Nine months ago I was barely splashing through a couple breathless laps at the JCC pool. Nine days ago, I swam 1.2 miles in a murky lake, biked 56 hilly miles, and flew through a half marathon all in 6 hours and 9 minutes.
The morning of the race was tense after two sleepless nights sleeping at the campground inside the park where the race was to start. We had an ideal camping spot -- closer than a hundred yards from the finish line. I'm debating internally if I could have finished better had I slept in my own bed both nights of the race. Regardless of my front row campsite, it was fun being in the race atmosphere the entire weekend. It meant that for being a beginner, I had resources to help me figure out what exactly I needed to do on the morning of the race.
My training buddy Tim and I left the campsite at 5am to set up T2 and to meet Katie to head down to where the swim was to start as well as setting up T1. At this point, I had heard a thousand times, "Are you ready?" I think it's such a strange question to ask someone who is about to start a race. Ready or not, the race is happening and it doesn't matter either way.
After exiting the transition area, we waiting casually to get in the water with our age groups. About ten minutes before I was to get in the water, a girl who I used to coach at Aquinas spotted me and kept me company for the remaining minutes. I don't know how anyone recognizes anyone in ridiculous triathlon outfits, especially a swim cap and wetsuit. We hopped in the water about 15 minutes late and we were off! Although I thought the swim was the highlight of the event, it seemed to have gone on for an eternity.
Swim time: 41:09
Transition One: 2:31 -- almost 2 minutes faster than at the KC Triathlon. What was I doing at the KC Tri? Painting my nails? Brushing my teeth? Bird watching?
I ran out of the lake with a big smile on my face. Although being run over by a fast group of men behind us, I felt like I had swam comfortably and had gone in a relatively straight line. I couldn't believe how much fun it was, and I was ready for the bike. I took significant time off of my first transition and I didn't even use the wetsuit "strippers". In fact, I didn't even notice that they were there. I felt good about 41 minutes.
I hopped on my bike feeling confident. As I exited the park and began to climb the first long hill across the dam, I didn't feel quite right. My legs felt like I had biked for days. I tried to tell myself that it would take a little bit to get in the groove, but that did not happen. Right around mile 20, I had a hard time controlling my anxiety about how my legs were feeling. I tried to keep pushing, but kept losing confidence as people who appeared much less fit than me were passing me like I was going 5 mph.
I felt like I had been biking forever. I was so frustrated. I thought I had prepared for the hilly course and was completely defeated and devastated when I pulled up to the second transition.
Bike time: 3:36:54 OMG!!!
Transition Two: 1:28
After the disappointing bike ride, I had a pretty smooth transition and shot out of the transition area looking forward to how I was going to feel going into the 13.1 mile final leg.
I could tell within the first couple miles that I would have a decent run as long as I kept taking in water and Gatorade. I was greeted by my adoring fans (aka Mom and Dad, my boyfriend and my sister and her husband. My longtime friend and client Vicky also showed!). I must have seen my fan club at least 30 times. I needed it! I couldn't stop smiling once I realized I was going to have a good run. I gained over 100 places in the female division and 13 places in my own age group. I couldn't believe how easily the run had come to me. I spent very little time worrying about the run during my training and I was extremely satisfied with my finish.
Run time: 1:47:32
Finishing time: 6:09:34
My initial concluding thoughts were filled with disappointment, frustration, and embarrassment. My expectations were ruined following a tiring bike ride. Since then, my friends and family have been extremely supportive and encouraging when I'm sure the last thing they wanted to hear from me were complaints about my overall time. I had worked hard and spent hundreds of hours on the bike and in the pool anticipating this day. I trained and I finished my first long triathlon.
And so now what?
Here are my options:
- Rest/do normal stuff like half and full marathons
- Another Half Ironman in October
- Full Ironman in August