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Hagg Lake Triathlon 7/9/11 race report - long blog alert!

Friday, September 16, 2011

So, the race report is only 2 months late! Haha

Honestly, I did hardly anything to train for this triathlon. My training consisted of:

Running once or twice a week for a couple miles
A month before the tri, I started using a personal trainer for ST twice a week
Exercise bike one or twice a week for about a month before the tri (30 mins)
Rode my real bike maybe 3 times, going 4 or 5 miles each time

My sister is the athletic one. She and I signed up for the race together (she actually did the Duathlon). We don't get to see each other often because she lives in Seattle and I'm in Portland. The race was on her birthday! So that was part of the excitement. 4 weeks before the event, I had not really trained and I was stressing out about it big time. I didn't want to let my sis down, but I was worried about injuring myself or just plain not being able to finish! I called and told her I didn't think I would be able to do it. She talked me into not backing out, and I'm so glad she did. Seriously, the only reason I agreed not to drop out of it was because it was her birthday and I knew how disappointed she would be! There's no way I can let her down! So that's the point I decided I better buckle down, and at least try to do the best I could with the time I had left, telling myself even if I don't finish, at least I gave it a "tri!" lol.

Actually, the event I signed up for was called the "Tri it" - where the swimming portion is only 1/4 mile instead of the 1/2 mile of the sprint tri. I didn't even practice swimming because I figured I had that portion in the bag... I mean it's only once around the track, right? ... boy was I wrong!

Skipping ahead... the morning of the race is here!
My event started at 8:30 AM and sis's started at 8. By 6 am we were on the road. It takes over an hour to get to the lake from my house. The weather was good. It was sunny and at 8 in the morning about 60 degrees outside. I was so nervous! It's the only race I've done that I was actually nervous for. So on our way to the event, we got a starbucks coffee - we both need strong coffee to wake up - and a starbucks Power Protein plate. I just love those things - you get an egg, peanut butter with whole grain biscuit, fruit and a slice of cheese. We ate roughly 1.5 hours before my race start, and really it was perfect. I didn't get nauseous or anything the whole time.

Finally we get to the lake. I LOVE the excitement surrounding races, all the race numbers, people happy and athletic and loving life, inspiration all around. It was a beautiful morning. We park and unhook our bikes. I'm looking around at all the other athletes and bicycles and feel SO out of place. Everywhere I look, there are serious racing bikes and bullet helmets and the most athletic people I've ever seen in real life. This was serious! And it made me feel very fat and out of shape, and my bike is a joke! I have a Trek mountain bike worth about 100 bucks and it's very slow. On a good downhill I can probably get it up to 20 MPH, haha. On a regular flat, I can go around 10 to 12 mph, and on an uphill, watch out baby, I'm a speed demon at 3 mph. In any case, I was here and there was no backing out now... believe me I seriously considered it.

We walked our bikes to the starting racks. Practicing my transition was something I didn't do before the race either. I figured since this was my first time, I was just going to take it slow and do what I needed to do. My main goal was just to finish the dang thing! So I put my childish bike on the rack among all the shiny expensive ones, lay out my clothes and shoes for after the swim, and head down to the starting line area for the swimming leg. I had my swimsuit on under my street clothes and had planned to just strip right before jumping in the water... well, that plan changed... I am looking all around me and nearly everyone is wearing a wetsuit! I'm kicking myself for not renting one. Here I was, thinking it's summer and it will be warm, yeah well not at 8AM! I decide at the last minute there is NO WAY I'm wearing my swimsuit for the swimming portion. First of all self-consciousness about my body, second of all a little more warmth. I had an extra athletic shirt, so I ended up wearing that over my sports bra and then put on my running pants. I felt a little better about swimming in this, and my new plan after that was to change my shirt to the one with the race number on it after the swim, but just let my pants air dry. It worked out fine for my purposes, it's not like the extra air resistance from having wet pants while riding my bike was going to make a difference!

Our little novice tri group was the last to get in the water so we wouldn't get in the way of the real triathletes! There were about 15 of us in this event. We were all looking at each other like, What the heck did we get ourselves into?! Finally, they announced our wave and we jumped in the water. COLD! Get ready , set, go! Ahhhh! So nervous!! I took off, it felt really weird to swim in my clothes, I started swimming freestyle and within 1 minute it was evident that I was NOT ready for this! I started gasping for air, the water kept getting in my nose and mouth, I could not get enough air! I did the breast stroke for a minute or so and everyone was passing me! I was exhausted and I had barely started. Finally after the initial craziness of everyone taking off at once, I ended up 3rd to last among our little group, and the only people behind me were a couple guys who were very overweight! I was not feeling very confident. I had to switch to swimming on my back for the rest of the distance, I was breathing very hard, and it was a much longer distance than I anticipated. The water temperature wasn't bothering me anymore, at least! I just had to keep telling myself to just kick my legs, keep going, don't give up, kick, kick, kick. I felt kind of humiliated that I couldn't swim normally. Finally, the end was in sight. I reached the point where I could stand up again and pulled myself out of the water. My legs were already tired and I was breathing hard. The path up to the transition, where I should have been running, I had to walk and catch my breath! I got to my bike, put on my gear, stashed some sport beans in my cleavage and off I went (isn't your bra just the best place to put things?!). I had to kind of watch a few people to see how they did it. Did they ride their bike from transition to bike start or walk it? You weren't allowed to ride to the bike start. You had to run with your bike until this certain point called the bike mount area, so after I figured that out, I started off. I think my transition was like 6 minutes from swim to bike!!

