I only afforded myself 8 weeks of preparation for my first triathlon. I saw the distance of the course and thought “eh, that’s nothing, I can totally do that”. One small problem: I didn’t know how to swim or bike athletically. Sure, I could get in a pool and play around and I could ride a bike just fine. However, when it came to actually going for any amount of distance, I was out. I enlisted the help of Coach Haylei and over the weeks leading up to the event, I forced myself into the water almost daily. I hated it. I was discouraged and thought for sure I’d be the one with the snorkel at the triathlon.
It turned out I was REALLY good at transitions. Ok, one thing down. Now, how was I going to swim, bike, and run the rest of it?
The night before the race, I was nothing but nerves. What if I forgot my bike? What if I forgot my goggles? My shoes? I went over and over the contents of my transition bag. I laid everything out and put it all away again more times than I should admit.
I barely slept.
I did my normal pre-race routine of banana and peanut butter and headed out about 3 hours prior to race start. I got there SUPER early. It seemed like no one else was around. I scored a great spot on the rack on the edge, though. Early bird gets the good transition spot.
I tied my fluorescent pink jacket on the end and everyone on the rack was thankful.
Jeff and the kids were on their way but running late. I was freaking out that they wouldn’t make it in time for me to see them prior to the race start. I needed it. I needed to see their faces. I needed them to believe in me because I was struggling with believing in myself.
The downtown canal looked kind of gross. Expected. There was a lot of foliage in the water and plant life growing from the bottom. And, when I walked the swim course, it looked LONG. It was “only” 500 meters, but it looked LONG.
Luckily, Coach Haylei was there to help with my nerves. And, I was there to help with hers. We were quite the pair when it came to the nerves.
I kept pacing around and walking up the stairs to the parking garage where I was looking for Jeff and the kids. No sign of them. I only had 15 minutes to the swim start by that point, so it was time to get down to business.
I headed to the swim start and was sizing up my competitors to see where I should start. Haylei and I are, of course, at different levels with our swimming, so she went well ahead of me. I was standing there in a crowd of people that looked like they knew what they were doing and all of a sudden had a rush of panic thinking I had no business there.
As I’m getting ready to jump into the water, I hear “REEEEEEB” coming from the other side of the downtown canal. My good friend Lauren as well as my husband and kids had made their way over just in time to watch!
I jumped in and went. Immediately, I felt myself tangled into the vegetation in the canal. And, within a few yards, I was also being kicked and hit by other people. My goal was to not stop or stand. The canal was only 4 ft deep, so if I got freaked out, I could stand. The only time I did get a little out of sorts was when I got kicked in the face. A girl doing the backstroke was zig-zagging across the canal and kicked me square in the face. She actually kicked me hard enough to break my hard palate, I later found out. That was fun. A week of facial swelling and a hard time eating. Yuck. Welcome to triathlon!
I ended up finishing the swim in 15:05. My goal was 12 minutes, but I would accept a finish, so it was what it was.
I ran as fast as I could to my bike, got my helmet on first, then shoes, then grabbed my bike and went. I ended up having a pretty awesome transition time at 1:04, ranking me 16th overall for that particular split.
The bike was my best part. I went and I went fast. My average speed was 19.1 mph on my “heavy” aluminum base model bike. That was with several stops for road hazards. There were a few times of crossing railroad tracks and the tracks were known to cause some crashes, so stopping or at least slowing down significantly was required. There were also some pretty sharp turns. I rocked the bike on this race. My bike finish time was 38:57.
The run was a run. It wasn’t anything special. The “brick” feeling wasn’t bad, but it was there. Of course I was mad at the end because I realized I could’ve run faster. I ran a 8:02/mi pace. Not bad, I know. But, not my best and I didn’t know how hard I could push with this being my first triathlon. My 5K finish was 24:57.
Total finish: 1:21:08
And, the best part? I got 2nd place in my age group! I was shocked when I saw the results. I got a great mug and bottle opener as my award. Perfection.
It was a GREAT day.