Thursday, May 21, 2009
I did it! I completed my triathlon!!! In the cold and the wind and the mud. It felt so great! Let me recreate the experience for you:
Saturday brought with it ran and a “cold front.” I was worried that we would have to bike in the rain, which was really the only thing I was nervous about. Otherwise, I went and got my race number, checked out the free goodies, then went home to rest, eat well, and mentally prepare.
I woke up at 4 on Sunday morning in hopes of leaving my house by 5. I ate some oatmeal and almond butter, double checked to make sure I had everything, and was out the door. I got to the race site about 5:20 and there were already a ton of people there. Luckily it wasn’t raining, but the breeze was blowing and almost everyone had a sweater of some sort on. I got a spot on the end of the bike rack and set up my transition gear. This is when I thought I would get nervous, but I didn’t. I felt pretty ready for this race and just wanted to get it started! I got marked with my number and met up with my training buddies before heading down to the starting line. This was the coldest part of the day. The first heat went at 7 and I wasn’t scheduled to go till 7:20. So we were all standing around in our swimsuits, barefoot on the concrete waiting to get in the water. It seemed like forever as I watched people race around the markers in the water. Finally, it was my term and the water felt so warm compared to the air. But the wind was going pretty good, which made the water exceptionally choppy and you could actually see the current moving. We waded in to our necks and counted down to the start. 3…..2…1…
And it was on! I kept up with the front of my wave pretty well. I was certainly not the fastest, but I was moving along pretty good. Getting to the first buoy seemed to take forever. We were swimming against the current and it was a good 300 m from shore. Once we started swimming parallel to the sore, the current was in our favor and I just kept telling myself to keep moving. I switched it up between side stroke and breast stroke for the most part and tried to remind myself that every moment I was getting that much closer to the end. Finally we turned to head back to shore, and that was the worst part. We actually had to swim into the current and into the waves so every time you turned to take a breath, you had to be careful not to get hit in the face by a wave. People seemed to really be struggling with the swim and it is definitely a nerve wracking experience. The mass start at the beginning can really be a scary thing and once you get out in the deeper water, you can easily convince yourself you are going to go under at any moment. For me, the swim is more mental than physical and I just tried to keep myself calm and talk myself into getting to the next buoy.
After about 27 minutes, I came waltzing out of the water and started the long run up the hill to my transition site. Getting socks onto wet feet is a real chore! But I managed to get in and out and on to my bike is about 3 mins. Then I was off. The 12 mile bike ride was the thing I was most nervous about. It was a fairly hilly ride and my little hybrid mountain bike cannot keep up with the road bikes everyone else seemed to be riding. The first 4 miles were into the wind and along rolling hills. My legs were surprisingly tired after the swim and I was still dripping wet. For a moment, I began to wonder how I would get through it. But then I told myself this was only as difficult as I let it be, so I buckled down and rode as fast as I could. There was one hill in particular I was not looking forward to. You came down a hill, then took a sharp right into a steep incline. You had to slow enough to make the turn, but have enough speed to get up the hill. A lot of people walked it and they said it was probably the most dangerous section of the course. My goal for the ride was to not get off my bike and to make it up the hill. And I did! It was a quad killer, but I just kept turning my feet over and moving the wheel. This is also when I started my mantra that would last the rest of the race: This hill will not defeat me. I said it over and over again on the bike and on the big hill at the end of the run. This hill will not defeat me. Once I made it up that hill, the rest of the bike seemed a lot less intimidating. Although it took me about 55 minutes, I finished the bike ready to tackle the run.
Oh running. How I love it! Surprisingly, though, this was the part I was looking forward to. Once you start running, you are almost done and you are in total control of how well you finish. My goal was to not walk on the 5k. And…..I did it! I ran the whole wonderful thing. The first ½ mile was very very very muddy. My shoes were caked in mud after about 5 minutes and my feet were soaked and felt like they weighed 10 pounds each. But I promised myself I wouldn’t walk. So I kept running. There was only one serious hill to go up, and that was at the very end. I am glad I ran the course before race day because I knew what to expect. When I got to that hill, I knew how much energy I needed to conserve to make it to the finish. Again, I was not going to let the hill defeat me. There were a lot of people walking and it felt so good to pass them. I made it up the hill and knew I just had a little longer till the end.
I thought that I would be so exhausted when I crossed the finish line. But I felt really good. Like I could have gone longer. About 10 minutes later, my body caught up with me and my legs started bothering me a bit. But all in all, the whole thing was not as difficult as I thought. I may actually do the same course in 3 weeks when they have the Danskin now that I know what to expect and have a time to beat. Even today I feel fine. I think I may have been a little dehydrated so I am just trying to up my water intake, my body isn’t hurting or bruised and I am still pretty stoked that I did it. It was a great experience that I would highly encourage anyone to do. Everyone was so supportive and encouraging and it was very inspiring to see so many women of all ages and sizes getting out there and taking on something so challenging.
Congratulations to everyone who competed and I will see you out there again soon!