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Profile picture Hank Schonzeit
I wrote up my story of my first triathlon, the shortest of the 4 types of triathlon, a Sprint. In September, I'll compete in an Olympic triathlon that starts with a mile swim.

Hope you enjoy my story.

Hank Schonzeit

Doreen and I arrived a little after 6 AM, I picked up my chip and then set up my bike and gear in the transition area. The spot for competitor 701 was way in the back near the pool, but it had a nice grassy area next to it to place my folding chair. The weather was near perfect for a triathlon, 60 degrees when I got into the pool, and mid 60’s when I started my run.

I was pretty anxious about the swim, with fleeting thoughts of just walking away, but the momentum of so many participants ahead and behind me, just kept me going. With a tap on my shoulder, I pressed the start button on my watch and glided off the wall. The water was actually pretty refreshing. I quickly got into my rhythm. The crowding slowed me down a bit, but probable less than a minute. My swim time (including the walk to the mat) was 12:33, pretty much what I was hoping for. And, for the first time, I swam 400 meters without stopping. Of course I had to turn at the end of each 50 meter length, but really didn’t stop. And I sprinted on the last length, but wasn’t totally out of breath when I left the pool. It wasn’t until I left the pool and pressed the lap button that I realized I hadn’t fully pressed the start button on my watch – drats!

My first transition was a mess. The only thing that seemed to work well was putting on the socks. I sat on the folding chair, dried my feet and easily put on the socks. I thought the shoes weren’t a problem until I started the run and realized the shoes weren’t really tight on my feet. Putting on the shirt was the worst. I had practiced putting in on several times, but with my wet body (I had also practiced it wet, but not with the bib attached). I ripped off three of the four safety pins and had to reapply them - without my glasses to help me find the right position. And then the worst thing was that I forgot to eat the power bar that was at my feet. This cost me on the run. Finally, I even forgot to put on my helmet. Someone reminded me before I went 15 feet, but this was another delay.

Still, the bike ride felt good and fast. I passed a lot of riders, but didn’t know my time until the organizers posted the results.

My run was terrible. I knew it from the start and walked several times. I just couldn’t force myself to run up some of the inclines. I did push myself at the very end and sprinted across the finish line.

I found the results at 5 PM. I came in 441 out of 560, placing third in my age group (out of 4). My official swim time was 12:33 (517th) my T-1 was a miserable 5:33, my bike was 40:26 (17.8 MPH if truly 12 miles) 237th place, my T-2 wasn’t that bad at 2:38 (a little higher than I estimated, probably because I had to walk the bike all the way to the other side of the parking lot) and my miserable run was 37:45 12:08 min/mile 480th. My total time was 1:38:54. Not too bad. The winner in my age group was Russ Abbot in 1:27:14 (I biked faster). The second place finisher Sterling Pilette finished in 1:37:43, just a little over a minute faster than me. The forth place finisher was the 82 year-old Roger Lowen with a 2:07:56. If I hadn’t screwed up on the T-1 I might have come in second. But third in my age group still feels great and I beat 119 competitors, all but two younger than me.