Over the years, I've participated in several 5K running races but never really enjoyed running. After reading an article last year about Iron Girl Columbia, I thought how crazy would it be if tried a triathlon?! I would love the swim and the bike and therefore would be willing to suffer through the run. So I did. I
registered for Iron Girl - yikes! Now I had to undo about 6 years of allowing myself to get unfit - this was a great incentive! I found the Tri-It triathlon in Bear, Delaware - a small race geared toward tri beginners - and thought it a perfect mid-training assessment (am I training enough?) and general practice
with transitions in a real event - without too much pressure. So here it goes...
I drove up the night before the race to attend the beginners meeting, which was very helpful in the 'how does this all work' department and somewhat helpful in 'omg, based on those rules how on earth do I not accidentally draft at some point?!' department. After the meeting, I picked up my packet and walked around
the park, checking out the lake I would be swimming in, the run start and transition area. Before heading back to my hotel, I drove the bike course. I slept great save for the rowdy kids in the parking lot at 1 AM and then a string of paranoid all 3 alarms set would malfunction wake ups starting at 3 AM. I got
up at 4:15, ate the breakfast I packed for myself - except I was too nervous and excited to be very hungry so it was rough - and headed to the race site shortly after 5.
I got to the race site, grabbed my timing chip and headed to transition. I was the second one there to set up - hmmmm, not too nervous, right? I got everything set up, filled my water bottles and waked around for a bit - to the lake and around the transition area making sure I knew which way to go. We had to clear transition by 7 AM for the kids race.
I now had an hour and a half to wait until my wave. The water temperature was about 76 degrees and I couldn't decide on whether to wear my wetsuit. Finally, I opted to wear it, as I will need it in my October race and I need to get used to swimming in it. I had a final banana and watched the kids and men starts and then all of the women until the final wave...omg, here I go!
Swim: 14:06 300/335 (place for division not provided)
The swim was an in water beach start - so we were about knee deep waiting for the whistle. I placed myself on the inside toward the back. I am fortunate to not be at all afraid of open water. Still, with the excitement that this was my first race (already? where did the past year go?}, my heart rate was way up and
I was having trouble slowing down my respiration. The water was not deep enough for bobs so I just stood there chatting with my neighbor and trying to take deep breaths. My swim issue is all of the contact. Last week's swim clinic helped and I was about to see how much. The whistle blew and I ran forward a few steps until a spot cleared for me to go horizontal. The contact
wasn't bothering me, but I did get frustrated with how many seemed to be criss crossing right in front of me, slowing me down. This, along with my breathing continuing to be shallow and fast slowed me way down. I did a combo of front crawl, breast stroke, side stroke and back stroke, continually trying to calm my breathing. Unfortunately, all I could think of was "OMG my first tri! Here it is! I'm doing it! I'm not last! Why can't I calm down? Calm down! I really don't like swimming in this wet suit. Breathe! Wonder how I'll do?..." The swim was super short - only 440 yards, so I never did calm down and that was
disappointing to me since swimming is my favorite -but I was still moving forward and got to the beach. A few wobbly steps and then I walked fast up the grassy, woodsy, rooty trail to transition, successfully undoing the top half my wetsuit. There was a water stop and I grabbed a water from the kid working it
but could only down a sip - still the breathing. This was all part of my swim time, as the timing mat was at transition entry
T1: 3:38 286/335
As I walk/jogged to my spot, I pulled off my cap and goggles and when I arrived, finished getting out of my wetsuit with no problem. I put on my glasses and helmet then sat down to wipe off my feet and pull on my socks and bike shoes. I grabbed a quick drink and headed out. I was a very short walk to bike out. My
breathing was still hyper. Ugh.
Bike: 41:33 302/335
I mounted my bike and headed out at an easy pace through the park. I needed to get myself calmed down and was able to finally do that with the beautiful setting and flat bike course. While I was focusing on my breathing, I was passed twice. Finally I calmed down. I was off. The bike was a flat course on country type roads surrounding the park, with the final leg before re-entering the park on the highway shoulder, blocked by police. I kept a steady pace but did not push myself too hard - except when I passed the 8 or so people I passed to be sure I passed within the 15 seconds - easy peasy lemon squeezy and my son would say. The ride was great and seemed to go fast! I averaged about 14.5 mph - slow for a flat course, but not knowing how my body was going to manage to the end I held back a bit. Riding back into the park I felt thrilled to know that I was going to finish this thing!
T2: 2:11 315/335
Racked by bike, switched shoes, threw on my hat, grabbed my race belt and jogged out of transition.
Run: 26:15 314/335
The run was beautiful - mostly grassy and wooded trail - my kind of running if I have to run. While I told myself I didn't care if I had to walk the whole run, I was disappointed that I walked more than ran due to cramping in my soleus. This is an ongoing issue for me on runs and while it's getting slowly better with rolling and stretching, it's really starting to get to me - if it weren't for the cramps I'm pretty sure I could have run the whole thing. Well, maybe...I really had to pee! Still, I walk fast enough to pass a couple runners. When I rounded the bend to the final stretch I went all out and ran to the finish with a HUGE smile on my face - I did it! My first tri!!! I jumped for joy to the amusement of finish like volunteers :)
My goal was simply to finish and to not finish last. I had done my research and knew the slowest person in the last 2 years had a time just over 1:46 - I wanted to beat that. I also knew that if I did it in 1:30 I'd be super thrilled. My overall time was 1:27:45 so I was ecstatic! This was a great first experience
and I'm really looking forward to Iron Girl in August! I'm proud of the fact that I found a way to work in most of my workouts despite working full time and being mom to an active boy and all that goes with family life - time is the biggest excuse for many of us to skip workouts, but wanting to cross that finish line has pushed me to be creative in scheduling to get it done. If all goes well with Iron Girl, my next goal will be an Oly! Things to work on:
1. I can work on simplifying my transitions more.
2. I need to figure out how to manage swimming in a wetsuit - I don't like it at all. I know they're more bouyant, but I'm pretty bouyant without one right now, so it makes me feel heavy and sluggish in the water. This won't be an issue for Iron Girl, but it will be for Osprey in October, and likely Iron Girl Rocky Gap
where I'm doing the swim as part of a relay.
3. I can push myself more - I have more in me that I think I do.
4. Find a way to calm down pre-race and keep my breathing under control.