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I am an IronGirl

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aflac Iron Girl Triathlon- Columbia, MD 2010

What an amazing day. Empowered by 2000 women triathletes and countless spectators. This was by far the largest race I have ever competed in. My friend, Denise and I got to Centennial Park, where the race was taking place before dawn, and already realized we had forgotten something. A flash light. We met up with another future IronGirl and her supportive husband and very young child in a stroller. Managed to find the path to the other side of the lake to the transition area. The sky got lighter during the 10 minute walk. It was overcast and humid with a little intermittent sprinkling of rain. The forcast kept moving the rain to earlier and earlier in the day. We had racked our bikes the night before at our predetermined spots. I was extremely happy to find my name and number at the second spot from the end. Even happier in the morning to learn that the girls on either side of me, did not show up. I had plenty of space to lay out my gear. Luckily I had a large plastic trash bag to use to lay on the ground and to cover my bike and running shoes, socks, towel, hat, etc. It was starting to rain a little harder. I got body marked and headed to the starting line, 45 minutes until my wave was to take off. The Star Spangled Banner played over the speakers. The lines at the porta johns were long. The first wave of elitists and professionals were about to take off. The race has now officially started. We made our way to the bathrooms with the shortest line. There was less then 15 minutes to our start time and still 10 people in line in front of us. We put vanity aside and headed for the woods. We put our light blue swim caps on and lined up with the rest of our wave. I am not sure how many people were in our wave, maybe 150-175 women. We waded into the water and the whistle blew. We were off. I started exactly where I did not want to be. I was in front. At least I was on the outside of the group and apparently in front of a lot of women who were not much fast to me. I did not get run over. I tried to concentrate on my breathe and establish my pace as quickly as possible and not go out too fast. The seaweed was something I had not planned on. It was thick. It wrapped around my arms and legs and got caught between my fingers. I tried to just ignore it. As I got farther out to deeper waters, the seaweed disappeared. I had a good one, two, three, breathe pace going. Got kicked in the face within the first 10 minutes. Glad to have that out of the way! Found myself in a good spot on the out side, I passed a few women and just as many passed me as well. Maneuvered around two buoys and I thought I was making good time.I looked over and realized I was only even with the start. Not quite half way. "You Just Do" was the motto of the day. Just keep your wits about you and make the best out of any situation. Don't worry about what you can't control. I sighted and found myself in a group of green swim caps. The wave ahead of me. Then, I realized that it was pouring rain. It didn't bother me in the water but I knew what was ahead. The seaweed started getting in my way again. Finally, there was the time clock and the shore line. My left calf was knotting up and starting to cramp. The crowd of swimmers got heavier and as I tried to give it all I had, I was pumping into more and more people. So much for sprinting my way to the shore.

As I climbed out of the lake and took my goggles and cap off, I realized that my leaky goggles had caused my right eye to become completely blurry. Volunteers were handing out towels as we headed to transition. I tried to wipe off my eye, trying to regain clear sight. Didn't work. It was still pouring rain. Didn't bother to try to dry off. got my socks and bike shoes on. Helmet on. Sunglasses on. Got my bike off the rack, turned around and headed up the hill to exit transition and start the bike portion. Still couldn't see clearly out of my right eye. Made it out of transition and mounted my bike. Still pouring rain. Had trouble getting clipped in, but was, at least, on my bike and moving forward. I got clipped in, and headed out of the parking lot onto the main road. My glasses were fogging up and still couldn't see. Decided to ditch my glasses and ride without eye protection. Happily, I got them into the back pocket of my shirt without loosing them. Finally, I blinked and eye sight was clear. Still pouring rain. I think it finally stopped or let up about five miles in. My bike was operating smoothly and I was feeling good. The wet roads didn't bother me as much as I had often feared. I really didn't feel like it was slowing my down. I maneuvered up and down the hills and passed other riders. I tried to encourage as many women as I could, especially those that I could tell were struggling but giving it their all. Made it to the turn around, and headed down the long decline, knowing I could make up some time here. I had been riding and leap frogging with a few other girls. We were in it together. We made it up the last big climb and headed back to transition. I was absolutely blown away when I turned left into the park and saw the thousands upon thousands of spectators lining the road, cheering everyone on. I dismounted and ran back down the hill to my bike rack. Quickly took off my helmet, changed shoes, put on my number belt and hat. I was off on the run.

