Archive for the ‘TriRock’ Category

TriRock San Diego 2010: My First Triathlon

September 12, 2010 4 comments

TriRock photos.
TriRock photos (slideshow).

Special Thanks

Grandpa: $50.00 for registration; $60.00+ for hotel fees; cheering me on during the event; taking great pictures at the event (I wouldn’t have had any otherwise), driving back from the event.
Kevin: $20.00 for registration and swim lessons on multiple occasions (without them I may have drowned).
Mom: $20.00 for goggles; $60.00+ for tri suit; $70.00+ for bike gear; gas to get to the event, and her car so we could get the bike in and out easy.
Gregg: $50.00 for registration.
Mohammad: for giving me extensive advice on equipment and what to expect and ultimately helping me decide to go through with the triathlon.
Jarrett: for cheering me on and holding all my stuff right after the event.

Before the Event

When I was signing up for a few Rock ‘n’ Roll events I thought I would look at the other ones at the top of the page. They had the muddy buddy and some other links, I came across the TriRock Series. I fell in love with their colors right off the bat and the background image they had. I saw the medal they just announced and it was really awesome. I kept digging deeper and found it was a triathlon that happened to be only two weeks into school. I figured it might be something I could do later in a few years so I clicked out and kept doing summer things. I came back to the link a few weeks later and thought, why don’t I look into it a little more.

I asked my friend Mohammad if he knew anything about it and we talked a few times in depth about what to expect, what gear to get, and an endless supply of tips. I started thinking about it more and more, and I said to myself, “3 mile run, I do that all the time. 20k bike ride can’t possibly be that much, the only thing I would have to work on is the swim.” I said that I would do it and I asked my friend Kevin if he wanted to donate any money to it because I was a little broke. We kept talking and he offered to teach me strokes in the pool he was life-guarding at. We finally met up a week later when our schedules were in sync and he taught me what to do on his lunch breaks.

I had been swimming all my life but never learned how to do strokes and right away I learned that they were a great work out. I hope to continue learning how to swim and do strokes in the future, possibly this Winter and next Summer, there’s no pressure on my knees and legs and I feel great afterward. From then on, I was always swimming laps in my Grandpa’s pool. I would bike to his house and back which was about 5 miles and then swim roughly 1600 feet, I did this for a few days a week in the summer. Swimming in the longer pools was a lot easier to learn but only had the chance three or four times.

I started running a lot more at night, a few weeks before school started I would run for about an hour around twelve at night. It was a lot cooler in the garage that way. So, I would bike to my grandpa’s, swim, bike back, and then run at night. I didn’t do this every day but many of the days. If I didn’t do this, I would run a lot more, 4-5 miles usually.

As a runner, there’s really not much gear needed to be able to do marathons and half marathons, or even the shorter distances. If you have a pair of gym shorts and some shoes, it’ll be ok. For the triathlon, I was amazed at first how much I needed to be able to compete. [I would like to quickly say that I’m really thankful to everyone who sponsored me for this, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. I know that’s said a lot, but I literally didn’t have the kind of money I needed to do the event, so thank you. Very briefly to those who want to know you need: goggles, preferably a tri suit, a bike, a working helmet, flat kit, CO2 pumps, running and/or biking shoes, and a towel.]

Couldn’t do much training a week and a half before the event, mostly did running for a half an hour, I was working on this website, the MAPS website, my website, and school at the same time. I also had to work two 12 hour shifts right before the day of which was a little scary. The first day I stood up for 12 straight hours so I wouldn’t fall asleep at work and the next day was one of the toughest days I’ve had on that unit, it made the triathlon more interesting, especially pre-game nerves.


My little cousin Jarrett, my grandpa, and I left a Super 8 hotel the same way that we came in, the sky was the same dark blue, the cars were parked the same, and we woke up to a 4AM wake up call. Had a cookies and cream flavored protein bar and a bottle of water while I was waking up, threw on my tri suit and a jacket and we left 5 minutes later. From Hotel Circle it’s very easy to get to the triathlon, three freeway transfers that are only 1 or 2 miles apart and the convention center is right off the freeway. I would definitely recommend getting a hotel farther from the event to save money. We made it to the convention center and we accidentally went to the volunteer parking, so a guy directing traffic told us to just make a u-turn and go back around. We went back around and somehow were on the wrong side of the road, we knew this because a cop came over and told us. Thankfully, two or three other people were following behind so he didn’t give us a ticket.

