Ladies and Gentlemen, I am now officially a triathlete! I'm so excited to have completed my very first triathlon! Not only did I complete it but it was also pretty much completely without incident. No severe panic attacks, no road rash, no injured limbs. So, without further ado...
Ready to hit the road!
Someone made a terrible mistake and seeded me 180th out of about 500
Me and my skinny sister before the start
We got to transition around 6:15 or 6:30 really after the half mile trek from the car to transition. Why they park volunteer athletes so far away from where they need to be I'll never understand. Anyhow, I set up transition just how I practiced and the woman next to me was very nice and wished me luck. It was her third tri and she was seeded appropriately so she was actually fast. My sister and I listened to the pre-race instructions together and before we knew it, we were heading to the swim start. I was definitely a little worried about my sister since she'd never done an OWS but I figured she'd be fine after the initial shock. I was starting a bit ahead of her and since it was a time trial I had to line up at the chute without her. She stood close by and cheered and cheered and I even heard her after I'd crossed the start. It was a beach start so there was a lot of splashing as we all ran in and tried to start swimming. I could feel myself starting to panic a bit but, better equipped and better trained than the Ohio River swim, was able to shut it down quickly. I was terrified the most about gassing out. Swimming has always been exhausting for me so I tried to swim way slower than normal. Unfortunately it turned out to be way too slow and I added almost 6 minutes to the goal time I had in my head. Of course, I didn't know this when I got out of the water, all I knew was that I'd finished the first 1/3 and in some ways the most difficult 1/3 of my first tri! I got out and saw my mom so I gave her a great big wave! I saw Tyler as I was making my way through the chute to transition. It didn't occur to me that I'd been passed by a lot of people until I saw how many bikes were already gone including my whole row.
Crossing the start!
Finishing the swim
Time for the bike
Off I went with my bike. I'd spent about 2-2:30 minutes in transition which I thought was pretty good for my first time. I'd forgotten to put my bike in a low gear (after reminding my sister to do that to hers before we got started...) so it was a bit of a mash up hill out of transition and onto the course. It was a really difficult bike course and admittedly I probably wasn't as prepared as I could've been. Through the last weeks of training I had a hard time fitting in those longer rides and probably took the bike portion for granted. I also trained on a lot of steep or rolling hills whereas this course had a lot of long, slow inclines. Brutal. It was an out and back course which meant I got to see all the people faster than me as they came back through. It was actually really motivating and we were all very supportive of each other. The one thing I was most jealous of was not their fitness level or athletic ability, I can get that on my own, but their bikes. Oh holy bike porn did they have some nice rides! New mission, new bike. Anyhow, after the turn around as I was heading back to the park I saw my sister coming towards me. She looked like she was having a rough go but once I heard her say she was ok I felt a lot better. Back I went up and down hills and inclines towards my second and last transition. As a BOPer (back of pack-er) there are a few things one has to get used to such as riding back to transition avoiding runners who are FINISHING their entire race before you've even finished 2/3 of yours and very little volunteer support. I cruised down the hill and into transition then I was off on my run.
Coming back through transition
Re-racking my bike
Compared to swimming and biking, I hate running. Running hurts more than the other two. But as I approached my achilles heel with an uphill climb right off the bat I thought "Oh my gosh! Only 3 miles stand between me and being a triathlete! I can do this!" I suddenly got really excited and started running, forgetting that through ALL of my training I've done intervals. About 3 minutes in my quads were screaming and I quickly remembered that bike ride. Instead of quitting, I simply adjusted. One minute run, one minute walk. I didn't feel terribly winded but my legs just didn't have the energy left to take down those miles as quickly as normal and I thought that I really shouldn't expect them to be able to do that anyway. 15 minutes later I reached mile 1 and took some water from one of the 2 volunteers left on the course. It was another out and back so I once again got to see a lot of faster people coming towards me and I felt the same way about it as I did on the bike. It was great to have so much support! Remember how I mentioned lack of volunteers? Here's where it got interesting. I'm running along and eventually start to wonder when and where I'm supposed to turn around. I was significantly slower than the people ahead of me but significantly faster than those behind me so I'd spent a large portion of the course on my own. On the bike luckily there were cones everywhere to keep traffic away but the run was on a closed park street. Finally I spot a single orange cone in the middle of the road. I decide that's where I'll turn around. But then I started to panic that it wasn't the turn around and I'd be cutting the course. Now granted, there wasn't a soul around so no one would see or catch me but I would know and I couldn't live with myself for that. As the cone gets closer I really start debating. At the last minute a man on a bike comes racing up behind me shouting "turn around at the cone!!!!" Aha! I was right! I guess he'd abandoned his post thinking surely no one was as slow as I was but little did he know we were still trickling through. I turned around and just before mile 2 saw my sister coming towards me again. She's a much faster runner than me so I was expecting to see her sooner or later. She said "We can do it!" and I was pumped to see how excited she was, especially knowing she had a rough bike ride. I picked up my pace (just a little), grabbed water at 2 miles and was determined to finish. That last mile would not beat me! A lot of people were walking on the course back to their cars but they all let me pass and gave me the loudest, most enthusiastic cheers I've ever had! I was so excited and so touched that complete strangers were so proud of me! I dug deep and pushed hard and finally I saw the downhill that marked the sprint to the finish. In my head I broke into a sprint but I'm pretty sure my legs stayed where they were. I wanted to finish the run in under 45 minutes and was really happy to check my watch and see that I did! My mom was there at the finish and so was Tyler. I knew Alexis wasn't far behind so I grabbed a cup of water and gatorade and "ran" (I use this word loosely) back to the finish so I could see her. Somehow my body managed to jump up and down and yell for her as she came through the chute and I'm glad because her finish line pictures all have huge smiles in them.
Finishers and Triathletes!
My medal :)
All in all I think this was the best experience of my life. I have never been prouder of myself than I am right now to be able to say that I'm a triathlete. Everybody needs help at times and I recognize that but becoming a triathlete is something I did completely on my own. Only I could make myself wake up at 5am and be in the pool by 6. Only I could make myself do a quick wardrobe change after work to hop on my bike for a few miles in 90+ degree temps. Only I could make myself get up at the same 5am on a Saturday (my only weekend day off) to head out for those long runs. I did this for me and in the process became a better sister, daughter, girlfriend, friend, co-worker and person because of it. I wouldn't trade a single piece of training or the race for anything in the world.