Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lame Duck Triathlon race report

Well - I did it, I finished my first triathlon!! I had so much fun - I am definitely hooked! I remember thinking during the swim, "wow, I am doing a triathlon - this is awesome!" and then during the bike, "wow, I am doing a triathlon - this is awesome!" and then during the run, "wow, I am doing a triathlon - this is awesome!!"

Here is how it all went down (I will warn you, this is long!):

On Friday afternoon I got all of my gear laid out and then packed. Chad and I put the Yakima Super Joe bike rack on the car for the first time. We put the bike on and got it secured, so that I would know how to do it on Saturday morning at 5:30am! We then took the bike off, and brought it back inside for safe keeping through the night.

At about 4:30pm, I headed to Georgetown (about 45 minutes away) to pick up my packet and preview the course. The race is held in a neighborhood, and immediately upon entering the neighborhood there is a long, winding, fairly steep hill. I've heard that this course is really hilly, and this was a pretty good introduction. The more I drove through the neighborhood the more I began to think that the neighborhood had actually been cut out of a small mountain range in central Kentucky - the hills were insane!!

There were only a handful of other participants picking up their packets, so I was able to get in and get out. They were offering free recovery drinks, but I chose to decline. The packaging on the bottle was so garish that it was really unappealing. I imagined the dragons on the label doing unspeakable things to my small intestines.

After picking up my packet and driving a little bit more of the course, I headed home to make dinner. Once home, I cooked up some prosciutto and roasted chicken tortellini, with a spinach marina sauce, and some 9-grain bread. This is one of my favorite quick and easy meals (the tortellini is pre-made) and I knew that my stomach could handle it.

After eating, I sat on the back porch and read while Emma played in the backyard. It was a really pleasant, relaxing evening. I was fighting the urge to scrub the walls, alphabetize our DVDs, organize my socks by size, etc. - I had so much pent up energy but I didn't want to waste it on tasks around the house. Reading did the trick and lulled me to sleep - I was out like a light by 8:45pm. I woke up at 3:00 and felt totally rested and ready to go, but I knew that I shouldn't get up yet. I went back to sleep, and woke up at 4:30 on the dot.

Surprisingly, I wasn't really nervous or anxious. I knew I had a few things to do to get ready, so I set to my tasks and ate my breakfast, drank my Doubleshot, got dressed, racked my bike, loaded my bag, took Emma out, and before I knew it, it was time to go.

I headed out at 5:45 am, with hopes of arriving at the race site between 6:30 and 6:45. I made two bathroom stops along the way, checking the bike rack at each stop. I was really impressed with the Yakima rack - the bike didn't even budge! I arrived at the race site at 6:45am, glad to see plenty of space still available in the transition area.

As I set up my space, I tried to chat with those around me - my icebreaker question being "have you done this race before?" Everyone that I talked to said "no, this is my first race!" So I felt a lot better, knowing that was in the company of so many first-timers.

At about 7:30am, I hopped into a pontoon boat with 5 other people and we headed over to the swim start. It was really great to preview the swim course - I remember thinking "ok, well this doesn't seem too bad!"

Once we got to the swim start area, we picked up our timing chips and swim caps. Then we waited, for about 30 minutes or so. Once the boats had delivered all of the participants to the start, we had a brief informational meeting. We also had a moment of silence and brief prayer for John Carr, the triathlete who was killed by a drunk driver in last week's E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park triathlon in Louisville. He was a part of the central Kentucky triathlon scene and it was such an unbelievable tragedy for him to lose his life to the wreckless hands of a senseless drunk driver. I am glad that the race director, Alan Siebenthaler, took a moment to honor him before the race.

After a short prayer, the men got ready to get into the water for their swim. The swim was held in two waves: the first wave was all individual men and relay team members, and then 5 minutes later the second wave of individual women began.

We walked down to the bank of the lake and watched the men begin their race - it was pretty cool! Before I knew it, 3 minutes had passed and there I was jumping off of a dock, getting ready to start my first triathlon. For some reason, I wasn't nervous at all! I've been more nervous at local 5k races this year than I have been at the start of this tri. I pulled my goggles on and ducked under to see what I was able to see underwater. I got my answer pretty quickly...nothing!

The water was extremely green, and I began to panic a little bit. I told myself that I would just swim as long as I could with my head out the water, and then when I felt more comfortable and got into a rhythm, I could experiment with putting my head under for a few strokes. My main goal was just to keep moving forward, in the right direction. The shotgun (yep, a shotgun!) blasted, and off we went. . .I took a few big gulps of lake water in my first few strokes, but eventually I was able to get into a rhythm and I calmed down a bit. I looked behind me and saw a lot of blue caps - this suprised me, because I was sure that I was one of the last people. Seeing that I was doing better than I thought gave me a boost of confidence, and I moved to a "head down for two strokes" then "look up, turn to the right while breathing, and put your head back down" type of swim. This served me well, as soon I began to pass a few men! Granted, they were going pretty slowly, but I couldn't believe that I caught up to some of the guys, considering the 5 minute time difference between our waves. I could see the crowd gathered on the shore, at the swim exit, and I could hear them cheering, but it seemed like they were so far away. Knowing that I was pretty close to being done, I put my head down and really started swimming. Before I knew it, I was passing a big yellow inflatable duck and getting pulled up the ramp by volunteers. I saw Chad immediately and he took some pictures - the picture below of me coming out of the swim is my favorite picture from the race. I think my face tells it all in that picture - a huge smile, with some disbelief mixed in!

