And a whole lot of other firsts too! My first trail run. My first barefoot run. My first competitive swim. First time running in a bathing suit. And my very first time winning my age group! (Really. Swear. See that hat in the picture, that’s my proof, my big award).
So here’s how it went down:
First off, I was ridiculously nervous. I spent a good 1/2 hour in transition setting up my stuff. Then setting it up again…and again. Then looking at other people’s stuff and re-arranging my whole set up. I never really practiced transitions, so I knew this was going to be my weakest link (goodbye). Finally, I just figured really how many times can you move around shoes, a helmet, sunglasses, and a water bottle? It would have to do.
I wasn’t really sure what to do next, so I just headed over to the beach. La la la la la…I just kind of stood around to see what everybody else was doing. Here’s me looking all unsure:
Guess, I’ll just adjust my cap again. Tuck a little more hair in. Wish it matched my bathing suit, but I digress.
Eventually, with about 5 minutes left until go time, I headed into the water, which was supposedly 77.9 degrees, but dang it felt cold. Not too awful bad at first, but after waiting and waiting to start, my teeth began chattering. I don’t know how long we waited, but it seemed like forever (although I’m sure that was just nerves). I was bouncing up and down like some kind of fool to stay warm until the thought crossed my mind that I might possibly be wearing out my legs and I was going to need them a little later. So I went back to standing still, chattering, and hugging myself, not nearly as effective I’m sure.
At some point the race director made her way over to the water and said some things I couldn’t hear. She was trying to give directions to people on the beach and to the first wave of participants who were already in the water with a megaphone, but mostly us in the water just kept going “Huh?”
There were a few shout outs to the swim teams who were participating. (Yeah. Swim teams. Just great. That’s what I thought too.) Then somebody started swimming and others followed. For a few seconds I thought, “what the heck? These people are cheating. Is she gonna call them back or what?” Turns out the director, did actually say go though. Here’s us swimming:
If you look very very carefully, you can see me. I have a yellow cap on ;-)
I made one fatal mistake on the swim. I put myself in the front of the pack at the start. Now, in my defense, I checked the results from last year to see what people swam it in. Most of the times for the 1/4 mile swim were 10 minutes or slower (I think there were two in the 8 minute range). I can definitely swim a 1/4 mile in 10 minutesish. But what I didn’t know is that included in those 1/4 mile swim times from last year, was a 1/4 mile run to the first transition (for those of you who are rookies like me that’d be where you get on your bike), a run which was UPHILL no less. So actually those 1/4 mile swim times were much much faster. Which means, yep. I got plowed over at the start. And it freaked me out. I think the exact thought running through my head was “What the crack am I doing?” (although the expletive of choice was slightly harsher than crack) which was followed by “I will never ever do this again.” And I had maybe swam for oh…about a minute.
Knowing I had to calm down a bit, I opted to go to breaststroke even though it’s a seriously slower stroke. But I’m more comfortable with it, plus I could see where I was going instead of getting smacked in the face with someone’s foot. And then just as I was starting to recover from my initial tri start shock and ready to get back at it, I swallowed a gallon of lake water in someone’s wake and was right back to freak out mode. Hacking up a lung, I remembered the advice of the race director a week earlier at the open water swim trial which was: “If you start to freak out, even though now you’ll have done this before, just go to your back and kick for a little bit.”
So I did. I didn’t want to, but I seriously needed to re-group because I was not off to a good start. “Ok Kelly. Just calm down. You’re half way done with this swim. We’re all spaced out now and at least now you’re gonna be totally hydrated for the rest of the race on lake water.” I really wasn’t on my back long, but I’m glad I took that minute or so to refocus because after that I finally got control of my head.
After that I didn’t have any more problems, at least not with myself. I did get stuck behind a lady near the end of the swim that kept swimming diagonally. I think she was having a hard time spotting and would over correct when she realized she was off course. It made it hard to pass her. I think there’s something about tapping someone on the foot if you want to pass, but that seemed waaaaay too advanced for me. So I just kind of followed her and all her crookedness into the finish.
