by Shawn Blaesing-Thompson, Kyle’s Bikes 2014 Triathlon Team
- First time doing Copper Creek
- First race in the 40+ age bracket
- First triathlon after being diagnosed with MS
- First time using my ladies triathlon Bia GPS watch
- First time racing with the Kyle’s Bikes team
It was supposed to be my first time racing on the Kyle’s Bikes Specialized Alias Comp Tri. Saturday night I aired things up, pulled the bike bags off of my road bike, and loaded the Alias into the car. Sunday morning, I was up at 5:15 a.m. to a glorious sunrise and checked the weather. The radar was not looking promising. Storms were coming in so I made the call to switch to the back to the road bike. I am used to riding it and felt more comfortable on it should the rains arrive before I got done with the bike portion of the race. I did a quick check of my gear. I should have checked my list twice.
I had my traditional prerace meal of gluten free toast and almond butter on my drive down to Pleasant Hill. Once I arrived I stopped to pick up my race chip and went to the bike tent before going to claim my spot in transition. I had ridden the MS bike ride the day before and noticed my bike had a squeak but since I didn’t plan to ride that bike again right away, I hadn’t put any lube on it. The guys at the tent fixed me right up.
Then I headed into transition rocking my Kyle’s Bike team tri kit. They had us grouped by wave in transition so I was with all the 40 and over ladies near the swim in/run out area. I got my area set up socks rolled down into my bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses on the aerobars, running shoes/visor/race numbers in the back, a little towel to dry off my feet, and misc gear like sunscreen, my extra water bottle, and a banana.
After I was good with my set up I wandered out to check out the lake, visit the Tri-Racers tent, and then use the porta potty. I made sure I had my chip and watch on, grabbed my cap and goggles and headed out of transition. I ran into my Tri-Racer training buddy and sat and shot the breeze to move time along. I was feeling anxious and excited, and between the 25 mile bike and three hours gardening the day before I was trying to conserve my energy.
Start and Swim
About then one of the race volunteers made an announcement that they were going to move the start up to 7:45 in an attempt to get ahead of the coming storm. After a race brief and a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner we were ready to race. There were five waves and of course I was in the fifth wave.
The beach at Copper Creek is narrow and rocky so the start is actually a treading water start which was new to me, and is also the longest sprint swim course in the area. I was treading water trying to get a handle on my new triathlon Bia GPS watch for ladies. The triathlon settings are still in beta so I had to run each component of the race as a separate event. I spent time in each transition fiddling with it. It kept going to sleep while we were treading water for five minutes waiting for our start buzzer. We got a 15-second countdown, so I got it started and we were off.
I decided pretty early on that this race was going to be for me. I was not going to focus on time, or how fast I could go. I just wanted to finish and feel solid at the end of things. I went into the swim pretty conservative and maintained about an 80% output rate throughout the 750 meter course. I was a competitive swimmer when I was young, so the swim is really my only advantage when racing. I swam through parts of the two heats in front of me and came out towards the front of my heat and felt alright. My only difficulty was foggy goggles as I realized I forgot to pack my antifog but I got through it and managed to sight pretty straight between buoys. I ran up the hill out of the lake and down the sidewalk to transition.
I realized my second hiccup was that I forgot to unvelcro my bike shoes so I sat down, rolled up my socks and pulled the shoes on. After the race I realized I was pretty darn lucky. I had the bike shoes that go with the Specialized and have a different style cleat than the shoes I use with the bike I brought. Fortunately after my jaunt across the transition area, I hopped on the bike and was off despite the mismatched cleat/pedal set. My quads were barking at me right away and I thought I was sunk when we hit the first section of rolling hills. After a couple of miles and a major mental struggle I got into a groove and was rolling at a solid pace. About mile four there is a serious down and up hill and then a flat section before the turn around.
It started to drizzle right after I made the turn around, but it felt nice and wasn’t making the road too slick. I got to the hill and was moving at a pretty good pace however half way up the other side while moving gears on my front ring the chain came off. Fortunately the gear transition was almost complete so I popped the chain back on, waited for traffic to pass, and kicked it in gear up the rest of the hill. I spent some energy trying to overtake all the space I loss with my minutes standing on the hill and around mile 10.5 it really started raining and I was happy to get off the bike by mile 12.
Another slow transition transpired from bike to run related to having to tie my shoes and tinker with my watch. I had forgotten to get some stretch laces early enough to get a trial run in and had to do things old school. I have some laces in the queue and will be ready for a fast shoe transition at my next race. I had the usual spaghetti legs as I made my way around the lake and up onto the hilly run course. I was just focused on trying to keep a steady, albeit slow, pace. The rain was all happening on the other side of the lake so I was feeling the effects of the humidity without the bonus cooling, and as I heated up my feet started their tingling. I walked through all the water stops and drank a cup and wore a cup of water. I ran for a while with several folks and finished the lap around the lake with a fellow doing his first triathlon. I think chatting and running got us both around the lake where my Tri-Racer teammates cheered me on to the finish line.
I was happy to finish my first race with MS and on Kyle’s Team with a glorious ice bath just across the finish line. I wish I had one of those after every steamy run! While this race was tied for my slowest sprint race time I was ok with that. I know I left a lot in the tank, but I am still figuring out my limits and I am good with how things came out. I know where I need to focus my training energy for my next races.
Final outcome, I was 12 of 14 in my new age group. Swim 15:54, T1 2:08, bike 46:59, T2 1:22, run 32:25, final time 1:38:48. I have a lot of room to improve; however, right now my next two races are twice as long. But they are also races I have done in the past. I will spend the next six weeks building my bike miles and working to find the faster run pace I had before the summer heat arrived.
A big thank you goes out to the Kyle's Bikes and Discount Tri Supply team for sponsoring me and getting me out to a new (to me) race.
Shawn races with MS and encourages people to support MS research by fundraising for the MS Society.