrees (wet suit legal, but I don’t own one, nor was it that cold for me to need one, nor am I about to attempt taking one off for the first time at this tri, nor am I in desperate need to swim faster).

It was a perfect swim.  I could have maybe given it a little more, but I didn’t want to risk giving too much and suffering later.  I’m still learning my way with this whole tri business, so I saved a little something.  I was on the heels of the only white capped girl I could see ahead of me I was able to keep my head down and just nail it out.  As we rounded that last buoy, I was thinking, “that’s it.  the swim is over.” I wanted to keep going and going.

I was second out of the water in my age group.  The splits say girl #1 was 27 seconds ahead of me, but she was literally 5 steps in front of me as we crossed the chip thingy.  My pride would have liked it better if I was first out of the water. Whatever.  She was also wearing a wet suit.  She also got won our whole age group.  She is a damn good athlete.  She deserved to be first out of the water.

On to T1…

I know I don’t win a medal for coming out of the water second, but as I’m running to transition, I like to pretend that everyone handing me water or cheering me on is thinking, “there goes #2″.  And because of this false sense of reality, I’m hereby declaring a goal for next year.  I will get on that podium damnit. Whether I have to get on a relay or run a small local race, I want a medal or a plaque… and not just a finishers medal!  And placing top 3 in an open water swim race doesn’t count, unless I get to physically stand on a podium and I get something other than this crappy paper certificate.

Swim Certificate

As I’m running on the pavement to my bike rack (which I passed by the way and then had to circle back around), all I can think of, is “damn, this pavement hurts the bottom of my feet.”  I’m a wuss.  What can I say?

I clean my feet with the gallon water bottle, I stand on a towel to dry them off, I put on socks and my cycling shoes, put my helmet on, grab my bike and try not to take down the rest on the rack, and I slowly make my way to the bike mount.  It was my first race wearing cycling shoes, and I’ve busted ass while just standing in cycling shoes before, so I was very nervous about running in them.  I made it just fine through transition, and now it was time to climb on the bike.

I was also nervous about getting on the bike and clipping into my pedals quickly.  There was the back end of the collegiate athletes from the first heat next to me, and I just kept telling myself I can clip in, I will clip in, I can, I will.  Within a few seconds, my cycling shoes were attached to my pedals and I was off.

A windy bike.

As I set off on the bike, I was thinking, damn this is hard.  My friend / boss / co-worker Ed gave me some advice before the race to tape a paper with my splits from a PR to my handle bars.


As I’m chugging along, I’m doing the math, and thinking, um… I don’t know if I’m going to PR.  To my defense my PR is from a race with a slightly shorter swim, but even with that, I wasn’t making good time on the bike.


Right when I was about to loop back around and get on the good side of this wind, I looked up.  I saw a slightly sunnier version of  the Sunshine Skyway Bridge picture below, and I was reminded how happy I was to be sweating, sprinting, and hurting that early in the morning!

My bike monitor showed my speed easily change from 16 mph to 21 mph.  I knew I had major time to make up if I wanted to PR.  The wind storm wasn’t over as we looped back around again for 3 more miles into T2.  I was happy to be done with the bike and have gotten my feet out of my pedals without taking anyone out.


Again, I took it easy on my run in with my bike as I didn’t want to fall in my cycling shoes.  I missed my bike rack again, so yeah, that was lame.  I got my bike racked, shoes and helmet off, running shoes on, and Garmin in hand.

A Sandy Run…

My running buddies know that I’m not big on beach runs, mainly because I don’t like to get sand in my shoes, but also for the obvious reason that it sucks big time running in loose sand.

I had no one to bitch and moan to here, so I had to suck it up and run the first mile in very loose sand.  So loose when I set off all I could think of was that I needed to have tied my shoes tighter because my ankles were rolling around.

It was nice to have my Garmin on so I could see my pace, which was much faster that I thought I could churn out at the end here.  I was looking at 8:30ish on my watch, and I decided to take it back a bit knowing that I wanted to finish strong.  I bumped my pace up to just under 9 minute miles,and I tried to get into a rhythm.  Maybe I could have kept up an 8:30 pace.  I’ll strive for a faster run at my next race.

Instead, I just kept looking at my watch counting down to the finish line.  In what seemed like eternity, the finish line was in sight, and I had enough in me to finish the race strong.


Final Time 1:15:32

Age 25-29th
13th out of 43
301/804 overall

SWIM        9:07          2nd / 43
T1              2:43
BIKE          35:06        12th / 43
T2               1:10
RUN           27:27      14th / 43

I technically didn’t PR for a sprint triathlon, but this sprint was longer than my PR sprint, so in that case, I’m going to call this an automatic PR for this distance of a sprint tri.  Each leg, besides the windy bike, was faster,  and I raced Suncoast harder and stronger.

Overall, I’m pleased.

And about that waiting game, I found out I could have gotten a free pre-race massage!  I just remember when I was a swimmer my mom took me and a friend to get a massage the week before our state swim meet when we like 12. My coach yelled at us so bad, that I never thought a pre-race massage was a good idea.

As I was enjoying my post race massage (and free exfoliant treatment) the massage lady told me it was a good idea to get a massage pre-race to loosen up the muscles.  What are your thoughts on a pre-race massage? By pre-race, I mean the morning of.

Now that I’ve written my “Review of Suncoast 2010” novel, I’m off to run, or swim, or bike.  I have a podium to get ready for.

(Actually, I’m off to eat Mexican food for a friend’s birthday!)

Eat well.  Live Well.


Be well,



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7 responses to “Triathlon Review

  1. Ed

    Carolyn…great recap. Awesome effort. Your swim time is very competitive. As you focus on next year, pick either the bike or the run to really focus on improving. If you improve your swim by 10%, it will buy you a minute. If you improve your bike or run by 10%, you get 2:30 to 3:00 back. Well done!

  2. congrats!!!! That is one of the neatest locations i’ve seen for a tri.

    hope the mexican food was yummy 🙂

  3. Amazing… I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like to do a triathlon- and I don’t intend to find out! Congrats on not only making it through, but doing pretty darned awesome!

  4. You are amazing! Congrats! You did a great job and should be very proud of yourself.

  5. Pingback: A look back at 2010 « Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.

  6. Again, I know I am waaay late but I can’t resist answering your questions. Massages arn’t so bad, but keep in mind that stretching a cold muscle is stretching a cold muscle so make sure your massage guy knows that prior to beginning. Nowadays, I prefer to 15-20 minutes of yoga stretching prior to getting into my wetsuit. Plus, it gets my breathing paced and my mental focus turned on. Try it!

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