On June 11, 2017 was my second year competing in the Grand Rapids Triathlon. This race has special importance to me as it was the first triathlon I competed in ever. I had the best experience last year, and this year was no different!
There were a few changes. Changes on my behalf, and changes on the behalf of the race itself. I had a “new to me” bike this year. An actual road bike. So no more of my heavy duty mountain bike with road tires. Of course, still not as fancy schmancy as many of the other people on course, but whatever. I was there to better myself from last year, not to make it to the podium!
I also was able to compete in my new wetsuit. Last year I had rented a sleeveless full length suit that was a cardio workout in itself to actually get on. This year was a softer neoprene “shorty” wetsuit. Stopped at above the knees and short sleeves.
As per my usualness, I arrived super early. My wave (the Athena Sprint Distance wave) was not to hit the water until 7:45am, but transition opened up at 5:15am, so that was my goal. Get there early so as to get the prime spot at the end of the bike rack. And, that is what I got!
Now, differences with the race itself. Transition was super long! I heard one participant say, “at least our legs will stay warm with the 17 miles we need to run our bikes out of transition on”. Obviously transition was not that long. But the “Sprint Nationals” section was quite a ways farther back this year than last year. The other downside was that the transition isle was not very wide. So, if I was riding out, and someone else was riding in, one of us would have to step aside to let the other through. Again, not really my concern as I knew I was not going to make any sort of miraculous time, but, other are definitely more serious.
That all being said……the race was still fabulous and went very much better this year for me than it did last year.
Last year I did not properly fuel myself prior to race start. I had no real understanding of what to do in the case of a triathlon, so I went along with what I would have consumed prior to a running race. That was a mistake. I came out of the water, weak and dizzy. I needed to sit down in T1 and eat as I was nervous about the bike portion. This year I made sure to eat much more properly, and in small amounts right up until the time to get into the coral with my wave. I exited the swim course feeling on point with no real issues at all.
In transition, I had already prepared my bike with approximately 5 fuel gels. As I got my shoes on I consumed ½ a fuel gel then got onto the bike course. Now, lesson learned this year…..In an effort to save time in T2, I put my visor on under my bike helmet. Unfortunately this made my helmet not sit very properly on my head by the time I got to the mount line. O I needed to take time to adjust this. Also, while on the bike course, I needed to pull my head back farther to be able to see ahead of me properly, so that created some neck discomfort.
The bike portion was definitely much easier this year with the lighter bike. As I was not really yet comfortable with reaching down to grab a water bottle, I wore a Camelback with a reservoir and was able to easily put the tube in my mouth to attain my hydration. By the time the bike course was done I had not needed to consume any of my nutrition and still felt really good. Also, the biggest difference from last year to this year was the fact that my tailbone did not hurt NEARLY as much as last year.
T2 was a quicker transition than T1. I consumed the last half of the fuel gel from T1 and headed out to the run. However, running was not what was going to happen. My legs were shot! By now the sun was really out and the temperature was increasing to match the high humidity. I walked the first have of the run until my legs felt more able to start running. It was not fast at all. And my run time from last year to this year was slower overall, but, in the end I simply felt better.
Looking at this year in compared to last year, my times were generally better, I felt very much better and once I crossed the finish line I did not need to go to the med tent due to hip cramps.
So once again, the Grand Rapids Triathlon has fed positivity into my thoughts about triathlon competing and have continued to assist me in wanting to do more and more!