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‘Take On The Heat’ Sprint Tri – My Triathlon Debut


This morning, I popped my triathlon cherry at the Take On The Heat Sprint distance triathlon in The Colony, TX.  I have no idea if Sprint tri’s are a set distance or not.  If not, this one was 350m swim, 11mile bike, 3.1mile run.  Our little camera ended up having some issues, so unfortunately my wife wasn’t able to get very many photos.

Spolier alert: I made the age group podium!

Now that I got that part out of the way, here’s how it went:

I'm somewhere in there!

I’m somewhere in there, getting ready for the start!

I wasn’t nearly as nervous for this swim compared to the Aquathlon last month.  It helped that this swim was less than half the distance, so I knew that I could backstroke the entire way (again), worst case.  The start was in the water, but we were able to stand on the ground instead of treading water.  I positioned myself to the side and towards the back, hoping to not get swam over too much.  They started the M30-34 and M35-39 age groups together, which totaled about 50 people.  I was able to swim freestyle for a little more than half of the race (a HUGE improvement from the Aquathlon), but I still ended up needing to do the backstroke a couple of times when I swallowed water.  Near the end of the swim, things started to get a little rough in terms of getting kicked and hit, but it wasn’t terrible.

Swim: 7:53 (2:15/100m, 18/25 Age Group, 133/262 Overall)

Getting to transition had us running up a rather steep boat ramp, and over a bunch of loose gravel to get to the bikes (painful to run across).  Before the race, I saw a couple of people stash flip-flops on the side of the boat ramp, so I took the cue and left mine on the side before getting in to the swim.  Halfway up the boat ramp, I put the flip-flops on, and it made running to the bike so much quicker/less painful.  I had gotten to the race early enough in the morning that I was able to get the end spot on my transition rack, which made it quick to get to my bike.  I had already attached my shoes to my pedals (with elastics to keep the shoes upright), so that I had one less thing to think about.  The most time-wasting thing I did was put my Garmin on my wrist (I had an old stopwatch on my other wrist, so I could see my total time with the swim).  Overall, I felt like T1 went extremely well for a rookie!

T1: 1:20 (4 seconds behind the fastest transition in my age group, 19 seconds behind the fastest transition overall)

Evidently I was going too fast for my wife to get a picture!

Evidently I was going too fast for my wife to get a picture!

The bike was a two loop course, and it had a lot of sharp turns and the roads had a ton of potholes.  I think there were four speed bumps too.  Never thought I’d see those on a race course!  I knew I was behind from the swim, so I pushed the bike pretty hard.  I was probably overly cogniscent of the no-drafting rule, although I did have one guy draft off me for probably half a mile after I passed him.  I passed quite a few people, and was feeling pretty good on the bike.  I have to admit that I got a strange sense of satisfaction from blowing past guys wearing aero helmets on their $4000+ bikes (while I’m on the bike I commute with every day – complete with clip-on aero bars and a set of wheels that I bough off of for $130).  However, about 3/4 the way through the bike, my right calf muscle completely seized up.  Holy sh*t was it ever painful.  I thought I was going to have to get off my bike.  I slowed way down, unclipped from the pedal, and tried to move it around.  After about 30 seconds of lost time, I was able to move my leg enough to pedal again.  I managed to pass a couple of people in the last few hundred meters of the course, as they seemed to be taking the corners slower than I wanted to.  I also took my feet out of my shoes before the dismount line, and was able to seemlessly get off my bike without losing momentum.

Here’s the bike course condensed into 90 seconds:

Bike: 29:43 (22.2mph, 2/25 Age Group, 12/262 Overall)

The transition to the run also went about as perfectly as I could have anticipated.  There’s really not much to say about throwing my bike on the rack and grabbing my running visor!

T2: 0:33 (fastest transition in my age group by 8 seconds, 4th fastest transition overall)

On the final stretch!

On the final stretch!

