2016 Lavaman Triathlon

Now that I'm home, have slept, am hydrated, and have gotten a massage...I'm ready to talk about my first triathlon.

Over a year ago one of my friends suggested that we sign up for Lavaman. Being a sucker for most forms of athletic punishment (especially if it involves running), I agreed. Since I am a terrible swimmer, I started swim training before I ever officially signed up for the race. And over a year later, I finished the race two minutes under my goal time. 

A lot of things fell into place training-wise the last month or so before the race...and then I got really sick and missed a week and a half of workouts three weeks before the race. I also decided to be realistic about my goals when I remembered how much I hate being hot (the race was on the Big Island of Hawaii...I trained in Alaska, over the winter). 

Fortunately, we decided to go early so I could conquer my fear of swimming in the ocean well before race day. That was probably the second smartest decision I made throughout this whole process because I got to swim in calm water, rough water, different rough water, and cloudy water before race day (the first smartest being to wear my wetsuit for the race even though it meant starting with the "novice" group). I swam every morning for an entire week and shockingly had no issues doing it. The first day I was a little nervous and hesitant and only swam a few hundred meters, but after that it was much easier and by race day I didn't think twice about jumping in and going for it even though the water was choppy. 

The swim was tough because it was windy. The way out was much easier than the way back in due to the direction of the wind and visibility. It was pretty slow for me (but my watch also said I swam 700 yards farther than the course is supposed to be), but given the conditions ("washing machine swimming" as someone put it) I feel pretty good about it!

The transition from the swim to the bike was tough. We had thought that the whole way to the transition area would be carpeted, but it wasn't so there were some sections with asphalt and sharp rocks. I tried to run most of it but had to stop when I hit the asphalt. I also had a hard time getting started on my bike. My arms weren't cooperating with me so steering was hard, especially since I was trying to eat and drink!

The bike was fairly uneventful, other than the fact that there was a stiff headwind on the way back (which is disappointing because it's mostly downhill). I also spent about 10 miles trying not to throw up. It was hard to know why I felt sick, but my guess is that I was hot (even though I didn't feel hot because of the wind) and needed to drink more. Also, around mile 20 I decided that I was DONE biking...except I couldn't stop...so I kept going. I felt sick enough that I considered not running, but decided to wait and see how I felt after I got off the bike. 

My second transition was super fast. Bike in the rack, change shoes, grab hat, snack, and go. I felt ok once I got off the bike so I just decided to keep going. The heat didn't feel too bad right off the bat and I busted out a fast-ish first mile, but then I started to get hot and ended up walking a fair amount. There was a really long stretch of the course (about 2 miles) that had no shade and was on the hot pavement. That was really rough and I ended up walking most of it despite getting ice and water before starting as well as in the middle. You can see from my run pace that there was a LOT of walking. I'm totally fine with it. It was hot. My overall run pace (11:40/mi) was actually pretty on par for what I've run in the past when I'm tired, which is surprising because I felt so much slower than that!

My coach told me to put ice in my hat, down my shirt, and down my pants. I have to say that down my pants was the money spot. The best part was that everyone else was so hot that no one looked at you funny as you dumped a cup of ice down your shorts! 

The end of the course is a trail over coral and lava rock and then about 400 meters or so on sand on the beach. After moving for almost 4 hours, running on the sand was not easy nor fun...but I refused to walk across the finish line!

I even managed a smile when I crossed the finish line! Overall I'm really happy with the way things went and have some ideas on how to save time next year...none of which involve swimming, biking, or running faster (but I'll do those things too)! 

Next up is training for a half marathon in August...then back to tri training! But first...I will rest...which definitely involves going to bed at 7pm...and that means it's bedtime now!

Martha Rosenstein