First Triathlon: I am 409

matthew's picture

Brief version race report for the Riverton Central Stake Sports triathlon today for those who asked. The race was free, and hosted by the local LDS churches in the area. I was number 409: fourth out of 5 waves, 9th registrant in that category.

Garmin Connect logs:

Slept somewhat poorly. I was confident I'd double-checked my bags, and I hit the sack around 10:45PM, so I knew that getting out the door would be pretty straightforward. I still woke up a couple of times in the night worried that I overslept.

4:45AM: Alarm goes off.

5:00AM: Alarm goes off again. I tumble out of bed, make my typical morning smoothie (digging getting the spinach in there lately), then hit the shower. Because people who don't shower before swimming in a pool gross me out.

6:00AM: Registration has opened, but I'm just finished loading the car and strapping the bike on the rack, dressed in my tri shorts, a light t-shirt, and some sandals. I don't panic; the start is less than 10 minutes from my house, so I'm not in any kind of hurry.

6:30AM: After arriving at the South County Pool in Riverton, UT, I found the line for the "4s" at the registration desk under some sun tents. I am, apparently, a "4", based upon the time I listed for my expected swim. The categories go 1 (fastest) through 5, where 5 is the "family" entry. I am, obviously, not fast. I mingle, and meet quite a few people with names like, "Mark", "Greg", and "Gary". I was directed to locate my bike and my T1 and T2 gear at the T1 transition point, told by a helpful volunteer that anything I didn't need for T1 would be taken to T2 for the end of the race. There are no bike racks; I carefully lay my bike down in the grass, realizing that I'll be sitting in dirt later when I change. Oh well.

7:00AM: Race organizers make announcements to the several hundred participants, discuss the course, and -- this being a local church-hosted event -- have a prayer to request a blessing on the participants. I realize I'm supposed to have dropped my T2 bag at the church. Most people on this ride won't bother; 3 out of 5 bikes aren't road bikes. They are mountain bikes or hybrids, many clearly recovered from a garage where they sat since they were bought years ago. A helpful race volunteer grabs my T2 stuff and hauls it to my chair at T2 on my behalf. I also notice I neglected to attach my footpod to my Vibram Five Fingers Bikila shoes. Oops.

7:15AM: The other "Fours" have shoved me to the front of the line of fours, with the excuse "Any man who wears a swim cap is faster than the rest of the Fours". Thank you so much, Di, for giving me that gift from your Ironman race! Not feeling very grateful at that moment, though. It's kind of cold in my shorts & no shirt; the organizers promise the pool is fairly warm.

7:26AM: Timer counts down. I press "start" on my GPS watch. The first lap was SMOKING; I pass three people. I realize as I start my second 100 meters that I've basically just burned my arms out feeling so good; start to back-stroke through the lap. Not promising. The last guy I passed glares at me as he WALKS past me. I then realized that at any time I can touch the bottom in this shallow 50-meter pool. I take advantage of that for a second to push off again and get some momentum back.

7:34AM: First transition. Panting. Exhausted already. That was only 300 meters? Really? I climb out of the pool, rip off the goggles & cap, grab my sandals and shirt from where I left them by the pool gates, and trot toward T1 where my bike lay. The grass keeps getting caught in between my toes, and I don't like running barefoot on grass anyway. Too many hidden dangers, too much time spent running barefoot to like running where I can't see what's underneath my foot. The volunteers keep trying to tell me to run on the grass because it's "more comfortable" than running on pavement. Heck, no. I don't really feel like running to T1 either... I kind of half-trot, half-walk to my bike.

7:35AM: I never realized jerseys and Injinji socks were so freaking hard to put on when you're not dry. I'm sopping wet, sitting in the dirt and getting my new tri shorts and hands covered with mud. Next time, I'm either wearing a singlet or else using a zip-up jersey; this over-the-head thing is terrible and I feel like I can't get the back down. I eventually get everything together and roll out. On the plus side, I didn't have to futz with a heart rate monitor around my chest; my new Mio Link on my wrist next to my Garmin 910XT has been recording the whole time. Yay technology.

Most other racers notably lack any technology. I feel a little weird even having trained for this short race, particularly when so many others around me openly discuss not having done so. It's also weird to me that there are a ton of people standing around, chatting with volunteers and amongst themselves. I thought this was a race, but for many the transitions are apparently social hour. Many of them will pass me later on the run anyway :-)

7:37AM: Rolling out of first transition. I forget to hit the lap counter and reset my watch until I'm well into the trail. Oops. Weirdest-looking swim leg ever in my logs. I hit my stride, calling "on your left" several dozen times. This is where I feel at home. The doc told me I wasn't allowed to just bicycle for my sport anymore, though; I have to participate in other activities, particularly ones that strengthen the core. Swimming and running suit, so Triathlon it is.