From there, we went into the convention center parking and parked near the exit, a lesson learned from the San Francisco half marathon. Took everything out that I needed and went to the solutions tent to get my packet which they were so nice to have for me the day of the race. I thought there would be a few things involved in preparing that I would have to do right then but I didn’t realize how much they wanted us marked. I had tattoos on each side of my arms and my right calf with my race number. Then my division number and TriRock logo on my left calf. My little cousin and I took a bottle of water and toilet paper to the tattoos and it turned out very nice. This took about a half an hour at least. Then, I gave my jacket to my grandpa, put on the blue wrist band to get into the transition area, and went in to set up my stuff. I must have looked like a total goober, I walked in with all my things and a big mountain bike nearly tripping over everything. I looked for my number and found these small little holes to put your bike in. Everyone had these 10-speed racing bikes with small tires and I had to put mine off to the side and put the kickstand up. Most people had towels, I completely forgot mine, thankfully the person next to me let me use his. He was a nice guy, really helpful.

Right when I went into the transition area it was pretty scary. Most people looked ripped, more of a swimmers body form, really tone with a good amount of muscle. “What did I get myself into?” I thought. I had to ask a bunch of questions that most people probably assumed I should have known a long time before. Here comes this guy with a messed up seat on his bike, huge tires, no towel, a purple, broken helmet, no extra shirt to pin my race number to.

I did a little stretching, picked up some safety pins, and when I was walking out one of the guys next to  me helping me out says, “You look really nervous. You’ll be ok man.” Thankfully, I think by the end of getting ready at the transition I had 5 people help me out. The transition area closed and I had finished with about 2 minutes to spare so I was really lucky that we arrived so early. Word to the wise for people who are just starting out, try to be there at least an hour early. It’s a little different than the running events. There’s a lot of set-up involved and things to go wrong.

The Race

So, they closed out the transition area and I walked down to the hill that we were on before we swam. Kind of a rocky trail, even spectators were laughing at how far we had to go and they had hoped we didn’t have to walk back to the transition this way. When we got to the “swim area” before we went down to the dock to jump in, I noticed even more swimmers and it was a little more nerve racking. They set us up in waves and I was thankful to be in wave 9 so I could see how other people do it. They made a few announcements and I tried to switch my chronotracker on my leg from the right to the left because I must have been the only one there with it on the wrong side (and I checked a lot of feet). Thankfully, someone else broke theirs because I was sure I was going to be disqualified or yelled at. They put a zip tie over it and everything was fine. They let the first wave go and a few people cheered them on and almost everyone was at the edge of the rocks watching them.

A few waves went by and I met this girl that was as cold as I was. We were talking and I found out she is apart of this nonprofit organization that links kids with extreme athletes, people that swim Antarctica for fun or run the Sarah on the weekend. She was going to be pre-med but couldn’t handle the hospital politics and I believe she switched to environmental sciences, but I could be wrong. She told me how to use the swim cap because I didn’t really know how. She was telling me how nervous she was the first time, her hands were shaking.

We had two waves to go before ours and I can remember never being so nervous for any event ever. Some events I’ve wanted to throw up right before our division or corral started. I didn’t have to throw up on this one, I just remember a feeling in my chest and getting a little shaky. I don’t remember much other than that. It was our turn so we lined up to go down this ramp to the dock thinking to myself, “Oh my god, it’s finally happening, I’m going to drown.” I just sat there and let everyone go and went down to the dock last. One of the swimmers was left and one of his friends was in the water, “It’s not freezing at all.” I strapped my goggles on real tight. I figured I could trust the guy and boy was I wrong when I jumped in, haha. I felt the water rush down my body as I pencil dived in and I don’t think I’ve been that cold in water for a long time, if ever. I was shivering swimming to the first part of it. I had been holding my bladder for the last hour and let it all out, after that I don’t remember noticing the cold. I looked under the water and had a small fear of something biting me.

They gave us the signal to go and most of the swimmers started gunning it right away. A few of us dangled behind and I did a freestroke at first so I didn’t look that bad. They made it sound like we could just sit there for a long time but when everyone is going faster than you and everyone else is waiting on you, it’s really intimidating. After I got around the boey I did breast stroke the whole way. I was pretty happy that I made it before two other people did. About half way to the finish of the swim I guess they noticed I was going slow and had a swim buddy come and help me finish. I would have rather done it myself because I would have gone faster but it was nice talking to her. She has been doing triathlons for about 12 years and I was telling her that I was more of a runner, not really a swimmer. She was telling me that it’s more of a runners game usually because the swim is such a small part of it. I was surprised, because it seemed the opposite for me.

I made it to the stairs and was amazed because I felt like I was only in the water for 5 minutes, the race results said 14 minutes and I was assuming it would take me 45 minutes. Most people finished in about 6 or 7. I was pretty happy with my time considering most people in my division were super ripped and looked like they had been swimming either all of high school or all their lives and the whole triathlon looked like they had been training for a long time.

