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 ½ mile. So with that in mind after the first 1/4 mile I concentrated on lengthing my stride. At the ½ 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 ahead.....as 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 Will....no...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 ½ 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)
9th in my age group.