I wake up at 5 in the morning to pouring rain outside the Days Inn motel where I stayed for the weekend in Tappahannock, Virginia. Its race day, it’s not supposed to be pouring outside. Immediately the butterflies were flying through my stomach. This was the most nervous I had been in the past 6 years about competing in a triathlon. I tried to calm myself down by turning on the television but watching The Weather Channel didn’t seem to calm my nerves one bit. I decided to get all my stuff together and leave to make my way to the race site down the road in Warsaw, Virginia. Maybe just maybe if I was at the race site it would calm my nerves down.
A few minutes short of 7 am I arrived at the Naylor’s Beach Campground in Warsaw, for the rain to start coming down harder, great, just what I need. I got my bike and my gear out of the car and headed to transition. I decide to go for my warm up run going away from the campgrounds. I ran for a good half mile before turning around to head back. It felt good to get away from the triathlon site and helped calm my nerves down just that much. By the time I got back to transition to check on my stuff more triathletes had shown up and transition was really buzzing about the rain we were getting.
The next thing I knew it almost 8:45 and transition would be closing. The best part of transition closing was the rain had finally stopped. My nerves calmed down a lot but that wasn’t the end of it. I went back to grab my wetsuit, goggles, and cap to head to the swim start to get a short warm up in. The water temperature was right at 75 degrees; cool enough to wear the wetsuit. At first when I stepped in the water felt very chilly but once I started swimming, the water felt nice. I only got a good 100 meters or so in before Laurie, the race director asked everyone to get out of the water so she could do a short race briefing. After the briefing it was time to get the triathlon going. I had to wait 20 minutes and 4 waves till I started so I just hung out with the mobs of triathletes in the Rappahannock River to keep warm. As soon as the wave with white caps went off, I was the first pink cap to swim out to the start.
As the horn blew, I was off in a mob scene of kicking, pushing, pulling, yanking, and screaming as we made out way out to sea for the swim. Pass the 2 orange buoys and headed out to the yellow buoy to make the left turn for the long part of the swim. I swam straight as can be, but my luck of swimming in a straight line would change. As I’m swimming past the first 2 buoys I sighted to see that I was going out to sea. Great, just like always, now my swim time will be horrendous as usual because I can’t swim straight. I then made my way back to buoys and swam right next to them to make sure I didn’t go out to sea again. Towards the end of the long part I started passing caps of triathletes that went off before me and soon enough was making my way towards the swim finish. I hopped out of the water, tore my wetsuit off, grabbed my bike gear, and was off.
The roads were still wet so going out I took it easy and didn’t start pounding right away. The roads curved, twisted, went up and down, it was kind of scary especially being on wet roads. My nerves on the bike calmed down for a bit, but soon hit me again. As I approached a big down hill and got my speed up, I felt great until we hit a hard left turn to see two huge uphill’s at a 7% grade in front of me. I dropped to my small chain ring, started spinning, and geared until I could spin no more. At that point I fell over off my bike and had to walk the remainder of the hill. The nerves of not being able to finish the bike with a few more bad hills crept into my mind. As soon as I got up the hill, I got back on the bike to try to start pounding again. The hills, the winds, the curves, the turns made it to hard, I would have to live with a bad bike split for the day. After going down the big hill towards the next big uphill I was determined to make it up, and I did. I was so proud of myself at that point I didn’t really seem to care what the last big hill would bring me. Well the last big hill of the day brought my nervousness back to another all time high. I went back to the small chain ring and spun, spun, spun again until I couldn’t spin any longer. This time I caught myself before the bike toppled over and yet again walked up the remainder of the hill. As the other triathletes came by they encouraged me to keep on going, which helped calm me and my nerves down. The hills were done and pretty much so was the bike. About 1 hour and 25 minutes later it was nice to come back into transition with volunteers and spectators lining the streets to cheer me back in. I was soon in transition, racked my bike, put on my running shoes, running hat, and race number and was off to tackle the warm non shaded run course.
As I got out on the run course and realized there was no shade I was hoping that I would finish the race in one piece unlike other races in the past. I was nervous the warm sun would get to me and ruin my race, but it didn’t. I shuffled along passing traithletes one by one as they faded on. At every aide station I grabbed 2 cups of water, one to drink and one to pour over my head. As the race went on my run got stronger and stronger, or at least I felt that way. The course was out and back so once to the turnaround cone, I was relieved, only 3.1 miles left. As I came back the sun got warmer but I didn’t that stop me from passing even more people on my way back. I made it back to the finish in one piece. As I came into the finish all the spectators cheered me on, which is great as always. I heard my name as I approached the finish line and was happy to be done.
After all the nervousness before and during the race, I placed tops in my age group and placed in the top half overall.