I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!! I am officially a triathlete!
I feel like I have so much I want to tell you guys. I totally dropped off the radar with my training recaps. Between work and life and being out there training, I seemed to lose track of time until I was weeks behind. The end of training went really well. I stuck to my plan and I think I only missed one workout for each sport over the entire training cycle. However, after our longest brick workout (3 hours on the bike + 30 min run), I started to lose a little bit of confidence. The weather has been creeping up here, and running in the heat is NOT my forte. Also, I had never actually swam in open water.
Thursday before the race, I signed up for a local splash and dash to try to test the waters (literally) and make sure I felt confident for race day. Well, I had a full blown panic attack in the water and came the closest I’ve ever come to a DNF. I did end up finishing, but only after a lot of crying and talking through it with Steve and a very nice life guard.
I honestly have never felt more doubtful about my ability to finish a race. I never skimp on my training, and go into everything I sign up for having followed my training plan to a tee. I had put in all of the time and mileage, but I was literally terrified that I would panic again in the open water and that my months and hours of training would be for nothing. I was also slightly terrified of getting kicked in the head, passing out and drowning. Logical? Not necessarily, but my brain can come up with some crazy shit.
Okay, race day. So I woke up at some awful hour that started with a 3, got to the start with Nicole and the husbands and before I knew it, it was time for us to head over to get into the water. They gave some pre race announcements, and I still didn’t feel excited, only scared. Then they asked everyone who was a first timer to raise their hand. I tentatively put my hand up, and the people around me looked at me and one lady nicely put her hand on my back, and then I just started crying. I looked at Nicole, and I was like “Ummm, I’m crying and I don’t know why.” It didn’t stop until we got into the water. The combination of nerves and fear and desire to achieve my goal just overwhelmed me, and we all know I’m an emotional human.
We got into the water and we had to SWIM TO THE START then tread water…wtf??? Maybe no big deal if you’re in a wet suit (it was wet suit legal, but it was warm enough and I’ve never swam with one so I wasn’t about to start on race day). As we started swimming to the start, as soon as I put my face in the water, all of those feelings of panic came back immediately. I did my best to go through every positive mantra I know, breathe, and remind myself that I could do this. I did do this just a few days before. I had panicked, but I stuck it out, and it got better. As soon as we started, I just took it slow, tried to focus on my breathing, and kept repeating to myself that I could do this. We swam in a big rectangle, and about 1/2 way through the first section I started freaking out about the distance. It seemed so far. I wanted to take a break. What if I couldn’t keep going????? Every time I felt my anxiety creep up, I just slowed my stroke and focused on my breathing.
The good thing about being a slow swimmer? I had so much room! I only bumped into other swimmers a few times and it was really nice. Finally, I approached the first turn and when I made that turn something clicked in my mind and I knew I could do it. I was feeling better, more relaxed, and I was even starting to enjoy myself! I just kept doing my own thing (including a lot of zig zagging because that sighting business is hard!) and then all of the sudden I could hear the announcer! I couldn’t believe it! I kept getting nasty lake water in my mouth because I had this dopey grin on my face that I couldn’t get rid of. It was the first moment I really believed I could and would finish this race.
I got out of the water and ran to my transition area. I had finished the swim in about 47 minutes. 3 days before half the distance took me 31 minutes, so I was honestly happy with 1. Not stopping to panic, and 2. Coming in under an hour. It was definitely slower than I swam in the pool, but I was expecting that, and I was just beyond happy to have made it! Plus I was super excited for the bike. I had a feeling this would be my favorite leg, and it absolutely was.
I made the mistake of getting behind the group of girls I exited transition with. I was trying to be polite, and it took me a little bit to stop being polite and just get around people. I immediately started picking people off on the bike. I tried counting how many people I passed, but I lost count pretty quickly. 😉 I was feeling pretty good, but my bike felt…weird. There was a rubbing and clicking feeling, and I was a little worried something was off with my shifting or derailleur. I just continued on and figured I’d deal with it after the race. I was having a great time and only slightly noticed that my effort and intensity didn’t seem to match my pace. I was riding faster than we had done any of our training rides and passing so many people, and I only got passed by 2-3 people (all of which had aero bars!) that I just figured that was where I was at. I finished the bike in 1:34 and felt good about it.
I knew the run wasn’t going to be pretty. I was pretty tired by this point, the high was 102* and I started my run at 9am. There was also zero clouds/shade/etc. I made the decision to do a walk/run approach and allowed myself to walk up all of the hills. While I can’t say I enjoyed the run (it was my least favorite part), it also wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I was worried I would end up walking the entire 10k, but I stuck to my plan and kept my running pace slow. I also dumped like 100 cups of water over my head and refilled my bottle twice! I finished in 1:12 for a total time of 3:40.
Going into this race, my only real goal was to finish. That’s how they say you should go into your first races, right? Usually I suck at that, but because triathlons are so new to me, and I picked a fairly big distance for my first one (I kept kicking myself at the expo for not choosing the super sprint–that one sounded so fun!), I knew I just had to focus on surviving. In the back of my mind, I assumed the race would take my over 4 hours, but I secretly hoped to squeeze in before that. My time was definitely not a fast one, but I was so thrilled to come in so far ahead of where I expected!
When we went over to grab our things, Steve looked at my bike and laughed. He said “Do you want to know why you rode so slow? Your front brake was rubbing the entire time.” So that rubbing/clicking I felt? Yeah, not crazy. I can’t believe I couldn’t tell! When I got to transition that morning, it was obvious someone had moved my bike, and my guess is that they bumped something and my brake had gotten stuck. I guess I need to work on my bike knowledge before next time… 😉
And oh yes, there will be a next time because I absolutely LOVED this race! I had so much fun, and I enjoyed it way more than any of my running races. In fact, I spent the morning looking up which tris were coming up because I’m ready to go again! I’ve already signed up for a sprint with my best friend in June, but my next big goal is….
Thanks so much for all of your support throughout my training. You guys all keep me motivated and inspired with your kind comments, and I am so grateful for the support! And extra special thanks to everyone who came out to support us, and especially my training buddy. I totally couldn’t have done it without you girl!