This is the race that I turned to my husband in September and said I’m going to try this. I need to try this. I’ve counted myself out for too long and I have to give it a go. I couldn’t run a mile without stopping, I couldn’t swim a lap, I really didn’t do much biking, I was 80 pounds overweight with arthritis in my hips and neck and I was beginning to question my sanity. I should have been committed at that moment.
I left my house at 6am on Saturday and made the drive down to Ribgy Lake for the triathlon. My wave didn’t start until 9:05 but I wanted to get a rack end and watch the other participants set up…and I hadn’t really slept in 2 days because of my nerves and I knew sitting at home pacing or playing another game of Angry Birds was not going to help me. I sang really loudly to really loud music all the way there and stopped just before I pulled up behind my friend Jay who was paying her parking fee. I didn’t need her to have anymore proof that I’m a little crazy.
Small chit-chat and joking occurred, lots of equipment ogling and encouragement was given. I have to say that everyone I talked to that day from the organizers to the volunteers and the participants (elite and newbies alike) were so kind and encouraging. Encouraging words before, during and after the race where exchanged. I really like this group of people I’ve fallen into.
After Jay headed out for the Olympic distance swim (hello animal!) Jackie and I put on our wetsuits, I ate a honey stinger wafer because my stomach was growling and then, true to form, I acted like a giant dork because I was nervous and uncomfortable and in a frackin’ wetsuit. Weeehtsuuuuuit. Which I bought because now I have 2 more wetsuit worthy tris on my calendar. Crazy much? There may have been some dancing and Fat Bastard references about being right sexy…ooo…umm…I know there are a few pictures out there of this, I’m not excited about that but I’m hopeful no one will know it’s me with my swim cap and goggles on. It ain’t purdy.
About 10 minutes before the male wave of the sprint was to go we hopped in the water to acclimate. If I had testicles this would have been the point they would have migrated closer to my heart. While I think it calmed me down in some aspects, and made me question my sanity in others, I still freaked out when they said go. I just could not get a rhythm down so I decided to relax and just get through it. Keep swimming, keep swimming, keep swimming. It was difficult for me relax while my face was in the water so I mostly swam with it out. I tried to just relax and do what I could. I back stroked, side stroked, free styled, frog stroked, made up my own strokes and even though my body was saying get out and a little voice in the back of my mind was telling me I was in over my head, I kept going with empty snail shells and debris floating by. When I walked out of the water it had been just over 26 minutes from when I hit start on my watch. I was immediately disappointed but determined to keep going. The announcer grabbed my hand to steady me up the beach and the organizer told me to keep my wetsuit on until I got to the transition to stay warmer. I tried to run but my Achille’s tendons were so tight from the cold water, I decided that walking would be better until I could feel them again. That didn’t happen for a long time. A wonderful woman helped me strip my suit off and one of the guys from the bike shop told me I was doing good and had a strong swim. In between grunts of trying to get up off of the ground I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes
with great exaggeration at him and told him I almost died. I can’t be sure since my brain was frozen at that moment but I don’t think I was a kind recipient of his encouragement. My official swim time, which includes the walk up the hill and suit stripping was 28:56.
My transition took more than twice as long as I had practiced because my feet and hands were so numb. I had rolled my socks down and stuck them in my shoes so that they would be easier to roll on, while it helped some the absence of nimbleness in my hands and lack of helpfulness from my toes and feet complicated everything. I still managed the overall pattern I had laid out and ended up with a 5:28 transition.
I should have played with my Garmin more before hand because I assumed that when I clicked it over to the bike leg in multisport mode it would show me the screen I use when cycling. It didn’t. I had an overall time and overall distance on the display. No cadence, no speed. So I did what I could to maintain a steady cadence, it turns out I did okay in that regard. I almost ate it dismounting but managed to save myself. My speed was lower than I wanted it to be, 16.4 mph, and I managed to finish the ride in 34:40. I put hot packs in my biking shoes (and my running shoes) before the race and I was surprised by how numb my feet still were when I got back to the transition.
My transition was 2:16. I almost made it out of the transition before I realized I forgot my Garmin and went back. What a dumb reason to go back.
I couldn’t feel anything past the balls of my feet so my run started out as a gentle trot. I stopped once to tie my pants and strolled through the water stations wise-cracking the best I could. My quads were tight and let me know they were still angry with me but they allowed me to finish my run in 34:24. I was glad I had decided to put on a sports bra under my trisuit (which has a built-in sports bra) because when I took my jacket off during the run, my suit and it’s bra unzipped. Hello!
My final time was 1:45:47. I had wanted to finish under 1:45 before I strained my quads so I did pretty good for 2 weeks of little to no activity and angry legs. I’ve been struggling with a few mental stumbling blocks. It’s hard not to compare your times with others and to not pick apart what you could have done differently. I learned some things that I can work on implementing for next time, some things I need to work on more and some new things to try out to see if I like them at all. This is my first season. I could have pushed myself more on the bike and the run but I have a calendar full of events and I’m coming off of an injury. I kept wrestling with how much I should push. I’ll beat my time next year, or I may go after the Olympic distance instead. I was 1st in my category but instead of letting people congratulate me, I have to tell them there were only 4 women in the Athena division and that one of them who had a faster time switched to her age group category just before the race and the person who holds the course record didn’t show up to race. When people say you did great, I say I should have done better. I’m not sure what it is that makes me do that but I wish I could stop. What matters is that I showed up and I finished. That’s what I would tell anyone else because it’s true and I would mean it with great sincerity.
My body permitting, I will be there again next year. And I’m sure I’ll be questioning my sanity all over again as the announcer yells GO! and I plunge my body into that freezing cold water and start kicking. Crazy it is! I think I love this sport.
**My girls did great! Jay placed 3rd in her age group for the Olympic distance and Jackie (who decided a week before to do it and had tapered her workouts in March) placed 3rd in her age group. Their times were amazing. Jay is doing the Boise 70.3 the day I’m
trotting running the Teton 1/2 Marathon. When I start to feel whiny, I’ll think about what she’s doing and how much butt she’s going to kick!