Obviously I was excited to get out running, since that’s more of my forte than the other two sports.  When I started the run, I realized that if I could pull of a sub-20 5k, I’d be able to come in under an hour for the race.  I was able to pass a decent number of runners (some from my age group, some from wave of swimmers that went before us).  My leg held up ok, but it was definitely still hurting some from when it seized up on the bike.  My pace remained relatively consistent – in hind sight, I might have been able to push a little harder, but I didn’t know how well I’d hold up after pushing on the bike.

Run: 19:55 (6:23/mile, 2/25 Age Group, 8/262 Overall)

Final Time: 59:26 (3/25 Age Group, 17/262 Overall)

Nursing my calf right after the finish

Nursing my calf right after the finish

Checking the preliminary race results, in somewhat of a state of disbelief.

Checking the preliminary race results, in somewhat of a state of disbelief.

Post-race with the most beautiful spectator on the course (and the only one cheering for me!)

Post-race with the most beautiful spectator on the course
(and the only one cheering for me!)

Sometime this week, I’ll probably write more on my thoughts on the race.
For now, I’m just basking in what I consider to be a victory!



  1. Running Girl says:

    Congrats on popping the tri cherry and not drowning in the lake! I no longer have pity for you and your phobia of sea monsters in dark water. Podium. On your first one. Geez.

    • I’m still not sure I’m completely over the water monsters, but at least they didn’t get me this time! At least this time I swam the backstroke after I had swallowed water and couldn’t breathe, instead of after having a panic attack.

  2. Awesome job!!! I am so glad that you got through the swim (and pretty decently too)!! 3rd in your AG!! Congrats!!!

  3. Brittany says:

    Wow, podium on your first tri, congrats!! You’ll be killing it once you get a little more comfortable on the swim. Great job!

    • Thanks! The swim is definitely my weak spot. Hopefully I can get more comfortable and relaxed in the water. My technique is still abysmal, but I’m not sure how much my technique will truly improve until I can relax. The best freestyle stroke in the world won’t help much if I’m having to keep my head out of the water for half the race!

  4. Nice effort. Your bike split looks almost as good as your run split given the rankings. Well done.

    • I was definitely surprised at where I came out in the bike rankings. I didn’t think I was that strong of a biker, but I guess all of the commuting miles paid off. I know that the commuting has definitely helped my running out as well (more on that in a later post, assuming I get around to writing about it!)

  5. Gina says:

    Heck yeah it’s a victory! Congrats!

  6. Jill says:

    What a sandbagger! 😉

    Congratulations! And welcome to the tri world; I think you’ve found a new calling!! Well done!

  7. Jesse – it’s safe to say you rocked the hell out of this tri! Congrats on an awesome finish and so great that your lady was there to support you!

  8. Congratulations! Can’t wait to find out what’s next, maybe an Ironman in the future?!

  9. Well done! Send us a swim video if you want us to look at your technique.

  10. That is a HUGE victory! Congratulations on your first tri AND for placing in your age group! Sounds like your swim went a lot better! And you absolutely rocked the run!
    Odd about the calf cramp. That happened to my hubby on the bike in his first 1/2 Iron this season. They say to take a magnesium supplement.

    • Thank you!
      This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten these calf cramps. I’ve noticed that I bike with my toes pointed down (more than keeping my feet flat), and I think that might have something to do with it. I was listening to a podcast recently (an episode of Endurance Planet) where they were talking about rubbing magnesium lotion on your legs. I should pay more attention to what I’m eating, and see how much magnesium I’m getting in my diet. Does Kelly take a supplement now, or was the cramping just a one-time occurrence for him?

      • I’ve never heard of magnesium lotion; I’m sure it would help!
        During racing season, Kelly does take magnesium supplements. He still cramps sometimes (hasn’t on a swim in a while though!) but they are a lot better.
        Somebody once told him a combined mag/cal vitamin, but I think just magnesium seems to be helping!

  11. Awesome job on your first triathlon! Whoa! You are fast! I doing my first duathlon this weekend and a little nervous. I’m so glad I found your blog and read this post!

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