When the water was a little less than waist deep I stood up and took a few short steps to the shore. I didn’t feel all wobbly so the minute I hit the beach, maybe even a little bit before, I started to run. I was shocked that nobody else was running, not even jogging or walking fast really. They were just kind of walking and chit chatting. As a matter of fact for a minute I thought maybe I was doing something wrong, but then figured hey, you all might have just kicked my A$$ on the swim, but running’s my game so I’m gonna own this hill. I can not even tell you how many people I ran by on that hill. A bunch.
1/4 Mile Swim time: 12:56 (including that 1/4 mile uphill barefoot run)
Transition 1 went pretty smooth. Just prior to the race I had decided to put that Lanacane Anti-Chafing Gel on BEFORE I started the swim. It absorbs so I figured, it should still work for me by the time I got to the bike. Glad I did because those precious few seconds it would have taken to apply during the race I was going to need later. So at T1, I just slipped on my shoes, threw on my helmet, took a little swig of Gatorade and was off with my dad shouting “25” to me on my way out to let me know how many bikes I needed to chase down. Ugh. Not horrible. But my work was cut out for me.
Transition #1: 1:38
Yes. I biked in my bathing suit. Aren’t I so brave? There wasn’t really a whole lot of thinking that went into this. I just didn’t want to throw on a pair of shorts and have a wet butt for the run. Simple as that.
The bike course was a blast. Rolling hills, virtually no traffic (I think only one car went by). But I can definitely see room for cycling improvement. Turns for one. My super biking dad tells me there’s a way to really power out of the turns by downshifting to keep your cadence up (SAY WHAT??!! I know. It didn’t make much sense to me when he said it either. I think I’ve made him explain it twenty times since then but the basic premise is it’s a way to take the turns without braking and thus slowing waaaaaaaay down).
My other weakness on the bike was the uphills, this involves more complicated gear talk which I’ll save for some other post (mostly because I frequently use incorrect terms when talking about gears and shifting and I don’t want to sound like a complete idiot. Once I get it all figured out, maybe I can do a bike language post for beginners).
But all and all I only got passed once, no…make that twice on the bike. The first lady who passed me though I returned the favor shortly thereafter. The second lady, however, I could not seem to hunt down. She never got too far ahead of me, but she was making me crazy because I could see that 32 on her leg which meant we were in the same age group. ARRRRRR….So frustrating.
Nearing the finish, Miss Blond 32 slipped by three teenage girls who were having a rough go on the bike just before our last turn. I on the other hand, didn’t get up to them in time to take them before the turn. After the turn, they were taking up the whole road, but I got by one. The other two were sort of side by side and even though their friend shouted at them from behind that I was trying to pass, they didn’t yield. We were getting pretty close to the 2nd transition at this point, so I just let it be thinking maybe I could catch up and take Blond 32 on the run.
10.7 Miles Bike Time: 37:43 (17.0 mph)
Important Side note: After setting up your transition area, it’s a good idea to identify the location of your area from both the run in AND the bike in. Otherwise, you may run down the entirely wrong aisle to rack your bike, not realizing this until you can not find your stuff at the location you think your stuff should be which is exactly what I did. Fortunately, I already had on my running shoes. So all I had to do once I did actually find my transition area was take off my helmet, rack my bike and take another swig of Gatorade. Oh…and slip on a running skirt that was not actually a running skirt, but an old bathing suit bottom. So all I had to do was step in and pull it up without having to take off my shoes (GENIUS!! Right? But the real question to ask yourself is why is it ok to bike in a bathing suit, but weird to run in one? Or is that just me?)
Transition 2: 0:51
I ran out of transition two tossing on my hat just behind that group of three teenage girls that had blocked me on the bike. This time my dad was yelling “Nine. You’re nine!” as I passed by. I knew I was going to take those three girls and I figured Blond 32 couldn’t be far ahead. Things were looking up. And by up, I also mean literally up.
