I completed my first of three sprint distance triathlons this past Saturday, July 18th!
Yes, a good goal should scare you a little...and excite you alot -- such is the case with my experience(s) as a triathlete!
We traveled down Friday, so that I could pick-up my race packet and preview the bike course. We followed a few signs to what we thought was the bike route. When we came upon the bricks in the road, I thought 'Oh Lord, bricks and clips and me don't mix!". But, it turns out the signs (and brick road) were the run course. THANK GOD! First time using clips in a race, I didn't want to have to conquer and manuever my way around bricks & crevices galore!
Rise & Shine: 4am.
Ate a bananna & debated a bowl of oatmeal (but the wise have said time and time again do not try anything new on race day)...so no oatmeal.
I arrived at transition bright and early around 5:30am. Picked up my timing chip - Got Marked up! Early does the mind good. Plenty of space to get my bike and transition area setup. I like picking my spot! I had plenty of rack space to do so! I found a spot - laid everything out & checked it 2, 3, 4, times. Last year, my first and only tri I had only one pair of shoes (my running shoes) on my tri mat. This year, I put my big girl panties on and laid out the ole' cycling shoes because it was time to CLIP to it (ha! ~ pun intended). The HuMiDiTy was out of this world! Although I didn't feel incredibly nervous, I was sweating like I had already run 3 miles. Nerves and humidity might have contributed. The swim start was a few hundred yards from transition. So, I took advantage of my early arrival to check it out. I spent the remainder of the time chit chatting and snapping pics with fellow members from Black Triathletes Association and Atlanta Tri Club.
It was great meeting new folk & catching up with tri buddies.I met Heather (BTA), Michael (BTA, ATC), and Brad (ATC) for the first time. I chat it up with several ATC members: Nicole, Chuck, Karen, Hollie, John, Maggie, and Gabe. I truly felt at ease. I was just so darn hot ... Note to self: Wear a bondi band while mingling and the like prior to the start of a race. I believe, this happened last year at Acworth, too. I am a SWEAT'er'. This I know!
We were asked to head down to swim start. Still early - I made my way down the steps to get a dip in the river. When I tell you those doggone steps were frightening to me - they were ! First of all, they were what seemed to be knee deep..meaning when I steped down the step was as high as my knee (or so it seemed). I can be a bit of a klutz at times. So, it was not outside of any realm of possibility that I could take a tumble. I moved slow and deliberately ..plotting my course to the river (lol). Kevin thought it was hilarious. Me not so much! I went down a few steps before a small dull pain in my knee. Took another step down and felt it again. I sat my booTay down and looked like a 2 year old scooting my way to the water for the final 2 or 3 steps. Better safe than sorry. I didn't come that way to hurt myself on some freakin' steps/stairs. I slithered into the river .. made the mistake of taking a few strokes down the river and then had to swim up against the current. I felt ridiculous trying to get back to the steps. If I weren't concentrating super duper hard, I would have laughed heartily at myself for that novice mistake. Others were swimming straight across from the stairs and back. Note to self: Current is only total bliss when it's downstream. Do NOT swim against the current ever again.
There was no age group start. We all lined up on the steps. Closest to the slide - first one in & then it was a matter of traffic control. One by one, we were directed to take a huge jump onto the water slide. Yes, I took advantage of this FUN start and JUMPED (weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee). Thing was what jumps high - plunges hard. I had to swim to the surface. I don't know what I'd expected. But, I didn't think I was going to go that deep into the water. We were told the water was 4 - 6 feet deep.
I surfaced. I swam. I actually had a good swim. I swam the entire way except for a few times when I had to stop to sight (fogged up goggles) & when I had to redirect myself away from the more shallow parts. Current definitely helped! I am slow in the water. But, I have learned how to relax and find my 'groove'. Said groove hovers around 3:00/100 yd. Finished the swim in 13:32. This swim though with the current felt much faster. I was proud of my swim. When I directed myself away from the shallow parts, I corrected to the middle a bit too much & added some yardage I think to my swim when I had to swim back to the left to the buoy and out of the river. The exit was a bit tricky with volunteers on both our right and left ... yelling before we made it there to keep swimming to the end because we could step on "stuff" if we stopped to walk too soon. I follow directions well. Swam as close to the volunteers as I could and then proceeded to move SLOWLY and GINGERLY out of the water and unto the steps (or whatever that was). As is the case with the completion of any open water swim (race or practice), I Exhaled .................!
Out the water - we had to make our way to transition up a steep hill for several hundred yards. I walked the entire way. As a result, my transition (T1) time, which included that trek up the hill from the water, was dreadful (like 6 minutes). Took a few sips of water. Ate a few sports jelly beans. Headed out .. Come on Clips don't fail me now! My mount is comical (but not nearly as comical as my dismount..more about that later).
