Race Report: Bintan Triathlon

by Tabitha Kidwell

Well, it’s been a week since the triathlon, and I think I am fully recovered! (Actually, I went for my first post-race run this morning, and now my foot hurts! What gives? I guess it’s okay, I can chill out for the next few weeks and not run, but I wanted to get back into more frequent running to start marathon training in July. Maybe this is a sign that I need to chill out. I’ll try.)

How was the race? In a word – HARD! I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be. I knew I could do each event individually without too many problems, but doing them one right after another proved to be really difficult! I probably should have expected as much, huh? I was surprised at how hard the transitions were – I thought “Hey, no problem, just changing your shoes and putting on a helmet… I could do that when I was, like, 4 years old.” I didn’t know how hard it would be after swimming half a mile, or how tricky it would be to hop off the bike and run into the transition area – my legs felt like jelly, like I was just learning to walk.

Well, to start from the beginning, the swim was pretty rough at first, with the tangle of humanity all charging into the water at the same time. I had never done a running start to a swim, so starting a little out of breath was a challenge right from the beginning, not to mention the 200 other competitors kicking me in the face. It took until I got around the halfway buoy and started heading back that I found a good rhythm, though trying to find myself a spot among the other competitors caused me some trouble with swimming straight. I would try to move a little to the right to get some space, then would look up and see that I was headed almost parallel to the shore rather than perpendicular. Oops. That probably wasted some energy. Direction just isn’t an issue when you’re swimming alone in a pool. So some more open water swimming is definitely called for.

But after only 19:11, the swim was over and I raced out of the water to the transition area. I had a pretty slow transition (2:31), because I forgot to eat my energy gel until the end, and then wasted some time drinking water to choke it down. I should have been doing that while putting on my shoes, helmet, gloves, etc., but I got caught up in the moment and forgot. So, still a bit out of breath, I ran my bike out of the transition area, hopped on, and pedaled up the hill that marked the beginning of the bike course (yes, pretty annoying to start with a hill, but if you are swimming in the ocean, the only way to go is up.). There were rolling hills throughout the 12.4 miles. When I biked part of the course the day before, I thought the hills would be no problem, but I definitely noticed them during the race! All-in-all, though, the bike course was pretty nice. I did the 20k in 51:51, then headed back into the transition area to drop off my bike and get ready for the run.

I haven’t started using clips, so I was already wearing my running shoes, meaning this transition was basically just a matter of dropping the bike and heading out. I think I had drunk too much water on the bike – I was a little sloshy in the tummy to start out. It was an odd sensation, too, to start a run out of breath and tired, so the run that I thought would just be autopilot was much more difficult than your usual Sunday morning 5K. Those rolling hills were back, too, and I have to admit that I walked up the first couple. At least I wasn’t the only one – I was passed while walking by a woman whose race bib listed her name as “Flash,” then she started walking and I passed her, then she passed me, then I passed her, etc., for the first 2K or so. We also passed a bunch of dudes in fancy matching biking jerseys – since the men had started 15 minutes earlier, that meant they were really the back of the pack, and that maybe buying that fancy jersey was maybe the most race prep they had done. But, hey, I still passed them! After a hilly first half, we were headed back to the beach, and it got a little easier as I got into a good rhythm. It felt like I was running really absurdly slow, but my chip says I ran the 5K in 30:11, which is basically just about the speed I run most days. So not too slow at all, especially counting those walking spells.

When the finish line was in sight, I was ready to make a break for it – unfortunately, that meant I accidently ran into the Elephant-riding-area in a delirious attempt to head straight for the finish when the course actually curved around. Oops. So I had to double back to avoid the elephant, but then I headed down the chute to finish at 1:44:51! I was really happy with that time! Actually, upon finishing, I was just happy I didn’t have to move anymore, but once I ate a banana and regained my mental facilities, I was pretty psyched! For a first triathlon, my goal was really just to get through it, but I thought my time might have been closer to 2 hours. I was pretty psyched that nothing had gone wrong with my bike or transitions, and that everything had just gone smoothly. Right afterwards, I told myself I wouldn’t torture myself like that again, but then 3 hours later I was already googling races for this summer. I guess another tri is in my future. It seems that to become a successful triathlete, you have to have selective amnesia and be able to block out the parts of the race where you were thinking things like “This is terrible! Why am I doing this? I hate myself.” If that’s the case, I guess you can consider me a triathlete! Bring it on, swim, bike, run!


Ready to go! (Or I thought so at least!)


After the race


At the end of an amazing day – check out that sky!

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One Comment to “Race Report: Bintan Triathlon”

  1. Congratulations on completing your first Triathlon! And at a pretty good time, too. Hope to see you in 2013 for the next Bintan Triathlon!

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