May 20


Michelle Mortensen’s Race Report – Orange County Triathlon 2012

My First Triathlon….OC International Triathlon, May 20, 2012

When I started “training” back in September of 2010, I never planned on completing a Triathlon.  I put training in quotation marks above because really, I just wanted to learn how to ride my fancy road bike and possibly complete a Century Ride.  Lofty goals for a Mom of four and someone who weighed over 200 lbs…..

Once I started hanging out with Triathletes, I knew I wanted to try a Tri.  The challenge was just too enticing.  So I started to run in February of 2011 and I started to swim in June of 2011.  I could write a book on the swim but I will fight that urge right now….

 Pre Race

I completed the OC Duathlon last May which really helped me with my nerves today. I was already familiar with the bike and run course.   I packed up all my gear three days prior to the event carefully separating it into Swim, Bike and Run bins.  I am not an organized person.  I should be with four kids, but I really don’t consider myself a big organizer.  I know that if I wait until the last minute though, I could really have a breakdown.  It was a good strategy.  I practiced my transitions over the week and felt like I had all of the equipment I needed.  It helped to relieve stress to be “so ready”.

I decided to drive to the venue the morning of the race instead of staying at a hotel.  It was a familiar drive and gave me additional time to relax.  I checked in to race, picked up my packet on Saturday and already set up T2.  So this morning, I arrived early enough to park in free parking and headed over to set up T1.  There were many friends doing this Triathlon today so I racked my bike, put my transition towel down, grabbed my camera and went to take some pics.  I told myself that I’ll set up transition once the sun comes up and I can see.  Took pictures, received some last minute advice on when to put on my wetsuit, had a snack, went to the restroom etc…  I loved the energy that was in T1 this AM.  Here it is before a race and there are a lot of people just buzzing about… talking, laughing and saying hi to old and new friends.

Set up my transition, grabbed swim basket and headed down to the Swim start.


Being social and being a Triathlete go hand-in-hand for many.  I am very social and have received so much great advice on the entire sport.  If you give me advice,  it has been stored in my memory.  So as I stood on the bank of Lake Mission Viejo, thoughts like….don’t get stuck in the washing machine, swim to the right and further back, try to get into the rhythm of your stroke, don’t kick as much as you normally do in the pool (because I’m a big kicker), swim as far in as you can before you stand up…they all reeled through my mind.  And then I felt this wave of happiness come upon me because I realized that I was about to step into that Lake and swim a mile to kick off the race.  It was an amazing feeling.  Loved it.  I am a slower swimmer so all the way I wondering where I will sit in the pack.  Or realistic how far back will I be.  I don’t know.  I’ve never been in a pack and I didn’t start off in the pack anyway.  I did start off toward the back and passed a few people but the pack was in front of me just a short way until the turnaround.  I was happy about that but after the turnaround, I really lost them.  1 mile was a long way and I could feel my form starting to fade.  Like Dory says, just keep swimming.  The sighting was different.  I didn’t really understand the swim course so I was really just sighting off the peeps in front of me.  They seemed to be swimming straight.  LOL.  Next time, I’ll be sure to study the course more and understand exactly where we are swimming.  While I was swimming a duck and about 5 babies swam right across our line.  They were about five feet in front of me.  It was cool to see them so close and to be at their level.  I wondered what the etiquette was….should we stop and let them pass.  Nah……Poor Ducks….we went right through them.

Exited the swim, was happy about it but also a little disoriented.  Popping up out of the lake after swimming a mile and then trying to get off wetsuit while running is a real feat.  It all came off well at T1 and I hopped on the bike.


This was the leg I was waiting for.  Love the bike and love Santiago Canyon.  Went through transition smoothly.  I put one glove on my right hand just in case I needed to clean tire after going through debris.  I was worried about a flat, as most probably are.  The weather was amazing.  I loved the weather because you are soaking wet after the swim and it was so comfortable to just hop on the bike.  No arm warmers or anything.  So this was the leg that I needed to make up some time.   I was in a late swim wave, and had a slower swim time so when I started, the cyclists were already strung out.  My training plan for the bike was written on an index card and placed on my bars.  I could easily read it and I tried to follow it to a tee.  I did notice my heart rate was really, really high after the swim and the first part of the bike.  It finally came down when I went down the first long downhill.  Whew….I wanted to be careful on the bike because I had the run ahead.  I tried to tuck in and stay in aero position as much as possible.  Passed many people on the bike and felt good about getting into a rhythm right away.  This is where training in Santiago Canyon really comes in handy.  I rode portions of that course weekly.  I was having a little trouble shifting from the small to the big ring in front.  Repeatedly, the chain would not jump up to the big ring.  I didn’t panic.  I just tried to be patient and I knew it would eventually get there.  I had been riding the bike all last week with no issues so it was just a random thing.  After about the first five tries, it was fine and I was able to use both rings.


The run started off great.  I was at about 9 minute pace, right on plan and stayed there for a while.  The run course is hilly and there are two particular hills that are significant.  This year I really wanted to run up both those hills.  My training plan said that I should walk up the steep part of the bigger hill.  I was fine with that.  However, after about mile 3, I started to slow down and my HR was high.  I could tell that my body was starting to get tired which meant I really had to kick up the mental part of the race.  Looking back, that is so late in the race to get really tired.  I don’t think it is a bad thing but I knew that huge hill was coming up.  I decided to walk up the entire hill which really messed up my splits.  And of course I wanted to run it.   The run course is a tough course.  I wish I would have had more energy but the run is the last leg so that’s where it is going to be tough.  On my way in, I saw a friend who I had just met that AM and we finished together.

My finishing time for my Olympic Distance Triathlon was 3:23:53.  I raced for 3 hours, 23 minutes and 53 seconds.  Wow…

Many people have told me that when you race, you concentrate on the segment you are racing.  In other words, don’t think about the bike when you are swimming and the run when you are biking.  I really tried to do that today.  I tried to do my best in each discipline and enjoy it.  Thinking back on the race, I was successful.    I’m happy with the effort and looking forward to next one….which happens to be in July 2012!!  Whew hoo!

So grateful for all the friends and family who came out to support.  I was in T2 and many yelled my name.  Friends I had no idea would be there. The same thing happened at the Finish Line.   Also, my friend Renee (fellow triathlete) came out super early and took pics and video of me in transition. She was everywhere!!  What a great memory of my first Tri.  I am also amazed by my Coach of less than 10 weeks, Coach Joby, who identified the areas that needed to be developed and helped me tie all three disciplines of training together with exceptional Training plans and my race day plan.  Thank you!


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