I went to the transition, all the people in my division were gone by then. I used the guys towel real quick to dry off my legs, I put some Vaseline on my feet, put my shoes on, and then noticed my helmet didn’t have the strap. Not only that, but it didn’t fit, I couldn’t put a safety pin on it and I couldn’t tie it at all. I went up to the lady that was letting people out and checking if they had everything. At first she told me I couldn’t go out and tried to work with me. I was real worth her and just said, “I’m not doing it for time, I’ll go slow.” It wasn’t hard to tell, I had a mountain bike for one with huge tires and I wasn’t exactly running out of the transition. She wasn’t happy with it but she let me go. Then I got stopped by the next guy and he said, “You gotta strap your helmet.” He runs over and I told him it was broken, we went through the same thing the other girl said. They came off on the offensive for it but in all honesty they were really nice about it considering the liability and most triathlons I would have been disqualified. They just kind of said ride safe. That ate up a lot of my time, I’m not sure how to check how long the transition took but I wouldn’t doubt it took at least 15 minutes.

Finally, got on the bike and right when I got on it hit me that I was a guy, in a one piece, with a purple helmet on that didn’t even fit me. At that moment, I was almost glad there were only a few spectators on the sidelines of the bike trail, most of which were event regulators making sure we went the right way. I was on my bike and I remembered hearing to just take it slow so I did. It seemed like a 100 people passed me by the time I finished the bike part. Even people on beach cruisers were hauling down the course. I made it to the 6 mile point and it felt like I should have been done already. It was really tiring and I definitely noticed why those tires are so thin and don’t have much grip. Most people had a bike time that was similar to their running time, almost everyone. My bike time was double my run time, so it’s easy to tell that it was definitely the harder part of the event.

I finally went to the transition and started running (I didn’t know where to go so I could put Vaseline on my inner thighs so I  just decided to go without and hoped I didn’t get a rash). I met up with the guy who was trying to fix my helmet. The guy still didn’t look happy about it. I walked to the starting line for the run part and then did a slow jog. I met up with this nice couple who had done some Rock ‘n’ Roll events, we’re both going to be at the Las Vegas event in December.  Right away I noticed the shorts part of the suit was really helpful with running. The next thought after that was to buy compression shorts. If they are anything like the tri suit then compression shorts are invaluable. There’s also no room for cell phones, cameras, or iPods, so those won’t weigh me down either because I won’t be able to bring them.

After about a mile in, I noticed that my legs were fine considering all the exercise I had just done. No muscles were cramping, my body was pretty loose, and I noticed I could go faster if I wanted too. Interesting considering the last 5k I remember doing was the Donate Life Run/Walk and I finished in 33 minutes which is about 10 minute mile pace and I was huffing and puffing at the finish. I finished this one in 34 minutes which is roughly 10:30 pace. I was amazed, I could have gone a lot faster than I was going when only two months ago I started training and I was dying at the finish of an event last April. I kept talking with the couple and I let them run off first because they were taking pictures so I backed up a few steps and let them go. I saw the finish line and the timer and made sure I ran through for any pictures.

I had completed my first triathlon, “I’m a triathlete.”


They gave me a bottle of water and my medal. Put my medal on and then chugged the water. I was pretty happy at the point that I finished because I wasn’t feeling the best a few days before the event. Went and got my t-shirt and goodie-bag from the information center. I pulled out two water bottles sponsors gave them and I said to myself, “Those would have been helpful.” I didn’t have a drink of water during the event until the water stations during the run. I only drank two small cups the first time and nothing after that. They had gu also, a lifesaver, it tasted so good. They handed me a vanilla flavor (Vanilla Bean), no reflux, and was amazing.

Went to get the free meal that they had, other than the bananas it was kind of funky tasting. My little cousin and I were laughing about it. I was frying in the sun so we left right away. I was happy when I got home and didn’t have a sunburn.

The traffic wasn’t bad at all since there were only about a thousand participants, thankfully. We made it to my uncles house and had a few pieces of cake. Well, I had a few pieces of birthday cake and they had one piece. We went to Claim Jumper to celebrate finishing the triathlon and my birthday. Went home, unpacked a few things, took a shower, uploaded a few pictures, and passed out. Slept 15 hours that night, went to my classes that morning, and then slept another 11 hours the next day. I feel a lot better.

I look at the medal and I remember where I was three years ago. Even though we wanted to do a triathlon, we, or at least I, never thought I would actually participate in one and finish it. I keep telling people that I’m not really a runner, I just run. And I end with, if I can do it, so can you. I’m still learning constantly about these events and what to do for them, I’m not an expert at all, but I know a lot. It’s taken me nearly four years to realize that pacing myself is very important and running real quick in the start because I won’t be able to do enough in the end is not the way to go. That I’m actually able to do more if I do less throughout.

I don’t know how many times I embarrassed myself to do this triathlon but I finished it. Hopefully, a few people read this and learn to say, “I can.” Because there’s not much that separates me from the average person reading this blog. You can do it too if you want to with a little bit of effort.

I may not show it, but this one I’m really proud of, more proud than any of my 5k’s, 10k’s, and half marathons. So, thank you for getting this far in the post and thank you for reading. I really appreciate it.

Categories: Inspiring, Triathlons, TriRock
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