Race Recap: Grand Rapids Sprint Triathlon

Race Recap: Grand Rapids Sprint Triathlon

I’ve only done one other triathlon prior to now, a sprint in 2012. I didn’t have the most amazing experience at that one and I think it made me shy away from the sport a bit. But, I’m back in the triathlon game after completing the sprint course at the Grand Rapids Triathlon. I went into it completely undertrained and absolutely petrified, but ready to rock and roll.

The night before, I loaded my bike in my car, set out all my gear (and almost forgot my goggles, which I thankfully remembered around midnight!), and threw on my tri kit (a shorts/top combo meant to be worn from one leg to the next) to make sure it still fit. The night before was probably not the best time for that, but in reality I wasn’t going to buy a new one if it was too tight, so I would have needed a Plan B no matter when I tried it on.

My wetsuit, on the other hand, was too tight but the water was warm enough I didn’t need it for warmth. The buoyancy would have been nice, but I knew I’d survive. As fitting for the times, I sent out a snap that I was ready to go! (Are you on snapchat, too? I’m grmindyjean over there, as on most platforms.)

pre triathlon

I didn’t sleep well, but I rarely do the night before a race, and was out the door by 6am. I had a bagel with a little cream cheese for breakfast and munched on some chocolate covered espresso beans during the drive for an energy boost. There was a pre-race swim that morning, but I didn’t feel like warming up well over an hour before my wave started would really benefit me, so I skipped out. I knew that a little extra sleep and one less thing to worry about that morning would be more beneficial than using precious energy in the water, at least for this year.

It was a bit of a hike from where I parked to the transition area, but the beauty of a triathlon is that I just hopped on my bike and rode, rather than having to walk! Easy peasy! I set up my transition area pretty quickly since I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit, which left me with time to kill. I chatted with a few friends, made a bathroom stop, and ventured over to the swim start. My wave started promptly at 7:55am!

Swim (600 meters or 0.37 miles).
This will probably always be my weakest link, and considering it was the first time I had swam at all this year, I knew it would be rough. I didn’t plan on not getting in the pool, but life just got in the way. I pretty quickly found a good rhythm and was feeling decent. There was the to-be-expected kicking and jostling of swimmers moving around me, and I around them. (Okay, much less of that part. They were all passing me.)

At one point, I turned my head to take a breath and got kicked right in that moment, resulting in swallowing a bunch of water and throwing off my stroke, breathing, all of it. That led me to a very negative headspace, which was even more troublesome. I did eventually feel okay and was able to come out of the water feeling pretty solid. A friend said I looked strong, which I suppose is telling! (Swim time:  00:21:53)

Transition one (swim to bike).
With it being my first triathlon not only of this year, but in a few years, my only goal was to finish which left the transitions as a good chance for a mental reset before moving to the next event. I was thankful for a chance to catch my breath for a moment before moving on! I knew I was moving slower than I probably needed to, but also didn’t really care. (Transition time:  00:05:56)

Bike (20 kilometers or 12.4 miles.)
Considering the race is in a hillier part of town, the sprint bike course was relatively flat which allowed me the opportunity to make up a little time. The difference between having a road bike and a hybrid, which is what I rode for my last triathlon, makes a world of difference. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, with lots of rolling country fields. I worked to keep up a good pace and really work, but more than anything, I just felt happy and good. By the end, I felt tired but still strong the majority of the time! (Bike time:  00:51:11)

Transition two (bike to run).
Two down, one to go! My only line of thinking at this point was:  “You’re in the home stretch. Just go run. You love to run! This is your favorite part!” Once again, I took my sweet time here. (Transition time:  00:04:27)

Run (5 kilometers or 3.1 miles).
That water I swallowed during the swim came back to haunt me during the run! I didn’t think anything of it on the bike because there’s not the full body movement like there is on the run. I felt like I had a brick in my belly almost immediately. I’ll leave the details to the imagination, but I eventually remedied the issue and after that point, I felt considerably better! I walked more than I expected, but remember thinking at several moments how quickly the miles were passing.

This part of the course was largely through a residential area and there were several houses where kids were out giving high fives and cheering, which is the ultimate energy booster! I was so happy once I could see the finish line and had just enough left in me to finish strong and with a smile on my face. You really can’t ask for more than that! (Run time:  00:38:35)

grand rapids triathlon finisher medal

Final results.
Time:  02:02:05 – Overall:  511/542 – Gender:  223/244 – Category (Female, 30-34):  28/29

Overall, I felt very pleased considering my considerable lack of training. I came in only a couple minutes slower than my goal for each leg. Although I missed my goal, I was proud to cross the finish line.

Had I done a better job of training, I could have done so much better. I truly had the best of intentions, I really did. Somehow June snuck up on me and I hadn’t put in anywhere near the effort I needed to. My brain still thinks it’s somewhere around early April! Knowing I wasn’t prepared, my real goals were simply to finish and have fun, both of which I accomplished!

I felt a lot better about the whole experience than I did after my first triathlon. The dangerous Tri Bug, very similar to the Marathon Bug, bit me. I’m rushing into nothing, as I want to see how these first few weeks of marathon training go before committing. I do plan to spend time in the pool and on my bike for my cross training, just in case.

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