|Heel-striking in style to the finish.|
My pre-race prep wasn't
|We held up neighborhood traffic and almost took out some kids on bikes for this picture.|
|I have an irrational fear this will be me if I even thinking about eating before a swim.|
|I also have an irrational fear of bike tires exploding in my face when I pump them.|
|I was this woman's body-marking tutorial. The resulting unevenness upset my OCD. FWP.|
|I even racked my bike without asking for help!|
In the next awkward timing moment of the day, I decided to put on sunscreen, subsequently smearing my body-marking. Excellent. I then proceeded to the lake to
I did opt for the swim warm-up. The water was almost 85, about 4 degrees warmer than the pool I train in.
|At least I wouldn't get hypothermia?|
Finally, it was go time. The swim was broken into four waves, and I was in the third. I went to mill around on the "beach" when the first wave lined up. I proceeded to defog my goggles about 10 times, for real. I had a sudden paranoia that they weren't suctioning to my face properly, so I kept putting them and checking the edges, only to take them right back off. At some point during this ritual, a lifeguard hauled a guy from the first wave back. Confidence went even higher.
|I'm smiling to pretend my first open-water swim isn't two minutes away.|
|I can judge because I clearly have the form of an Olympian.|
The final 200 was miserable because it was directly into the sun. I literally could see nothing at all. I again latched onto to someone's wake so that if I went off course, I at least wouldn't be completely alone. I eventually discovered the boats off to my left extra-blinded me with their reflection, so I could finally judge my position on one axis. It was, however, very disorienting to not know how far I was from the swim exit. I wasn't too tired, but I kept changing my stroke to try to see where I was. Because the water was so clouded, I didn't want to inadvertently plow face-first into the shore.
|This adequately depicts my five minutes of blinded misery.|
600M Swim Time: 16:14 (2:42/100)
I proceeded to celebrate my survival by doing T1 in probably the most inefficient way possible. Trying to put on cycling gloves with wet hands when the fingers are all jammed inside-out is difficult. I also realized that while having to turn my bike sideways and carry it under the bike rack is annoying during set-up, it is extremely stressful when the clock is running. I did haul it out finally. Don't worry, I then fumbled with my toe clips like I'd never seen such a thing in my life.
|Be sure to notice the Gatorade that would be impossible to drink while biking. I'm a font of great ideas.|
Once I finally figured out how a bike worked again, I pedaled off. I thought knowing the course would give me a better sense of my distance. (I had my bike computer running, but I'm used to a sort of internal measurement of distance I've developed through running.) However, every single road was surrounded by high corn. I could see no landmarks and was going too fast to easily read street signs. I felt like I was in a horror movie because it was corn and then more corn and then more corn and then soybeans to add some flavor. It was very pretty to ride through, just disorienting. I could never quite orient myself to the transition area.
At this point, I became super thankful that we had driven the course the day before. There were some killer hills, and if I hadn't known the last few miles were downhill followed by a flat run course, I think I would have been on the mental strugglebus.
As it were, I had hopped on the physical painbus. On some of the hills I was in my lowest gear and still having to hammer on the pedals. After the finish, I heard a more experienced woman saying she felt like she had run out of gears too, so I'm glad it wasn't just me. It also hurt that we had a pretty significant headwind on the flats. There were no mile markers and I had my bike computer on distance, so I had no idea how fast I was going. I had my watch showing total time, but I was in no way capable of doing the mental math to figure out my bike time as I went.
I tried to keep my heart rate up without dying, especially on some of the hills. There were two really scary spots with tight S-curves. Some guy decided to draft off me leading into one, so I felt too uncomfortable to brake, and then rode next to me the whole way through.
|I kept picturing all the crashes from the Tour de France and internally screaming.|
|It looks fine, but I swear it felt like I was running down Mt. Everest steering a runaway train.|
In T2 I got a little smarter and racked my bike opposite from my towel and then ran around the rack. (I contemplated this dilemma a lot during the bike to try to distract myself.) This saved lots of time and energy, but I'm pretty sure some spectators thought I was totally lost. Don't worry, I still spent about an hour taking off my helmet and taking a quick drink.
