I signed up for this sprint triathlon a whole week and a half in advance. I hadn’t really been on the bike seriously in the past month and I’d been in the pool for casual lap swims once a week. With all of that I knew all of my running would come into play and let me compete. I signed up knowing that it was a flat course – the race was on a Sunday and I still had my long group run on Saturday.
I got to my running group Saturday morning and my main coach, Misty, said that she was surprised to see me for the 14 miles + hill repeats run. I just shrugged – running this marathon is my priority for the rest of the year, triathlons are my fun races. I got through a new all-time high mileage of 15.1 miles and honestly felt pretty good, tired, but good. I went home, had a nice ice bath and tried to rest. Before bed I had a warm salt bath hoping that would help.
Sunday morning I woke up a little stiff, but with some serious stomach issues. It wasn’t nerves, something just wasn’t sitting right. After several trips to the restroom and a ginger ale my husband said we could stay home. No way. I’m not going to let some stomach unhappiness stop me. So we gathered up all of our goods and headed out. My issues set us back a little bit, but we got there at about 5:45 – transition opened at 5:30. I was really surprised at how many people were there already. I got my spot and started setting up my transition area. It’s really hard to do in the dark when there is no lights, so I did a rough job knowing I would go back to it. Tried to wander for a little bit – first wave wasn’t going to start until 7 and I was set for about 7:30. I did need to use the restroom so I headed over to the bathrooms. They weren’t the usual porta potty’s since we were at a recreational park and for the first time, the boys line was 5 times the girls line. I giggled a lot while I was in line because it was a vision of awesomeness.
Went back and put the finishing touches on transition, stripped down to my tri shorts and zoot tank and grabbed the goggles and cap to get started. It was an open water swim with wave starts by age group. All of the men went first then I was in the first wave for the women. I’m not going to lie, it was a little discouraging watching all of the men go – considering there was a big handful that had to be rescued by the boat. I grew up a water baby and am totally comfortable, but there are still moments when you watch people drop like flies you get a little worried. Finally we were ready to get in the water. We single file piled into the water and started wading. At that point we were told they were going to hold us until every male in the last group made it out and the boat went back to shore to drop off their people. Let me tell you, that gives a person a lot of time to think and panic. I panicked because my goggles broke, TWICE, while in the water. The first time was simple because I could just double knot them and go. The second time, I really wanted to crap my pants. The broke on the side, so I had to feed the rubber through a very small hole. Doesn’t help that they gave us a minute warning. I was so stressed my hands were shaking and I was trying to come up with a plan to swim without them. In my head I was also thinking “Is this really how this race is going to start? I hope it’s not a sign.” Luckily I made it by seconds – at this point my goggles were really tight and I prayed that they would just make it through.
So we took off and I tried to get a good pace going, most of the time I was trailing someone to the right of me. I was gaining on her but not super close. I was focusing on two side breathes and then one straight to get my line and that really seemed to work. It was only my second open water and I totally swam extra on my first so I didn’t want to repeat that mistake. As we were getting closer to the last buoy I made it my purpose to pass this person. Nothing personal to whomever she was but I wanted to kick her butt. (Why yes, I am a bit competitive, why do you ask?) I’m happy to say I turned on my kick and totally passed her by. I was fourth out of the water! 350M swim: 5:18
Had to run up a slightly mean boat ramp to make it to transition. Once in transition I threw everything on and ran out – I gained on one of the girls. I’m happy for some great transition videos out there for T1 – without them I wouldn’t be nearly as fast. T1: 1:40
Once on the bike the competitive spirit really got me – if I was fourth out of the water and pushed it I could have a chance at placing. I knew the course since we drove it the day before and I knew it was a flat two loops. I was going to be smart about my pace but push it so I could be proud. I’m not going to lie, there is something extremely motivating about flying past men. Physically speaking men are faster, that’s just the way it is, so for me it’s great to be able to push past them. I made sure to announce every pass so they knew I was coming, then I followed it with a “You’re looking great!” I knew I was pushing it much faster than I’d ever done before and that just fueled me to run fast and run smart. 12 Mile Bike: 39:29 (18.2 MPH average)
I un-velcroed my shoes hoping to not have to clip out and save a few seconds, worked well on the left foot, right foot, not-so-much. Must’ve been awesome to see me running in one sock and one shoe. Too bad no pics of that. I really need some work in T2, I think my major time issue is with tying my shoes. I need to look into those. If anyone has other suggestions please let me know. T2: 1:21
I headed out on the run which was 3 loops. The first mile on the run always makes me laugh, my legs sorta feel like jello, but they are warmed up and they go fast. They weren’t totally worn out from the bike and my cadence was pretty quick so I went with it. I tried to keep myself paced so I didn’t die at the end. I didn’t want to walk, I just wanted to run and go fast. The course was flat and pretty quick, it’s hard to get bored on a 1/2 mile stretch full of people. My first mile ended up being pretty fast for me and since I felt good I kept it going. On the third lap I let myself pick it up a little more. Each person I passed I could tell was struggling, I tried to be as positive and helpful as possible, offering words of encouragement. I remember on my first tri on the run I was having a tough time and had to stop and walk. Nothing was better than people I didn’t know encouraging me to move forward – it’s powerful stuff people, remember that on your next race. The last loop we headed to the right to the finishing area – I sprinted my little butt off. And you know what? I ended with my fastest 5k, ever. I mean seriously – look at that determination on my face! 5k: 26:17 (8:28 pace)
The best part, at the end after a few deep breaths I felt awesome. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to calm down. I crossed knowing I kicked major butt and I beamed from ear to ear because I was high on success. We stayed around because I knew I was close to the top 3 - ended up taking second in my age group. I have a lot of appreciation for my marathon running group. Without being a part of that group I know I wouldn’t have done as well. Andrew, also from my running group took first place in his age group!