I joined MMTC this year and since IG was my first triathlon and this my first race report, I thought I’d share a little about my journey. It is a REALLY long first report… :)
Two years ago I went to IG to support my daughter-in-law, Aleah. The support and encouragement from other athletes and family members touched my heart at this event. I was overwhelmed with emotion and humbled as I watched amazing women of all ages and physical ability cross the finish line and earn the title of Iron Girl. Aleah commented several times that I ought to consider doing the IG. So, I committed to doing the IG the year I turn 50. I figured I had two years – plenty of time to get ready.
My physical activity at that time included walking, light jogging, and playing in a mom’s soccer league (I had just joined). That fall I enrolled in a bootcamp which is where I started to get stronger and do additional running. I ran a few 5K’s but nothing longer than that. I stopped bootcamp in October 2011 when a gym opened at my work and I began strengthening and cardio training w/ fitness coaches there. When IG registration opened, I was able to register and decided my goal was to finish the IG without getting hurt. The journey began…
Now I knew the swimming portion of the tri would be my biggest obstacle. I never took swim lessons so basically taught myself how to swim. I do more floating in the pool than swimming and I never played the pool games like sharks and minnows, and I was (am) terrified of getting dunked. In January of this year I attended my first MMTC/Team Fight Thursday night swim at HCC. I knew I belonged in the beginner lane so that’s where I went. I heard a lot of lingo that was foreign to me. I had no idea what a pull was and didn’t understand the 50, 100, 200’s being called out. I thought I am way in over my head – literally and figuratively since I couldn’t stand in the pool which left me uneasy. I thought I could do a kick drill but as it turns out, I wasn’t moving forward – as a matter of fact, at some point I went backwards! After several attempts to freestyle and pull (once this was explained to me), I was asked if I was afraid of the water. “Of course not”, I replied. That night I realized, oh my God, I AM afraid of the water and I got very discouraged. Now, if you learned how to swim as an adult, you may understand this fear of the water – the fear of not being able to get air; if you’ve been swimming since you were a kid, you probably won’t get it. There’s a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson outside of the gym at work: "Always do what you are afraid to do." That quote inspired me to overcome my fear of the water. So, I spent the next several months doing just that. I went to Columbia Association pools several times a week to simply get comfortable in the water. Then I ventured out to learn how to freestyle. At the beginning, I had to freestyle with a swim belt and then moved to flippers and eventually I was successful doing some strokes without buoyancy aids. I also took an adult group swimming lesson. I received a lot of advice from many helpful people, but realized I needed to learn at my own pace or I would get overwhelmed and confused. I have a REALLY long way to go with swimming but I know I have also made A LOT of progress. Aleah sent me a text to encourage me the evening after my 1st Thursday night swim. I saved the text and have looked at it several times during my training. The text ended with ‘…you’ll do awesome in the pool just like you do with everything else. One lap at a time you’re going to get it!’
I started doing the OWS in the Spring. Since I didn’t have a wetsuit, Stacey Belsky loaned me hers – a perfect fit - thanks again Stacy! I thought it was amazing that someone would loan me a wetsuit – the generosity of members in the club can be overwhelming at times. I eventually purchased my own wetsuit – did I mention I love the buoyancy? My first couple of OWS involved simply floating in the inlet. I eventually mustered up enough courage to go to the island and back (.5 miles) with the wetsuit, then another time with flippers. I do need to state that those trips to the island and back included very little freestyle strokes but I overcame any fear of the open water. I did one of the Columbia Tri OWS clinics as well – I will be doing all of the clinics next year. Today, I like the OWS better than pool swimming – I find the open water much more relaxing – I just need to get my technique and a breathing rhythm down.
Moving on to the bike and run training…. Although I really wanted to buy a new road bike, I decided to use the bike I had which is a Trek hybrid, with a kickstand I might add. I took the bike to Mike Stone at Princeton Sports to see what could be done to make it (& me) more efficient. Mike made lots of adjustments to the bike so it fit me as properly as it could, explained what would hinder me in the race, gave me a few tips and showed me a really nice bike (that looked like it would fit me perfectly) should I change my mind about purchasing a new one. There was absolutely no pressure to buy which I really appreciated. I started doing the Sunday morning rides and was able to do the IG course the 1st time without walking so I was very encouraged. I also started doing the RBR on Wednesdays. Started with a BR and eventually moved into the RBR. I love the encouraging shout-outs from MMTC members – they kept me motivated. As for the running, although I had done some 5Ks with no problems, I experienced some IT band discomfort when I ran more than 30 minutes. So, have been to PT, had gait evaluated and made some changes in how I run, shoes, etc. and although I still have discomfort, PT and I are working through it.
