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Race Result

Racer: Keri Hammel
Race: IronGirl Columbia
Date: Sunday, August 23, 2009
Location: Columbia, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Female 35 - 39
Time: 2:40:01
Overall Place: 1313 / 1671
Age Group Place: 288 / 358

Race Report:

This is my first tri!! I would have been happy to finish in 3 hours and instead I was elated to finish in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

This tri was an enormous feat for me, due to the fact that I just learned how to ‘swim’ within the past year! I have always been afraid of putting my head in the water. In fact, I would start hyperventilating when water would come up to my chest. I also would never put my head under the running water in the shower. So did I explain my fear of water yet ;-)? I decided last June to start taking swimming lessons and I literally had to learn how to blow bubbles in kids’ toys. A little humiliating but well worth it!!

So a week before the IG dress rehearsal I was really down on myself thinking I was not prepared for the swim portion of the tri and my mind was playing tricks on me. I arrived at the dress rehearsal early with my husband and Michele Bull found me right away and said she would be my swim buddy for the dress rehearsal. If she did not swim next to me the whole time I would not have had the confidence to complete the dress rehearsal or the IG for that matter. Thank you Michele!!

Now more details of IG:

Swim: 45:18

I guess you all can tell by my time that swimming is not my strength. However, I am actually very pleased with this time since I made poor Michele swim with me for 1:20 during the dress rehearsal!! Did I thank you yet Michele?? ;-) So because of the dress rehearsal time I was really afraid of being pulled out of the water due to the 1 hour time limit on the IG website. I was so psyched to look at my watch as I was coming out of the water to see it was well under an hour.

I remember being scared at the start of the swim since I really do not know how to do anything in the water except freestyle and elementary backstroke. I was afraid I would have to tread water until our wave started. Shannon, a girl next to me that I had never met, told me to hang with her and we would stay behind everyone else and hopefully get out of having to tread water. We were able to hang out next to the dock and the water was waste high – no need for me to tread water. That definitely started my day off right. As soon as the announcer was getting ready to start our wave, he instead announced that a woman in my wave needed assistance and a kayak was needed (my parents, wonderful husband and friends were freaking because they all thought it was me). I don’t know why ;-). Once she settled down the announcer started our wave and I started slow and easy. My breathing was nice and steady and I made it past the first buoy. In my head I started thinking that there appeared to be fewer kayaks and rescuers out in the lake as compared to the dress rehearsal and then I started questioning how my arms were going to make it the whole way. I then switched on my back to settle myself down and grabbed onto the closest kayak. I hung out for a minute or so and then decided to keep going. I stopped again at the same kayak at the second buoy – I really didn’t need to but because the kayak was in my sight it was mental and I grabbed onto it. Another woman in my wave (the next wave had not yet started) grabbed onto the kayak with me (Becky was her name) and she was struggling. I totally lied to her and told her we were almost done so she would keep going. It seemed to work until we got right to the first turn buoy then we both grabbed another kayak. Becky said her contacts were gone and she needed to quit. It was at that time I knew I needed to keep going and not rely on stopping at every buoy. At this point the next wave started swimming by me and I said to the kayaker that I was now screwed since the next wave was coming. She let me know when there was a hole in the crowd and I took off. I made a decision that I was not stopping any longer and I would have to swim out of my way to hang onto kayaks so I just needed to get it done. From then it was straight freestyle and I just kept going slow and steady.

I was so happy when I was coming out of the water. Not only that I was able to swim and not freak out while others were trying to swim over me but that I even stepped foot in the water to begin with after just learning how to swim (or blow bubbles). I realize that even those who consider themselves swimmers would not have ventured into that lake and it takes a mental toughness to complete such a feat. I didn’t realize I had it in me either until Sunday.

T1: 3:49

I have nothing to compare this to but thought it was pretty good knowing I just swam for 45 minutes. I was really pleased with my transition pace. I was the second row back from the bike mount and second one in so I didn’t lose my place as I came out of the water.

Bike: 1:13

I have been on the bike course about 5 times prior to IG and this was my best time by far; however, I would always stop timing myself as I made the left back into the park. My best prior to IG was 1:15 and Sunday when I was turning left my time was 1:09. Unfortunately I got a little nervous when everyone was yelling for me to dismount and saying there was a line so I believe I slowed down and got off the bike a little early. Once I got off the bike I ran (as much as I could without getting in trouble for running) to my transition place.

T2: 2:19

This one was a bit quicker but I could definitely cut it down a bit.

Run: 35:14

The run I believe is my strongest event due to the fact that I have been running the longest and did two half-marathons this year prior to IG. I usually run 10 minute miles but with shorter distances can come in sub-10 at times. I had a feeling that my usual 10 would not be in effect on Sunday but was pleasantly surprised by my pace of 10:22 knowing that I had swam and biked prior to the run. I only did the run one time prior to IG. That was probably not the smartest idea but I think Gatorade Hill would have kicked my butt no matter what. I had to stop and walk a bit up the hill but when I started to see the tops of the volunteers’ heads I started up again and did not stop until the end. I wish I had some MMTC gear so that I would have had some additional cheering but I tried to yell MMTC anytime I saw the gear to let anyone know I knew who you were.

I want to thank everyone who helped get me through this achievement. My husband has been an advocate from the day I registered for the event and my parents, not until Sunday, but were there and came through for me.

I am so happy to have found MMTC due to a couple co-workers (Brian Hochheimer and Mitch Franklin) and would not have been as prepared on race day if it weren’t for all of the mentoring clinics and training sessions that you have. I actually was setting up my transition area at the start of the race and one woman looked at me and said “Have you done this before – you look like you know what you are doing?” I laughed and said “No – it is because of my tri club putting on special clinics throughout the year.” Thank you Dawn for that transition clinic, which seems so long ago!! Also, thank you for teaching me how to change my tire my first RBR…and thanks again Michele…for getting me through the swim!

I can’t wait to keep up the training and look forward to more triathlons with MMTC in the future.

Thanks again.