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Race Report: Kim’s First Tri

Swim Bike Mom often features awesome folks and their race experiences in the form of official guest posts.   Here’s a recent report from SBM friend, Kim H., and her first sprint tri: Portage Lakes Triathlon.  Congrats, Kim!

“Saturday afternoon. My husband, kids and sister in-law all went with me to pick up my race packet. I was surprised that we didn’t have numbers at all – just the number that they would mark you with the next day and a bracelet to put on your wrist and your bike. Guess I didn’t need the race belt I just bought! We then traveled to stay with my parents that night since their house was half the distance to the Tri from our house. I should note – my sister in law was just “along for the ride” as a SUPER supporter/spectator! I have to put out major thanks to her for taking a night away from her family and half the next day just to cheer me on!

After an AWESOME homemade Italian dinner of lasagna, meatballs and bread, it was getting close to bedtime. I set the alarm for 5AM and attempted to go to bed around 9:30. After getting up on the hour every hour starting at 1AM, I finally looked at the clock in disbelief when I saw 4:57! We arrived at Portage Lakes State Park a little after 6:30 as planned. It wasn’t too crowded yet, but it was COLD. On the way there, the car kept reading a lower and lower temperature. I think it said 43 degrees when we arrived! I was able to get marked and set up my transition area quickly and then it was time to wait for the start….about an hour! Of course, other seasoned triathletes would probably use this time to warm up by either running, biking or swimming. Not me. I stood there, FREEZING, wondering if I would start to feel my toes again before I had to use them! 
Eventually, I found myself on the beach feeling overly anxious about not being able to understand the announcer and start with the correct wave. Several people were wearing wetsuits, so looking for another “34” on someone’s leg was not an easy task. I finally found some 39 and 40 year olds and was told that the wave would be 39 and under so I would be good if I stayed with them. As the crowd cleared with each wave I could finally understand the announcer. And all of the sudden he said women 39 and under and elite women. To which I responded, “I don’t think I should be in the same wave as ELITE women!”
SWIMI really feel like I ROCKED the swim. In retrospect I think I am most proud of the swim. No panic attacks, no having to stop to hang on to a board, no stopping, just swimming! Granted, there was a LOT of breast stroke, but I was always moving forward. I kept telling myself, just keep moving forward. I passed some women, got passed by many; but also passed MEN hanging on the boards to rest and I believe at this point NONE of the Olympic waves had started so I felt pretty good about that. I got out of the water and started the trek up the little hill to get to transition. Swim time = 19:57
T1I ended up walking to transition because I figured I should catch my breath before getting on the bike.  All in all, I think I rocked T1 for a newbie. Total time= 3:58
BIKEIn one word – SUCKED!!! Sucked the big one and I mean it! I feel like if I go into it, I’ll be typing forever. I swear it was uphill the entire 14 miles. I’m not the only one who felt that way. I passed people People passed me on the course and they said “I swear this entire course is uphill!” I agreed as I was WALKING my bike up a hill for the 3rd time! I REALLY need a new bike or at least new tires! However, what I will say about the bike is that I was TOTALLY happy with my time….considering….. Bike time =1:10:31.
T2I have NEVER been so eager to run in my life! I just wanted to run because I knew that meant I was done being on that darn bike! Switched my helmet to my hat, grabbed a gulp of water, and grabbed a GU to have on the run. T2 = 1:16
RUNI realized at this point how much of triathlon is mental. The bike took so much out of me mentally that I didn’t have much fight left in me for the run. It was “only” a 5k. I do 5k’s at least 2x a week and longer runs on the weekends. I can do a 5k. But yet, I couldn’t seem to keep going. It was really frustrating because my legs felt awesome. I felt like I could run forever, but I couldn’t catch my breath. I would try to keep with my interval schedule (run 4 minutes, walk 1), but those 4 minutes felt like forever. It also didn’t help that I had new shoes on that I was only able to wear 2 times prior to this race. They are going back to the store because they were making my toes go numb on my left foot. It was quite painful when I was running so that didn’t help either.  I walked a lot more than planned, but the run still seemed to fly by. I was close to the end and couldn’t believe I was within sight of finishing my first sprint triathlon. Run time = 39:27
I crossed the finish line to see my family standing there cheering me on. Total time: 2:15:10.
Things I learned:
There are SO many things that I learned with this first experience. I’m not sure that I could even begin to discuss all the things that were racing through my head after crossing that finish line.
1)   I need a different bike. Or I need to make changes to my current bike. These hills were absolutely killer. I can’t help but think that if I had thinner tires and/or a lighter bike I might have been able to go a little faster. Or at least stay on the bike the entire time!
2)   I want a Garmin! And in a BAD way! I’m thinking Christmas present this year! I have no computer on my bike and there were no mile markers. Since I had NO idea how fast I was going, I was certain that I couldn’t estimate my mileage on how long I’d been on my bike. I think towards the end, it would have helped me mentally to know that I had already conquered so many miles rather than feeling like this would never end!
3)   I want a Garmin! I’ve been increasing my run speed a lot lately. I feel like I shouldn’t use the word “speed” since you can’t really define what I do as “speedy” by any means, but I have been getting much faster by my standards. The intervals actually help me go significantly faster than if I ran without stopping. However, since I have no Garmin or anything, I have no idea what my pace is when I’m running. Considering my end pace for the run was about a 12:43 minute/mile, I must have been moving pretty nicely when I was running (since I walked a LOT and my best 5k time in training was a 10:33 minute/mile). I think if I could have looked down at my wrist and saw a 10 (or dare I say a 9) something, it might have been the push I needed to keep running for the entire run interval.
All in all, it was an EXPERIENCE. I did not feel as I thought I might when I crossed that finish line. I think I was overwhelmed with all the emotions I had just experienced over that 2 hours and 15 minutes (and 10 seconds). It is safe to say that this will not be my last sprint triathlon. Like I told my sister in-law, what would be the point of doing this if I couldn’t do another one to put in place all the things I learned?!
And besides, I’m only halfway to my weight loss goal; so imagine what I might be able to accomplish after another 40lbs are gone!” 


  • CautiouslyAudacious

    September 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Great job!!! I'm so glad to hear that it won't be your last. I still learn something new every time I do a triathlon so that part doesn't really ever go away but that's why it's so important to keep "tri"ing I remember one of the first tris I did as an adult I borrowed my dad's bike that had the shifters in between the legs I was so scared to shift I just left it in the hardest gear the entire time! Keep it up you are awesome!

  • TriGirl

    September 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Wow! Awesome first tri! (my first attempt got me a case of hypothermia and a DNF). Your transitions are great and your race times were great! The bike is tough because people with better bikes fly by effortlessly. That drove me crazy in one of my races this summer…going as hard as i can uphill, hearing a constant stream of 'on your left!' Have fun training for the next race–sounds like you're hooked 😀

  • The Novice

    September 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm


    If you have a smartphone, you could consider an app to track speed, mileage, pace etc. I use Endomondo, but there's lots of them.

    I like my Garmin, but unless you also want the HR monitor aspect, you could have the info you want tomorrow for free (or a few $).


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