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My 1st Olympic Triathlon

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Transition area: photo by Maple Grove Tri

My first thought when I woke up Saturday morning was, "man, I wish I would've stuck to that training plan." but, oh, well, here we go. I threw the plan out after vacation in July when I realized it was stressing me out and the whole point of this is to have fun. I managed to get in a handful of bike rides that were 20-25ish miles, some were extremely hilly routes. I wasn't worried about the bike. And a 10k is a great distance for me. It was the swim.

About 2 weeks ago I started to freak out. I realized I had not done nearly enough swimming to prepare myself to my standards. I love to swim. But I wasn't ready for a mile. 0.9 of a mile, but I'm rounding up! A mile in a pool is WAY different than open water. Pushing off ends and lane lines give you an incredible boost. I am a horrible sighter in open water. I do everything they tell you not to, like pulling my whole upper body out of the water to look for buoys.

Luckily, my friend gave me her wetsuit to wear. That sucker makes ya float! I felt a lot better. Until we got to the lake and I saw how far the buoys were. Deep breaths. Whew, that is far. I wonder how we'd feel as runners if at the start of a race we could see the entire distance. I think it may make us appreciate how far we really run. Because, seriously, those buoys were so far out in the water. Maybe I'll feel better if I keep typing about how far they were.

I need to get over this. They gathered all the athletes together for some announcements. Even had an official referee in a striped top talk about the rules. This was a pretty big tri: 1200 athletes, 800 were doing the Sprint distance. And there was a collegiate wave that was competing for Nationals, which was cool. It was a pretty fit bunch of athletes. I love checking everyone out and feeling good that so many people want to do something positive. OK, happy energy is back! And then a guy sang the national anthem and it was so beautiful and goose bump worthy.

And we're off! I had a good start, didn't go out too fast and I'm not bothered by all the kicking and arms everywhere and all that chaos. What bothered me was how long I had swam and then I looked up and saw that the first buoy was FRICKIN FAR AWAY. Since I zig zagged so much during the sprint tri a few weeks ago, I kept looking up to make sure I was swimming straight. This was a horrible strategy because I couldn't get a rhythm, I wasted so much energy pulling my body out of the water and I just got stuck in a bad mental place. It was really hard. I flipped onto my back, I treaded water, I thought about quitting, I thought about the athlete that drowned awhile ago, come on now, just get to that first buoy.

I finally made the first turn and started to feel a bit better. Too much sighting again, but better. Then the last turn and I hit it. Reminded myself that This. Is. A. Race. And I swam. Coming out of the water is a powerful feeling. And since this was such a big race and all the Sprinters were waiting to start, the crowd was super loud. It was awesome. And I could hear my dad's voice out of the crowd, which sure gave me a boost.

I passed quite a few people on the run to transition and actually managed to get the wetsuit off rather quickly. I love transition! It is so exciting. Things flying everywhere and boom, you're on the bike. 26 miles. I felt good. My goal was 18 mph, which meant I'd really have to push myself. And I did. The beginning of the course was hilly. No steep inclines, but I was changing gears a ton. I left my big ring alone the entire ride because I'm still nervous about chain issues. Experience will help with that. But still, the bike went really well. Only 5 girls passed me the entire ride. Lots of guys with fancy gear zoomed right by. fine by me. I'm not competing with them. And it's actually cool to be in an event with those athletes. There was a point on the bike where I thought to myself, "I can't believe this is what I'm doing right now." I am living and loving life. Feels good! The volunteers on the course were incredible and I made sure to thank them all and smile. I thought of Chrissie Wellington and the joy she exudes as an athlete. That's how I felt. As we were approaching the end I checked my bike computer and it said 18.6!!!

It's super awkward to run in cycling shoes!

Transition! Quick change of shoes and I'm off. I was saying to myself, 'You're a runner. You're a runner" as I zoom out of the transition area and turn the corner and BAM! Huge hill. Short, but steep. I only saw one other girl running. Loads of athletes were walking. It was that bad. I don't mind hills, but the problem with this was that it took away all my speed. I've become a faster runner because of tri training. Not fartleks or intervals or track workouts. It's the bike. Develops different muscles plus you're all warmed up plus you're legs were just moving so fast that they are ready to keep the pace up. This can be hard on some people. It has worked to my advantage in brick workouts, but that hill worked against me on race day.

