I may or may not have spent most of the day refreshing the race’s website to see if they have posted official times yet. They have not, which is about the 97th frustrating thing about this event. But! I’m going to have a lot to say about this. I’m going to start with me and the race I ran, and then go on to some pretty major gripes about how the event was organized.
Starting first with things I had control over:
The weather: I don’t have control over the weather, of course, but we spent Friday night scuttling about the house trying to decide what to wear in light of the unexpected cold temperatures. I swapped out a short sleeved tech shirt for a long sleeved one and added a hoodie on top. It’s a cotton blend, but I didn’t really have anything better. I stuck with my knee length shorts but brought sweat pants and figured if it was really bad, I could wear them over my shorts for the bike and/or run. Packed chapstick, water bottle, towel, etc.
So! Race day. Ate a bagel. Put the bikes on the car. Drove to Golden. It was lightly snowing, but the app on my phone assured me the chance of precipitation during the race was low. We racked our bikes and set up in the transition area. I was glad I brought my whole bike bag since it’s pretty waterproof and kept all my stuff dry while I was in the pool.
The swim: I wasn’t paying attention and basically missed the buzzer telling me to jump into the pool and start swimming. I hopped in and was smacked in the face by the cold water, not the nice warm water I’m used to at the rec. It was a bit of a shock. Since I was a few seconds behind, I swam my first length way too fast and basically never caught my breath. It was like all my months of lessons and hours in the pool was for naught as I pretty much flailed ungracefully back and forth until mercifully my eight laps were done. Since I started too fast, my breathing never got into a good rhythm and my form was crap. I should have realized I needed to do a short jog or something to warm up. I know I don’t hit my stride in the pool until I’ve done a few laps. Lesson learned! I have no idea what my swim time was. I’m guessing around 10 minutes.
The bike: Oh, golly. For all my whining about it, it was…not as terrible as I expected. A small adjustment, but they changed the bike loop to be clockwise rather than counter clockwise. This meant that rather than going up the blocks with the steady incline and down the blocks with the sharp decline followed by a tapering off, it was opposite. The downhill was less scary and steep, and the uphill part was more of a short, sharp incline rather than being more long and drawn out.
It’s pretty much the same either way, but this configuration seemed less scary to me. The course was a short ride to a two by two block square loop. Two blocks downhill, two blocks flat-ish, two blocks up hill, two blocks flat. I was too chicken to go too fast downhill since at the bottom I had to turn. I was hesitant to shift too much on the flats because my chain likes to jump off the cogs. And then obviously I didn’t have much speed on the uphills.
Thirteen laps. I kept repeating to myself how many I had done and how many I had left because I was afraid of losing count. Oh, and it kept snowing! It actually seemed to snow harder as the morning went on. Nothing was sticking, but my shorts, wet from the pool, were like ice on my legs.
Not so much with the speed for me, but according to my wrist watch, the bike took me about 40 minutes, which puts me at about a 12 mph pace. not terrible, considering the snow and hills.
The run: I did a good number of bricks at the gym (bike then run) to get my legs used to the transition. I cranked it on high levels on the exercise bike and then hit the treadmill to do my best to simulate those effing hills, but in the actual race, I could not feel my legs for at least the first ten or twelve minutes. I’m continuing to blame my woes on the cold and snow.
The first kilometer was all down hill, and then it was rolling up and down until the very end when it was straight uphill for the last four or five blocks. I walked just a little. Going up that hill, walking was probably not much slower than I could run. I felt okay, I didn’t get a side stitch (yay!) I just felt really slow and heavy. It snowed even harder while I ran and I was just cold and wet and tired and miserable.
The fun part about the run was that it was an out and back, so I tried to give lots of high fives to other friendly looking runners I passed and share some encouragement.
My watch says I finished the run in about forty minutes. I don’t think the run was 3.1 miles, though, I think it was about a quarter mile longer. If it was 3.35 miles (per Manfriend’s garmin), then my pace was juuust under 12 minute miles. Which, again, considering the circumstances, I’m fine with. (If it was to 3.1 miles, then my pace was closer to 13 minute miles, which makes me bummed. I’m slow, but I’m not normally that slow.)