I ran into the transition area and found my bike (which I had marked with a balloon). I toweled off my face and my feet, pulled on socks, put on my sunglasses and helmet, grabbed a Clif Shot Blok, and ran my bike to the mount line. Once there, I hopped on and started pedaling. For the first two miles I was really pushing on the uphills and downhills. When I looked down at my computer and saw that I had gone less than two miles, I realized that I needed to back off a little bit to conserve my energy for the rest of 9 mile course, and for the 2.6 mile run. After doing some loops around the neighborhood, we left the neighborhood and got onto US 25. This provided a nice flat section where I was able to get down into my drop bars and pick up the pace. At mile 5, as we were climbing a hill up to an elementary school for the turn-around, my chain fell off. It was a stupid mistake that I made with the gears, and all of a sudden my legs were spinning freely. I veered off the course, hopped off, put the chain back on, and got going again. This maybe took 30 seconds or so, and really the worst part about it was that I got a major grease streak on my face, between my left eye and hairline. Chad later told me that it looked like I had a prison tattoo - ha ha!

Once back in the Mallard Point, there were more hills to climb before wrapping up the bike segment. I kept thinking that Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" would pop into my head, but luckily it never did. Once I reached the dismount line for the bike, I unclipped and got off without falling, tripping or crashing into anyone, which is quite a feat for me. I ran to my spot in transition, racked my bike, took off my helmet and sunglass, put on my running hat and slipped on my running shoes. I have been using Yankz shoelaces for a few weeks now and they really helped with my transition.

I then headed out of transition and onto the course - which was basically the first part of the bike course with a few additions. It felt like I was moving so slowly, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. It took me about a mile to get my legs underneath me - which is really similar to how my brick training has gone. This tells me that this is an area I definitely need to work on. Once I hit mile 1.5, I started looking at my watch. It was at this point that I realized, wow I am going to finish under 1:30! I kept on plugging along and soon enough, the finish line was in my view. I passed Chad and I said "I'm going to finish under 1:30!!" and he was like "Yeah you are! You are doing great!" I was so happy, and I gave it my all for those last few 100 yards. I crossed the line in 1:27:50! I just checked the race site (, and I found out that I also got 2nd out of 11 in my age group!

Info from the website (the swim time and T1 time are combined in the results below, but they are working on getting the times separated out):
Place Place Name Bib No Age Rnk
2 99 Meredith Brooks 250 25 3

----- Swim, T1 --
Pace Rnk
21:58.4 2
----- Bike -----
Rate Rnk
39:26.4 13.8 7

----- T2 -----
Time Pace Rnk
2:09.3 5

--- Run ---
24:16.4 9:20

Total Time

Everything that you could ever need to complete a sprint triathlon!

Packed and ready, just waiting to be loaded!

The swim finish area - see the big yellow duck?

Coming out of the water, thinking "I'm really doing this!"

Heading out on the bike

Action shot!

Feeling good on the bike

Running out of T2 (transition from bike to run)

Starting on the downhill to the finish line!
(I forgot my race belt with my number during the run...oops!)

Done. A triathlete! (I put the race belt on just for the picture!)


Courtney Howe said...

congratulations Meredith! Looks like you had a great time and did awesome! I always love reading your posts about races!

Anonymous said...

Meredith, it was great to read your report on the race! Thanks for sharing it. Glad you had a good experience for your 1st tri.


amberly said...

Yeah Meredith!! :) i'm glad it was such a good experience for you, friend.

Dru said...


I'm so proud of you and your dedication. Sorry we couldn't be there to cheer you on (we would have brought peanuts).

*K. Grace said...

Way to go Girl! SO proud of you. You looked great & I'm so impressed with how you handled the chain thing! I'm inspired :)

Sarah said...

Good for you Meredith! You are a master of athletics for sure with a time like that for your first triathlon. And you even looked fabulous doing it!

jen said...

Congratulations!!! I love your first tri race report. You totally captured the excitement! I did the same thing saying to myself "I'm really doing this!" through my whole first one. It's so cool!!

I start conversations the same way- "have you done this race before" It works good at running races too! Feels good to chat with people and dispense some nerves.

You really nailed this race. The swim was confident and strong, the bike was smart and fast, and the run was SOLID! You killed it. Congrats again on a great race. Can't wait to see what's next! :)

Megan said...

Good job and all that - I am mostly leaving this comment because I just watched the first epidose of "Hard Knocks" on HBO at the Bengals training camp and it is held in Georgetown, KY. Any Ocho Cinco sightings? Also Dad said that is where Camrys are made, haha.

M. Brooks said...

Megan - unfortunatley, no Ochocinco sightings! He's quite a character - said he is changing his name to Esteban after kicking that extra point. And yes, Camry's are made in Georgetown!!