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Here is a recap of many of my thoughts, feelings, and overall emotional experience during my first ever triathlon.

First things first, my results:

 Sorry it’s a bit fuzzy. My swim time is 11:16, my bike is 58:39 and my 5k is 33:27 (<–that killed me).

I am not disappointed in my results. For one, I honestly went in with no expectations of what my results would be. I knew no matter what I’d leave thinking I could have done better so instead of caring about that, I wanted to go in with the mentality that it’s my first triathlon and I might make mistakes but I need to have fun.

Pre-Race/Transition set-up:
The morning of the race my friend and I woke up at 5:30am. I had a fitful sleep due to nerves. I woke up and sorry for the TMI here but immediately had stomach issues. After dealing with that we were in my car and heading to the bike drop-off by 5:50am. (I made sure to pack up everything I could the night before so I just had to get up, put on clothing, brush my teeth and put my contacts in.) I knew after dropping our bikes off and parking we’d have a significant amount of time with setting up our transition areas and getting marked to be able to eat and drink.

We dropped our bikes off at a drop off area and thinking that we’d need to park far away and grab the shuttle we were racing around. Turns out we were able to snag parking down the street from the tri area. Score! We headed back and grabbed our bikes to set up the transition areas.

I’m not going to lie, I kept looking around to see what other people were doing. I wasn’t sure if my bike had to be in a very specific spot (there was a metal long rack for about 6 numbers and I realized after looking around you can put your bike anywhere on that section). So I put my bike on the rack, pulled out my hand towel and set that down to the right of my bike. On top of that I put my helmet with my sunglasses in it, my sneakers with socks in them, an open powerbar, an open pack of Cliff block shots, an open pack of tissues, and another hand towel for wiping my feet. I also put my shirt (with my race number pinned on on my bike seat). I didn’t want to put too much on my actual bike for fear it’d get knocked off with people running in and out of the area. It only took me about 3 minutes to set up the area so I continued to look around wondering why people were spending 15 minutes organizing stuff. I noticed one woman with a gallon of water by her bike (a gallon?!) and another with an entire duffel bag taking off a ridiculous amount of space.

I left the transition area and got marked (this made me feel official!) and grabbed my ankle chip. The ankle chip was this little velcro ankle band that I feared losing the whole race.

We then headed to the beach where they did some announcements. At this point I was a tad worried about my car keys. I realized that my family/friends might not be there early enough to grab them so I needed to get them back into the transition area before the Olympic folks got started. As I was racing into the transition area I heard people screaming. Behind the spectator section of my bike rack was My Mom, my younger sister and my aunt & uncle. I can’t tell you how nice it felt to see people I knew and to feel supported before the race started. I started to tear up as I saw them and tossed them my keys. I then ran around the outside area and gave them quick hugs.

I went back to the beach and ate an Arnold’s sandwich thin with barney crunch almond butter and a medium-sized organic banana. I was also downing water because I knew the swim would dehydrate me (as did my stomach issues earlier in the morning).

And then the Olympic swimmers were off. 250 at once, what a sight! I was in wave 5 of the Sprint racers so I was in the final wave group. Everything was going as planned on time so not too long after 8am (about 3 minutes between each wave) my wave group got ready to go into the water.

My final thoughts? Have fun. I’m not kidding. I truly let myself try to relax and thought it doesn’t matter how you do, just focus on the fact that you’re doing it and have fun.

The Swim:

This was an ocean swim. And not just any ocean, it was cold and really choppy. I wasn’t expecting this since my open water swims in the lakes have little to no waves. We actually had to run into the water, swim out to the first buoy, go around it, swim parallel to the beach to go around that buoy, back into the sand, run up the sand and stairs into our transition areas.

Nothing can prepare you for how the first few seconds of the swim feel. I felt like I was drowning. People were hitting into me (although very graciously as they did say sorry). People were swimming over me which really did pull me under. There was just this giant clump of us clambering into each other as waves crashed into our faces. I couldn’t swim my normal stroke because between the waves and the people when I tried to get my head up I choked on water. When I got to the first buoy I thought, holy shit I’m really tired and I’m not moving fast.

I panicked a little. I still had a good portion of the swim left and when I tried to freestyle I was hardly moving. Then I saw a girl who was doing the backstroke. Genius! I turned over and did the backstroke. Now I’m sure there are many reasons for not doing the backstroke but I’ll tell you – I was moving twice as fast as when I was doing freestyle and I was keeping up with other swimmers who were swimming freestyle. Plus I felt relaxed as I was getting ample air and easily floating. I tried a couple of times to flip back over and swim normally but that just wasn’t working. I ended up doing the backstroke for at least 2/3rds of the swim! Once I got close enough to shore I actually rode a wave in! I ended up riding it on top of another woman and felt really bad but I said I was sorry and kept moving. Ooops.

Once on the sand I felt a tiny bit disoriented. I easily pulled my wetsuit partially down (I just had a sports bra on and the wick dance shorts I was going to wear for the race). I took off my swim cap and goggles and started moving up the beach. I wanted to run but I felt a little drained and did somewhat of a jog walk.

As I approached the stairs area I saw a familiar face scanning the crowd. As I got to the stairs he looked down for a split second and that’s when I called his name. “Benny!” And he looked up. I gave him a big smile and he gave me a big cheer and I ran towards my transition area. It was a nice feeling to see him there.

