This past Saturday, Nick and I watched our first triathlon. The CB&I TRI – The Woodlands Triathlon is a very popular local Sprint distance triathlon, including 500-meter swim, 10.6 mile bike, and 5k run. It accommodates approximately 1300 participants and sells out within a few weeks of opening registration. This year the event sold out in 10 days! We had a few friends racing, so we decided to get up early Saturday to spectate.
We parked at a nearby shopping center and walked across the bridge, arriving just as the whistle blew for the first wave of swimmers to enter the water at 7am. We knew this was the elite category, nonetheless it made me excited and nervous to watch how fast they completed the swim loop. As the swim leaders were making the last turn, Nick and I walked down to the other side of the bridge where the bike route began. Before we could reach the bike course, the first place guy had finished the swim (in 6:38 with a 0:38 transition) and was already on his bike. We decided to stay here for the majority of the race, as it was a prime spot – just beyond the transition area, with a view of the beginning and end of the bike course as well as the beginning of running route. The finish line was not too far behind us.
Watching some of these athletes mount/dismount from their bikes was amazing; they did so with speed and grace. I thought about how long it takes me to get ready for a bike ride – I have to put on the helmet, shoes, and gloves, and then meticulously place my pedals so I can clip in with one foot, steady the myself, then push off with the other – several minutes at best for me to get all of this in order. And these athletes made it look effortless, some making it through the transition area in under a minute! After watching the elites and then more casual athletes, Nick and I realized how easily the transition time can get away from someone. There are ways to reduce the transition time, and we noted several things we saw the athletes do to minimize it.
The athletes ranged from obvious professionals to people just out to have a good time. This race seemed to be a bit relaxed with enforcing the rules, similar to a 5k in running.
At about 9 am, we walked over to the finish line to watch for our friend Kellie. She was one of the last swim heats, so we were able to see several of the bike and run participants. Once she crossed the finish line, we walked around the exhibit area for a little while. Around 10:30, we decided to leave and get something for lunch. As we walked back to the car, Nick and I were super enthused and decided we really need to start swimming soon, so we can sign up for our first triathlon.