Florida Challenge Super Sprint Tri-Race Report
My name is Matt. I am 347 lbs and I competed in the above mentioned Triathlon a few weeks ago. I ran my first triathlon back in 2004 in Missouri before my family and I moved to Florida. At that time I was at 295 lbs. And it was hard.... but not as hard as I thought.
I've always heard that it is important to write race reports as you progress in Triathlon. Well here it is.
I recently decided to get back into exercise as an everyday habit. I have been off and on for the past few years. And my weight has fluctuated. I have been up to 375 and down to 318 since 2004. I seem to stay focused for about 6 months and then I get bored and "reward" myself by not working out and eating poorly.
So with that in mind, I decided to sign up for this Tri as a good warm up for progressing into longer races. It is very short 1/8 mile swim, 8 mile bike, 2 mile run. Certainly a nice little brick workout for most inshape athletes, but not for me I was determined to just finish. Oh and my wife Summer decided to do the race with me. She has finished a marathon before in 2008 and is in pretty good shape. She said she would smoke me. She was right!
We arranged baby-sitting for our three kids. We live about 30 minutes from the race so we didn't want to drag them out of bed to watch us. In retrospect, I wish we included them since they are 7,6, and 2 and would have had a good time. Anyway we got there at dark before the sunrise and struggled to find the start and registration and packet pick-up but followed the stragglers. We got our schwag and headed to the transition after being body marked. First thing I noticed was we got nice stuff! A water bottle, t-shirt, and other goodies. A nice unexpecteed perk. We took our bikes to the Transition area and picked out a spot. Not a lot of people at the race probably around 75 or so. As were getting ready, a huge buff, in-shape guy in a tri-suit asks me if I could show him how to shift the gears on his bike?! I'm thinking what? You don't how to shift your bike and thought that you'd wait and then ask the fat guy at Transition? Plus this guy looked like he was doing an Ironman. Not an ounce of body fat on him, all brand name Tri gear,and he hasn't a clue. Luckily I was familiar with his shifters, shimano type with the big lever and the small lever on the side. I showed him and he seemed satisfied.
Pretty soon the race announcer (they were playing Sirius before that on the loudspeakers) let us know to make our way to the swim. The swim was to be a 200 yard square around two buoys in Lake Minneola. At the start there is a nice little beach with restrooms and benches. Summer and I went in the water and checked it out. It was really warm! I think, Amoebas! Now the chances of getting a fresh water Amoeba go up your nose into your brain is similar to being struck by lightning if not higher, but hey you still worry about it right? A few people around Orlando died recently from them. Well I was worried. I swam in the water to warm up going halfway out to the buoy. There was no visibility at all just gross lake/pond water. I had not done an open water swim before. Honestly this was not a real open water swim in my opinion. No chop no harsh weather conditions (except for Amoebas!) and not a huge crowd. Just grossness. Plus they wanted us to line up and swim time trial style. The race staff forgot the mat to time us so that hindered things. We had the national anthem (recording of Whitney at the Super Bowl) and the first competitor took off. Summer and I went to the back of the line and discovered more people behind us! No one wanted to go! We got a kick out of that. But eventually we got to the start as we watched more experienced swimmers plow through the grossness. Summer went first since we erroneously thought she was a slower swimmer then me. She went first and that was the last I saw of her until the finish. I ran out until green stuff hit my waist and then dived in and took off. Of course I was going too hard. Adrenaline took over. After a few strokes I realized there was no one around me. I had to forgot to sight the buoy every few strokes I was 25 yards going right when I should've gone straight. That sucked. I figured it out and made my way past the buoys, thiniking about Amoebas and focusing on exhaling with my nose, while people were passing me. Then came the run to T1. Well that run part didn't work out to well. I was exhausted! I couldn't move! I walked all the way to T1 which is up the beach and 50 yards to the bikes. I felt like a schmuck and when I saw the race photos later I saw that I looked like a tired blob of humanity. My swim time? 5:17 for 200 yards. My time in the pool had me at 4:55 or so. So yeah I lost little bit there.
My arrival at T1 invigorated me though. I put my HR monitor belt on, and forgot the watch. I had to sit down to brush off my feet full of sand and rocks. My socks stuck to my feet and were not cooperating. My shirt stuck to me as I tried to put it on. I got halfway out of T1 when I realized I forgot my watch. Back to go get it. My T1 time? A blistering fast 6 minutes. It took me longer to transition then to swim! Wow.