As I neared my transition area I saw my friend S in her bike area (who was also doing the race) and already had her shirt on. She is a much stronger swimmer and was about to leave for the bike ride. My family was cheering which felt amazing. I quickly ripped off my wetsuit, dried my feet, blew my nose, put on my socks and sneakers, my shirt and then my sunglasses and snapped my helmet. I looked around for a second like, wait am I forgetting something? No ok keep going! I grabbed my bike and two cliff shot blocks (I originally planned on eating the power bar but  I wasn’t hungry and was told if I force something down it’d come back up). And I ran my bike out to the bike mount area.

The Bike:

The bike ride was actually the part I was most nervous about. It turned out the course wasn’t the course I tried to practice the weekend before. It was full of sharp turns and a few downhill turns. Most bikers probably love downhills but I tend to brake a  lot on them. I prefer uphill or flats when I can just push without fear of flying off.

I got to the mounting area and it took me a second to get on and get my feet into the cages. Once I was in and off I realized, I did it, I finished part one!

The first few minutes of the bike leg were a bit difficult as there were quite  a few of us and I was nervous about passing and when to pass. After the first mile I realized my stride and was able to pass a couple of bikers! I was also getting passed but most people smartly yelled out they were passing and I tried to get over right as much as possible to make it easier for them. I eventually came upon my friend S and gave her a cheer as I passed her.

I biked a fast pace but to be honest I know I could have pushed harder. The one bad part about not really knowing the course was that they didn’t put up any mile markers. I  had no idea how far I’d gone or how much I had left. I was too nervous to push too hard because I didn’t want to get too tired or not be able to do the run.

I ended up really enjoying the bike ride. At parts I wasn’t that close to other bikers, it was beautiful, calm and just fun. At points I honestly forgot I was racing and it just felt like I was riding my bike through Maine. I started to grow a serious appreciation for my bike at this point. I was comfortable, at ease, and just so thankful I had a great bike for the experience. I was able to take 3 long drinks out of my water bottle too!

As I got to the final intersection I heard an enormous cheer. There stood my two best friends from childhood and my 3 of my Boston girlfriends (and one husband). There were SO loud and I immediately started laughing as I rode by.

I got down to the end of the bike ride and honestly thought to myself, whoa that went by quickly! I tried to lower the gears to let my legs loosen up. I had to dismount my bike before the transition area and my legs felt wobbly! I jogged my bike to my rack (I probably jogged zig zags) and put my bike back. Because I already had my socks and sneakers on all I had to do was take my helmet and sunglasses off. I felt like I was forgetting something so I grabbed two more cliff shot blocks and squirted water in my mouth and on my face. (Mistake: I squirted myself in the eye – ouch.) So I shoveled the shot blocks in (gag) and then started to jog out to the cheers of my family and Benny who stood a little further down from them.

The Run:

This turned out to be the hardest part of all. I had to pee so so badly. I thought it wouldn’t matter and I could make it through but after jogging the initial minute I really started to wonder what I was going to do. I took a walking break for a little (in truth I know I could have pushed and run this and here is where I think I should have let my competitive side take over instead of letting myself walk so much).

I started to jog again once we had to pass a spectator section and that’s where I saw the bachelor. He cheered for me, asked how I was feeling and told me to “go, go, go!” I jogged over the hill and then walked again. This is where I started to think, I might have to pee myself. I saw my large friend group in the distance so I knew I had to jog again. I continued to jog past them where they screamed and shouted and I thought, omg I’m tired and I have so much more to go.

The rest of the run was a bit of a blur. Honestly, I’d say I walked half of it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. A number of people were so encouraging and came by and said really nice supportive things to get my going. Twice when I started to run again I started to pee. (Sorry TMI, but it’s something I’ll have to plan for next time!)

Again, there were NO mile makers and while the volunteers were the most amazingly/supportive people they didn’t know how much longer either! Once I hit the beach street though I knew there wasn’t long to go and that I had to keep jogging.

Then I saw it, the blue fences into the finish line. I started running hard. This is where I passed about 6 people jogging into the finish. (I think this is when I realized how much more I had to give but wasn’t giving in the run.) I finished with everyone I love screaming and cheering and a huge smile on my face. (A volunteer approached me much later and said he thought it was wonderful I crossed the finish line with such a big smile on my face.)

The Finish:

I couldn’t believe it when I was done. It felt surreal. I didn’t feel that tired. I felt like I normally do at the end of the spin class. I grabbed a Gatorade and an ice pop and my younger sister came running over. I immediately gave her a big sweaty hug. Then I saw Benny standing on a hill again scanning for me. I walked up to him and gave him a big hug. (I haven’t seen him since camping.) I figured he’d then want to bail but he asked to come say hi to everyone. We walked over and I gave hugs to all my family and friends, took many pictures (which I’ll have to get) and I recapped so many of my thoughts and feelings.

In some ways it felt strange to have so many people standing around wanting to talk just to me. I felt a little thrown off being the center of attention and struggled to make sure everyone knew how much it meant to have them there.  Because it really, really meant so much to me to have such a supportive group standing there at the end. I cried. Haha.

Final thoughts:

I think this will have to be another post since this was turned out so long! But the strange part? I’m not really sore today. My neck is sore (I don’t really know why? Tension?) but the rest of me doesn’t feel bad at all!

One thing is for sure… when can I do my next tri?!

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