First order of business on the run, was a hill. “Who put this hill here?” I shouted to the teenagers who started to giggle. After a short ways, we came to a race volunteer who interestingly enough directed one of the girls one way and the rest of us the other. Hmmm…”This is the way for the mini sprint right?” I shouted and they shook their heads yes. Our run was 1.5 miles. The other run was 3 and I wasn’t feeling particularly up to that at that very moment.
As the first teenager circled around to join us, we headed down a well beaten path. Trail. Hadn’t really expected that (it would certainly do me well to read a course description from time to time now wouldn't it?), but it was a short run and there were plenty of paved paths around so I figured we’d pop out onto one at any time.
We didn’t. Almost the whole run was trail, and by trail I mean dirt, ruts, twigs, leaves. Not paved bike path which is what I actually mean when I say trail referring to what I usually run on. I’ve been wanting to get into real trail running, so this was a nice little taste. Definitely a bit slower, but I really enjoyed it. Think I’ll wait though until after my fall marathon before taking on the tricky terrain again.
Fairly early on I passed two of the teenagers, but one decided to give me a run for my money. I stayed hot on her heels as we passed someone else and than ran down this extra muddy portion that had a couple of boards for you to run across so you wouldn't get stuck in the mud (one of which I fell off of. Doh!) I could tell this young girl was really working hard to stay in front of me and the mom in me started to come out. I warned her she needed to turn her bib around before we crossed the finish (I didn’t want her get dq’d for something stupid. Chances are it was her first tri too). Then I started toying around with the idea of letting her beat me if it was close, kind of like I do for my daughter. I mean, I bet she’d feel terrific crossing that finish line knowing she held me off.
But then, maybe just past half way, we hit a huge hill and just before we started up it. She asked me if I thought we were close to the finish and I knew that meant she was probably tanked. I told her I thought we were pretty close and then passed her on the way up. I’ve got no problem stepping off to boost a young girl’s self esteem, but I’m not about to hand it to her. We’d probably both just wind up getting run down by someone else anyway.
So then I set my thoughts to Blond 32. Where could she be? Did she really get that far ahead of me? I was coming out of the woods and nearing the finish and still I couldn’t see her in front of me. In fact, couldn’t see anybody in front of me. I hate not having someone to chase down.
I passed my brother-in-law and nephew. So I ran a little faster. Then I passed my husband who let me know I had someone right on my tail. Honestly my first though was “Screw you. I don’t care. I’m way too tired to run any faster, plus I know it’s that teenage girl and she’s not in my age group anyway!” But he was standing there with my 4 year old, and on second thought, I didn’t want anybody passing me in front of them if I could help it, age group or not. So I picked it up again.
The run to the finish was downhill (Sweet! But why do I always lean to the side when I run?):
And if you look very carefully to the left (my right side) you will see…dun da da duuuuun….Blond 32! Except I did not take her on the run. She actually ran a faster pace than me, apparently I took her on the transition winding up winning my age group by just 4 seconds.
Of course, I didn’t see this picture until well after the race. So you can only imagine my shock and confusion at finding out I won my age group. Not that I was complaining.
But then it got a little bit weirder because later that night, when I checked the overall results, Blond 32 was missing. Best I can tell, she was listed originally in the wrong age group, so it turns out that despite the jet black number written on her leg, we weren’t actually competing for the same prize anyway.
1.5 Mile Run Time: 12:16 (8:11 pace)
Finishing Time: 1:05:21
Overall, I finished 10th out of 200something (I know it sounds like I was 5th from the story, but there was another wave of participants that started 15 minutes after my wave and 4 of them snuck in there with a faster time). So not too shabby for my first time eh? I’ll take it. Definitely a learning experience with the most important thing learned being this: if you do actually finish a race near the front of the pack and race happens to offer free massages, get right over to the massage tables, otherwise you’ll still have to wait (can NOT believe I didn’t think of that sooner).
Training my future triathletes.
P.S. RoadID is having a major giveaway. Click here to check it out. Although, I'm assuming the competition is pretty steep on that one. For a RoadID giveaway with slightly better odds, go check out mine.