In October 2019, I did my first-ever, grown-up, in-the-traditional-order, open-water-swim, triathlon: the Legends Triathlon. Here is my recap.
On the morning of the race, I got up at 5:00am, had undercooked oats and a cup of tea for breakfast, then got ready and packed the car. I had pumped up my bike tires and put the bike in the car the night before.
We drove 25 minutes east and south to Bonelli Park in the dark and parked at the Park n Ride at the junction of the 57 and Via Verde. At 6:30am there were still plenty of spaces.
We unloaded and walked down into Bonelli Park (no $10 park fee for us!). We headed over to the registration/packet pick-up tent by the swim beach just as the sun was coming up. The race packet consisted of a nice t-shirt, some Cliff bars, and a variety of sticky numbers.
I stuck the first number to my helmet and the other to my bike then headed into transition. I found a good spot on a rack, remembering to find a landmark to line up with so I could find my bike after the swim. I laid out all my gear then went to get my number drawn on my arm. With that done, I turned around to find that the Pasadena Triathlon Club, of which I’m a member, had its own rack right by the entrance to the transition! So I picked up all my gear and moved it. While this was a closer spot, it was perhaps less ideal as it underfoot was gravel so everything got filthy pretty quickly.
After setting up we wandered down to the beach and checked out the swim entrance/exit, the run exit, and the finish line. Then with 30 minutes to go, it was time to get the wetsuit on.
I don’t have a tri-suit, so I just wore my Target running shorts and a sports bra under my wetsuit. We lined up for a group photo then headed down to the beach. We noted immediately that the shoreline was lined with duck poo, but since there was nothing to be done about that we got in the water and splashed around to get wet. It was thankfully not too cold.
At 8:00am the people doing the Olympic distance headed off, and then at about 8:10am, once they had got sufficiently far away, those of us doing the Sprint (“Express”) were given the green light.
I stayed at the back of the crowd because I knew I would be slow. Despite having practiced in this lake in the summer, I was unprepared for the chop that the other swimmers stirred up. After getting a couple of lungfuls of water and making a few attempts to swim properly, I decided I was going to have to go to my backup plan of swimming with my head out of the water (like I was ‘sighting’). It was slow going, but I knew I would eventually get there.
On my way I heard people hacking and coughing, one guy asked to hang onto the board of one of the safety kayakers, several people were going breaststroke or swimming on their backs. As we made our way to the swim exit, the first swimmers of the Olympic distance came zooming by.
I was very glad to get out of the water but my plan of running up the beach and the hill into transition didn’t happen – my legs weren’t working! I fast-walked to the top of the hill and once I was on the level, I managed to run to my bike.
Getting the wetsuit off was yet another challenge but I didn’t fall over so I considered that a success. I got my shoes on, got my bike and ran out of transition. Thankfully, no sooner was I on my bike than I was overtaking people everywhere.
Swim (300m): 11m 72s
Transition: 3m 55s
I would consider the bike to be my next weakest section after the swim so I was surprised how well things were going. I’m sure I can thank my training with the Pasadena Triathlon Club and all those hills we had to do. I was also very pleased that I had previewed the course in summer so I knew about the big downhill with the sharp right into a steep uphill that caught out someone who was trying to overtake me.
I only had time for a few sips of water on the bike, mostly to clear out the taste of duck doos from my mouth, then I was back into transition.
This is where I knew I’d gain time because I was riding in my running shoes. All I had to do was dump the bike and my helmet and get going.
Bike (12km): 30:11 (16.3 mph)
Anyone who has run off the bike will tell you, it’s really hard. However, having practiced this as well, I knew that while it feels hard, you are usually running faster than you think. I wasn’t too worried about this feeling, I just kept going, despite the long slow uphill for the first mile and a half. That said, after about a mile I was feeling a bit spaced out so I choked down a GU chew with no water. It did the trick.
Though I am most experienced with running, this leg was hard work. The uphill for the first half was quite a challenge but during the downhill on the way back I was able to make up some time.
Run (5km): 29m 03s (9:21 /mile pace)
Overall: 1h 16m 39s
I came 10th out of 15 in my age group so I have something to improve on next time!