I am so grateful for the many people and organizations God has placed in my life to support and guide me though this incredible journey. Thanks to Lynn Mount for getting in the pool with me and reminding me to have fun, Marianne Myrtue-Bogan for her many encouraging words, Kathy my substitute swim instructor at Columbia Gym who REALLY understood my fear, and all of those on RBR who gave me a shout-out. Many thanks to MMTC for the Thursday night OWS and Wednesday RBR, to Princeton Sports for the Sunday rides and to Team Fight for the Thursday swims, IG rides and Brick N Pics. Much appreciation to the volunteers who organize and run these events. I could not have completed the IG without these training opportunities and the support of the volunteers! I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Aleah for encouraging me two years ago to do the IG. Her support , encouragement and faith in me, especially over the last 8 months has been the rock upon which I’ve stood (and swam, and biked, and ran). I am appreciative of the time she took to develop my training plans and for her patience in listening to my reluctance to follow those plans. Aleah has been a true inspiration to me on this journey. Finally, I would like to thank my husband Rick, my son, Rick and my daughters Nicole and Jen, who have supported me ‘every stroke, every pedal and every step of the way’!
Pre-race: Felt some emotion when I racked bike on Saturday because I realized I was not a spectator this year but a participant. Good emotions. I had no anxiety in the days before race. Woke up the night before race a few times but fell back to sleep relatively easy. I felt ready from the training and I trusted in that feeling which is why I think I was so calm. I also trusted that God had brought me to this point and I had faith that He was going to see me through. My overall goal was to finish and have fun – nothing stressful about that. I did want to finish in less than 3 hours but I didn’t obsess about that. I read about the manicures before races so the night before race I gave myself French manicures on toes and fingers - MMTC colors on one side and TeamFight on other . Alarm went off at 4 am, showered, ate a banana, made a couple of peanut butter sandwiches, kissed hubby goodbye and out the door. I felt relaxed, awake, ready and grateful.
Centennial Park is very dark at 5 am and excitement was in the air. I got body marked, set-up my transition area (thanks Jim Mitchell for the transition tips at clinic!), pumped tires (thank you to guys walking around w/ pumps), found Aleah and headed over to MMTC/Team Fight tents. Having 2 tents to hang out at was very cool and helped keep me relaxed. The Team Fight circle was very emotional as women shared for whom they were fighting. I fight in gratitude for the survivors – my dad and brother and cousin, and in memory of brother-in-law and my friend’s sister. My kids (Rick, Nicole and Jen) and daughter’s boyfriend (Josh) showed up – hugs and pictures. My daughters were wearing Team Fight shirts that they created which were very cool (pictures on FB). Found my friend Helene who was doing the swim leg as part of a relay team and gave her a big hug – we traveled the swim journey together. Walked down to lake and thought, it looks very vast… but still confident I could do it. Got hugs and warm wishes from so many Team Fight and MMTC folks – too many to name (plus I don’t remember all the names) but I appreciate every one of them! My wave was scheduled at 7:04. About 6:45, the butterflies came. I put my cap and goggles on and headed down to the water.
Entered water but stayed in the back where I could stand so I didn’t exhaust myself treading water. Based on where I was w/ swimming, I had accepted several weeks ago that I would not do a lot of freestyle strokes in the swim. I started out w/ a few freestyle strokes, but did a lot of side and breast stroke. I also flipped on my back to control breathing. I’ve heard from other member and read in many race reports (which by the way I love reading – they’ve been VERY helpful) to control what you can control. So, I couldn’t control other swimmers swimming over me or accidentally hitting me but I could control getting out of their way so that’s what I did. I cheered for women in the water and I thanked the volunteers in the kayaks and on the boards. And, I exited the water with a smile on my face and my thumbs up! Saw my daughter cheering me on and a friend who yelled ‘I knew you could do it’. I stopped to give her a hug. I estimated my swim time between 30-45 minutes and came in right in the middle. I know I can improve on this next year but I am very proud of myself.
