On Sunday, I will be doing my second triathlon, but some of the experiences will be a first. The major, defining difference is that this one will have an open water swim, rather then a pool swim.
In my opinion, this dramatically changes the swim, bike, and to a certain extent, transition aspects.
The reason it changes the swim is obvious: I'm not swimming in a pool. There are no lines on the bottom. No walls to push off of. I'll be wearing a wetsuit. I can't touch bottom. I have swam in my wetsuit, in open water - twice. Limited experience, no doubt, but I'm feeling cautiously confident regardless.
It also changes the bike. There will be a lot more people starting around the same time. Sure, the swim spreads people out some, but with everyone starting the swim at the same time, we'll be a lot closer together entering the bike then in a pool swim where a person starts every minute or so. This means significantly more passing and getting passed. In my first tri, I think I was passed twice and passed three people. In this one, I expect it will be in the dozens. For those of you not familiar, drafting is illegal in triathlons (aside from short distance pros, which I won't be competing in).
It also changes transition a little bit. I ran right past my transition spot both times at Vulcan. That was with a minimal number of people in transition. I only imagine it will be that much more confusing with lots of people there. Plus, I've got an added step in needing to remove my wetsuit.
As I've stated before, this is an "experience" triathlon for me, so my goals are experience related rather then time related.
Without further ado, my goals:
1. Don't drown and come out of the water smiling.
2. Find my transition spot the first time I go towards it. Execute smooth transitions.
3. Push myself on the bike.
4. Finish with a smile on my face.
I'm not concerned about being able to do the distance. I'm training for an Olympic right now, and have trained beyond the sprint distances already. It is slightly longer then my last one with a 750m swim rather then 500m and a 23 km bike (I assume it's the loop distance that worked with the roads) rather then 15km. The run is the same, at 5km.
My first triathlon, I had a stellar run following an easy bike. Now, I know that you shouldn't go too hard on the bike because you need to be able to run after. Having said that, I think it's worth pushing a bit harder on the bike. It's not a Sunday bike ride after all. (Actually, I guess it is a "Sunday" ride, but I digress.) It might backfire on me and I'll be burnt out on the run, or I might discover that I still have enough in the tank. Either way, sometimes it's worth taking risks to see where it takes you.
With two days to go, I'm still eerily calm about this triathlon. The first one, I was a nervous wreck for a full week leading up to it. I expected to feel that way with this one purely because of the swim difference. Not complaining, just commenting.
Bring it on!