I was feeling good. Adrenaline was pumping strong. Hundreds of more spectators cheering you on as you heading around to the back side of the lake. My left calf started cramping up again and then my right. Uh-Oh. This could be bad news. "Just do, Just DO!" So, I just did. I knew the route and what was ahead. It was a hilly course with a good climb towards the end. Had to save something for the end. I got water at the first stop, it was only one mile in. Crap. But my legs were loosing up. It was starting to rain again. Lengthened my stride down the hill then headed up the first climb. I ended up power walking up part of the hills trying to stretch my calves. After the last climb and was also the last water stop at the top. One mile to go. A nice downhill ahead followed by small rolling hills to the finish. With less than a half mile to go, Kicked it into the highest gear I had. I didn't want to have anything left at the end. I wanted to give every ounce of everything I had. I came around the last bend, climbed the last hill and headed toward the finish. Spectators cheered my on by name. (Our names were on our bib numbers.) I came into the finish shoot. Crossed over the first set of mats. Then I heard "Erin Griffin, from Felton PA- You Are An IRON GIRL!!!" Then I crossed the finish line. I got hugged by people I didn't know. Volunteers were taking off timing chips, handing out water and Gatorade, cold wet sponges, and placing the IronGirl Medal around my neck. I just wanted to take it all in. I stood by the finish to cheer on my dear friend Denise as she finished her very first triathlon.

It was an Amazing day. Absolutely Amazing. I don't know how else to describe it. As we wondered around looking for Denise's husband and kids, the skies opened up and poured rain once again. We finally met up with them and shared our experiences and stories of the race. We made our way up to the top of the hill to the food tent and ate some delicious tabbouleh and salty chips.We eventually made it back over to the transition area again to collect our things and head home. I didn't want the experience to end but couldn't wait to get out of my tri clothes and into a hot shower! Time for lunch and some Champagne!

I had a communicated goal of 2:17. (My start time was 7:13, so wanted to finish by 9:30). My UNcommunicated goal, and what I reallllllly want was to finish in 2 hours. As I closed in on the finish of the run, I saw 2 hours go by. When I crossed the finish, I estimated it to be about 2:05. We saw our times posted about an hour after we finished and almost fell to ground with pure excitment to see my finish time at 2:00.39. Well that was short lived. By the time I got back to home to PA, the "official" times had been posted and there it was, just as I had expected, 2:05. I am not at all dispointed!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


  So impressive and motivational! I am so proud of you!!

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SUNNYBR 8/29/2010 11:15AM

    Love your race report - I was right there with you! Congratulations!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PUPSALOT 8/26/2010 4:21PM

    Just do!!!! Love it!

So so proud of you!! Great job!!

PS. The seaweed would have totally grossed me out.

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FLYFIGHTER 8/26/2010 1:53PM

    nice work & you managed to look GOOD at the end of your race you rock star!!!

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SKEMERICH 8/26/2010 1:37PM

    Oh my gosh! You are an inspiration! I want to do an Iron Girl Someday too! Good for you! emoticon

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Why did i eat that?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Today I was craving a grilled chicken taco salad from our favorite local Burrito shop. My friend ordered them and brought them back to the office. She forgot to ask for NO shell. Oh well, will power right? Just don't eat the shell......Well.....I ate the stupid shell, not just some, but ALL of it! What was I thinking!! I thought, I'll just have a couple bites of it, then before I knew it, it was gone. Now I feel like total crap. All that grease in my system is not good.....EW.

I tracked it as best I could, hopefully it's higher than the one I actually ate, but it's probably close.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GRIF01 7/15/2009 7:22PM

    Thanks ~ you are right! The damage is done, and is was a "quilty pleasure" of sorts! tracked it, and eating light the rest of the day, actually I am still not even hungry! Might still finish the day in range....albeit, the high end. But that is OK.

I appreciate your comment!

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FAYESJOURNEY 7/15/2009 1:48PM

  Did you enjoy it? If you did then let that feeling envelop you and don't beat yourself up. It's just a mis-step not a complete fall down.
and...let it also be a reminder of how your body feels when you eat all the crap! That's a great lesson becuz we often forget.
Drink lots of water and move on with the day...and have a good one.

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I am a Triathlete!

