Oh hey, I AM A TRIATHLETE NOW.
A very, very, very happy triathlete.
It was basically a perfect day. There were a few little hiccups and, of course, I didn’t morph into some phenomenal super-athlete. I simply followed my race plan and hit my goals almost exactly. No, really! Really really!
After Saturday’s awesome 5k PR, I definitely needed to rest my legs. I gave myself a couple hours to just relax and NOT THINK ABOUT IMPENDING TRIATHLON. At around 2:30, I went down to the Mermaid site to pre-rack my bike, check out transition and all the entry and exit points. I chatted with a lovely woman, Amy, who was getting back into triathlon after several years off. We took a walk up to the swim start and checked out the super-steep ramp. We both felt like the swim looked a little far. Eek! It was also incredibly windy. Like so windy that they cancelled the pre-race swim on the course. My race that morning was in the same town and it was calm and warm so I wasn’t worried. About that. I was a bit worried about leaving my bike overnight but one of the dudes at the transition entrance told me all about their security set-up. I was completely confident after our conversation.
I got home and rested and foam rolled a bit more. Around 5:30, I set up my transition stuff one more time in the living room to memorize what it looked like. (Look, when you’re a beginning athlete, you have to do everything you can to boost your performance!) Once I was satisfied, I began to pack up, checking each item off my spreadsheet as it went into the bag. That was a great system because I didn’t feel the need to check everything again on race morning. I will definitely use the same strategy in a couple weeks when I do Tri #2. I don’t eat a lot of carbs and I wanted to avoid overloading my system so I had some brown rice couscous (hella good!) and grilled chicken.
I got into bed around 9 and fell asleep within an hour! Between being completely packed and having a successful race that morning, I didn’t have any of the anxious, swarming thoughts that kept me up earlier in the week. I was ready.
I woke up around 4:30 and dozed until 5:30. Had two very successful trips to the bathroom (so, so, so essential) which seriously put me at ease. Learning from Saturday’s dehydration, I drank water as I got ready and on the drive to the race site, conveniently located about 20 minutes from our house. Parking was a breeze and all of a sudden, we were there! It was happening!
The ladies in my row were super nice! I mentioned that it was my first tri and they were all very supportive and enthusiastic. They shared some tips and we all wished each other well. There’s definitely something to be said for women-only, newbie-friendly races. While some might consider them less serious, I think they can be wonderful and FYI, the top women were FAST. I set everything up as I had at home and went to get marked.
Time to head over to the swim! After gliding up, my grocery bag worked like a charm. My wetsuit went right up but I was a good girl and only put it on up to my hips so I wouldn’t overheat. Blew a kiss to my bike and left transition. Tim was patiently reading World War Z (I’ve read it – it’s so good and I am absolutely not into zombies whatsoever) on a bench. I gathered him and we walked a quarter mile down to the swim start. There were still about 20 minutes before my wave got in the water. Enough time to take some nervous selfies.
I had some serious nerves in the moments before I entered the water. I hugged Tim tight and made my way to the ramp. Oh shit.
Swim (0.25mi / 10:45):
The entrance into the water consisted of rubber mats over a rock wall. There were no less than 10 volunteers holding us by the hand so we didn’t slip and fall onto the sharp rocks. We were in and it felt like tepid bathwater. It was about 62 degrees and compared to Aquatic Park, it was very comfortable. We all laughed as we literally walked out to the first buoy where we would start. It was so shallow that we could have aqua-jogged the entire course. Apparently a few women kinda did…
I intentionally started in the back and made friends with a nervous and sweet woman next to me. The gun went off and we were swimming!
It was hard but doable. As I anticipated, my swimming fitness just wasn’t where I’d like it to be. I was breathing every other stroke instead of every four strokes as I’m usually able to do at that distance. I’m sure I was swimming a bit faster than usual and also fighting the chop. I was pretty exhausted and switched to breast stroke a couple times. Towards the end, I started actually thinking about good swimming technique and that helped tremendously. I looked up to sight every few strokes and with the exception of some zigzagging in the second half of the swim, I stayed pretty straight. Having the buoys immediately to my left (the side I primarily breathe on) was incredibly helpful.
