June 7th, 2014 I am getting ready to tri something totally new for me. My first triathlon is tomorrow morning and I’m feeling like a fish out of water. Packing for a Tri is a bigger deal than a typical road race. Swim goggles, swim cap, socks and shoes, helmet, all three numbers are in their proper place. I’m sure it was amazing to watch, if anybody were watching. I was texting and Facebook messaging buddies for help. I finally got it all packed up and headed to bed.
I didn’t count on getting much sleep, and I was right. Too excited and nervous all at the same time to sleep. I think I might have gotten an hour that night.
June 8th, 3:50am I decided to get up and start getting around. Quick shower, double check my bag, waffle with peanut butter for breakfast. I had time to go see my Cedar Hill Running Club peeps off on their morning run. Emily and I went to pick up Adam and Angela and off to the lake we went.
We arrived about 5:35 and found our way to the transition area. They checked our helmets for safety, bike number and body marked us. They used a sharpie to write our number on our left arm, left leg and our age on our right leg. Alright, off to find some prime real estate for TA. We set up at the entry side of TA to make the climb out of the water shorter. Basically put everything on my pink and white towel in an order that made sense to me. By this time we had found our buddy James and I’d gotten to meet Kyle in person for the first time. We’ve been fb friends for several years, just never met in person. Kyle has been a great mentor to me.
So now we are just sort of hanging out. Then the weather starts to turn. Looks like rain clouds and the wind is kicking up. Somebody looked at me and said, you need to get your timing chip. Excuse me, my what? We found the table to pick up our chips that strapped to our ankle. Ok, now we are ready. With about 10 minutes before the transition area closed, I took off my shoes and headed to the pre race meeting. We started the meeting off with a short prayer. Very cool I thought!
With lots of different races happening at the same time, it was sort of confusing as they gave instructions. Bottom line for me, swim around the yellow buoys. Take off after the first wave. Got it! Everything else made perfect sense. I just need to survive the water, I kept telling myself. The waves were getting bigger and I was getting nervous. There were motor boats as well as kayaks in the water, that helped calm my nerves a little. We entered the water before we were to start. The water was 79 degrees so it was nice and warm. When we started, I waited a little bit walking out slowly then hit the swim. I quickly realized that I couldn’t see a thing. I also realized the waves were covering me. I think I was swimming really fast to start with cause Adam said I swam right over the top of him. I panicked. Dang it. I panicked big time. I rolled to my back and kicked and floated along. I would roll over and take about 4 strokes then to my back. Around the first buoy wasn’t horrible. Between the bouys was straight into the wind and surf. Holy cow this isn’t good. I’m in panic mode, but I kept moving. Getting blown off course was easy to do. I made it to the second bouy and reached for a kayak to rest. Shortly after I got there, a 10 year old boy and his Dad joined me. I told the boy he was doing a great job and off I went again. I’d drank about half the lake and was sinking fast, atleast it felt like it. I called to another kayak for help and he came right over. I hung on for a bit and told the guy I didn’t think I could finish. Yes, I really said those words outloud. I was in a panic! He looked at me and said, yes you can , I’ll stay right with you. He cheered me all the way in, I could hear him it was kinda cool actually. When I got to where I could walk, I did. I was spent! There were people offering encouragement as we exited the water so I began a slow run up the TA to get ready for the bike. I remember Adam was there and I said, I suck and laughed.
Quickly sat down and dried my feet, socks and shoes on. I don’t use clips so I was in my running shoes. Helmet on and buckled and off I went. Running along side my bike to the mount line. Quick mount and off I go. Grab a gear and get some speed. Well wouldn’t ya know it, now it’s raining. Oh well I’m already wet. I knew I would have mostly head wind out(going south) to the turn around. At times it poured and the wind made the rain sting my skin. Just keep going, that’s all I could do. I spotted another competitor ahead of me. My first thought was “roadkill”. I pumped even harder. I managed to pass 4 on the bike I think. I was shocked that we had a headwind on the way back as well. I managed to hold an average just over 16mph. Not bad in the wind. It was a rather uneventful ride for the most part. It was kind of cool to ride a road I’ve driven many many times.
Back at TA to take off on the run. Dismount the bike before the line and those first few steps and a little wobbly to say the least. I ran back to my TA setup and toss the bike onto the rack. Helmet off, running cap in and pull my race belt up and off I go.
The run is a 1.5 mile loop ran twice. I knew my conditioning is not where it needs to be right now, so why did I take off at sub 8 min miles? Thankfully I checked this at about the 1/2 mile mark and adjusted accordingly. The first lap felt good and I was glad to be in my element. I came around for lap 2 and heard James and Emily cheering for me, that always feels good to hear folks cheering for ya. About half way into lap two I developed a side stitch that nearly made me throw up, twice. I literally stopped, I thought sure in was gonna hurl. I’m certain it was all the fish poop trying to make it’s great escape from my body. I stopped at a water station to wash out my mouth, the taste was awful! I told those volunteers “I remember telling people that it’s only a 5k I can do that in my sleep. Ha!! Right, only a 5k at which I had panicked big time on the swim and help just over a 16mph pace with headwinds out and back on the bike. Whew, I had a laugh and took off again. It was cool to see Adam twice on the run as well as my buddy Kyle.
All in all, I accomplished my goals for my first Triathlon. The first goal was to survive the swim, I did. The second goal was to learn a lot, I did. We hung around for a while before packing up our soaking wet gear at transition and heading to the car.
I did not look at my times as I typically don’t care much. However since this is my first, I must list my splits
Swim – 16:15 (500 yards)
T1 – 2:27
Bike – 44:12 (12.5 miles)
T2 – :57
Run – 28:02
Total time 1:31:55
When I saw the swim time I laughed. I felt like I was I the water for hours. Ha!
Outside of the panic in the water, I had a blast and I can’t wait to do it again!!
Thanks to my family for their continued support as I get closer and closer in my epic goal of being an Ironman. There are many of you who serve as mentors in one form or fashion, thanks for allowing me to pick your brain and soak up your experience.
I have work to do… Let the fun begin.