This is a little late… but better late than never, I suppose!
On April 12, 2015 I competed in my second triathlon ever: the Rebel Man Sprint Triathlon in Oxford, MS. This race consisted of a 440 m pool swim, 22k bike, and 5.5k run. It is a smaller race, with a limit of 400 participants.
Oxford, MS is about an hour and a half from Memphis, TN. About a week before the race, I tried to book a hotel in Oxford so I wouldn’t have to get up quite as early, but it turned out that literally every hotel room in the city was booked. If you do this race and need a hotel, I recommend booking early!
The night before the race I went to Olive Garden and had spaghetti. Delicious. I attempted to go to sleep early, and I was pretty successful. Unfortunately, I woke up about a half hour later than I was planning (I think 5:30 AM instead of 5 AM), so I was a little rushed. Luckily the drive there was easy and I got there around 7. I was a little worried about parking since the race was on a college campus (Ole Miss), but parking was not a problem at all. There was a lot right next to the race start. I got my bike out of my car (I really need to invest in a bike rack), put the wheels back on, checked my ABCs (air, brakes, chain), tightened a loose brake, and then headed over to pick up my packet. Just outside of the building someone asked me if they could borrow my pump, so I lent it to them while I picked up my packet. They offered to watch my bike for me, which I was grateful for so I didn’t have to drag it in the building. I got my packet, t-shirt, numbers drawn on me, etc. The process was fast and easy. I then headed back out, got my bike and pump, and headed to set up my transition.
(My transition area.)
After I picked my transition area, I started pumping my bike tires. While I was doing this a man decided to come and put his bike on the spot on the rack that I was going to put my bike… I was standing right there, but I didn’t feel like saying anything and just moved to a different spot. I ended up getting a spot next to the dumpster which made it easy to locate my bike during transition, so it all ended up well. After setting up transition, I went inside the building to go to the bathroom, check out the pool, and figure out exactly how this pool swim was intended to work. After I left the bathroom, I realized that I no longer had my swim cap and goggles. I thought I left them in the bathroom, so I went back in there to get them… but they weren’t there. I freaked out a little, asked the lifeguards if anyone had returned anything, and then accepting that they were lost, went back to my transition area to get my spare pair of goggles, thinking I would just have to race without a swim cap. Luckily, I found my goggles and swim cap there! I had left them. Mornings are just not my time of day. I was relieved, and I quickly headed back to the pool because the race was about to begin.
It turns out that I didn’t need to be as quick as I thought. The pool swim started one person at a time, with maybe 5 seconds between each swimmer. We had to place ourselves according to anticipated time, so I lined up in the back of the pack. Swimming fast (or doing anything fast, really) is not my strength. I then proceeded to wait for about 30 minutes before officially starting my swim. The wait went by fast, and I seemed to be a lot less nervous than the people standing around me, so that built my confidence. It was also fun to watch the other swimmers. Finally… it was my turn to jump in!
The Swim (440 m, 14:59)
As I said before, the swim was in a pool. The pool was separated into lanes, and you had to swim down one lane, duck under the lane line, and then swim back the opposite direction… and repeat. The pool I train in is 25 yards/length, and this was about twice that. The water was a fine temperature, and I didn’t feel the congestion that is normally felt in an open water swim. I was confident, and I didn’t have to stop and rest at all, which other people did. The only problem during the swim, which thankfully I missed, was that one of the lane lines broke. The lifeguards did warn people before the race over the loudspeaker not to touch the lane lines because they would break, but I guess someone did. Luckily, that situation was removed from the pool before I got in, and I just had to space myself correctly in the new double lane. My swim time was nothing impressive, but I felt good about it and was ready for the bike!
(This picture of the pool is actually from the 2014 race. They don’t have pictures from this year posted on their website.)
Transition 1 (2:48)
I got out of the pool, was congratulated and encouraged by the volunteers, and ran to my bike. There was carpet about halfway to my transition area, which my feet appreciated. For this race, I wore my swimsuit with my bike shorts over it. I swam in the bike shorts, so I just had to take off my goggles and swim cap (which I did while running there), dry off a little bit, put on my socks, shoes, and helmet, and be off! I awkwardly ran with my bike shoes to the area where I could mount my bike. My time for this wasn’t great. Transitioning is definitely an area I could improve in.
The Bike (22k, 55:02, 14.9 mph)
About as soon as I got on my bike and started going, my fitbit fell off my wrist. I briefly considered just leaving it, but then I realized I do really like my fitbit, so I turned around, got off my bike, and picked it up. I have a handlebar bag, so I just tossed it in there. Then I was off! This course was an out-and-back. Basically, once we got off the Ole Miss campus, we were on a back road. This course was hilly, which I was not expecting. I had not trained on hills since my area of Memphis doesn’t really have them, but I did experience a lot of hills on my bike trip from Maine to New York City last summer. After about 2-3 miles, my legs felt warmed up, and I was prepared for the hills. I loved coasting down the hills and getting to pass people on the bike. The bike went by fast, and there were a lot of volunteers/spectators along the course who were watching and cheering. The only problem during this part of the race was that the bike course merged with the running course at the very end. This was confusing to me, and it also seemed dangerous. I didn’t want to hit a runner!
Transition 2 (2:35)
Still a slow transition. I hopped off my bike, took my helmet off, switched shoes, and put on my shirt which had my race number on it. Then, I was off!
The Run (aka hell) (43:59, 12:56 pace)
The run course was basically dead. There was one girl who I was a little bit ahead of the entire time, but I didn’t really see many other people. My legs felt terrible after getting off the bike, probably because I wasn’t used to running after a hilly ride. Unfortunately, the run was also hilly– something I am not used to. It seemed like the entire run was uphill. People who actually live in really hilly areas will think I am dumb for thinking this, but that’s what it seemed like to me. Honestly, I am surprised that my time wasn’t even slower. The run was awful. Besides the hills, there are a few other reasons for this. Reason one is that I did not have anything to track my distance or time. I didn’t carry my phone because I believe it’s illegal in a triathlon. Usually my runs include 3 min running, 1 min walking intervals, and I had no way to time this, which just made me frustrated. Additionally, there were no course markers on the run, so I had no idea how far I had gone. I would ask the volunteers, and they didn’t know either. This normally wouldn’t be too bad except… there was no water on the course! None. After the race I found out that they were supposed to have one water station, and somehow the water all got spilled before the race began. I don’t know how that happens, but it was not good. I had no idea how far I had gone, and there was no water. I basically ended up walking up all the hills and running any time I felt that I could. Finally, I made it to the end– the finish line– where there was, fortunately, water!
(Obligatory post-race selfie.)
I hung out after the race for a little bit for awards. There was no Athena category in this race, so I didn’t think I had a chance at getting anything, but I wanted to see my times. Apparently I have moved up an age group even though my birthday isn’t officially until July. I snacked on some oranges, watched people get their awards, and then packed up my transition area and headed out to the Square in Oxford for some bookstore shopping and lunch.
Overall, I had a lot of fun during this race. The run was terrible, but I think my lesson is that I should always carry a small bottle just in case. And I should invest in a watch (I would love a Garmin 920XT if anyone wants to send one my way, haha). I would probably do this race again because I really enjoyed the pool swim and bike. It’s also a good warm-up triathlon for the season. Next up: Memphis in May!
Last place in my division! I wasn’t the slowest on the bike, though!
Room to improve 🙂