Salem Spring Triathlon (Sprint Distance)

 I was able to interview Joel Hinckley, one of the race directors for this event a while back for Pace Per Mile. In the interview we talked about the entire Race Tri 2012 season. To the listen to the interview click here , it is dated April 17th, 2012. After talking with Joel I was pretty excited to participate in the race. This was a special event for me because around this time last year was when I discovered the wide world of triathlons and joined the Team Blonde Runner (TBR) Triathlon Team. It was exciting for me to see how far I’ve come in one year’s time.
The night before the race I was nervous as always and had a hard time falling asleep. I think I ended up getting to bed at around 11:30 PM. The entire night I tossed and turned. My alarm went off at 4:50 AM and I started getting ready. I had three other TBR team mates that did this race too. Julia met me at my house at 5:40 AM and we headed down to Sandy to meet up with Logan and Chris to carpool the rest of the way to Salem UT. We managed to fit four adults, four gear bags and four bikes all into a mid-sized four door car. Driving down with friends made the trip so much more enjoyable.

All of our bikes on Chris' car

We arrived in Salem at around 7:30 AM. We headed over the transition area to try and get a decent spot.  The transition area was huge. Race Tri puts on great events and in turn it attracts a lot of high caliber athletes. There were just over a dozen male and female pro/elite racers and over 300 age group participants. I was introduced to B.J. Christenson (pro triathlete and 1st overall male for the race) and I also met James Lawrence aka “Iron Cowboy”. James is attempting to break an Ironman World Record by completing 30 full Ironmans in one year!

After dropping my gear off in transition I went and picked up my packet, timing chip and got body marked. The MC did a race briefing at 8:30 AM and rabbit (person they send out early to see who can catch him) went out at 8:45 AM. It was about this time all of us walked to the swim start area and started putting on our wetsuits.

My new bike in the transition area

Myself, Julia, Logan and Chris walking over to the swim start

The swim was in Salem Pond and was not the cleanest water I’ve swam in but definitely not the worst either. The last couple of races I’ve done have been ones I’ve crossed off my bucket list and this one was no exception – my first open water tri. There were 4-5 waves of men that went into the water before the last wave of all females went out at 9:12 AM. I heard the bullhorn and was off. I made it to the first buoy without any incident and was feeling ok. I peeked my head above the water and noticed almost everyone around me was either side swimming or on their backs…. so I flipped on my back. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking! I started getting angry at myself for doing that so I flipped back on my front.  The swim seemed to take forever. Swimming is for sure my weakest part of triathlons and with the 800 meter swim my weakness was glaringly obvious. I made it to the boat ramp area that was the exit out of the water and ran .20 mile to the transition area. My swim time (swim time + run to transition) ended being 18:47… ugh… I was going to have to make up a TON of time up on the bike and run if I was going to place in the top three in my age group. I was so clumsy in transition. I was stumbling and couldn’t think straight. My T1 time was 1:49 (2rd fastest in my age group).

I headed out on the bike and almost immediately hit an uphill. I was so glad my coach warned me about this because I was ready to change gears quickly. I passed about three people who were not able to gear quickly enough and was walking their bikes up the hill. I kept looking down at my watch and was disappointed with the speed I was going. I purchased a 2012 Shiv Comp Rival the week before and I was nervous about racing on a new bike. I noticed during the previous week that the positioning of being in aero on a tri bike is much different from how I had my clip on aero bars on my road bike. I was screaming at my body to move faster! I felt so sluggish and worn out already. I started to think pessimistically, which made things worse. The bike course was a two loop 6 mile course. I ended up passing a lot of people on the bike both male and female.  I finished to bike portion and looked down at my watch – 40:44. I was so disappointed in myself. I later came to find out that my bike time really wasn’t all that bad considering the course. It ended up being the 3rd fastest bike time in my age group. Once again I felt clumsy and uncoordinated in transition. My T2 time was 1:25 (3rd fastest in my age group).

Me on the 2nd loop of the bike route

I ran out of transition and started the run. I felt awful. The course had a few good rolling hills and they were kicking my butt. At about mile 1 a woman in the 30-34 age group named Susie started running next to me. We ended up pacing each other for the rest of race. I love it when this happens.  We chatted here and there about our families and triathlons. It really took my mind off how I wasn’t feeling well. We passed about 5-6 women in my age group and a couple in her age group. We hit a downhill with .75 miles to go. Hooray! Thank goodness! I picked up my pace to around 7-7:15 min/mile and tried to hold it as I could see the finish line on the other side of the pond. I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. I completed the run in 24:27 (3rd fastest run in my age group, 2nd did it 1 second faster ha!). My final time was 1:27:29. I wasn’t very pleased. I’d set my goal to be around 1:20:00 and I realized later how unrealistic that was for me with how difficult the course was. I looked at the posted times and I placed 5th in my age group out of 22. I finished 24th out of 88 women. With the times I got on my bike/run/T1&2 times I was set to get 2nd or 3rd place but my swim time killed my chances of placing. I was so happy for my team mates who placed though! Chris and Logan both ended up getting 3rd in their age groups and Julia was able to cut a significant amount of time off her last open water tri time.

That night I was ridiculously tired and the next morning I woke up with a bad headache and a very sore neck. I attributed this to the race but by the end of the day my throat was sore and I had a runny nose. Looks like I was coming down with something on race day. That made me feel better as to why I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to. I know I can’t feel 100% for every single race I do and I need to learn how to suck it up and do my best when I’m not 100%. Overall this race was really well organized. I have no complaints about the race itself at all. It was really fun to see and meet and couple of the big hitters of the Utah tri scene.  I am very glad I was able to get this experience under my belt to help me improve for my upcoming open water triathlons.

Logan, Me, Julia and Chris after the race

I applied SPF 75 waterproof sunblock before the race. Looks more like I put on suntan lotion, right?


What part of  triathlons is the hardest for you? (swim, bike, run or transitions?)

Did you do a race this weekend? If so, how did you do?

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