On Saturday, October 13th I competed in my second triathlon ever at Lake Powell. It was held at Wahweap Bay, a few miles from Page, Arizona. My wife and I drove down the night before to register and get a hotel room in Page. They promoted hotels right by the event, but Page is plenty close. I wouldn’t worry about needing to be a half mile from the venue rather than six miles. It ends up being about the same. We ate dinner at an Italian buffet (or at least it had a buffet option) in Page, the name of which escapes me. It’s on a side street from the main loop, and shouldn’t be too hard to find if you’re really interested. The food was good and most importantly didn’t cause me any problems during the race.
The next morning we were there bright and early. It was just a bit chilly but not too bad. There weren’t very many participants, but for me this was a plus. Enough to make it fun, not so many as to make it crowded. There was a light breeze and virtually no clouds. Just bright, sunny, and clear.
Just like my first triathlon, the water was down in the lake and so there was a bit of a walk from the swim to the transition area. At my first triathlon the walk was steeper and lumpier, but at this one it was a long, sustained, uphill walk. I mean it was a good 1/4 to 1/2 mile. Look at the photo of me stretching by my bike and you’ll see how far away the water is.
For this triathlon I rented a sleeveless wetsuit so that I could compare it to the sleeveful one I had used previously. My opinion? I think I like the sleeves.
The water was cool but not as cold as at my first triathlon. Some people swam without wetsuits at all, although I’m not sure I’d recommend that to anyone, especially if you’re a beginner. My swim went A LOT better than my first triathlon. Bear in mind at my first triathlon I had gotten Lasik two weeks before and therefore hadn’t swam for those two weeks. Plus I had only started training for triathlons 6 weeks or so before that, so in other words I had been a pile of lard, swam for 6 weeks, didn’t swim for 2 weeks, and then did a triathlon. Bad idea. Much better to swim up until the day of or two days prior. Although my time was only two minutes faster (16:16.370 this time vs. 18:21.970 the first time, or a 12% improvement) it felt a lot better because I didn’t feel like I was going to drown while in the water, and I didn’t feel like I was going to die as soon as I got out of the water.
As soon as I got out of the water my wife ran over and pulled my wetsuit off and took it. This was not planned, and I’m not sure if that’s even allowed, but she did it and nobody complained to me about it. It sure helped and I think some other people were jealous. I had brought my running shoes down to the beach so that I could run up the hill in them. I was glad to have them there because running that 1/2 mile in bare feet and stepping on rocks and pebbles would have been a nightmare, although the people around me running in bare feet didn’t seem to mind.
This time my transition from swim to bike went a lot more smoothly and it shows in the time (2:10 vs. 7:31, whew!). I guess that’s why the call transition time “the fourth event”. Just getting the transition down shaved five minutes off my time, whereas my vast swimming improvement only took off two minutes.
The first half of the bike course was through the park and was mostly smooth, except that a lot of cracks in the road had been filled in with tar and made for some bumpy riding in places. It would have been nice to have some nice, smooth asphalt the whole way but I can’t complain too much. This part was mostly flat. We exited the park on the south side, near the dam, and then we turned around to come back and there’s a nice, long, somewhat steep hill. Luckily I’ve been training on hills and it wasn’t an enormously long hill so I was able to charge up it fairly easily. Once to the top it was mostly level again until we re-entered the park. The last part was virtually all downhill, and pretty fast downhill with some fast corners. I cut 10 minutes off my bike time! Wow. 38:47.360 vs. 48:11.330.
Going into the run I was already feeling a lot better than I was during my first triathlon. A LOT better. We ran the same route we had biked, but instead of being a loop it was out and back. Again, mostly flat and quite pleasant, really. And as with the other events my time improved quite a bit (27:55.430 vs. 34:24.100). See that gut in the photo? Man, that thing has got to go. Somebody get me a knife or some broccoli or something.
My overall time ended up being over a 20 minute improvement (01:30:30.81 vs. 01:51:18.170 or roughly 18%) over the first time, and I felt a lot better at the end. At the end of the first one I was saying “This does get easier, right?” and at the end of the second I was saying “Wow, that was a lot easier than the first time.” The improvement in just one month was phenomenal.
Here are my final times:
The volunteers were great, and I liked that they handed out a ton of good prizes at the end of the race before anyone had a chance to leave. I didn’t win anything, but it seemed like a fourth of the people there did, and some of stuff was really good, like $100 bike helmets.
My favorite part? Those Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches they were giving out. Man, those tasted good.