Last weekend I raced in the First Annual df Ranch Triathlon. This race was cool for several reasons, the main reason being that it was held in my small hometown of 12,000 people. The other reason being that all of the profits went to Alzheimer’s research. As soon as I heard about it, I knew that if I did not accomplish anything else this summer, this was going to be the one race I did.
My friend Julie raced this with me and so went down the night before and picked up our packets and drove the bike course. I am very glad we did that because even though it was only 14 miles, it was pretty hilly compared to what we were used to and it was good to be mentally prepared for that.
We both crashed early that night and while I slept fitfully, I did not feel overly tired, just excited and nervous. I had half of a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and water for breakfast and felt really good about that. I usually have stomach issues before a race, but I had been very careful about what I had been eating for the last few days and kept it all pretty bland which really made a difference. We made it to the race site at the perfect time and had just the right amount of time to get marked, chipped, and set up transition. I have a bad habit of being too early then just sitting there and having lots of time to get nervous.
The best part of the race happened right before the swim. My dad, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew all showed up to watch the race! I have never had anyone come to a race before and so I thought this was really neat that they got up early to come and watch. The only downside: my brother had a video camera. More on that later.
I was not very worried about this swim. The water was warm and I decided to go without the wetsuit because I figured the time I saved because of the buoyancy, I would lose getting out of it and I really wanted easy transitions. I think I made the right choice as I felt very free and easy in the water. Looking back, I did not push myself hard enough and played it a little too safe in the water although at the time, I thought I was doing pretty well. I came out with a time of 13:20 for 500 meters but WAY better than my last open water swim in May (15:31). While slow, making an improvement of 2:11 makes me very happy and I know the more open waters I do, the more comfortable I will be and faster I will get.
My T1 was 1:58. I am not sure why it was so slow because it seemed like I was fast, but there was a small matter of trying to get my right shoe on my left foot and that took some time. I was also worrying about Julie because we both knew that the swim would be her hardest part. I knew there were plenty of people there to take care of her and so I just tried to push on knowing that she could probably catch me in the ride or run.
The bike ride was pretty slow going. I could not get my rhythm and I really struggled the whole first half. Every hill felt like I was climbing a mountain and I was painfully slow. I was working my way through a bag of Powerbar Cola and by the time I reached the turn around, I got my second and wind and felt like I was flying. I had been riding alone for several miles, but about a mile after the turnaround, I saw several more people out on the course which made me realize I was not last which is a nice feeling. One of them was Julie and she really looked great and so I was relieved that she had not drowned! I yelled some encouragement to her and now really put tried to make up some time. Some of the hills on the way back really slowed me down again and I ended up with a time of 1:04:36. This was more than 15 minutes off of my goal of 45 minutes for the bike, but I am still going to be positive about it as I just have not done enough hill training.
T2 was :49 and I felt really good about that. I threw on my shoes, remembered to take off my helmet and grabbed my hat. On the video, I looked pretty strong as I ran out, but I remember gasping for breath and just thinking to myself “Just get past where they can’t see you anymore and you can walk”. And I did. I caught my breath and then started on my plan for running for 2 minutes and walking for 1. My run is horrible, but I was very comfortable with this plan and was soon able to push it to 3 or 4 minutes before walking. Now, this did not make me any faster, but my goal was just to keep going. And I did. One girl caught up to me at the very end and I fought, but I just could not keep my lead or catch back up with her. I finished strong though with lots of cheers from my family and other participants. As usual, my throat tightened and I could feel the tears starting to well as I crossed the finish line, but I was able to push them back because I did not want to explain to people that I was not upset, just proud and emotional. The race had just been great with really supportive people and a perfect course.
I met up with my family and circled back to the run course to cheer on Julie. I was pretty shocked that she had not caught up to me on the run course. My family told me that she had a really rough swim and tried to quit afterwards, but the volunteers made her keep going. I was so proud of her at that point, because keeping going after that must have been really tough. To put this in the proper perspective, she really just learned to swim and bike about 9 months ago so to go from very little knowledge to doing a triathlon in less than a year is incredible!! She is hard on herself and so I knew she would be beating herself up, but she did such a great job. She ran in strong and her first words to me were, “Never again!!”. I knew she did not mean it though.
Awards came next and this was a very small race so we both won awards! Julie won 3rd in her age group and I was 2nd place Athena. This is the point where I suppose I should bring up that there were only 3 people and 2 people in our groups respectively, but that part matters very little to me. To me, it was not placing that mattered or how many people we beat (or didn’t) but that we did it. There were lots of fears and insecurities that got left behind on that course that day and I don’t ever plan on picking them up again.
The only thing that brought me slightly down was seeing the video. I know I have gained weight over the last few years, even with my training. Seeing the video truth that I am at least 30 lbs overweight was hard. I wish I was talking about a few vanity pounds, but at this point, I have to be truthful with myself and that I really have a weight issue that needs to be addressed before it gets out of hand even more. Obviously, I exercise, but I know when I do, I over eat afterwards and take in way more calories than I burn. It is time to rein that habit in and be as dedicated to my nutrition as I am to training. Both need work, but I am not going to let this be an insecurity that stops me from trying in the first place! This probably will be something I talk about more in this blog from now on as a way to hold myself accountable. I think the motivating factor will not just be looks, but how much easier that stupid running will be!
I am hoping to have pictures soon for you guys! They did not have an official photographer, but I know there were pictures being taken by some people and I will try to find some of those. Oh and my first triathlon medal? It is now sitting comfortably in a shadowbox on the wall with my number and swim cap. I am putting it up in my room so every time I go through the door, I can see something that I achieved and am proud of doing.