Posted by: Jen | October 12, 2009

Golden State Triathlon: A Race Report

The day started early – about 5:30 am after 5 hours of sleep, give or take. I got up, did my usual pre-race shower (just to get the hair wet, it’s easier to braid that way) and started getting dressed.  We were running a little bit late, but still managed to make a stop at Starbucks – coffee for my wonderful support crew (two friends volunteering, one husband attending, and my better half supporting/taking photos) and Perfect Oatmeal and a banana for yours truly (and of course some coffee, I needed a jolt).

It took us about 15-20 minutes to get to the park and man oh man, it was freezing. Newbie mistake #1 – I didn’t bring sweats or something to wear before the race. I had a jacket, thankfully, but no pants. I got body marked and went to set up my transition area, better half in tow with his camera and my gear. He took pictures while I set up transition:

Mixing my Accelerade

Mixing my Accelerade

After I got my transition area set up, we had a bunch of time to kill before the race. My friend D and her husband C were also participating – they got there just as I was finishing up. We checked out the swim area, hit the porta-potty, all the usual pre-race shtuff. The super sprint race started 30  minutes before ours, and at about that time I decided to go ahead and get my wetsuit on because it had to be warmer than standing around in my trisuit.

Before the race startedD, C, and I make the long walk across the bridge to the other side of the river, where the race was set to begin. It was extremely painful because we were barefoot and our feet were going numb from the cold. (Air temp was around 55 degrees at the most.) We finally made our way to the beach and checked out the scene – the turnaround buoy sure looked far away from our vantage point and there was a pretty strong current. We could see it while the super sprint swimmers were crossing the river; it pushed them way off course. I started to feel a little nervous.

Soon enough it was our turn, and the sprint tri began! I was in the 4th wave – they had women 29 and under and Athenas all start together. The countdown began and we were off! I made Newbie Mistake #2 – started out way too fast. The current had been pushing against us as we waited to start and I knew better, but I did it anyway. Needless to say, I got out of breath quick and had to stop at the kayak for about 20 seconds to catch my breath. I got back in the game and started swimming nice and easy. I kept telling myself to remember everything I had learned in my open water swim classes (many thanks to Leslie and the great coaches at Swim-Art!). The water was clear so I could see all the way to the bottom. I distracted myself by looking at the dirt, seaweed, etc between breaths. I knew I had a ways to go so I only sighted every 12 strokes or so. Every time I looked up, though, it seemed like I’d never get to that buoy. The current was really strong – I’d guess at least two knots. At about the 2/3 point to the buoy, the river got really shallow, and a lot of people were standing up and walking. It was rather bizarre. Another swimmer and I looked at each other and laughed that we didn’t expect a run event during the swim!

Finally we got to that darn buoy and I made the U-turn. Ahhh, finally, the current was working WITH me and not against me. I felt like I was flying on the way back. However, the current was so strong I had to be careful when I made the turn to the beach – I was getting pulled off course. I made it to the beach, hit the sand, started peeling off my layers, and ran up the staircase to the chute towards transition. I got hung up behind someone trying to get her tag off (the race wasn’t chip timed, so we had a paper tag pinned to our wetsuit zipper tab and the volunteers had to tear it off) but finally got around her.

I look a little manic here. I can't feel my toes!

I look a little manic here. I can't feel my toes!

Swim Time: 21 minutes, maybe 22? Not sure. Again, not chip timed.  (Goal time was 17-18 min.)

T1: I can’t feel my feet, but my hands are working. I pull off my wetsuit as quickly as I can and dry off my feet, stuff them into my socks, put on my running shoes and belt and helmet, and off I go. I stopped my swim watch at 23:51 so I’m guessing the time was about 2:30 for T1, including the snafu in the chute.


This course was a 5-mile loop, repeated three times. It was draft-legal, so it was a really neat experience to see the groups riding together in a tight cluster. I didn’t draft anyone, but I did get drafted a couple of times. I was sure to say “great job” to anyone appearing to struggle or people riding mountain/hybrid/not road bikes. I’ve been there, so I knew how they felt. My front derailleur was rattling and grinding the whole time, so I spent the entire ride worrying about that, trying to find a gear that didn’t make a ton of noise, and basically trying to get through without a major incident. I think I could have done far better on the bike but I was worried about the derailleur and I didn’t want to push it. I saw a couple of people who had bike problems; one woman was walking back to the start with her bike. I didn’t want that to be me.

Bike time

Bike Time: 57:55, average 16.3 MPH (Garmin said the course was 16.9 miles) – way slower than I wanted.

T2: At this point I saw D’s husband, who had already finished the race. I told him I still couldn’t feel my feet (numb from the cold) and he told me I’d feel them soon enough. He was right! I think T2 took less than a minute. All I had to do was switch my helmet for my hat. Everything else had been done in T1.


I knew this was my strongest event – I’ve been a runner for years! I set a half-marathon PR last weekend! I felt strong heading into the run. Didn’t notice any Jell-O feelings or anything. While I didn’t practice much by way of bike-to-run brick workouts, I guess I did enough (or I didn’t push hard enough on the bike, which I suspect is the case). The run course was a beautiful out-and-back on the American River Parkway. Aid stations were available at miles 1 and 2 (and they handed out water/Clif Shots at the start). I ran on the dirt path next to the paved trail for the most part and kept up a pretty steady pace. Towards mile 2, I started to feel my feet again. That was weird. I had been neck-and-neck with one woman a year older than me – right before mile 3, she pulled ahead but I went into a sprint in the last 1/10 mile and we blasted into the finish chute together (she beat me by about a second and thanked me after for pushing her through).

Grabbing my water at the run start

Grabbing my water at the run start

Final time: 1:54:08 (beat my goal of sub-2:00, though I didn’t meet my goal of 1:45)

Newbie Mistake #3, which relates to #1 – I didn’t bring anything to change into after the race. I only had my jacket and my Running Divas t-shirt (I had left everything at my friend’s house.) I cooled down, stretched some, enjoyed the post-race meal of tricolor pasta in red sauce, grapes, cantaloupes, salad, and Chips Ahoy. They also had three kinds of beer! I packed up my gear and waited for preliminary results. When I saw I was the fourth Athena, I was so excited! I would be getting an award, at my first tri to boot!

The awards ceremony took FOREVER but finally the MC got through the women – D took third in her age group too! I was super proud of her. I hadn’t won an age group/Athena award since March 2008, when I took third in my AG at a small 5K in New York.

Awards ceremony!

Awards ceremony!

My first tri was a great experience – I only made a few small mistakes and I know what to work on before my next race. I have just over 6 months to train, which should be plenty of time. 🙂

Many thanks to everyone for all the pre and post-race support and words of encouragement!



  1. Congrats Jen, great race report!!

  2. Nice job Jen! So happy I got to be a part of it!

  3. Jen, you never cease to AMAZE us all! Keep on Keepin’ on!!!
    love ya,
    Auntie Di

  4. Great job, Jen! I love this Tri Report! I’m so proud of you, especially for your first tri!

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