Monday, April 20, 2009

I woke up at 5am after a night of somewhat restless sleep. Slathered my body with Body Glide, and dressed in my race gear. Made some coffee, toast with PB and jam. Husband and I left the house promptly at 6am. It was a brisk 45 degrees. The sky was just getting light. It was overcast, and I really hoping that the predicted rain would hold off just long enough until the race was completed.

We arrived at the event at 6:30am just as the tranition area was opening. I had picked up my race packet the night before and checked out pool and transition area. So when we arrive on race day, I just had to get body marked, pick up my timing chip and head over to the Transition area to set up my gear. I found a spot for my bike at the end of a rack next to a bright blue trash can, so I would be able to find it easily and quickly. I had packed in my gear bag just as I would lay it out, so that did not take too long. Now I found myself with a good 45 minutes before the race meeting. I went for a quick spin on the bike to make sure it was in the gear I wanted to start in and chatted with other racers around me. I was feeling pretty confident and was happy that I hadn’t forgotten anything!!

At 7:45 I stripped down to my Tri shorts and top, grabbed my swim cap and goggles and headed to the race meeting. We then filed over to the pool complex, lining up in numerical order around the pool. The event started promptly at 8am with the first swimmer pushing off the wall. It was a staggered start, with each swimmer starting every 10 seconds. I found it interesting to watch the pool filling up with racers and was able to get a good feel for what I needed to do. Finally at 8:14:30 it was my turn to get in the pool. I got wet, adjusted my goggles and had my right hand on my watch and waited for the starter to yell “GO 89!”. I started my timer on my watch, pushed off the wall and went! The swim felt really good, I quickly came up a two swimmers and passed them easily, one in the middle of the lane and the next on at the wall. I was happy at how well everything was going, until I caught up to the next swimmer who refused to let me pass him. He really slowed me down and I found myself waiting at the wall on the last three laps so he could get ahead and I wouldn’t totally run over him. No big deal really, and it gave me a little time to breath. I got out of the pool with a helping hand, took off my cap and goggles while running out of the complex and outside into the cold wet transition area.

I easily found my bike. However, while standing in line at the pool, I had decided to wear a long sleeve shirt for the bike portion rather than the short sleeve one I had laid out and packed. So I had to dig in my gear back, pull out the other shirt, which was of course inside out and put that one on. I put on my socks and shoes, grabbed my shades, clicked on my helmet and ran with my bike, out of T1 to mount up. I was very glad that I took the extra time to put on the long sleeve shirt because the ride was cold and windy especially when wet! The only problem was that all my fuel was packed in my other shirt!! All I had was water for the ride. Oh well, no turning back, I would have to make do.

I drove the bike route the night before and saw that all the all pot holes had been clearly marked with bright orange paint so were very visible. The ride part of the race was rather uneventful. The sun came out within the first 20 minutes and stayed out the rest of the race. It was beautiful day. I made sure to look around and take in the scenery. Lancaster County (PA) is absolutly gorgeous this time of year with Forsythia bushes, Magnolia trees, tulips, daffodils all in full bloom. The amish were heading out to their Sunday services, so there were quiet a few horse drawn buggies on the road with us. Which of course, meant their dropping were on the road too! Just another obsticle...Gotta love Amish Country!

I kept an eye on my watch but did not want to dwell on the time and push myself harder that I needed too, knowing I had to save some for the upcoming run. I really wanted to complete the bike within an hour and it looked like I was going to be close, so I was feeling good. I knew there was one more hill coming up then I would be on the home stretch. It was then that I realized my “communicated” goal of completing the race under 2 hours was in the bag and that my “uncommunicated’ goal of 1hr 45min was actually obtainable. So I pedaled a little harder and a little faster on the home stretch.

As I headed towards T2, I could hear my “cheering” section of my husband, parents, my darling girls, my close friend and her girls all yelling my name and rooting my on. What a warm feeling and motivational boost! I dismounted my bike and ran it into the transition area. Hung it back up on the rack, took off my helmet, and long sleeve shirt put on my running hat and gone!

