My alarm went off at 4:30 Saturday morning. I hadn’t gone to bed as early as I had wanted to Friday night, but I still felt well rested and was pumped for the race. The olympic swim wasn’t scheduled to begin until 7:00, but I needed to get dressed, make and eat breakfast, double check my gear, put my number tattoo on both arms, and it was about a 45 minute drive up to the reservoir from our house, so I wanted to leave by no later than 5:00. I was going to make eggs, turkey sausage, and peanut butter toast, my usual, but decided when I woke up that I wanted to make a german pancake instead. That was a mistake.
Rob was so sweet. He got up around 4:45 and whipped up the german pancake mix and got it into the oven for me. It would have been done about 5:05, which was fine, only a few minutes later than I wanted to leave. I continued getting ready. Rob helped me put my tattoos on both arms. I was disappointed that they were not going to do body markings on our legs like they typically do for triathlons, so Rob kindly used his artistic skills and wrote my number in permanent pen on my right calf. Number 70! I thought that was pretty great I got my shoes on and my bag all organized. I got my water bottle and nutrition bottle out of the fridge and set them on the table. I was ready to go other than breakfast.
I opened the oven to check on the pancake at about 5:05, but it still wasn’t done. I looked at the temperature and realized that the oven was about 100 degrees lower than the cooking temp. I was so nervous about getting to the race early and having time to settle in, I started to panic. I told Rob we should just leave the pancake and not worry about breakfast. He was not on board. He was the only one thinking logically at this point. I was in panic mode. He was right, I did need to eat something before I worked my booty out for 4 hours. I was so stressed about parking, riding my bike the 2 miles to the start, and setting up my stuff at the transition, I wasn’t thinking about food. I wanted to get on the road. He patiently sat me down and got me busy doing something else. It worked for a few minutes, but as the clock ticked I got more and more nervous. As soon as the pancake was done we were out the door!
We had been on the road about 10 minutes when Rob asked if I had photo ID with me. I had left my wallet on the table at home. I quickly read back through the race day instructions, specifically the part that said, “you MUST have current photo ID at registration. No photo ID, NO RACE!” We turned around immediately and headed back home. This added about 15 extra minutes. I started crying and had a total meltdown in the car on the way home. Rob was so good and stayed calm the whole time. He helped me calm down and focus on anything other than the time. After I calmed down and stopped stressing, we danced and sang to songs on the radio and laughed a lot the rest of the drive. Laughter is the best!
I put my wet suit on in the car so I was ready to ride as soon as we parked at the High School. I had put all of my other gear (goggles, tank top, shoes, socks) in the mesh bag my wet suit had come in, and slung it over my shoulder as I got on my bike. My cute hubinator gave me a big kiss and sent me on my way. We were both all smiles as I got on my bike and rode away. Great way to start a race!
Right when I pulled into the transition area I saw TJ. He helped me find my designated spot to hang my bike and set up my running gear. I picked up my chip timer from a booth near the lake – didn’t even need my photo ID! Hah! I was relaxed and excited. I only used the porta-potty once, which is a miracle for me! I usually have to go to the bathroom at least 3 times before a competition because I get so nervous and my adrenaline is pumping! I put my swim cap and goggles on my head. It was a little windy, but I wasn’t cold in my wet suit. I found a place along a bend in the grass carpet to put my flip flops so I could easily find them after the swim. Blue and orange, couldn’t miss them. TJ had spray painted his gold. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉
Luckily they were running a little behind schedule for the start. Due to the choppiness of the water, it had taken more time to get the orange triangle buoys anchored in the water. I was glad because I wanted to get in the water before the swim; swim around a bit to get use to the water temperature and get some water down in my wet suit so it was less of a shock when we started the race. There was plenty of time for that. They even had people holding sticks with a paper on top that gave average swim times for 100 yards. Based on my 43 minute mile swim the week before, I figured my average 100 yard time was 2:40. They didn’t have that slow of an average, which was really reassuring, not! Hah! Way to boost my cofience before the race had even begun. No worries slow poke, you’re the slowest person here! I just went to the time closest to my average, which was 2:30. I was ok with that. I made small talk with a few of the athletes. Most of them looked seasoned, serious business, but some of them were just there to have fun or were using the race as a training for an ironman. I wasn’t worried. I was ready to go!
TJ was freezing waiting in his Speedo. He and one other guy wore Speedos. They became instant friends :} They made a few announcements through a megaphone and then the race began! It was a rolling start. The chip timers didn’t activate until we crossed the start line, so there was no pushing or shoving to get into the water. I think I was the very last person to get in the water. As I was crossing the start line, I heard someone call my name. I looked back and saw that my Uncle Ben had surprised me and come to support me at the race! Seeing my hubby there watching me compete for the first time since we got married gave me an adrenaline rush. Then seeing my sweet uncle there cheering me on as well gave me another burst of energy. I was so excited as I got into the water!
