I'm an Olympian!

Well, maybe not an Olympian, but I finished! Yesterday, I participated in my first ever Olympic distance triathlon, which isn't saying much as it was only my third ever overall triathlon. Considering how I prepared for the race (eating like crap and not training for two weeks due to illness) and how I felt going into the race (like crap, I'm still taking a bunch of meds and not feeling any better), my only real goal for the race was to finish.

Much to my excitement, as my wetsuit is still closer to the enemy end of the spectrum than the friend end, the water temperature was 80 degrees, meaning it was too warm for wetsuits to be allowed for use according to USAT rules. Regardless of this fact, I was still trying to shake off the nerves that came as a result of a swim in an earlier race which consisted of cold temperatures, strong winds, and choppy water. After the first couple anxious strokes, I realized that swimming amongst the waves and splash that is produced from a frantic triathlon start is still far better than the sort produced naturally. Also, as I gradually dropped back (I am that slow), the waves and splashing slowly subsided, that is until the wave behind me started to gain. However, the only athletes who caught me were those who are more fish than human anyways, so I hardly noticed their presence as they flashed by me. In my previous two races, I had to stop at least once to catch my breath, usually before I even reached the first buoy. I was more concerned this time, as I had suddenly jumped from a race with two buoys, to a race with seven buoys. This turned out to be another area of huge success for me as I only needed to stop once, and it wasn't because I needed to catch my breath. Rather, after spotting for a buoy when I was ten feet away, I figured I was in the clear to pass it. There was also no one in front of me for at least another 20 feet. I put my head back down, took a few strokes, and WHAM! slammed my hand into something hard. I look up, wondering what the hell I could have possibly hit when I thought I was clear of everything. After composing myself for a minute, I realized that I had hit the buoy anyways. I guess in all aspects of my life, even in athletics, I am still a klutz.

After fighting off monstrous buoys and slithery seaweed, I bounded out of the water, pleased with my much improved swim, and more so, my much improved mentality about the swim part of the race. I hurried through transition, not really bothering to dry off as it was already at least 80 degrees outside, and predicted to get even warmer. I hopped on my bike and sped off down the street. "Sped" is an accurate description of what I did for the first four miles or so of the race. "Gradually puttering" up the mile long hill more accurately describes what I did between miles four and five. And as the old saying goes, what goes up must come down. Most of the rest of the 12 mile lap was down, however, I didn't make it to the end of the first lap without having a short, err, long detour, my first ever flat. I had the gear that I needed to change it, but lacked the knowledge to do so. After waiting for approximately 45 minutes, give or take, the bike mechanic finally arrived to help me change the tire. I powered through the rest of the lap, as well as the second. As I was biking the second lap, I was pretty confident that I was the only biker left. It was the most frustrated and lonely I have ever felt in a race. It was embarrassing to have people saying, "Way to stay in it", "Way to finish", "Way to suck it up" because they thought I was that bad on the bike course.

As I finished the last lap of the bike course, I was informed that I was indeed the last person on the bike course. I also saw Benny cheering me on and letting me know that I wasn't far behind the second to last person, and that I could probably catch a couple of people on the run. I quickly asked as I threw up my hair in a ponytail and put my visor on if he was done already. He sadly informed me that he had to DNF. This motivated me that much more to do well on the run. I was on a mission. Mainly, I didn't want to be last. I didn't want anyone there to think that I am a terrible triathlete, because I'm not. I didn't want to give them reason to believe that I hadn't put in the time or training to do well in this race, because I did. And only my husband and I knew how much I was struggling health wise just to finish this race. When I arrived at the first water station, 1 1/2 miles into the run, I still hadn't passed anybody. A little boy was also excited to inform me that I was in last place. I smiled, bit my lip and ran on. I was hot. There was no breeze and the sun just beat down on me. By this point, it was at least 90 degrees, and my congestion and runny nose were really getting the best of me. Part of me wanted to hurry because, at the very least, I didn't want the race organizer to be waiting around for me to finish. I also kept thinking in the back of my mind that there is still a possibility that I won't finish last. Another part of me just wanted to relax, not over do it, and just finish, regardless of placement or what others might think of me, and just get my revenge at Timberman. As I got to mile 2, I could finally see the person in front of me. It didn't take me long to pass her at my slow 10 min/mile pace as she was mostly walking. As I got closer to the turn around point, I saw a couple walking back the other direction. I was hoping they were walking for more than just a quick break so I could have a chance at passing them too. As I continued towards the turn around, I started to question if I accidentally took a wrong turn as I found myself running down a beaten down path in the middle of a farm instead of in a forested state park like the rest of the run. It turned out to be the right way and I had finally made it to the half way point. On the way back, I made it my goal to take a quick break at water stations, but to otherwise run the rest of the way. It didn't take me long to pass the couple as they were walking the rest of the race. The way back wasn't as long as the way out. With about a quarter mile left, I saw Benny cheering for me at the top of the hill, taking pictures of me in my nearly melted and completely snotty state. I finished the run in at a slower than usual time for me for a 10K, but I had finished the race, and I wasn't last or even second to last.

As a quick recap, here are the race distances and my times:
Swim - 0.9miles (1550 yards), 43:29
Bike - 24 miles, 2:17:55 (I wish I could take out all that flat tire time)
Run - 6.2 miles (10K), 1:02:56
Overall - 4:08:57


Derek said...

Sorry to read about the flat, but those things happen sometimes. Great finish!

Barb said...

Congrats on the finishing! Huge accomplishment.

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