My alarm went off at 4:15 am after a pretty sound sleep. A huge improvement over the night before when super loud storms came through, keeping me awake.
I made myself three scrambled eggs and a coffee and drank a glass of water. I packed up the night before so I just threw myself in the car and was ready to go.
My mother-in-law drove us to Paradise Park and we scored some pretty sweet parking. I put air in my bike tires and then we headed over to the start. I found my spot in the transition area and set up:
Then, I got in line for body marking, fastened my timing chip around my ankle and went to scope out the course.
I felt surprisingly calm before the race started. Walking around, taking in everything I ended up running into Erin and Nick! and then I ran into a different Nick, a close college friend, who was also doing the sprint.
Before I knew it, the announcement came that the first wave of the half iron was about to start. I got a spot on the hill near the beach to watch and somehow I still managed to stay pretty calm. I heard Erin and Nick’s wave announced (wave 6) and then my friends Nick and Marie’s wave (wave 10) and I knew I needed to head down towards the water because my wave (wave 13) would be called shortly. I put on my swim cap and hugged my cheering squad (in-laws, my dad who came all the way from Wisconsin, and my husband and puppy) good-bye.
Swim (16:24 — yikes)
Pretty much everything I had planned to do during the swim based on all of my research went out the window when I tried to start swimming and instead had a panic attack and started to sink.
But it all started out according to plan. I stayed to the very back of the pack and to the left. I was surprised at how many of us went out cautiously. But as soon as I could no longer touch the bottom and attempted to swim, I started to panic. I can hardly describe the feeling other than I couldn’t breathe and I could barely move my arms or legs. This happened a few times (with “you’re going to drown” and “you should give up right now” going through my head. Totally unlike me to think these things) before I stopped trying to “swim” and just took a break and started to tread water for a minute. The women near me were taking it easy, just doggy paddling and chatting with one another. So I started concentrating on their conversation and just told myself to keep moving. I alternated between doggy paddling and the side stroke for awhile. As I neared the booey where we were to turn, I started feeling much, much better. So I began to do the backstroke and made up some lost ground. This worked really well until the leaders of the wave that started AFTER me caught up and everything I successfully avoided in the mass start of my wave became a reality. I was kicked/swam over/etc. After swallowing some water, I decided to take a real break and grabbed a noodle from one of the volunteers.
After this short break, I just wanted to get it all over with. As I neared the shore, I was able to do something that resembled “swimming” more than what I was doing for the rest of the time. I came out of the water and headed for the muddy, slippery hill they have you run up to the transition area and I was off, feeling much less confident than I was when I started.
Besides being in a total daze, I think this transition went OK. I had everything laid out and ready to go — didn’t really fumble with putting socks on/etc. The only hiccup was that while I took Erin’s advice and turned on my Garmin right away, I forgot to reset it from my last run and then was trying to do that while biking. It didn’t start recording until almost a mile in.
Bike (1:20:22 – averaged 17.9 mph!)
The first third of this ride I was still replaying my terrifying swim over and over in my head. The second third I was repeating “just get to the run, just get to the run” over and over in my head. The last third of the ride I was passing people left and right just trying to get it over with.
Looking back, the bike was the best part of the tri for me. I think I was actually having fun (even if I didn’t realize it) and it felt so awesome to just fly down the road. I’m not used to that, biking where I normally do where you have so many other cyclists and pedestrians and traffic to worry about.
And bonus — I saw Erin! She looked awesome as she flew by me on her Madone, wearing her super cute SOAS racing kit!
Pretty uneventful. Swapped my helmet and sunglasses for a hat and changed my shoes. Flipped my race belt around, racked my bike and was off!
Legs felt like they weighed a million pounds. I felt like I was just shuffling along. So I was pretty surprised when I looked down at my Garmin and saw that I was keeping a sub-10:00 min/mi pace.
I’ve decided that triathletes are super friendly. Or at least those who were towards the back of the pack like I was are friendly. Pretty much everyone who I passed shouted things like, “you go girl!” and “nice job — keep it up!” and they weren’t being sarcastic!
However, as I was nearing the finish I was frustrated because I saw there was one more hill to run up, my Garmin said the run course was actually longer than 3.1 and there was this girl that clearly did not want to be passed because she wouldn’t get out of my way, but also she refused to run any faster.
But then all of a sudden, I heard my friends cheering and yelling my name and that was all it took — I gave everything I had left and sprinted to the finish line. I’m not even sure what happened to that girl — I must have passed her.
(waving to my “fans.” Note the terrible form.)
(A hill right before the finish. Nice.)
Finish time: 2:13:04
The bottom line? This was a great experience. One I should’ve trained more for. Or at least had done an open water swim practice for. I’m not sure if another one is in my future, but who knows 😉 I’d sure like to finish closer to 2:00!