Out on the bike and my dead legs made another arrival. There was a small climb to get out of the Waterfront park and I almost thought I wasn't going to make it. I geared to the easiest setting and pedaled hard. Thankfully for every ascent there is a descent so I was able to recover a bit. I was getting passed by everyone though. An 8 mile bike around Lake Minneola awaited me. A long eight miles for sure. I didn't preview the course like I wanted to because that part of the race website was down two weeks leading up to race day. Most people who passed were encouraging and I wanted to scream at them to stop talking but I smiled and encouraged back. I didn't use Aero bars due to me switching hand positions all the time. I also changed my stem the night before. I know all the "experts" say to not change anything unless you've trained with it. But I was too spread out with the old stem and this let me be more comfortable in my so-called cockpit. Except for the hand thing. Well it got me to a pace of 14.6 mph which was a full 2 mph faster then I had trained. How much of that was raceday adrenaline and the equipment change? Since then I've maintained the speed in my workouts while not coming close to the HR at taht pace. But the catch was I didn't tighten the stem enough! Can you say vibration! My hands hurt the rest of the day bad. I kept thinking I might catch up to Summer since she had ridden her bike ONCE in preparation for the race and didn't have bike cleats and pedals. She did 15.6 mph and smoked me again on the bike. My HR was around 155 for most of the bike except for the beginning and the end as I hit the same hill to get back to T2. Same hill as in the beginning but from a different point so we had to go up it to go back down to T2.
I pulled in to T2 excited for the run and proud of my comeback on the bike. I was doing better then expected on the bike and I was having fun! My T2 time was a lot quicker at 2:48 but still slowest out of the men. I was just glad it wasn't six minutes! Put on my running/tennis hat, running shoes, and off I went. I tried to jog at first, but I was redlining from T2.
The run was going to be challenging for sure and is my worst limiter out of three. I taught myself how to swim for my first tri in 2004 and I still can swim better then I can run. My weight just catches up with me I guess. After about three minutes I'm at 95% of Max HR, so I walk to bring it down. I did this for most of the first half of the 2 mile loop. People were passing me and offering me their polite encouragements with my same response as before. I can feel my weight on my chest and stomach and I wonder why on earth did I ever let it get this bad. So towards the end of the turnaround I start to run again. My left knee, which gives me occasional tendinitis, is starting to hurt but I decide to got with 2 minute on 1 minute off intervals until the finish. Then I actually pass a couple of people! A 50 yr old woman who looks like she is about to die and a mother and son who look like they had a rough bike portion, with grease all over their hands and legs. Hey its the small victories right! Summer finished by now and is walking back to bring me in. I am happy for her and envious at the same time. She is such a good endurance athlete. Hardly trains and competes no problem. She picks my spirits up and I tell her about my day's events. She encourages me to run the rest of the way and I try my best. I walk a couple of more times but I see finish and I sprint the last 200 yards. I cross the finish line at 1:16:59 and about collapse. I didn't realize how tired I was! I can't calm my breathe and I walk around in a daze for a few minutes... My run time was 14:58 pace for the 2 miles. In my training I did o better then 16:30. Summer? 10:16 for the 2 miles. Summer's overall time was 58:08:00. She finished 10th overall in the women. Not bad for an occasional triathlete. Me? I finished 46th out of 48 o f the men. My HR for the entire bike and run was 160 Avg so for most of the race I raced at 87% of Max HR. Not bad for me either since I was at least 100 lbs heavier then anyone else at the race.
Looking back I can think of a number of things to improve on for next time. Practice and focus on T1 and T2. Swim straight! Make sure the bike is good to go and use some Aero bars for better aerodynamics and speed. And drop as much weight as possible to get a better run in. My next race is the "Best of Boys Ranch Tri in Live Oak which takes place at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch in Panhandle on November 15th. It's a longer sprint. 750 meter swim in the Suwannee River, 12.4 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. Mostly flat so I hope to improve my splits, and keep working towards completing a Olympic Tri by this time 2010. And maybe I'll drop some more pounds by then too!
These triathlons are interesting. A lot like life I guess. Some parts are hard, some parts are fun, some parts you can't believe you accomplished, and some parts you find disappointing. But the fun part is getting ready for the next one, I think and getting better.
Hopefully more to come.