Finally, it was time for my favorite part, the run! I hadn't done a brick for over a month, so I had no idea how my legs would feel, especially after the hills. Surprisingly...they felt normal. I was again disoriented because there were no mile markers, and the mental math required to estimate splits in my head might as well have been astrophysics at that point.
I got a second wind as I started passing people. I had been going back and forth the entire time on the bike with this one lady. It was driving me crazy because she would speed past me on the downhills, only so I would have to pass her on the subsequent uphill. We weren't in the same AG, so I didn't see any point to what she was doing. (And on these downhills I was pedaling in my highest gear, it's not like I was trying to be a roadblock or even going particularly slow.) She looked like she was dying about 1/4 mile into the run, and it felt great to overtake her for good.
|Don't worry, I was very sportsmanlike.|
I wasn't sure how to pace myself because I had no idea where I was at or how fast I was going. My HR was elevated but I wasn't dying, so I tried to pick it up when a volunteer let me know I had a mile left. I was also struck by how supportive everyone was. Every person I passed cheered me on, and people coming out to start the run when I was heading in really gave me a boost.
|Who knows why they thought I needed it.|
|And some people can't understand why this is fun, psh.|
The post-race food was amazing, but I knew we were getting lunch shortly, so I just took some orange slices and a banana. I normally strongly dislike oranges, but they taste like Jesus himself grew them after a race. I also waited about ten minutes for a stretching session from a local sports medicine clinic. It gave me time to clean up my transition area, and it felt so amazing! I try to be really diligent about stretching, but the therapist could manipulate me in ways I can't myself. (Bonus: I got to hear the woman next to me tell the story of her gluteus medius three times!) I was worried about getting super stiff during the car ride home, but I actually felt better afterwards than I do on a daily basis.
Overall Time: 1:47:15
Like I said earlier, I had an absolutely amazing time. I don't think I'll ever fall in love with tris enough to give up running as my main sport, but it was a fun new challenge. It really pushed my outside my comfort zone. Of course, I have a healthy fear of the marathon distance I'm training for, but I know deep down I will be in shape to at least walk it in if I have to. Doing a tri was way scarier than that, and it was really empowering when I finished. I didn't drown, I didn't crash, and I didn't blow up.
Eager Feet Parents seemed to have a really great time spectating. Eager Feet Dad took all the awesome photos of me in this post. He went above and beyond, running all around the course and transition area to get shots of me.
|This picture didn't fit anywhere, but I think it's my favorite.|
|I won't judge you if you feel this way.|
I knew going in this was my weakest sport, and it shows. However, a lot of it was not being able to get into a rhythm and the whole sighting issue. I wasn't necessarily trying to swim slowly, I just kept crashing into people. While I'm going to obviously work harder in the pool, I think lining up differently next time would help as well.
I lost a lot of time here wrangling my bike and putting on my cycling gloves. I think with a little more effort, I could easily shave some time off.
I don't necessarily want to judge myself too harshly here. There are almost no hills for me to train on, and they were a huge factor on this bike course. My average time was still almost a mile faster than on my training rides, so I'm happy that I did well despite the challenge. Having toe clips and a commuter bike instead of clip pedals and a tri bike also probably make some sort of difference here, but I don't want to invest in either of those, so I don't really want to complain.
I really don't know what happened here. I did stop to rehydrate, but I'm not sure what I spent the rest of the time doing. Practicing this transition should be a big priority after the swim.
While I clearly was no superstar on the run, I did significantly better here than in any other area. Less than a year ago, I really had to push myself to run a sub-30 5K on its own, so it's really motivating to see how well I did at the end of a tri without my usual pacing tools. If I can pick up the pace in the other sports, I might even be able to a be a mediocre triathlete. Some people close to my run time finished far ahead of me, so it seems there might be hope.