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A few weeks ago I decided I needed "practice race" in anticipation of the Denver Triathlon, so I spent this past Saturday in Windsor for the Pelican Fest Triathlon.  This fast, flat, short sprint tri was a great way to start the season and get excited and ready to race the Denver Triathon on June 10!  With ½ mile swim, 10 miles on the bike, and a 5k run my drive to Windsor and back took longer than the event itself!  Fortunately, when I race Denver in a week and a half not only do I get to race a sweet course, I don't have to commute!  Hurray for the only triathlon in Downtown Denver!  

For a day that dawned with hazy and grey skies, this less than 300 person triathlon kicked off right at the beginning of a beautiful Colorado spring day!  The 8am start saw a glassy lake, perfect for an early morning swim, if only the water temperature were warmer!  62 degrees doesn’t seem that chilly until you realize you brought your sleeveless wetsuit, you’re all warmed up, and you have to get back out of the water for a beach start.  The layout of the buoys made for a slightly longer swim if you were sighting them instead of the transition out of the water, but all in all the swim course was straightforward.  If only I’d actually managed an open water swim in frigid waters BEFORE my first race of the season!  And one of these days I’m going to remember to use my legs for more than rudders so they get a chance to warm up for the ride.  Note to self for the Denver Tri:  USE YOUR LEGS!  And enjoy the warmer water!  My swim performance wasn’t what I hoped it would be, especially after the shock of warming up waiting for the start only to submerge myself in Polar Bear Club worthy waters once again (the in and out three times trick didn’t work here…) but I survived and pushed on to transition one.   

The transition area could have been a bit of a challenge, but I’m a huge believer in showing up early, walking transitions, and adjusting my race plan as necessary.  Good thing I chose a little Deadmau5 “Strobe” for my transition walks because the in and out areas were a bit of a hike!  Pelican Fest organized its transition area in a parking area that only accommodates a single row of parking and a drive aisle – this translates into rows upon rows of two freestanding bike stands.  In all, the transition area was about 600 feet long, and 15-20 feet wide, which made passing other transitioners on foot, bike in tow, a little more challenging.  (Not to mention part of the run course takes up the adjacent sidewalk.)  I know it takes me some time to wiggle out of my wetsuit, and that I hate running in my soggy bike shoes so I opted to set up at the far end of the transition zone, closer to the bike out.  Granted, this didn’t save me running in bike shoes on the bike in, but at least by then I’m used to using my legs again and my shoes are slightly drier from all that bike wind!  The bike out and run out were at the same end of the transition zone, so my location worked out nicely for me.  I'm definitely looking forward to the separate transition zones at the Denver Triathlon - they may still be parking lots, but I like that the transition areas are smaller and you're in and out FAST!  

For one of the first times ever I actually felt like I killed it on the bike – must be because I have a couple of awesome teammates who are willing to go on “death rides” and an intern who actually makes me leave the office to ride mid-week.  The bike course was essentially a big, 10-mile square with gentile uphill the first half, and subtle downhill the rest.  If I hadn’t looked at the course profiles, though, I would have assumed it was pretty much flat.  I love fast, flat, and generally straight riding, and nothing makes Maddie (my bike) and I happier than cruising through Eastern Colorado’s county roads and farmland.  Except, of course, the 8th Avenue Viaduct, downtown pavement, and city skyline views.  I was able to maintain my speed above 20mph, a race day first, and came off the bike feeling a little disappointed the bike was over so soon, but also pumped that I at least partially made up for my poor swim. 

Transition two was pretty fast and furious, aside from my awkward jaunt from the dismount to switch shoes and hit the run.  Have I mentioned I feel silly running in my bike shoes?  

The 5k course was an out and back, then past the transition zone and on for another half mile back to where the swim started, all along Lake Windsor.  Not only was the run scenic, it also happened to be flat!  For a girl who will power up hills, but won’t be entirely happy doing so, this is a HUGE bonus.  With an aid station at about a mile and a quarter, just shy of the turn around, the out and back portion of the run was a great chance to admire the lake and views to the foothills.  I love running along the water, and one of my favorite places it do it is along the Platte River through Confluence Park.  I can't wait to kick it into high gear when I head out on one of my favorite runs as part of next weekend's race!  

To be honest, I’ve never stuck around long enough for raffles and award ceremonies because I’ve never had need to  This time, however, when I checked the posted race results after a few pancakes and a bottle of water I was elated to see I finished 3rd in my division.  Until recently I would never have openly discussed my weight, but the acknowledgement by USAT and others that triathletes come in all shapes and sizes has encouraged me to embrace my weight and actually enter races in the “Athena” division.  There is no shame in loving your body the way it’s naturally built, and at 158 pounds I’m not the smallest, most athletic, or most ripped girl on the course.  But I train hard, I race hard, and the pride that comes with placing in the top three for the first time is awesome regardless of who you are or what division you race.  I'm already excited to give it a go with a little home field advantage for the Denver Triathlon on June 10th!  Are you ready?  I am!  
sharon dymerski
5/30/2012 02:36:29 am

that's my gisele. you go , girl. love, mme d

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Cindy D
5/31/2012 02:48:59 am

Happy to read your blog. I am completely new at this and just hope to finish my first sprint. I have no idea how to manage the transitions and what to wear!!! How do I change from swimming to biking to running top that provides needed support????

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6/3/2016 11:11:59 pm

Thank you for sharing this information. I think, that a lot of people have read this article and it was nice from your side to publish it. Thank you for your job. Keep it up!

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We can't do anything professionally without practicing. So I'm sure practice should be the most important part in preparation to a race.

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