I’m a triathlete!! This triathlon was so fun. I think I was smiling the whole time!!! I’ve heard people say this about running races they have done, but I never understood. I think I have found my non-equestrian sport – I’m addicted! …and may still be on an endorphin high 4 days later.
Week 8 of training: I took it super easy. Not because I really felt the need to taper, but because school was getting hectic and stressful and I was trying to mentally get in the right place for this thing.
Tuesday: Swim | 500 yds + drills | 11:13 +
Thursday: Run | 3.4 mi | 34:47
Sunday: Triathlon | 500 yd swim + 13 mi bike + 3.4 mi run | 1:49:06
The hubs and I got up at 4:00 am on Sunday and were out of the house by 4:20. That has to be a record! I drank a whole starbucks via on the way, which I believe to be the equivalent of 8 cups of coffee for the non-coffee naive, so I was wired with adrenaline and caffeine by the time we got to the sandy beach at Heber Springs around 5:45. I was super paranoid about getting there late and being rushed to set up my stuff in transition because I had never done it. However, we were the 3rd car there so we probably could have snoozed a little longer. It was pretty chilly (OK, it was like 62*, but it’s Arkansas. I was 70* on Christmas last year). I was really worried about the water temperature because I didn’t have a wet suit. We set up our gear in transition (which was super relaxed, thank goodness – my only exposure before this was at the US Triathlon Nationals and the World Tri Championships), then wandered down to the lake to look at the course. I reluctantly stuck my toes in the water to test it out and realized it really wasn’t that cold – it was way warmer than the air! Good thing I checked because I thought about just waiting until the start so I wouldn’t be freaking out until then if it was cold. The race director gave a little speech about the course and where to exit/enter transition, and then we were ready to head to the lake and start!
I was in wave 3, so I got to see the hubs and the older men go in waves 1 and 2 first. As we were standing around on the beach, I noticed about half the women had wetsuits on, but some were racing to take them off and hand them off to family members, so this was reassuring. I started talking to one woman and told her it was my first time to race in open water. She told me how her first time was kinda scary because she was used to looking at the line at the bottom of the pool, but I felt pretty confident in my swimming skills. I may be slow, but I’m comfortable in the water. The bike on the other hand…
Six minutes after the first wave it was our turn. Right before we took off, the race director asked how many of us were doing our first triathlon, and 5 or 6 girls raised their hands. Also reassuring!! The whistle blew and I dove under water. It was a little bit of a shock because I was expecting to be able to see something, but all I saw was murky water. It took a few strokes, but I got used to it. You couldn’t see the feet of a person in front of you until they were practically kicking your face, but luckily there were only like 25 of us so we spread out quick. The course was shaped like a giant “U,” so we had to go around 2 buoys. Getting to the first one was all about getting used to swimming around people. I found myself breathing every other stroke, when usually I do every third, because that seemed more natural. But then I settled in and kinda flip-flopped between every other and every third. It was hard to focus on form because there was always a person to go around or a buoy to sight, so I definitely see the importance in creating muscle memory for the swim. Between Buoy 1 and 2 I felt like I was settling in, and even started passing some people. When I came around buoy 2 I tried to sight the finish, but the sun was straight in my face! I tried to just follow people in front of me, but they were getting really spread out. Finally I looked back real fast to sight buoy 2, and that seemed to help since I knew where land was. I feel like this leg took FOREVER. I am not sure if it was actually longer, or it was because I couldn’t see the finish, or because I was tired. Or all three. I did notice I passed some of the yellow and grey swim caps (wave 1 and 2), so I was feeling pretty good about myself. When we finally got to shallow water, I stood up a little too fast so I got back in the water and swam a few more strokes. When I did stand up and try to run out of the water, I was in for a shock. It’s hard! Your body is screaming “what? gravity??” As I was thinking this, the camera man snapped a picture – so I was also fuming about how bad that was going to be! We ran up the beach, I grabbed some water, and ran on into transition. A lot of people were walking to transition, but I made myself keep up the pace. 500 yd swim time: 13:40, definitely slower than the pool but I’ll take it!
The hub’s and my bike were racked next to each other, and when I came up I saw his bike still there which made me a little worried (he was in wave 1, and was worried about the swim). However, as I sat down to put my socks on he came up behind me. I slipped on my shoes and sunglasses and helmet, grabbed my bike, and took off. Out in 1:59.
The course started out little rollers, but I knew there was a big hill just before the turn around so I tried to hold back a little. In hindsight I think I could have pushed harder. I think I passed 1 or 2 people and was passed by 1 or 2 people before the hill, so it was pretty even. We went across 2 dikes that had awesome views of the lake. At the end of the second dike I could make out a sharp turn that went straight uphill. I got a little worried here because I knew people were saying the hill was big and people walked up it, but I was foo-fooing them. Luckily, the worst part was the first quarter mile or less, and then it was a little more reasonable. I did not walk, but I did granny gear it. Two or three people that were riding passed me, but I passed a lot of people walking including some guys I had caught up to. When I was almost to the top, the hubs caught up to me and said hi before moving on. Going back down that hill after the turn around may have been worse than uphill!! I still feel pretty uncomfortable on the bike and constantly feel like I’m on the brink of crashing, so I pretty much rode my brakes down the whole way. Once I was at the bottom, the rest of the course I pushed a little on and tried to pick up the pace. I got back to transition in 56:50 after 13.5 mi, also slower than I had hoped, but that hill was bigger than I had hoped!
Racked the bike, said hi to the hubs who was swapping shoes, remembered to take off the helmet, slipped on the Newtons and a baseball hat and took off. In and out in 1:12.
Ouch!!! The first few steps were awful. Jumping off the bike and running is a bizarre feeling – your legs are jelly and stiff and my calves were super tight. The first quarter mile I thought I might actually have to walk. The hubs ran with me for a few minutes before leaving me in the dust again. Fortunately, after about a half a mile I started loosening up and I felt like I could run naturally. Each mile got a little faster after the first. The course was slightly hilly, but nothing too bad. As I turned the corner to finish the last mile or so, I felt really good. I didn’t want the race to be over!! I’ve never felt that before, even in a 5k. There was some super fast 27 year old that passed me that I tried to keep up with, but she was way above my pace. Maybe next year. Seeing the finish line and running to it was the. best. feeling. I am addicted. Hooked. I want to do all the triathlons! And, as I crossed, they gave me a finisher’s medal, which I wasn’t expecting with such a small race. 3.4 miles in 35.24 (although garmin said it was over 3.5).
To top it all off… somehow I won my age group! The girl that really won the age group won first overall female, and there were only 7 of us, but I’ll take it!
While on this endorphin high, I signed up for a 10 mile trail race this Sunday. That’s what you do when you finish a race, right? Sign up for another one?