I could feel that my pace was off. I don't wear a Garmin so I had noideal data. I listened to my body and pushed myself. It was hard to do at times because we were on the same course as the Sprint athletes. So some people were flying by me which was a little demoralizing and I had to remind myself that most people were running a 5K, not a 10K. And I had just done twice as much swimming and biking. They should be cruising by! But it's still tough. In races I like to focus on someone ahead of me and try to pick them off. I wasn't able to do that to many runners on my first loop. And the hills kept coming!

One good thing about tris is that ear buds are not allowed so people talk to each other a lot during the run. But then I had to run the whole course again. doh! The second loop was better. I picked up the pace and felt good. Was able to sprint down the finisher's chute.

There is something so great about the first time you race any distance. PR! no matter what! I estimated that it would take 3 - 3.5 hours for me. I didn't really know. Seeing the 2:57 on the clock was emotional. Such a feeling of pride and accomplishment. If I had not been so spent from the race, maybe I would've had the presence of mind to do some simple math. I was in the 3rd wave so I started 6 minutes after gun.

swim .9: 29:09
T1: 2:21
bike 26: 1:26:02 (18.3 mph)
run 6.2: 52:39 (8:30 pace)
total time: 2:51:12

That's 6th in my age group. In a big tri, a competitive field with serious athletes. I'm not trying to rudely brag, but I am surprising myself. Not only am I having a ton of fun, but I'm actually pretty good at this. Makes my heart and all those other muscles smile.

Immediately after the race I swore to my friends that I was never going to do that distance again. I hated the swim. I woke up the next day and felt great, not sore at all, so of course my first thought was, "Coulda run faster!"

And now a few days later I'm thinking about how to improve my time. I was a mental wreck during the swim and I'm a little mad at myself about it. I know what you're all going to say. I know my time is good. But I also know how much better I could do and that's what I love about sports; the constant room for improvement, new challenges, different workouts for mind & body.

These race blogs get so long. Thanks for taking the time to read. I appreciate my Sparkbuds a great deal. Your support and motivation continue to push me. Thank you!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I LOVED to hear about your olympic tri!! 6th place is amazing!! You should toot your horn that is a Wonderful result and you EARNED it!! I love the details about the race because I am thinking of stepping up from a sprint to an olympic distance. You made me feel like I could do it... probably come in last but it would be fun.
    2064 days ago
  • TESS504
    I loved reading this BLOG! Great JOB! I can totally relate to every emotion you described. Great BLOG...Keep them coming! emoticon
    2065 days ago
    That is so awesome! Congratulations on finishing and getting 6th place! You can definitely say that you are a triathlete! I did a novice triathlon in June and I have been wanting to do another one again. What an accomplishment for you! emoticon
    2115 days ago

    That's so awesome! I am so proud of you!
    2116 days ago
    Congratulations my amazing friend! You are incredible and I am so proud of you!! The distances and the sheer number of people (which is really obvious in the picture of the transition area) would be so overwhelming. I love how you just set your mind to it and went for it, though! And 6th in your age group even when you backed off on training?? WOOHOO!! The part about being able to hear your dad's voice in the crowd made me cry, of course. I have no doubt that there are going to be some more incredible athletic events in your future and that you are going to ROCK them!
    2119 days ago

    Your times are GREAT! I think that everyone struggles mentally in the water but seriously you did really well considering the distance!

    The race venue seems like an exciting time too, glad that you had wonderful race!

    2119 days ago
    You did fantastic! Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself and surprised yourself! Way to go! Nice times on your transitions too!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2120 days ago
    You rock! Sounds like a great experience!!
    2120 days ago
    emoticon I love your race blogs! I always feel like I was right there with you (living the healthy life through you haha)! Another amazing accomplishment for you! I remember when you were only thinking about doing a tri, and look at you now- 6th in your age group! Really incredible! And you look so good! Something tells me that there's going to be another Olympic triathlon in your future, and possibly even an Iron(wo)man? emoticon

    2120 days ago
    Awesome! I recently added an Oly to my fitness bucket list, and this just makes me want it even more. The swim is what gives me pause (and makes me say this goal may be more than a few years out). So far all I've done are sprint tris, which in my area are all reverse with the swim at the end and in a pool.

