Guest Post: Sunfish Triathlon

Hi friends! Sam here. I’ve got a special post to share today. Daniel wrote a recap of his race last weekend. He is such a good blogger hubby. His race went so well and his recap is awesome! As per usual, my comments are in pink, he is in navy and any pictures that have been included are courtesy of yours truly. Enjoy!  

I claim this as my first real triathlon, although it is technically my second. Right after college I borrowed a bike from my dad, which was way too big for me, and did a beginner triathlon called Alabama Coastal Tri-it on Triathlon. That race was a 300 yard swim, a 9 mile bike and a 2 mile run, so it was very short and not even long enough to be classified as a sprint (therefore I don’t think it really counts).

Side note: When Daniel and I first met, he had just completed that first race. I know this because he had some pictures from the race (remember when we had actual photos that you could put your hands on … I’m giving myself anxiety just thinking about all of those fingerprints … but really the point is just that it was hard-copy, old school photographs). He brought the photos over one day and asked me to scan them for him. I was happy to do that, BUT there were pictures of him with another girl in there! This was before we were dating and I remember thinking … of course … he has a girlfriend. Boo.

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It turned out that he wasn’t dating this girl and he and I were engaged about 2 months later (LOL … but really … true story)!

Fast forward 8 years and (due to some hip/labral issues) I have decided to give it another tri/try (see what I did there). I signed up for Augusta Half-Ironman in September of this year. I purchased a bike (that actually fits me) and started riding and trying to become at least an average biker. After about 2-3 months of riding (usually 3 times per week) and swimming a total of 3 times, my friend suggested I do Sunfish as a tune up race and to get used to the transitions and overall feel of the triathlon. Sunfish was a fairly inexpensive race and it was close enough to home that we could make a short trip out of it, so I figured why not?

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I booked an inexpensive (read: CHEAP) motel for Friday night near the race. The main reason for staying at this place besides the cheap rate was that it was pet friendly and we decided that we wanted to take Brooks with us. After my check in took over 20 minutes and the front desk informed me they gave away my non-smoking room that I reserved (why is that such a difficult concept) a week prior. At that point, I knew we were in for an experience. We drove around to the back side of the dimly lit parking lot to find several ominous characters sitting in lawn chairs outside of their rooms. The occupants that weren’t outside all peeked out of their doors or windows to size up the new arrival.

Sam, Brooks, and I all unpacked our stuff and tried to settle into the room for some rest. Brooks would not sit anywhere on the floor (I like to think because it was so smelly and dirty, but maybe not, who knows). I think this room was used as a smokers’ lounge before we got there because it smelled terrible and was very dirty. There were lots of loiterers outside of our room and I was worried all night whether I should pack us up and go somewhere else, but Sam was being a good sport about it so I tried to convince myself that it was probably alright for one night. Sam and I shared a pizza and laid down a little after 10 p.m.

We were up in the 4 o’clock hour and were packed up and ready to go by 5 a.m. the next morning. We got to Bonita Lakes Park (which was really pretty) and started setting up my transition area.

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Being a newb, I brought all of my transition things in a 5 gallon bucket. I thought this would stand out in a crowd and be easier to find once I got out of the water.

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After getting marked and getting all of my transition things set up like I wanted, we talked with some friends before it was time for me to line up. Each person started individually based on when you registered so I was 178 out of 200 (ish) racers. The race was a sprint triathlon and was a 1/3 mile swim, a 16 mile bike, and a 5k run.

I scribbled some goals for each part of the race based on some of my training beforehand. I planned on 10:40-12:00 for the swim, 53:00 for the bike (18-19 mph) and 19:30 for the run (with 45 seconds per transition).

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I ended up starting the swim closer to the 150s because the line got a little out-of-order. This was my first time swimming in a tri suit and a swim cap, but I felt really strong. I knew I wanted to make sighting a point of focus and try to swim as straight as possible. I knew this was a weak area and I didn’t want to swim any extra. After I picked my swim line I was a straight arrow to the first buoy. I had already passed several people and was feeling pretty good about things. I made the turn with the buoy actually touching my right shoulder. After going straight to the next one, I made another right and turned for home. Another guy who I had recently passed pulled back up beside me and we pushed each other into the first transition. My swim time was 9:45.

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After a few slips trying to hurriedly get my socks on, I was ready to mount the bike and get rolling. T1 was 1:03.

The bike course was an 8 mile out and back route that was much hillier than I expected (i.e., between 750-800 ft of climb in 16 miles). I looked at my speedometer as I approached the first hill to see what kind of pace I was hitting and was surprised to see 22 mph! I felt really good and really dug in on the hills. The first hill was close to a mile long and I think I passed 40 ish other riders. I knew I didn’t want to overdo it on the ride but I just felt so good that it was hard to pull back. Drafting is not allowed in this race, but I ended up leap frogging with 2 other guys and we zipped by huge strings of riders. At the turn around I had been passed by 2 riders. I felt like if I could just keep them close, then I could catch them once we got to the run. One of the guys got a flat shortly after passing me so I got back ahead of him and I kept the other guy right in my sight the rest of the ride back. My bike time was 47:40 (20.8 mph).

In what seemed like no time I was back to the transition and heading out for the run. I had some trouble re-racking my bike which cost me a few seconds but this one was smoother than the first. T2 was 48 seconds.

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I felt like I had overdone it on the bike because my legs were HEAVY when I started running. I tried to just keep pushing. This was my first time racing a true time trial and I found it difficult to keep the pace I wanted. It’s also hard to find that next gear when you don’t have any clue where you actually stand against the other participants (people had started at all different times and the bib numbers didn’t necessarily correlate with when they started at this point in the race). My mile splits were 6:25, 6:39, 6:46, and 40 seconds for the last tenth. My run time was 20:35.

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I ended up being really happy with the swim and bike and really the overall time too. My goal was 1:26 and I did 1:19:49 for 19th overall. This was a great race and I’m really looking forward to Augusta even more now. I will definitely be back to this race as well.

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P.S. I’m really impressed if you read this far. Let me know some of your beginner/newbie race experiences.

He’s impressed if you are still reading, but I’m going to make it a little longer and share a funny story from the finish line (I should write a race recap about spectating and triathlon with a 110+ pound puppy who loves water … it was interesting to say the least). During the race Brooks made friends with another dog, Red, who was a beagle/mastiff mix (he was precious!). What we didn’t know until later was that Red was helping his daddy propose to his soon-to-be mommy at the finish line.

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She said yes and it was pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever seen (except for maybe that first picture that I included of Daniel circa 2009 :))! Love it.

Okay, folks … tell Daniel what a rockstar he is!

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