Finally, the ramp out of the water was in view! I “sprinted” for it and with about 50 meters left, I got kicked in the eye HARD by someone breast stroking in front of me. I actually thought she broke my goggles and I was fairly certain I would have a black eye. Kept swimming to the exit and up another steep ramp. The volunteers were wonderful and it turns out, Tim was there to video the exit!
I got my cap, goggles, and upper half of my wetsuit off coming out of transition, just as planned. Wetsuit came off easily, as planned. Drank water, took a Bolt Chew, as planned. Put on everything, looked back at my empty transition towel, grabbed my bike and headed out.
A lovely volunteer held onto my bike as I ran back for my helmet. BWAHAHAHAHA. What an awesome rookie mistake. Obviously, I had no intention of riding without it. It was under my discarded wetsuit so I didn’t see it when I did my last double check. Tim got some priceless photos of this moment including the least flattering photo ever taken of me running in a helmet without a bike. Lest you think I only post the best pictures, here’s a priceless gem with an uncanny celebrity doppelganger.
Bike (12mi / 45:56 / 15.67 mph):
The bike course was two loops of very familiar territory. My plan was work hard but not so hard that my legs would be shot for the run. I started my Garmin but in multi-sport mode, it’s hard to see pace. I rode mostly by feel. Hard but sustainable.
From the get-go, I was passing women left and left. It was rad. I was passed a few times but mostly I just cruised along at a steady pace, overtaking everyone. Unlike a few women on the course, I called out “on your left” every time and many women thanked me for that. I made sure to thank all the cops and volunteers along the course. The course had 3 U-turns which I was very nervous about but each one was fine. The end of the first loop was pretty windy and I was a bit tired. As soon as I successfully made the tight u-turn into the second loop, the wind was calm and I enjoyed the opportunity to push my pace a bit. Making the left turn back into transition was such a great feeling. RUN AND DONE!
Racked my bike. Drank water. Took a Bolt Chew. Drank more water. Took Garmin off bike. Wished I had spent $20 on the damn quick release kit. Realized I hadn’t correctly pushed the lap button on my Garmin. Annoying. Put on visor. Saw Tim! YAY!
Run (2.5mi / 23:06 / 9:19 avg)
RUN AND DONE! RUN AND DONE!
But I was tiiiiiiiiired.
I pretty much wanted to stop and walk as soon as I was out of transition. This ‘aint no 70.3. There’s no walking in a sprint triathlon! I shuffled along, waiting for my legs to loosen up. They never really did and I spent 2.5 miles pushing along. I had enough energy to chat with people who complimented my shoes and thank the incredibly enthusiastic volunteers along the way. I realize that if I was able to interact with people, I could have been running much faster. Again, I had fucked up the lap button on my Garmin and I had no idea how far I’d gone or what my pace was. All I knew was that I was tired and if I pushed the pace, I might be forced to walk and that was unacceptable. Ultimately, it was the right call. With about a half mile left, I picked up the pace and sprinted down the chute!
I DID IT!
I saw Tim as I was crossing the finish line and I know I had the hugest smile on my face. As soon as I found him, I just dissolved into happy tears.
I couldn’t believe the time on the clock. I was absolutely shocked that I essentially met all my time goals. As I said at the beginning of this
Great American Novel recap, it was pretty much a perfect race. Goals were met, challenges were dealt with, smiles were smiled.
The post-race expo was cool! Lots of booths with the usual fun stuff: pictures, massages, gear to buy, etc. They also had a pancake breakfast. I took a plate with part of a muffin and some fruit but the idea of eating totally turned my stomach. We packed up and went home for showering and foam rolling. I was SORE. I guess I really raced! I had a little snack and at about 3:30, I was able to peel myself off the couch to go pick up this:
Oh, and remember that kick to the eye? Popped a blood vessel. So hardcore.
If you’ve read this far, THANK YOU! I have so many more thoughts about this race and the overall experience. Tomorrow’s Truthy Tuesday will be devoted to my post-race impressions. The support of my family and friends, especially my dude made me feel so special. The sweetest part of an amazing day.
What’d you do this weekend? Write a novel about it in the comments!