My original goal was 1:30. Once I saw the course a few weeks ago, I adjusted that goal to 1:40. If my estimated times are correct, then my actual swimming and biking and running was about 1:30 total, so assuming I wasn’t a super slow poke in the transition area, I met my goal! We’ll see, if they ever get around to posting the official times online.
Whiiiiich brings me to my long, long, long, list of gripes about how this race was organized.
- The courses were not measured correctly. Pretty basic, right? But as I mentioned, I think the run was about 1/4 mile long, and the bike was 8.1 miles, not 8 miles as it says on the website. I care about this mostly because they are also posting paces along with the times, and it will make me look slower than I am.
- They didn’t have bibs for everyone. Again, isn’t this pretty basic? I guess they said they just didn’t print enough numbers for everyone. Um, what?
- One, I totally wanted my bib as a souvenir of my first tri!
- Their backup plan, of sorts, was that they would track numbers for times based on the number written on your arm or leg. (There weren’t timing chips, which is fine, but it means volunteers had to know your number as you finished each leg to write your time down.) The problem there is that, as I mentioned, it was snowing! I was definitely planning on wearing long sleeves and possibly pants. Meaning my number was invisible. The backup, backup plan was for racers to yell their numbers at volunteers as they passed. Which, again, fine, except I somehow ended up with
bib numbermagic marker number 1. One. Seriously. When I was like, “I’m number one!” I had to then clarify, like, “No, I mean, 1. Not like I’m awesome. (But I am.) But my number, it’s 1. One.”
- Part of the way through registration/check in, they left half sheets of printer paper on the table for people who wanted to write their number on the paper and then pin it on as a makeshift bib. These papers immediately disintegrated in the snow.
- Due to an unexpected quilting bee in another part of the rec center, just before the swim started, they asked people parked across the street to move their cars. Huh?
- No finish line. The finish line (as well as the dismount line for the transition area, and all of the turns for the run) were scratched out on the ground in sidewalk chalk. Okay. Except, again, it was snowing, so all of the marks, including the finish line, were quickly washed away. Runner after runner blew straight past the official finish, only to be yelled at, “You’re DONE.” They were completely Kanye’d out of their finish line moment. (Note: the bucket of chalk sat right next to the finish line. One of the ten people standing there could have re-drawn the line. Ugh.)
- The website showed the wrong course until a few days before the race. It showed the loop was counter clockwise, not clockwise, and that it was 8 loops, when it was really 13.
- Also until a few days before the race, the website indicated the swim would be a snake swim, meaning you swim up and down one lane and then cross into the next lane and so forth. When I was told by the girl at check in that I was the first swimmer in heat two, I about threw up, thinking I was going to be holding up a dozen or so people behind me as I slowly plodded through the lines. At the last minute, it was announced instead that each swimmer would get in, swim 8 laps in her own lane, and then get out. Much better, but again with the last minute changes! And no one told me what lane I was in. A list was taped to the wall in the far corner of the room.
- Oh, how I loathe teenagers. Because they’re bored and too cool. This race, put on by students (since it’s a CSM swim team fundraiser), was run by them. And when I pointed out to the girl who was marking me up that no one would be able to see my number under my shirt and pants, she was just like, “I dunno, they’re just making me do this.” Sweet. You have a great day, too!
One of the signs posted with some random information actually listed people to ask for help by name. Like, “If you have questions, ask Billy or Bob or Joe.” Like any of us knew who that was!
- Not enough room in the transition area. Once room ran out on the bike racks, people just put their bikes down on the grass.
- The course was too crowded on the bike loop. You had cyclists entering it at super high speeds coming downhill, other cyclists turning right to go downhill, and runners going up and down at the same intersection. I’m shocked there were no crashes.
- The transition area was filled with people’s families milling about, getting in the way. Rather than mark the areas with cones or station a volunteer or two there to direct traffic, a lady near the finish line yelled down to them, “STAY OUT OF THE ROAD.” Unpleasant and ineffective.
- Once again, I’d like to point out that they didn’t print enough bibs (how did #1 not get printed?!), the actual distances were off. These are the ones I still can’t get over.
- And, once again, I’ve refreshed their website like nine times while writing this and I still don’t have official times.
In better news:
I signed up for another one. It’s flat. I assume it won’t be snowing. And I’m going to kick ass!