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Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Great Day to Tri

Last Saturday I ran my second triathlon. 
Here's an account of the day, and hopefully it inspires you to tri.

Beep, beep, beep.

Slowly I roll over. Ironically, I've been up since 2 a.m., so the alarm awoke no one, instead it only made the silence of the morning more noticeable. I spent the night at my step brother's house in Bettendorf to eliminate the 45 minute drive from IC.

It's Triathlon day.

Butterflies are fluttering in my belly, and I fervently try to remember everything I need. I Make sure to get the water bottles from the freezer and find they are frozen shut. Grr...

Grabbing all my bags I head upstairs to make oatmeal and eat a banana even though the butterflies aren't really hungry. I throw it all together in a cup, swipe a spoon and decide I'll eat in the truck at the park.

All my ruckus wakes Zoey who thinks I'm a thief as she growls, but of course stays on the safety of the stairs. Her growls wake my step-brother and his wife who is eight months pregnant. Ugh...that's the last thing I wanted to do.

I scoot out of the house, and head to the park.

It's a foggy morning. "Please don't rain," I think as a light mist coats my windshield.

I make it to the park 15 minutes before it opens, and I decide to follow the race director's advice and park at the church down the street and bike into the park.

Eating my oatmeal I crank the radio "Hold your glasses up, people everywhere Now everybody put your hands in the air say Yeah, Yeah, Yeah..." (Chris Brown is an ass, but he can make a kick ass pump you up song.)

Post oatmeal fuel I start hydrating and hydrating and hydrating.

I hop out of the truck and slap my race numbers on my bike, helmet and race belt. I already sport two 525 tats on each bicep, oh and the infamous age on my calf (which took two days to come off).

Once done I'm ready to ride. Slinging my tri bag over my shoulder I pedal my way into the park with a couple of other racers. "I wish this counted for our miles," one of them joked. I agreed.

In the park I find my place in the transition area and unpack. For those of you that have never done a tri or even been to one. Here's how it works. The transition area is home base. After each event you come back to home base and get what you need for the next leg. It's about the size of hand towel, which I lay out along with my running shoes, hat, swim cap, goggles, and a veritable array of sport energizers including GU (espresso and chocolate) and energy beans.

After getting settled I head to the line for the port 'o potty. I hate these things. I ALWAYS squat never letting my delicate tush touch the bacteria laden seat. However, when I squat my head has a tendency to hover right over the urinal. FREAKING gross, but when you gotta go, you gotta go.

I have about an hour to hang out before the race. I talk to a couple of racers, many of them doing it for the first time. "This is the perfect tri for first-timers," I tell them, and I instantly see the relief in their eyes.

I stretch and eventually decide to put on my wetsuit. The water is 77 degrees, one degree warmer and wetsuits wouldn't be allowed. Thank goodness for the cold spell during the week prior. A wetsuit not only keeps you warmer, but it helps with buoyancy.

The minute I get the wetsuit over my hips, I have to pee again. Damn...seriously. I'm like a freaking sausage squished into this thing. I ponder waiting the 20 minutes till we get to the water and just peeing in the lake, but I couldn't wait. This time the potty line was longer than I've seen during the Iowa Football Homecoming game.

Eventually, I go again. And it's time to head down to the water. In years past there has been a card table for eyeglasses, unfortunately this year no table. I had to hike back to the transition area to ditch the specs. Immediately, I'm blind. Grrrr....I hate this feeling, complete disorientation.

I head to the water to warm up and yes I pee again in the lake. I'm telling you people when you gotta go, you gotta go. Heck it made the water one should care...right?

Then it was time to line up. They have racers place themselves in the time bracket they think it will take them to swim. I underestimate because I don't want to be stuck at the end like last time. I need the motivation of other racers around me.

After the National Anthem it's time to go. Sets of two head off into the murky water. Splashing and gliding. Before I even start the swim the first person is done. His time five minutes...WTH. WOW!

Patiently I wait. Finally, it's my turn. The horn sounds. I run as fast as I can into the water, and when I can't touch anymore I make the dive in and begin doing a modified crawl to gain some space between me and my partner. Halfway to the first buoy and my mind hasn't caught up with my body. I begin breathing too hard...short shallow breaths and know this isn't right. My body wants to go, but my mind rebels demanding to go back to the comforts of the shore. Immediately I roll on my back, do the back stroke and stare at the sky. "Relax," I tell myself. "You've done this before."

Eventually, it works. And I'm more relaxed. Until halfway to the finish line a girl runs me over and swims over top of me dunking my head in the water. It took all my will-power not to swim after her and kick her ass, but I knew she didn't mean it. She was doing what she needed to in order to finish the race.

The moment I could touch the sand I ran. I ran back to home base, ripping off my wetsuit in the process. Putting socks on wet feet is like herding cats. It can be done but it takes lots of patience. Hands shaking I down another GU (slimy energy gel that must be taken with a water chaser.) Helmet on and bike in hand I jog to the bike route, and out I pedal ready for the next leg.

I love to bike, so this was much more relaxing for me. As relaxing as a race can be of course. I pedal and pedal, gears clicking as I head uphill and downhill around curves and back again. All the while elite racers on road bikes wiz past me. "I need a better bike," I keep thinking.

Racing into the park, I dismount and make my way to home base to grab my race belt and hat. Note to self, put race belt on prior to biking then you can just ditch the bike and go.

At the entrance to the run route I start "running". I use this term lightly as we all know I don't run, it's more like a grandma-type jog. But I did it, making my way through the trail and around the John Deere Tractor at the halfway point, slapping the tire as I ran by. A racer next to me suddenly stopped running and I cheered him on encouraging him to run with me. "Come on," I said, "You can keep up with me, I run like an old lady. Think about the celebratory beer you can have later." He ran with me for a while, but eventually started walking. I left him behind as he wished me good luck.

I ran and ran. The last leg into the park felt like it took forever, but once I saw all the people. Little girls doing choreographed cheers for the racers, other racers on the sidelines cheering us on and of course the glimpse of the finish line. I dug deep and found my inner strength and sprinted to the end.


My race chip crossed the finish line. I was done.

Immediately tears welled up in my eyes.

"I ran the whole way," I said to the race volunteers handing me water. "I ran all the way."

They gave me a high five.

Home base was calling my name. I needed to call B2 and find out where they were.

"We just got off the interstate," he said. "I'm sorry we missed it."

"It's ok," I said.

I wasn't sad this time. There were no regrets. I was pumped. I felt invincible, and now I can't wait to do another. My time was two hours flat. I took a half hour off my time from two years ago. Awesome!

Now I'm ready to tri again!


At June 26, 2011 , Blogger Gem said...

I loved this post, it really made me feel like I was there with you : )I think you did amazingly, I could never do anything like this, I'm not the most athletic person haha. Well done xxx

At July 01, 2011 , Blogger Elisa Black said...

Wow-- thanks for sharing your tri experience! It was interesting to read an insider's perspective. great photos of you-- and you are smiling in all of them! I can't believe you're ready to do another one!! Congrats to you on all your hard work and prep and for improving your time! Awesome!!


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