What does it mean to be a Triathlete?
-It means you completed the distance. You did not give up. You did not drown, crash, or stumble…..and if you did, you got back up. No matter how long it took or how difficult it was, you finished.
A Tri in the Buff has defined me as a Triathlete. I completed the Sprint distance and it was the hardest thing I have ever completed. I feel like I have said that frequently as of late. A few weeks ago I completed in an obstacle distance race that made 5.5 miles feel like an 8 hour mountain climb.
The triathlon took the cake over the obstacle race. You hold nothing back and at the end you have nothing left.
Here is how it went down:
I packed and repacked my bag 8,000 times the night before. Pins and bibs in place, glide at the ready, and KT Tape in place. I woke up freaking out, shoved down some breakfast and spent the hour it took to drive out there frantically repacking my bag in my head. I was sure I had forgotten something. I arrived at the race site and immediately calmed down. I had made it. That meant my friends were there (Fran and Sam especially) and I couldn’t go home without finishing. I wouldn’t live it down. As I have told myself over and over…I am way too stubborn to fail at what I put my mind to.
I got my bike into prime position. The only good thing about having a 10 year old’s Huffy mountain bike is that you get to be in the Fat Tire Rack. Meaning you are super close to the Bike In/Out transition area, a fact I was infinitely grateful for. Everything was all laid out and my mom had braided my hair to fit under my swim cap. I fantasized briefly about chopping all my waist-length hair off so that it would fit under a cap. I spent the remaining time before the races started distributing Marathon Bars to various triathlon clubs. I honestly felt more comfortable with the Trivault athletes then my own Tri group Ionraic. Mostly because I knew all the Trivault people from work. I hadn’t had the opportunity to workout with Ionraic since I joined so close to the race. As the waves were set to go off I headed down the beach. I watched everyone getting ready in their wetsuits and freaked out about why I hadn’t rented one. I felt so out of place, but had never swam in one before and felt strange about it.
When it came time to enter the corral to get ready to swim I freaked out a little. Then I saw Fran. She assured me I wouldn’t drown and for some reason I believed her. I had become so worried about the swim. Those floating markers were SO FAR away. Suddenly I got really calm and then started making jokes. We were all nervous in the gates. Little did I know my boyfriend took a shot of my nervous face….. (yeah that’s me in the green top)
When we finally got in the water and walked out to the marker I felt a sharp pain in my foot. I pulled it up and noticed two deep cuts on my left foot. I had stepped on zebra mussels and sliced my foot open. I felt panicked again…..how could I possible run?? Next thing I know the 30 second warning was given and the woman next to me started freaking out a bit. I decided to comfort her instead of worrying about my foot. I was there and there was no turning back.
Off we went into the waters. The goal was to swim out to the marker, turn right and swim to the next marker, then swim back to shore. Essentially a giant rectangle. About 100 meters out, the other women started to pull ahead. I was left with about five people around me and two behind. Suddenly the woman I started with started screaming. “I’m freaking out! I’M FREAKING OUT!!! IT’S TOO FAR!!!” I tried to talk her down and keep swimming. I told her to flip over and float, but without a wet suit she was too panicked to float successfully. She frantically started waving her arms around her head and the lifeboat started to descend on us. Quickly I swam faster, afraid they would pick me up and not let me finish. Alternating freestyle and breaststroke I turned the first marker. Suddenly it was just me and the lake. It was really peaceful. I just drifted and swam towards my next marker. I was suspended and completely comfortable. I kept telling myself I had been swimming in this lake since I was a child and this was no different. It was very meditative….approaching the last marker I ran out onto the beach. There was an incline up to the bike zone, so I walked and took my time. I could feel sand in my cut but tried to ignore it.
Quickly I transitioned and choked down a gel. I slipped on my racing jersey with my number and I felt good. Leaving the bike area I thought the hardest part was over……HA!
I knew my bike was a poor choice, but there was no help for it. It was all I had. Much to my surprise however, it wouldn’t change gears. Whatever tune-ups my father had made to it the day before made the gears stick. I was being passed by leisurely paced riders…..
Then the worst of it. Coming down off a big hill two women were riding side-by-side (illegal). They came up next to me unannounced (also illegal) and were slow in passing me. Zooming down on us was one of the serious Olympic distance racers calling out “On your left!” The women drifted closer to me and I drifted closer to the side of the road……WHAM!
Suddenly my right shoulder was on fire and I couldn’t figure out why. I veered onto the gravel and struggled to maintain control on my bike. Luckily I didn’t crash, and my frustrated yell gave the two women a sudden urge to get away from me. Glancing back, I could see a mailbox quivering on the side of the road. I had smashed into it because I had no room. I hadn’t even seen it coming. The rest of the ride was somewhat of a blur. I entered the final turn and was glad to just get off the bike. My back and shoulder were hurting and I just wanted to be done. I was already so tired. Nap time never sounded so good.
In went the bike and I was out of the second transition in under a minute. I finally experienced that rubber leg feeling I was lucky to never experience in my brick workouts. I was not a happy camper. I alternated run/walking for the first 2 miles. Then I couldn’t feel my legs anymore and just went for it. I was ready for the finish. Finding some kind of motivation I rounded the final corner and made it under the archway.
I HAD FINISHED!
I enjoyed some well deserved Timbits and had a little post race chat sessions with my friends. Then in the awards ceremony I got a bit of a surprise. I had won second place in my division! My prize? Armwarmers and a jar of almond butter….and I couldn’t have been more pleased 🙂 The first place winner (Lindsay, who I use to work with) took a picture with me on the podium. I was seriously happy to be finished….but you know what? I did it!!!!
I’m a Triathlete!!!
- My first triathlon- recap (mommyrunfast.com)
- My First Triathlon (kararuns.com)
- Triathlons gain in popularity (rep-am.com)
- What Really Happened At My First Olympic Triathlon? (sitdeskwrite.com)
- Race report: TriAthlone 2012 (smcgui.wordpress.com)