It may look like I'm going slow but I'm just getting started.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tri for the Cure

My very first triathlon has come and gone. I went in knowing I could do it. Biking the 8 miles and running 2.5 a few times eased my mind. But I was afraid of the unknown. If you have issues with insomnia before a race I highly recommend waking up really early the morning before the race and going for your first ever open water swim and one mile run up a hill the size of Mt. Everest. And then race around for the rest of the day attending a home sales party and packet pick up. By about 10-11 you will beg to go to sleep.

I set my alarm for 5:00 because I could not imagine waking up earlier. 5:00 is kind of my limit. I had packed all my essentials the night before in a very obsessive organized way. So all I had to do Sunday was dress, get coffee and water bottles. There was a tense moment when I discovered my frozen water bottle had tipped over and sealed the top on. I managed to unscrew it though and add water to top it off. Whew. The drive over was pretty uneventful. I started worrying about the time it was taking me though and wondering if all the good spots would be gone. Should not have worried. Apparently a lot of people don't like to come early. I set up my bike and transition area on an outside rack and noted the flower balloon to make sure I would remember where in the hell my bike was. I myself am way too cool to bring balloons for the rack but in the future I will make sure to always rack my bike by someone who brings one!

I waited around a long time for the swim start. Since it was in a pool they sent off swimmers every 15 seconds. Finally I was standing in line at the edge of the pool and I started wondering exactly why I had signed up for the race. My nerves were eased a bit by Sara and her wonderful cheering family. I started the swim and quickly realized I had forgotten how. Why were my arms flailing around? Why were my legs dragging the bottom? I don't know what happened but that was possibly the worst swim of my life (as well as the longest 15 minutes). I just could not get a rhythm going and then I would get to the end of the lane and have to go under the lane line. But I made it! I was passed by a lot of people. I felt like the little cork in the swim lane stopping up the flow. I tried to stay far right. I almost got kicked by a woman doing breaststroke. Aahhh the joy of triathlon.

I tried to hurry through transition. I felt like I was hurrying. But perhaps I was not. There's definitely a learning curve and I would do some things different. Like not wear socks, which are really hard to pull on wet feet. I was looking forward to the bike all morning. I just kept thinking I would go really hard on the bike no matter what. I finally made my way onto the course and started pedaling. I felt really good at first and didn't have a hard time maintaining my goal pace of 16 mph. I even rode a little faster. Passed some people. Got passed by a few. One ridiculous lady with a time trial helmet and tri bike. Really? In an 8 mile bike? She probably finished in like 15 minutes though. So it was going along. And then I turned a corner and the wind started blowing. I kept shifting to see if spinning made it easier but no, it didn't. I just kept spinning. Just keep spinning, spinning, spinning. I made it around the course twice though and back to transition. My Garmin said exactly 30 minutes for a little over 8 miles. My recorded bike time was 36 minutes though (which included both transitions) so I see where I have a little work to do.

Setting off for the run I just kept telling myself I only had 2.5 miles to go. Possibly less. Apparently one thing said 2 and one thing said 2.5. I was hoping for the 2. In describing the run course, the race director kept saying, "You'll run around that HUGE facility," which didn't really help. The first lap I didn't take any water because 1. it's hard to run and drink and 2. it makes me burpy, which makes me feel like hurling. I just kept trudging along. I swear, I don't know if my feet really even leave the ground. I know I need to work on raising my knee but that makes it harder!! But I didn't stop! I kept looking down at my Garmin and it would say I was going faster than my goal pace. I didn't want to lose my steam so I would slow down a little. Maybe I shouldn't do that. Maybe I should run until I puke? I don't know. On the second lap I did take water and I squeezed the cup like I was supposed to. Still really hard to drink. I finally saw the entrance to the track and told myself it was almost over. My kids were all there at the entrance and they high fived me as I went past. I cannot tell you how motivating that was. Plus they had music so I didn't have to just listen to my ragged breathing. I finished the first lap and looked down at my Garmin, which read 1.8 something. I assumed I had to do another lap because the instructions about the laps were a little fuzzy. I started running on the outside of the chute and luckily Sara and her husband were yelling and pointing for me to go on the inside. So I did. But I felt like I was cheating. Plus, anticlimactic. I was mentally prepared to go around again. And the one race snafu of the day - the loss of my race belt - meant they didn't call my name because I didn't have my number on. We did find my race belt hanging on a rack in transition and apparently one side had pulled out of the buckle. Stupid race belt. Anyway, as soon as I finished (and neurotically flagged down a race volunteer to make sure I had completed the assigned laps) I felt like I could take on the world. I wasn't tired or nauseous. I just felt empowered. So I ate a banana. And then I made my family take me to IHOP. I thought I would eat my whole plate plus some but I couldn't even finish 1/3 of my pancakes and omelet. But not to worry, I took it home for later!

So what have I learned? No, it's not to never do another triathlon again. I quite like the feeling. I love walking around after with my number marking. I love not feeling sore the next day and knowing it's because I trained and ate right. I love feeling like I can improve my times and do better. I think I'm going to do another pool swim sprint next month. Not quite ready for open water. I will definitely be working on my swim. I'm going to get some coaching. I'll practice transitions. I'll figure out how to use my Garmin in multisport mode. I'll double check my race belt. And I will for sure be out there again.

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