07:58AM: Twenty minutes later, the bike leg is done. I'm a little early, and wonder if I missed part of the route. Was supposed to be a 6-mile ride, but was actually a hair under 5 miles; I'm betting the mapping tool they used when designing the course plotted "middle of road" or something like that, rather than actual lines the racers will use. Other than one steep little section of road, the bike ride was cake. My legs were fresh from the swim -- though my arms and shoulders ached! -- so it was pretty easy. A helpful volunteer steered me away from a gravel section that people had been wiping out on, for which I was grateful.

T2! Easy switch. I'd un-velcroed my triathlon cycling shoes when coming into T2 (I've occasionally second-guessed my decision to buy those over more traditional cycling shoes; not today!), so I just step off my bike, leaving the shoes attached. Take off the helmet and clip it to my bike, laying the bike against the chair labeled "409" that was helpfully provided. Grab the bottle I'd put in my T2 bag and guzzle about ten ounces of Nuun-infused water; I don't want to carry a water bottle on what should be a short 2-mile run.

08:00: Made it out of T2 in 2 minutes. Not bad, not lingering. Big giant row of snacks that I sail right past; I don't want any food. I had a good breakfast, and I have a morning snack planned already. Besides, muffins make my stomach hurt, and I've already had a banana. Blech. No thanks.

08:10: My plan to run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute repeatedly until my 2 miles are up has a major flaw in it: I don't know how to program my watch to allow that kind of interval reminder during a multi-sport workout. I try to mind the time on my watch, but running is a really weak point for me, so I inevitably run too long, then start walking and gasping for breath, or walk too long and realize my heart rate has slowed down a lot. I'm slow, I'm overweight, and my plantar tendon in my right foot gives me sharp, jabbing reminders if I push too hard. I settle for doing phone-pole intervals of walk-run. It seems to work well, but the run is by far my slowest segment. My bike jersey is really comfortable and non-chafing, but it's a little warm for the run; next time I think I'll jump for the sleeveless variety, because the sweat puddling in the small of my back behind my jersey pockets where I've stashed my phone & keys is a regular reminder that I'm not quite wearing the right equipment for a run.

08:26: Twenty-six minutes and twenty-seven seconds later, I run past the finish line to the announcer calling my number and time. While it's not a fast two mile run by any stretch at around fourteen minutes per mile, I console myself that one year ago today, I was flat on my back, laid out with a back in jury and unable to run at all, even if someone held a gun to my head and demanded it. My goal pace for a 5k is currently 12 minutes per mile, and 14 is much better than the 18 I was clocking -- running! -- just a couple of months ago. I'll get there.

I grab a drink of water. I go check on my bike and try to figure out where the heck they dropped the T2 bags. A few minutes later, my lovely wife shows up at the course, and we eventually find one another and exchange kisses and hellos, and she tells me how proud she is of me for finishing my first triathlon.

My wife Christy is AWESOME.

She introduces me to a couple of fellows that I didn't know but that she did, and she grabs all our bags and meets us back at the pool. We chat about the upcoming St. George triathlon on September 13, 2014 as the two other fellows and I cruise down the hill back to the pool. Given that it's a month away, and is heading SOUTH instead of North as fall closes in, I think I may give that one a try.


A "tri" :-)


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daniel's picture


I saw your results show up on Garmin and was trying to figure out that swim leg! Looked like a smoking fast pace...

Anyway, way to go. If you figure out how to do intervals in multistory on your Garmin, let me know--I haven't been able to do that either.

Sammy G's picture

Way To Go

Matt, great job! That's 3 hours and 41 minutes and 27 seconds from your alarm going off until crossing the finish line!

But seriously, way to go. Also impressive you retained all that memory detail from the midst of athletic competition. I'd be just trying to breathe.

matthew's picture


Really, the timeline data was reconstructed from my Garmin logs. But memories of specific incidents stood out.

Because so many $35 triathlons are now $95 at this late point in the season, this may be my only tri this season. Think I'll sign up for some 5ks, 10ks, master's swim events, and spin/cycling stuff. Having some kind of goal is a huge motivator to stick to the workout plan. This December's 20th wedding anniversary in Hawaii is enough motivation for losing weight :-)

Matthew P. Barnson