    2120 days ago
    That is FANTASTIC!!!
    2120 days ago
    Awesome job!!!!! One of my running groups is a triathalon group and they were discussing how I could do a tri if I wanted....I agreed, but don't know how to breathe while swimming (which I know I could learn), more importantly I am afraid of riding my bike on roads with cars, and bikes are expensive!!!! I do have to say that you make it look fun!!!! :-)
    2120 days ago
    Wow this is an amazing blog, I read it last night and was even thinking about it this are so inspiring!! Makes me wish I had thought of doing a blog like this when I completed my fitness competition in March. I LOVE how you incorporated all the pics :) - Good for you, you have to be so proud of yourself! What an accomplishment!!!
    2121 days ago
  • AMBER281
    And Congrats!!
    2121 days ago
    Amazing!! You inspire me...and I'm only training to do my first 5k and huffing and puffing through it! :) I grew up in MN in the cities so I was trying to imagine exactly where you were as I read, loved it! WAY TO GO!!
    2121 days ago
    What an inspiration! Girl you rock!! Thank you for blogging about your experience.. It kinda of excites me for my 1st tri - thank goodness mine is a shorter one! LOL - keep up the great work!! Now off to find a wet suit I can borrow maybe that can help my short swim bahahaha!
    2121 days ago
    fantastic!!! You really did fantastic, wow...

    Way to go..great pics !
    2121 days ago
    Awesome job! I can't believe you backstroked and doggy paddled and still came up with a 29!! That's crazy. I'm always one of the first out of the water and my avg 1500 is 28. The swim is my one advantage. I'm a good cyclist and MOP runner. You are a much better runner and killed it! I hope you will do more olympic distance races. It's so much more strategy than a sprint. Congratulations on a great first race and impressive PR!
    2121 days ago
    I am so proud of you ATHLETE!!!! Way to go! Such an Inspiration you are! emoticon emoticon
    2121 days ago
    Hahahaha! My favorite part was this:

    "Because, seriously, those buoys were so far out in the water. Maybe I'll feel better if I keep typing about how far they were."

    I LOVE IT! Girl, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Your description of the swim was like TEN TIMES better than mine of the Ironman swim!!!! Crazy lady. an aspiring triathlete, I LOVE to read firsthand accoutns like this. Thank you SO much for taking the time to detail it out. I read every word of it. And I might read it again!!!

    SO SO SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!! I can't WAIT to be triathlete!!!!!!
    2121 days ago
    Great race report! Swims can really get in the head. Now you know that and can prepare differently. Wahoooooo!
    2121 days ago
    I have just one word - WOW!!!!!!!!!! emoticon
    2121 days ago
    Kind of makes me want to try one......

    emoticon job on your race! Even with all the struggles you had with the swimming you still ended with a great time. You should feel very proud!

    And I agree.... there is always another race to beat your time. That is what keeps us going!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2121 days ago
  • OPTIMIST1948
    I can only hope to work up to an Olympic distance in the future. You totally ROCKED the Tri (and the wetsuit BTW) and I am sure there will be nothign but good things in your future!
    2121 days ago
    That is so awesome! You truly did ROCK it!! I'm so jealous of your fitness level, but it gives me new goals to work towards :)

    Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. I would love to do a tri someday, but the swimming scares me a little too. Maybe, someday. Hmmmm

    2121 days ago
    Wow great job! I have my first almost Olympic Distance in 10 days. VERY nervous!
    2121 days ago
    What an amazing experience and a great accomplishment! And don't worry, it's not bragging, it's pride! And it's a great feeling, worthy to be shared!
    Congratulations! And thank you for the inspiration.
    emoticon emoticon
    2121 days ago
    So nice to read about your experience. Makes me feel like I was kinda there.

    Love your rambling about the buoys-made me lol and smile too:) Cool perspective about seeing your entire distance-never thought about that before. I did not know wetsuits float...and some racer died recently??eekk-need to search that one. What an absolute wonderful way to exit the water with your dads voice cheering you on. I just love him and don't even know him-seems like a cool guy whenever you mention him.

    You rocked the bike portion and I had full confidence in your run and again...rocked it! Your time is amazing-maybe you should give up your day job, start training full time and make some $$ at are so talented!

    You said "I am living and loving life-feels good"! I think I may just tuck that one away and use it on one of my runs cuz I feel the same way:)

    Happy for you Maura!
    2121 days ago
    Wow, what an amazing accomplishment! So happy for you! Makes me want to try a tri... A sprint tri for sure and who knows...I loved reading about your race. Thanks for sharing your experience. You did an emoticon job!!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon You totally rock!!
    2121 days ago
    YOU are emoticon
    2121 days ago
  • NIKKIE2012
    emoticon That is awesome.
    2121 days ago
  • LADYBUG1107
    Congratulations on a great finish!
    2121 days ago
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