Monday, April 14, 2008

Stanford Treeathlon - My first tri

Gayathri: Dolphin?
Shetal: Seal?
Veena: Surely some animal.
Oops sorry but thats Mouli in a wetsuit....

I had not picked up the race packet till Sunday and I had to show up an
hour earlier at 5:30 am to pick the package.

With the tri there is an entire wardrobe that you have to transport to
the transition area. The wetsuit, googles, bike, pump, helmet, gloves,
biking shoes, socks, biking shorts, running shorts, towel to dry and
protect your modesty(?), running shoes, bandana/cap, sunglass, water
bottles, sports drink, gel, protein bars, puncture fix kit, spare tube,
a few bags to carry all of this, and don't forget
body glide and your favorite Asha shirt.
At the stanford treeathlon, it was close to a mile from the the parking to
the tranistion zone and we had to ride/walk the bike, carrying all these
stuff. Boy this was one complex race.

Despite coming in early, waiting in line for to collect the race packet, waiting in line to sign up, by the time I got to the transition area, people had already staked claim to their spot and each area was colorfully and clearly marked with their personal items. After some elbowing and threatening to move things around, managed to find two spots for Padma and myself.

I followed the guy next to me and laid out neatly all the accessories in
order for easy access during transition and headed out to relieve myself.
The one cool thing was people were getting their bodies marked while waiting in line for the restroom, as there was this huge guy shouting at people to clear the transition area before the race start time, despite them being in the very last wave and 50 people still waiting in line at the porta potties.

One poor dude, was already suited up when this lady asked him if he had
got his body marked. I was quite surprised to see his nimbleness in
getting out of the two-piece wetsuit. But then he did not have an ounce of
flab to worry about. As he was getting suited up, he mentioned that he was in the collegiate category. Hmm, the left calf will have to be remarked and off came the wetsuit. Once he got marked, she asked him if he
mentioned his current age or the age at the end of the year. Oh oh.. off comes the wetsuit again...

Soon Veena, Chakri and Kiran showed up and Padma and I picked up our wetsuits and got out of the transition area.

I happened to be in an earlier wave than Padma. I got on the ramp to see the second and third waves take off and was really pumped up. Soon it was our turn and all these folks were like penguins waiting for the first one to jump. The water was extremely cold and initial shock was giving me a slight numbing headache. Swim long and easy in the beginning, I remembered Coach Tom's advice. After gulping wave after wave of water and electrolytes, I realized the importance of breathing on both sides during the swim.

I thought I could swim really really straight and I had the shock of my life when I looked up. Everyone else seems to be going in the other direction. Regrouping I resolved to lookup more often and to swim long and easy for some more time.
Once I got warmed up I threw myself on the swim and just as I was getting a little tired, I heard some one shouting to stay to the right. Managed to get to the ramps and not beached on the rocks, I started running into the transition area, exhilarated at the swim time of 14:38.

I had practiced getting of the wetsuit and it did not give me much trouble. One lesson I learned was to stay calm. There was this guy in front of me, who while dancing on one leg, managed to pull the wetsuit off with a flourish
The final tug however threw him of balance and the resulting fall was not graceful at all. :( One other thing to remember is to keep your socks together. I bought these nice black woolen socks and I could find the pair, so I ended up with a black sock on one leg and a white one on the other.

As I was getting out of the transition area, hearing CK, Shetal, Veena, Chakri and Kiran cheering it sent me into a frenzy and I started biking hard. I got an earful for starting in the wrong lane. The guy who was giving us the directions kept saying we will talk about the lanes in the end and when he did start talking about it, it was my turn at the john. I had to tell myself to slow down and conserve. My plan was to do negative splits and not go all in the first loop. The bike ride was pretty easy, though the wind was bothering me a little. At each turnaround, when I saw these folks cheering, I would work harder.

Ah here is where the towel came in mighty handy. I decided I will not run in my "industrial grade padded" biking shorts.

Well not much needs to be said.. other than my legs were extremely jelly like and I could not move them very much in the first loop. Second and third were easy and I managed an 8:30 pace for the 5k.

Some lessons learned:
1. Listen to the coaches. Well "Ghosts of the kicks, not listen to the talks".
2. The excess water I gulped was causing a major side stitch in both the bike and the run segments.

Thanks to everyone for their wishes. I think with relentless cheering and support is what really pushed a sluggish me can across the finish line. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to work on more of them this year.

Best part was the post-race, hanging out with CK, Shetal, Veena, Chakri, Padma and Kiran and having breakfast at Franklin St. Cafe and the cream puffs from Beard Papa's... :)


Rajeev Char said...

Just read your report - lovely! You have made the transition to triathlons. Looks like you had fun during the race as well ...
welcome to the brighter side of life :-)
Next stop Ironman...


Chandramouli said...

Thanks Coach... It surely was a lot of learning and I had fun... :)