My kids were cheering for me as I made my way to transition area. I was ecstatic and all smiles for the pictures! They were standing outside the fence in the brush (I was to the right in transition area so not a lot of room for spectators). Had some trouble getting my race belt on (probably from excitement) and the handle bars on my bike were too high to fit under the rack so I had to crawl under the rack to get it out.
Made it up the hill w/o any problems and took off, again all smiles. Not sure how my kids did it but they made it up to the street in time to cheer me on again! The cheers of family and spectators, the Team Fight shout-outs really kept me motivated. I cheered for any Team Fighters I saw and heard many cheer for me. I laughed about being ‘one w/ the hill’ which was my motto on the Princeton rides. I yelled out to Marianne on Mt Albert and laughed at the devil whom I later learned was Shane. It was awesome to see a smiling, cheering, familiar face on that hill. Got to school and spotted my husband (Rick) who came to cheer me on. He didn’t see me right away so I yelled at the guy standing next to him to tell him that I was there. My husband immediately stood up w/ his phone ready to take a picture of me going back out. I heard him cheer ‘keep going Lynn, you are doing great’. I high-fived Cliff Britton from my church on the way out too. Again, I was all smiles… Said good morning and thanked the police and volunteers and spectators along the way. Got to 108 and took gu (raspberry my favorite). Aleah’s voice in my head ‘save the legs for the run’ so tried to spin it out and not push too hard. Heard cheers from kids again as I entered the part – they were everywhere. All the Wednesday night RBRs certainly paid off as I hopped off bike and made my way to transition. My average time for Princeton and Team Fight rides was 1:20 so I felt good that I beat that time by 5 minutes. I hear I will see a noticeable difference in my bike time when I get a bike that doesn’t weigh as much as me!
Helmet/glasses off, hat and knee brace on, quick drink and off to run. Not sure why it took 2 minutes – must have been racking the heavy bike that slowed me down.
Once again, loved the cheering and high-fives coming out of transition – I was still all smiles. Ran into my new friend Lynne Galiatsatos, told her she was doing great and wished her luck. Stomach started cramping early in the run which I didn’t expect and I remember something I read in Mark’s race report – that he didn’t go negative. So, I pushed through it and took deep breaths which helped. About half way through run, started feeling discomfort in right knee – good ole IT band. Stopped for second to move knee brace from left to right knee. Remained positive and didn’t get discouraged. Changed up the form – did high knees, butt kicks, whatever I needed to do get relief. Continued to cheer on other Team Fight & MMTC members, and of course received cheers as well. Got to Gatorade Hill and saw the blue and yellow Team Fight guys. They made me smile going up that hill, I danced a little as I watched them. Stopped to give Lynn Mount hug remembering her words to me on the brick-n-pic run – “feelings aren’t facts, although your legs feel like they are going to fall off, they aren’t”. Shout out to Lizzy on the way back down the Gatorade Hill. I could hear the cheering from the finish line and was soooo excited because I knew I was almost there, almost an Iron Girl. Right before the finish line shoot, I saw Mark Lamont cheering me on and I gave him a thumbs up (my son got that picture – it’s my favorite one). Then I saw my kids again. My daughters came out on to the course to run with me and I heard my youngest say you are almost an iron girl. They were stopped from running through shoot (heard some folks fell earlier doing this) but I forgot about my knees, picked-up speed and finished strong. I immediately got a massage at the Team Fight tent, but then got hugs and heartfelt congratulations from a lot of people. I wasn’t as emotional as I thought I would be until I hugged Aleah – that’s when the tears started.
I met my goals – I had lots of fun and I finished and did so 20 minutes under my target time. So, next year – yes, I will be doing this again, and again, and again … I got the tri bug - I definitely need to do more freestyle since I know now that the pain in my knees is more from the swim than the run and doing more freestyle will improve my swim time. New bike will absolutely help my bike time and I think I can definitely improve on the run, especially if I don’t have any knee pain.
This has been an incredible journey of self discovery. I am very proud of my perseverance as well as the courage I showed in facing my fears. The two quotes on my Team Fight page just about sum it up for me:
"Always do what you are afraid to do." Ralph Waldo Emerson
"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals” Henry David Thoreau
Thanks once again to everyone for all the support, training, enthusiasm and guidance.
I AM AN IRON GIRL!