My legs were complete cement. I had done the brick workouts so I knew what to expect, but WOW, I just wanted them to move! I felt like I was completly stuck in the mud. I just wanted to walk, but I knew that was not going to help my legs any and I had to keep the lactic acid moving through my muscles. I reminded myself that although your legs feel like led weights, you really are moving faster than you think and you will find your legs again after about the first ˝ mile. So with that in mind after the first 1/4 mile I concentrated on lengthing my stride. At the ˝ mile was of course a hill. That was of no help getting my legs back and there was no down hill at the top of the hill. It just flattened out, which was ok. By the end of mile one, my breathing had regulated and the wheezing had pretty much stopped. That’s when I realized that AGAIN, I forgot to fuel at transition. AND I had forgotten to put on my knee brace. OK, relax, you are almost home. No knee pain yet, I was going to be OK. Yes! A down hill, I can get up a little speed and head to the half way point of the run, which means...water! I could see it I approached the table, I slowed to a walk so that I could actually drink it and not just dump it all over me. So refreshing. New engery. Turn around and head back. 1.5 miles to go. Oh yeah. Now it’s an UP hill. “I can...I can...I Will....I AM!...I AM!!!!....” I chanted this in my head (I think it was only in my head...might have been out loud...), the rest of way back. The volunteers and the last mile were cheering me on. Last mile to go. I was going to make it. My legs felt really good now! No pain, the weighted feeling was gone. No sweat! It’s the home stretch, I really was going to make it. As I rounded the turn for the last ˝ mile, both quads started cramping. I started lifting my knees as I ran to stretch them out a bit, I wasn’t going to let that slow me down. I was so close, just get to the finish line. Two more turns and I would be there. I saw the cones ahead to take me in....then I heard poeple cheering for Ryan...whose Ryan? Oh- the runner that THINKS he is going to pass me coming into to the finish line??? NO WAY. That was so not going to happen. I cranked it up a few notches and found some energy deep down (OK- I think it’s called adrenaline) and sprinted to the finish. I held my head high, focusing on my form, knowing the cameras in my cheering section were flashing. I didn’t want to look like the wet noodle that I felt like. Ryan was close, but he did not have a chance....

I glanced up at the FINISH LINE, such beautiful words...and saw the clock. 1:53:something. I was under two hours. But that wasn’t really my time, I stared almost 15 minutes after that timer started ticking away the time.

I looked at my watch, stopping it at 1hr 39 mins.

I DID IT!!! I finished my first Triathlon!! I am a TRIATHLETE!!

The sun was shining, it was now close to 60 degrees. My cheering section found me, hugs all around. And a bouquet of dandylions from the girls. I was on cloud nine.

My official time was 1:38:56.
96th overall (out of 177)
24th female
9th in my age group.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOLIZ40 4/23/2009 11:01AM

    Even though I heard this first hand I still got chills reading it! Well written. We totally have to do one together some day! emoticon

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CODEMAULER 4/22/2009 10:42AM

    Thank you so much for posting your experience. You caught the emotion, the dedication, the success and the VICTORY!! You really outshined yourself! It was a thrill to read this!


~ Trish

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ASPENJULES 4/22/2009 7:49AM

    Great race report, and fantastic race!! I got teary-eyed reading it, it reminded me of my first (and so far only) race! You look great and you did great! YOU ARE A TRIATHLETE! Congrats!

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TENISWHIZ 4/21/2009 6:50PM

    Hey TRIATHLETE! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!! You did GREAT!

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SUZIEQW 4/21/2009 9:49AM

    I felt like I was right there with you as I read your blog! Fantastic! And look at your toned bod- OMG! You are an inspiration, Erin!
Hugs, Suzie

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GLADGAD 4/21/2009 9:09AM

    Great race report. You ran a fantastic race, and look really strong in the finish. Congratulations Triathlete!!

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FLYFIGHTER 4/20/2009 11:07PM

    so happy for you, erin!!!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    I'm doing my first tri in July - so I'm so glad I found this! Whew - sounds like I need to start training harder! haha Congrats on your success!

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PUPSALOT 4/20/2009 1:15PM

    Awesome job, Erin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

u rocked it girl. I'm so proud!

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DIZZY85 4/20/2009 12:57PM

    this was great to read...I felt like I was right next to you thru it has also inspired me to really look into doing an event ( not like yours...not yet anyway) but something that I can have a solid goal. Congrats on your fantastic time!

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WONGERCHI 4/20/2009 12:56PM

    That's right, you ARE a triathlete!

Thanks for the race report, it made me feel like I was actually there. And it's always nice to out sprint someone at the finsh, eh?

Enjoy basking in the glow - it sounds like you had a ton of fun!

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