Escape the Cape was technically my first triathlon, since the swim had been cut for my wave during the New England Season Opener. I felt that I had a satisfactory grasp of where I had to go and what I should be wearing, and I entered this race with a lot more confidence.
The swim, I had been assured, was almost nothing. This was sort of like the time in third grade when a hair dresser accidentally gave me a floppy afro and everyone said it looked fine. Apprehension led me to swim extremely conservatively, but this likely backfired, as breathing
every two strokes caused me to continuously veer to the right. I don't feel too bad about my slow time; I used my first swim segment to familiarize myself withf it, much as I had raced the Season Opener carefully to learn what I was doing, and I'm ready to swim hard next time.
T1: I've doing a good deal of cycling and knew I wouldn't do well on the swim, so I was looking forward to the moment when I would dash out of the water and gleefully hop onto my bike. I was, however, rather surprised to find that my whole body had decomposed into jello. I stumbled to the transition area, snapped on my bike shoes, and left in a reasonable amount of time. As I was about to mount my bike, I came to the unpleasant realization that I had left plastic cleat protectors on the bottoms of my shoes. I pulled to the side of the course to pull them off. I didn't lose much time, but I felt a lot dumber.
Bike: I expected this to be my best segment, but I was, frustratingly, unable to average a pace much higher than I would on a long training ride. I was trapped behind slow cars at least four times, but all in all, the bike was... okay.
Run: By this point, I'm used to the odd dead feeling in my legs concomitant with running after biking. Running in a triathlon seems nothing like a straight-up 5k; for me, at least, it seems to involve just moving my legs at whatever pace I can. When I heard race volunteers announce that there were only 400 meters left, however, the cross-country girl in me woke up and decided to kick. This did not work and resulted only in my making weird faces.
The thirteen minutes of swimming felt like at least an hour, and the run also felt protracted; I left the race convinced that my times on each segment may have been nearly equal. When I later compared my times to those who had finished in a similar overall time, I was surprised to find that my bike time had been average, my swim had been a bit slow, and the run was relatively fast. I had thought I was better at cycling than running, but since I'm a new and quickly-improving cyclist, I confused ability with its first derivative.
All in all, it was pretty fun and I'm looking forward to the next race.
Pre-Race: The morning was a series of firsts – my first body-marking, my first transition set up, etc. Basically, I just followed Christina around and did what she did until it was time for the pre-race instructions. I’m sure that wasn’t annoying at all. Down on the beach, I herded myself with the rest of the pink-capped Newbies. In a state of pre-race Newbie shock and disbelief at what we were about to do, we waddled wide-eyed and seal-like in our wetsuits to the start. It was warm enough that we could get in the water pre-race without worrying about getting chilled. The first wave went off, and the Newbies cheered. Two minutes later, we collectively paled – one of the first wave athletes (the Elites) was getting pulled in by a jet ski before reaching the first buoy. It was The Great Newbie Fear: Trouble with the Swim. Then someone told a joke, and collectively the Newbies relaxed and walked to the starting coral.
The Swim: Wonderfully event free, with a few minor collisions and a slight “biff” from a woman doing the backstroke perpendicular to the course (I guess it’s hard to sight). And I passed people, which never happens at the Z-center except with aqua-joggers.
The Bike: T-1 went better than I expected (finding my bike laying on my transition gear notwithstanding). I had a very rocky mount, and then went off, passing people on the left consistently until the “no passing zone.” I then immediately got caught behind a woman cycling 12-14 mph (grrrr). I told myself to consider it a recovery period, since there really wasn’t another option. Out of the “no-passing zone,” I began the “passing-fest” again, until I got behind a truck that was unable to pass a cyclist at 12-14 mph (grrrr). The truck moved left then right, trying to figure out what to do, while a stream of cyclists piled up behind me. I noticed that the passenger window was open, so when the truck moved left again I yelled “Car, we’re passing on the right” and I lead my stream of cyclists pass the car. Several of them passed me, and then we leap-frogged around each other for the last few miles.
The Run: T-2 was fine, although I somehow managed to switch my legs with anvils when changing shoes. I waddled out of the transition period with a goofy smile on my face – the scary legs were over, but the tough leg was about to begin. I went through the first mile mark in 7 min, and was motivated to push harder. I then when by the second mile mark @ 5:55, and I realized the mile markers were only loosely correlated with the actual mile marks. By then, some of the molten lead in my legs was replaced by oxygen carrying blood cells. I ran to the finish. My first tri. I practically yanked the finisher’s meddle out of the volunteer’s hand.