Monday, October 13, 2008

My First Triathlon... by Chad Bagnell

Well this was my first triathlon.  This race is a 750 meter open water swim, 12 mile bike, and a 3.2 mile run.  In saying that there were a lot of things that I was un sure about, such as what should and can I eat the morning before the race, how should I organize my transition area, and what would be my goals for my first race ever.  The day before that race I went to pick up my race packet and drove the bike course to get a feel of where some of the hills and descents were on the course.  To make it interesting there was a decent size hill that you immediately had to tackle coming out of the transition area, Great!  After driving the bike course I then listened in on some race tips for open water swimming, as you will see shortly I must have let everything go in one ear and out the other!  All in all I was feeling pretty good about my first race coming up tomorrow. 

The morning of the race I rolled out of bed about 4:30am in the morning and ate some cereal along with a protein drink and grabbed a banana to go.  As I arrived at the race sight I could feel myself starting to get butterflies and anxious about my first race.  I figured out where to get my numbers painted on and found my spot in the transition area.  I got everything ready and took a short ride on my bike work some nerves out and then took about a 5 minute jog also.  By this time the Olympic distance athletes were getting ready to start, so I went to the swim start and watched them go off.  Then they called my group and I realized that my time is here and I hope that I am ready?  On a side note there were quite a few people that said I shouldn’t have done an open water swim for my first race, they were right!  The start of the swim was a little odd for me because we had to swim out to a buoy and tread water for about a minute until they blew the horn.  I hear the horn go off, click my watch and off I go, or at least I thought I was.  I started the swim in the back but I made a mistake and started in the very middle.  In saying that I took off and starting running into people.  This is when everything that I heard the day before about water swimming when straight out of head and I lost all focus.  It was around 200 meters when I think that I went to purely survival mode and swim at least half of the remaining swim in a breaststroke!  I came out of the water in ahead of a few people in my group but I had made it and I could now look forward to the bike!  Everything with the transition went well and I mounted my bike ready to make up some ground!  I hit that first hill straight out the gate with not a lot of problems and I immediately started to pass people, which really gave me some needed confidence.  There were only a handful of people that passed me on the bike and they were the ones in high end triathlon bikes.  I end my bike with a good bit of confidence and I make a solid transition to my run.  As I start my run about a ¼ of a mile in to the run we have to go up a steep incline, are you kidding me what is up with these people making us hit these hills right off the bat?  I shortened my stride made the hill and my calf’s were a little tight but they loosened up and I started to find my rhythm.  I found a decent rhythm and I started passing people, which was surprising for me.  The run was like a little kids roller coaster ride at the state fair, with a few ups and downs and then some straight a ways.  As I was passing people I kept gaining confidence and when I turned the corner at about the 3 mile mark I could see the finish line and I went into a full out sprint and crossed the finish line! 

I had finished my first triathlon and I was ready to do another race within minutes of finishing.  I was pleased with my race considering it was my first race ever.  My overall goal was to finish and finish under a 1hour and 30minutes, which I did at 1hour and 29minutes!  Talk about close!  I had the 3rd best time in my class for the run and had the 7th best time for the bike, which was encouraging!  That afternoon I came home and registered for the Blackland triathlon in Plano next month, talk about chopping at the bit!  All day I kept analyzing my race on what I did well and mainly on what I could of did better, such as the swim.  That dang swim kept haunting me all day but I am determined to get better.  People were right when they said swimming in a pool and swimming in open water with people around you is completely different.  What can I say but live and learn!  As some of my good coaches told me in the past, “It is not about when and where you will make mistakes because everyone will, but it those who learn from their mistakes and get better.”

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