Tuesday I did the Winding Trails Tiny Tri.  Just a note to any race organizers out there.  If you have a race don’t call it tiny.  Call it mini, call it small, call it short course, how about “Tri Before you Buy?”  But tiny tri just makes it seem pathetic for those who struggled through it.  “Oh it’s tiny, no big deal.”  Whatever!

So this was my first ever open water event!  It was also only one of very few open water swims that I’ve done.  I decided that since it was only 200 yards (What? It’s called a “Tiny Tri”  it’s short, so what, I can still be nervous…it was OPEN WATER…NO BOTTOM…NO WALLS…maybe you need a refresher on just how much suck I bring to the table?) I wouldn’t wear a wetsuit.  So there I was, waiting for the swim start with my goggles on…and my tri suit, sheesh.

The horn went off, well I guess it did, people started swimming so I started too.  It is a beach start, so there were about 40 or so of us at the line and I thought it would be best, since this was my first tri with people around me, that I take it slow and look for a gap.  I started off just walking slowly, taking tentative steps into the water, just trying to see where everyone was going.  I wasn’t racing, I was practicing so this was just fine for me.

The Swim

I finally took the plunge and started swimming.  That too I started slowly.  I swam with my head out of the water just looking for my gap.  I found an opening and started swimming.  Before long I came up on some feet, and stopped to look for a new opening.  I pulled to the right and started again.  I was about 3 feet from the buoy line.   The swim was an out around one buoy and back so there was always a rope there to judge direction.  I kept drifting towards the rope.  At one point I made it to the turn around bouy, and I stopped to hold it for a sec.  I was winded already.  Upon reflection I realize that between the nervousness of being in the water, and the stop and go, I was kicking up a storm so I was really winded.

At this point I plodded on, not much choice but to make it back to shore.  I put my head down and noticed that my breathing wasn’t right.  I was holding my breath, yet another reason why I was so winded.  I need to focus more during the swim!  I noticed someone in front of me, so I tried to fit between her and the rope line.  As I made my approach she drifted to the rope and I had to stop and go around her left.  I had to stop a lot more than I can articulate in this story, but the good news is that when I put my head down and swam, I passed tons of people out.  That girl that I had to go around, I passed her within seconds.

I was even more winded now, there was no time to catch my breath, if I had another 200 yards or so I could think calm thoughts, control the breathing and focus on keeping the legs still, but at this point I just wanted out.  It wasn’t a panic so much as I just wanted to be done with this part.  Then I felt my feet hit the ground, the water was murky, I couldn’t tell where the bottom was, by my feet hit…something…so I stood up.  The only problem was my feet hit something that wasn’t the bottom because the water was still too deep!!!  I had to once again get the swim going.  I still had about 75 yards to go.  When I finally did reach land I was beat.  My legs were like lead (which is similar to how they felt during my indoor tris last year) and my heart rate was in the 170’s.  Definitely bad mojo right there.


As I exited the water I looked behind me.  There was a huge crowd still on the first leg of the swim.  What I don’t know is if they were in the race, or just people who decided to go for a swim.  Because the tiny tri isn’t time at each leg I don’t have any idea how many people finished before I did.  I will never know how many people I passed in the swim.  Now, if you know anything about me, you know just how absurd that last sentence sounds.  I passed people?  What is that even about?

Anyway, I stumbled to my towel, dried my feet the best I could, and threw on the socks and shoes.  It went quickly, but nothing to brag about.  I then had the long jog to the bike.  My legs were shot and I was practically hyperventilating.  My heart rate was still really high.  Ironically I was also very thirsty.  It felt like I was running in slow motion.  My legs were dead and a handful of people ran right past me.  Not too many, but a few.  When I got to transition the race clock said 7 minutes or so.  Not too bad considering how slow I was to get in, and how many times I stopped, plus the long walk.  I’ll take it.

The Bike

When I hopped on the bike I was still huffing and puffing.  As I headed out onto the trails my legs could barely get the pedals around.   Adults, kids, and I think someone’s grandma passed me like I was standing still.  I couldn’t believe how hard it was to peddle.  It felt like there were hills in areas that were flat.  It was awful.  I remember thinking that there was either something wrong with my bike, or something wrong with me.  I also remember hoping that it was my bike because I don’t think I can be fixed that easily.  About half way through the 3 mile ride, I determined that it was my bike.   I heard a rubbing sound and hopped off.  I figured I had a brake rubbing, but all the usual suspects were in good order.  I spun the wheel by hand and it caught.  Turns out the rear wheel was crooked and rubbing on the frame.  I pulled it out, reseated it, and hopped on…and then…I did it again, 3 times to be exact.  I also had the chain pop off twice, probably a combination of popping the wheel off and on and just an odd shifting pattern that I employed because one I don’t know what I’m doing, and two I was trying to  compensate for the wheel.  I changed gears fairly frantically trying to just get over the smallest hills.  Once I finally got everything straightened out the bike road like a dream.  What a difference.  I glided up the hills and cranked down the other side.  It was great!

One other side-effect of the bike issues was that I got to catch my breath.  My legs were still beat though.  As a side note, the trails were fairly tight, and I ended up either blocking others, or being blocked by others during a good portion of the race.  Once I got everything together I was ready to go, but there were just too many people in the way.  Eventually I did get out in front, but my legs were already shot.


If there was anything wrong with this transition it was that I momentarily forgot to take the helmet off.  I remembered about two steps in and doubled back.

The Run

I know for sure what running on dead legs feels like.  I had those, but what I have never even heard of was running on dead lungs.  The last bit of riding had my heart rate up through the roof.  My run felt like it was in slow motion.  There was a woman about a 1/4 mile ahead of me, and she was hurting more than I was.  She kept stopping to walk, and then running on and on.  I reeled her in, but it was slow going.  I passed only that one racer the whole time, and no one passed me.   It was nice to be done.

I have no idea.  It was 45 minutes and change on the clock when I passed the line, but I wasn’t wearing a chip (I didn’t know they had one for the tiny tri) and I forgot to start my stopwatch.  Next time I’ll do better.

Speaking of which, next time I plan to jump to the front of the swim, focus on breathing, form, and still legs.  I’ll have a working bike, so we’ll see how much of my belly aching was related to the bike issues, and how much was related to me being hopelessly out of shape.  I got so dusted on the bike, that can’t be right.  On the bright side, there’s lots of room for improvement.