Finally, I hop on my bike and the very first thing you have to do is ride up a big hill! I tried to get a little momentum but there wasn't really time, so right off the bat about 100 people are passing me, with their fancy gear and ripped bodies. Most of the people passing me are the olympic length triathletes that have to go around the lake twice. So they have already gone around once and are on their second lap. This was basically the overall theme of my one very slow lap (12.5 miles) around the lake. People passing me! The ride was brutal. I was determined not to walk my bike if I could help it, so I utilized all the gears on my bike. It was one giant hill after another, way way up, then way way down, with every giant hill I thought, this surely must be the last one, but oh, was I wrong! I later learned this is one of the most challenging bike courses in the US. Some people were very encouraging as they passed me, saying good job, etc. as I am hauling my overweight frame at 3mph uphill, most were very serious and would buzz past me as if to say, What the hell are you doing in this race, get off the road! I felt sooo out of place! I just kept going, my legs burning, sometimes going so slow I felt like I wasn't even moving. One guy, as I'm about 1/3 of the way through it, passed me and said, "Nice day for a bike ride, huh?" in a condescending tone as he buzzed me. I was trying my hardest and I almost started crying! I realized I really have no place being here! I couldn't wait until it was over. I just kept going though, kept pumping my legs. Shortly after that, was the biggest hill yet. For the first time, I had to get off my bike and take a breather. I drank some water, took a couple minutes to rest, then got back on and tackled the hill. As I'm working my way up, a grey-haired, very fit woman passed me going pretty fast. I forgot to mention earlier that the race volunteers write your age on the back of everyone's legs. The number I saw on this woman's leg: 71!! A little later on, I was struggling with yet another hill, and I had reached the point where the 10k runners were doing their thing on the other side of the road. The runners were passing me as I was riding my bike! I would go down a hill and pass the same runner, then later he would pass me again as I was going up a hill. So I was biking slower than a runner doing his final 10k run. Nice.... Finally, finally the end was in sight. They were taking pictures on a part of the road that was mercifully downhill, so you could bomb down the hill and pretend you were doing that the whole time, haha! I look much bigger in my pictures than I feel like I do in real life or in the mirror, I have a very warped perception of myself. More on that in a different blog. I finally reached the run transition! People were clapping and cheering, that felt good. And I had accomplished my goal of riding my bike the whole way, not walking it, and couldn't believe I actually finished because the farthest I have ridden my bike in the past was 5 miles!

Now to the run transition. From here I felt so much relief. I knew that if I could just get to this point and was still in the game, heck I could just walk the 5k if I needed to, but now I knew I would actually finish. I started off at a trot and ran as far as I could. I was totally exhausted. After just a few minutes, an old injury in my knee flared up. tangent.. Back several months ago, I was walking through a parking lot with a load of books in my hands, it was dark outside and I didn't see the pothole. I stepped into it, twisted my ankle, landed HARD on my knee and almost passed out from the pain. Oh, my, gawd it hurt so bad. I was nauseous for 15 minutes and sure I had broken my kneecap. I went and got an xray the next day. No break. However, I could not bend my knee normally anymore. I wasn't able to put very much weight on it for 2 months. This was the main reason I was derailed from my training. It happened 2 weeks after I signed up for the race! I was so discouraged. By the time the tri rolled around, it was mostly healed and only flared up occasionally. Now here I was nearing the end, and my knee hurt too bad to run on it. I mostly walked the last two miles because I didn't want to risk a lasting injury. I was happy, though. I was proud of myself, despite the fact that I was one of the most out-of-shape people. It was a beautiful day, I relished the race atmosphere, and as I ran in to the end, I found my sis and gave her a big hug and felt the most amazing feeling of accomplishment I have ever felt in my entire life!

We stayed around for the lunch and medal ceremony. I got a medal for 3rd place in my age group. I was so excited!!

I later found out there were only 3 people IN my age group for my event... and I had come in nearly last place... but I finished... and proved to myself that I can do so much more than I knew I was capable of. What an unforgettable experience!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great job on finishing your first triathlon! I was wondering how it all went since I knew you had signed up awhile back. Listen, you finished that's all that counts. The first one is always an eye-opener because you never think that that the swim is THAT long, or how much a particular bike can make a big difference in speed or how exhausted you really are before the run. Don't give up, you'll come back with a vengeance next time around. That is soooooo cool about the medal!

    2392 days ago
  • *ERICA*
    Great job on finishing!! That is awesome!!
    2395 days ago
    Way to go on finishing! :D

    that guy who made that comment sounded like real jerk! I feel awful that you had to deal with that. At least you were out there, trying! (or is that "tri-ing"? *lol*)

    Anyway, great job!

    2407 days ago
    congratlutation on your triatholon! great job
    2407 days ago
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