Last weekend, on a whim, I signed up for the Madeira beach triathlon. My friend Chris was signed up to guide a paratriathlete for the race (so cool, and definitely something I want to do some day!) so we drove down together bright and early on Sunday morning. When my alarm went off ay 4:25am I was definitely second guessing my idea to sign up. Why did I think this was a good idea?
It was an easy 40 minute drive to the beach and we arrived with a good 45 minutes or so until transition closed. Though I had picked up my packet on Wednesday, I still had to go over to the registration tent to pick up my bike and helmet stickers, which hadn’t arrived in time for packet pickup. The tent was kind of a disorganized mess. There was one long registration line, which as far as I could tell was where I needed to be to grab my stickers. After standing in that line for a good 5 minutes, I realized that there was yet another line that was running parallel to the tables, which was actually the line for picking up the stickers. Ugh. I hopped to that line, and then once I got closer to the table I saw the RD there handing out stickers. He seemed a bit frazzled, trying to hand out stickers while answering other people’s questions. Perhaps he should have delegated this job to someone else? I was getting annoyed because I like to get to transition early and here I was wasting time in these lines- which is exactly why I had picked up my packet early in the first place! It also didn’t help that I had to go to the bathroom really, really badly. After finally getting my stickers and my chip, I put them in their designated places, and high tailed over to transition so I could quickly get set up and then run to the bathroom.
Setting up seemed easier than usual- I don’t know if it’s because I’m finally experienced enough to have my routine down, or that I was not stressing about this race at all, or if it was because all I wanted to do was to get to the bathroom as fast as possible. So as soon as I was done, I walked out and stood in the bathroom line. O.M.G. There were TWO portapotties and then the beach bathroom, which someone told me had three stalls (for the women, probably about the same on the men’s side). For a race with about 500 people, this was NOT enough. Note to the RD- GET MORE PORTAPOTTIES! Ok, enough potty talk.
I headed to the swim start a half mile down the beach, where I did a little warm up and then met Keara! Finally, after 5 other waves, it was our turn! One of the main reasons I did this race was that it had a half mile swim (as opposed to a quarter mile, which most other sprints have), so I wanted to capitalize on this leg of the race as much as possible. I got out with the front group, and saw one girl take off, but then I settled into a comfortable stroke pretty quickly on the feet of another girl. I don’t think she liked it too much though because I would occasionally graze her feet and she would kick really hard to try and lose me. Somewhere around the second buoy she stopped for half a second (maybe to check her goggles?) and I moved up along side of her. I picked it up just a bit, and at this point we started encroaching on the waves ahead of us. I lost track of the girl and focused on my race. I was swimming strong, hoping I wasn’t pushing it too hard, and I just kept plowing down people in the waves in front of me. All throughout the swim, I noticed people walking. The water was quite shallow at times- maybe would have been chest high- and SO MANY people walked it! I heard a few people saying they dolphin dived the whole thing! I don’t stand up unless my hands touch, so I kept going. I passed my friend Chris at the last bouy, gave him a holler and kept going. I was hoping to catch a tiny wave on my way in, but no such luck. Instead, I ran over some people. Oh well.
Time: 11:04 (1st Female OA, I think).
I ran up the beach and into transition, and made an immediate right. All of the racks looked mostly empty and I was wondering what the heck was going on. Oh, that’s right, there were two rows of racks on one side of the median, and then two on the other. I hadn’t taken time to go through the entirety of transition when I was setting up, and it came back to bite me. I quickly realized my mistake and cut across the median to my bike. Helmet and sunglasses on, now let’s get out of here!
My shoes were on the bike, and I had a decent mount, though not super. Maybe 100 yards from the mount line there were 2 rumble strips and 2 speed bumps, which wasn’t a super way to start off, but I got going pretty quick after that. Then there was a short straightaway before going up the first bridge. I wanted to have my feet in my shoes before the tiny climb, so I hurriedly velcroed them in. The bike was a single loop, 9.82 miles long, with two small bridges. They covered the bridge grates with thin carpet, and I’m not sure that really helped. Going over one of the bridges, I heard a guy yelling “Woah! Whoa!” which I could relate to- they were kind of slippery! My goal was to try and average 21-22mph, despite having ridden almost 50 miles (at that pace) the day before. I also wanted to maintain my lead as long as possible. I didn’t wear a watch so I had no idea how fast I was going, but I felt speedy enough. Maybe a little more than halfway through, a girl from my wave passed me. Darn it. I checked her calf and it read “37”. Phew, at least she wasn’t in my age group. On the last little stretch (maybe two miles?) there was an annoying headwind, but soon I saw a volunteer with a flag indicating that I was approaching the dismount line. I unvelcroed my shoes, pulled my feet out, and dismounted pretty well, and into transition I went.
Time: 27:25, 21.5 mph (ish) 6th AG
Bike racked, helmet off, and then I put on my socks and shoes. For a millisecond I contemplated running sockless, but decided that the sand in my shoes wouldn’t be so fun. So, I took what seemed like forever to put on my socks, then shoes, grabbed my visor, watch, and race belt and headed out of transition. Again, not investigating transition cost me a few seconds, as I didn’t run the shortest distance to get out. Oh well.
Time: 0:58 (apparently I like consistency in my transitions?)
A beach run was definitely NOT something I was looking forward to. It was one of the reasons I was not going to do this race in the first place. Had it been 2003 and I was guarding on the beach, I would have been pumped for a beach run, but I haven’t trained for a beach run. Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Though the tide was coming up, there was still a decent amount of hard sand. We ran out a mile and a half and then back the same way, crossed the soft sand, and into the finish chute. I struggled a little to get my watch on, but a few hundred yards I was finally able to secure and start it. I didn’t know where the girl was that had passed me on the bike, but I was hopeful that I was still in contention for a podium spot, so I dug deep and ran hard. The first km ticked off at 4:44. That’s fast for me, even if it is only a 5k. I slowed down some, because number two ticked off at 4:49. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself passing people on the run- this NEVER happens, so I got pretty excited! I also realize that I was in one of the later waves, so of course I’d be running down people. Just after the turnaround, I was passed by a female, and my heart sunk when I saw “33” on her leg. For about 5 steps I tried to stay with her, but she was going too fast for me. Not too long after that, I spotted Keara on the other side. I knew she was a speedy runner, so my goal became to try and hang on and not get beat on the run. With a little less than half a mile to go (I knew this distance because it was where we started the swim!), the gas in my tank was running out. My legs were definitely tired, but I knew I didn’t have much further to go. “I can do anything for half a mile” I repeated to myself. Finally, I crossed over the soft sand (UGH THIS SUCKED) and into the finish chute. When I stopped my watch, it read 5.16. Run was a little long and I was so happy it was over!
Time: 24:48, 3rd AG, 4:44/km average
Final time: 1:05:12
4th Female OA
1st Female 30-34
(oh, and that girl that passed me on the run? She was the overall winner)
All in all, I’d say I had a good day! I’m interested to see what I could do in a sprint if I was rested, but this is not the season for that!
I’m not sure if I’d do this race again; there were definitely some things I really liked about it (the swim, the bike course, the post race food- hello Rita’s! and good beer), but there were also things I didn’t like so much (having to pick up my stickers race day, the lack of portapotties). I guess I’ll have to see what happens next year!
And of course, a huge THANK YOU to SOAS for being an awesome company and outfitting me with a super cute, functional tri kit. My favorite part has to be that I NEVER ever have to pull down the top so my belly doesn’t show. I was CONSTANTLY doing that with all other kits, and I don’t have to touch this one at all! I love my SOAS kit!!