I had a good ride. I finished in less than an hour (:56:34). I passed a few folk and courteously said "on your left' miles 1 -8. Felt good. I saw Heather (she passed me - I passed her), Nicole (caught up and passed me), Keith (won his age group flew by me and in a blink of an eye was about 20 bike lengths ahead of me), Mike (caught up and passed me -- I didn't realize I was ahead of him until I read his race report and of course when he zoomed by me at around mile 9)..... It seemed all of Columbus' police force was on the course that day. Needless to say, I thanked every one of them for controlling the traffic for us. The route was flat for the most part with a couple of hills.
I told myself that I didn't need to check the Garmin. Things were going well (or so I thought) Truth be told, I was afraid to see how many miles I had left. I managed to hold true to that rule until mile 9. I looked at the watch. HATED that I did that.....Mile 9! 4 to go .. ??!???! Oh no. I was passed often on that final 4 miles and lost ground and speed. At that point, I was not trying to catch anyone. I just wanted to keep moving and not stop. My mind begin to tell me all kinds of things ...like what my legs couldn't do -- that I was beginning to feel sick -- that I had not had enough sleep & that's why I was feeling sluggish -- that these 4 miles were going to KICK my Butt!
When the going gets tough, I encourage myself by feeding off the strength and bravery of my survivor friends' journeys. I remember my own journey. It always helps give me just enough to #keepitmoving.
The last portion of the route was off road. Scenic and Shady. The same hill we traveled up after the swim was the same dreadful hill at the end of the bike route. Come on, legs!
Now, back to the comment earlier - my dismount is nothing less than a HOT MESS ... because I don't trust my legs to go up and over without falling and causing bodily harm. After long rides or sore legs, I lay my bike all the way to the ground.. I mean, all the way down -- then I step over it. You've probably never seen anything quite like it .. and I knew spectators were wondering what in the heck I was doing. Didn't care. I was off the bike safe and sound and on to transition. Kevin and Kj met me at the hill and said something like "we've been waiting for you".... thought I'd had a flat or been or hurt or something -- (Translation: what took you so long?")
YAY!!!!! My first tri with Clips. After last year's FOUR FALLS and a removal of the clips before my race, I was super duper happy to have conquered that 'fear'.
Happy to have the swim and bike behind me..... Had a bit of Huma Energy Chia seeds (apple cinnamon -- yumm) - couple of sips of water. Saw a fellow ATCer, Jennifer (had never met but recognized her ATC shirt) Said hello to her & headed out.
I had not spent much time ... well hardly any on preparing for the run. Once upon a time, I could trot 3 miles without stopping. I knew I would spend some time walking but wanted to not walk the entire way. Small goals. Run started with a hill ... I walked it. Rest of the run was flat. After I rounded the corner, Jennifer (the ATCer I'd just met in T2) came up to me. We chat a bit & agreed we would do intervals together. So, we did. Walk/Trot / Walk/Trot ... so forth and so on. Run done in less than :50 (:48:42) By this time, the HEAT was on and popping! I think I remember seeing Chuck, Mike, Nicole on the run course as we looped. Toward the end, I saw Heather on a part of the loop. She said the temperature was on "Hell". I got a chuckle out of that one. She was sho nuff right though. Around mile 2, a 73 year old passed me :-). I felt like giving him a HIGH FIVE. By the way -- are those age markings on the back of folks legs meant to shame or motivate us? (ha!). Kudos to healthy and active seniors on the move!
THE FINISH LINE
The finish line was down hill. As I rounded the corner, my walk became a trot. Beep, ahhh the sounds of the finish! There was another slide at the end of the race (optional). Of course, I chose to slide. After slipping and sliding my way through that 'thing' like the 43 year old I am, I received my medal on the other end.
It was a fun race. I really enjoyed it. Several ATCers podiumed. Congrats to Keith, Gabe, Maggie, and Karen (hope I didn't forget anyone). And, it seems everyone finished strong. I would definitely do this race again. I think I've graduated from 'just f'n finish' (Kim Grubb) to 'I can do this to do better or this or change that'..... I want to be better, stronger, and faster.
Finish time: 2:07:35
Thank you, Lord for my health and stamina. I am thankful for the opportunity to train and finish my second triathlon. Thankful for all the Tri peeps that I've met along the way who have given advice, encouraged, inspired, and motivated me (and I'm happy to report there are way too many to name ... tri community is deep and filled with some rockstar athletes!) Last but certainly not least, thankful for family and friends .... Kevin and Kj's help to & through another finishline (and finish lines ain't always only about a line on the pavement).
The race is not given to the swift nor to the strong but to the one who endureth all the day long .... Ecclesiastes 9:11
Next race is August 2nd in Acworth (Women's Sprint)-- my first and only tri of 2014.
August 23rd in Athens (Tri to Beat Cancer)
Not tri related but two more big events to come:
(1) 2 day 30 mile walk (Atl, GA) (2) 3 day 100 mile adventure (Key West, Fl)