The three orange buoys placed in a triangle shape in the water to mark the swim course. It was so nice to have something big and bright to look to as I was swimming. It make it so much easier to stay on course. I accidentally gently kicked a guy behind me twice; the same guy, twice! I switched to side stroke to apologize. I felt so bad. He wasn’t upset, he actually apologized to me because he was behind me so it was his responsibility to be watching out for me. I didn’t get kicked or punched even once during the swim.
As I swam I felt strong and relaxed. I had trained hardest for the swim. I saw many people switch to back stroke when they got tired. I didn’t back stroke or even tread water. I wasn’t sprinting, but I kept a steady pace and never stopped swimming. I even passed a few people. I felt great! I really enjoyed the swim! I didn’t feel tired or too out of breath when I got out of the water. That made me think I could have swam faster, but I was just happy to have finished and had no major panic moments while I was out there. I ran out of the water feeling happy and pumped for the bike!
I found my flip flops easily and jogged to my bike. I had trouble getting my wetsuit off. The suit was like a giant suction cup. I slipped my cap and goggles off and took my timing chip off my ankle so I wouldn’t have to try to slide the wet suit over it. I put my helmet on, hopped on my bike and I was off!
The bike course was beautiful. It was a loop. The first 12 miles were a gradual include with a few flats. The last 12 miles had a little more down hill and one up hill, but nothing major. The overall elevation gain was only about 625 feet. I was pedaling fast, but I kept getting passed by people. The worst was being passed by two old guys. Geez. You’d think I could stay up with the oldies, but nope. They were fast! Zoomed right past me! Everyone of them in full tri-suit and very sleek, probably expensive, bikes. I hadn’t trained too much on the bike so I anticipated the 24.8 mile course would take me about 2 hours. I pedaled hard and enjoyed the ride. I didn’t take any breaks. I drank my nutrition along the way, took a sip about every 15 minutes or so.
I realized about halfway through the bike I had forgotten to put my timing chip back on after I changed out of my wet suit. I planned to grab it when I got to the transition. I was a little bummed I wouldn’t get my bike splits, but I wasn’t super competitive with anyone at this point so I wasn’t too worried about it. It was my first tri and I wanted to have a good time. I rode into the transition feeling pretty good. Legs weren’t exhausted. I really enjoyed the ride. It was fun, even if old people were passing me!
I took off my helmet, hung my bike, and started to run. Just before leaving the transition I remembered that I hadn’t grabbed my chip timer again! I turned around and ran back to get it. Rob looked confused when he saw me coming back, probably thought I had lost my mind at that point :} The picture below is me trying to tell Rob what had happened. Not sure he caught it.
The 6.2 mile run was along the Rail Trail. The course was fairly flat, no big hills, but it was the toughest part of the race for me. I had a side ache for at least the first 3 miles. I think it was from the nutrition. I hadn’t conditioned my body well enough to the it. I had only used it on one previous ride/run about a week before the race and I had gotten a side ache then too. That was an amateur mistake. I should have conditioned my body better to the nutrition.
Something similar happened to me when I ran my first half marathon in September of 2009. The first 4 miles of the race were all up hill and so I assumed that I would need some energy after that massive climb. I didn’t feel low energy, actually felt really good, but I still took an energy shot, lime flavor, at the top of the hill. I was bloated and felt heavy and gross for the rest of the race. I hadn’t trained with energy shots at all, so it was totally foreign to my body. It did not like that at all. Not awesome. I need to listen to my body better. Conditioning myself to energy shots, blocks, or nutrition is something I will need to work on if I continue racing.
About 2 1/2 miles into the run I got a little bit of a second wind. I started running faster, feeling pretty good. Then shortly after I passed the 3 mile aide station, the front of my right hip started hurting/aching pretty bad. I walked/jogged the last few miles and then started sprinting just before I could see the finish line. I sprinted through the ache and crossed the finish line super happy.
Rob, TJ, and uncle Ben were right there as I crossed the finish line. I was very emotional when I finished. I bent over with put my hands on my knees and fought back the tears. I wasn’t upset. I was overcome with emotion. I had finished a triathlon! I hadn’t even swam, bike, and run consecutively in one training session, or even in the same day during my training, so I had no idea how this day was going to play out. And for the first time in competition, I had competed with the a mindset of doing my best, not comparing myself to anyone else, and not holding myself to any unrealistic standards. And it was FUN!!
I had overcome a panic attack in the water, swam and biked way faster than I anticipated I could, and finished in under 4 hours! My finishing time was 3:23:21. My swim time was 34:26, which blew me away! Rob kept saying, you dominated the swim. I could tell he was very proud of his little woman and that made me even happier My bike time was 1:36, which surprised me too. I feel good about that time. My run time was longer than I wanted it to be, but not by much. I was hoping for an hour or just under an hour, but it took me 1:06:02. It was a great day and I had a blast!