I'm back from La Quinta and I'm alive! Yah, that was a goal of mine. To survive my first triathalon.
This blog has been a long time coming in my mind so I've decided to split it into two segments: physical and emotional. So now I get to tell you how I did, more specifically how I did physically.
Let me start by saying that I attended a pre-triathalon meeting with Sally Edwards on Saturday before the big event and I heard women saying things like "It took me three hours to finish my first triathalon last year" and "I walked the entire 5K."
I knew then that I had to re-adjust my goals, not that I'd really set any goals at that point. So I started thinking about how I'd been performing and what I should possibly expect from myself:
I know that lately I had finished 500 meters in a swimming pool in less than 20 minutes. I decided to be nice to myself, and I gave myself a goal of finishing the swim portion of the event in less than 30 minutes.
I also know that my cycling at a steady pace with no big inclines has been about 14 miles per hour, but when hills and such are factored in I can drop down to as low as about 10 miles per hour depending on the size of the hill. I had to complete a total of 14 miles in the race, and there were a few hills that lead out of and back into the race venue, so I gave myself a goal of finishing the cycling portion of the even in less than 90 minutes.
Finally, I know that lately I've been in the 13 or 14 minutes per mile range when I've been out running. But I have been running early in the morning when there is no heat and I've only been running about 2.5 miles each time. Also, I don't always run right after a bike ride. Sometimes I just run, ya know? With all that into account, I gave myself a goal of finishing the running portion of the event in less than 45 minutes.
That puts my grand total for the event at 2 hours and 45 minutes. That was my goal and I was sticking to it! I had my Polar heart rate monitor as my timer and I was ready to go.
So here's how things really went down:
I was in the very last group of the day, (orange cap) the mixed ages group. I had a helluva time putting my swim caps on, since I put my TYR silver swim cap on first, then my goggles, then my race issued orange cap on second. I fidgeted, I got in the (really warm) water for a bit, and then I stood around looking at all of my friends and family that had come to support me. NERVES!!!
I went down into the water, I was given a mantra for my race by Sally Edwards which was "WICKED GOOD" for all of my Massachussetts friends! And then before you know it, we were OFF!!! I did a beautiful stroke all the way out to the first turn which was about 100 meters and I made the left hand turn.
From there, something in my mind turned off and my stroke turned choppy and irratic, then I saw my best friend's eyes get big and she flipped over onto her back and did the back stroke. My head turned to mush and I started alternating between the breast stroke, freestyle, and a back stroke. About the time I reached the 400 meter marker, I had decided that I had been in the water for what seemed like an eternity and I should have not set a goal of 30 minutes for myself. It was only the first event and I had seemingly failed myself in my head.
Then I looked down at my watch and I realized that I had only been in the water for 12 minutes and I needed to shut the eff up! My mind was playing really mean tricks on me. I got out of the water (but not before tripping on a huge rock) and trailed my best friend up to the first transition.
Funny story to insert here. I had swallowed and snorted quite a bit of lake water, so as I tried to make it up to my bike I was coughing and blowing my nose a lot and saying sarcastic things like "Gee, that lake water was delicious!" Little did I realize that my father, friend's husband, and a professional photographer were all snapping away during this portion of the race. I can't wait to see the photo of the buckets of snot I was expelling!
I got up to my towel, pulled my socks on (note to self: wash rocks and dirt off feet first next time) and geared up and we were out of the transition and headed into the cycling portion in less than 20 minutes!
Booyah transition 1!
Cycling out of the park was really odd because my calves and toes started to cramp during the swim, but as soon as I hit the bike I was able to use the pedals to stretch out my legs and scoot right out of the parking lot. I climbed a few hills, hit the flat road and settled in to the get my heart rate down a bit. That's when I noticed that my trip computer on my bike had disconnected and I had no way to monitor my speed or distance.
The rest of the ride passed smoothly, a bit too smoothly actually. I found myself looking around at the amazing desert scenery and often forgetting that I was doing a race! I really wish I had a camera with me and was coordinated enought to take a photo while riding. I had to clue myself in every once in a while so that I'd speed up a bit more, but even though I was passed by a few riders, I passed more than my fair share. Each time I passed I started out by saying "ON THE LEFT" and as I rode by I'd follow up with something like "Great job" because honestly, everyone who was doing this race was great in my book.
Then I noticed around mile 9 or so that quite a few of the riders that had passed me were the very same riders that I was now passing and I congratulated myself for maintaining such a consistent speed. That was something I had struggled with in the past, and I was glad I had control over it now. I had conserved my energy well and was about to head into the park again.
I had to climb one ugly monster of a hill to enter back into transition number 2, and as I started climbing it I saw my best friend's husband standing at the top of the hill with his camera and cheering me on. Boy, did I need that. My legs burned as I huffed and puffed my way up that hill, and as I passed him I said something like "I guess it's a good thing I didn't get off and walk my bike up the hill, right?" He later told me that about 20% of the riders had walked that hill. I was glad I didn't.
As I came around the the bike rack I passed my family and smiled because I was going down hill and it was easy to smile. Thank heavens they didn't see me at the hill I just climbed. Those photos are probably hideously ugly.
Transition 2 was easy. Bike up. Dump water in mouth. Helmet off. Dumpe water in mouth. Visor on. Dump water on head. Eat 2 energy blocks. Dump water in mouth. Leave the transition.
Take that tranistion 2!
That's when I passed my best friend's family, and her brother ran along and took photos of me with his iPhone leaving the gate so I knew I had to run for the photo op! I rounded the corner and my energy left me like air out of a balloon and I had to walk for a bit. I did a steady walk-run for the first mile and counted the minutes on my watch when I saw the marker: 1:33 to 1:47. 14 minute mile. Bleh. Then I sped up for the second mile marker and I saw the greatest thing: 2:00! A 13 minute mile. Great!
The last mile felt like it took forever, but it was really about a 16 minute mile and I rounded the corner to the finish line. As I approached my best friend, who had already finished, she met me at the sand and ran the last few hundred yards as I entered the last stretch with me and I started to get tears in my eyes.
I. Was. Done.
I. Was. A. Triathalete.
I. Was. Wicked. Good.
So that's my story about how I finished a sprint triathalon in 2 hours and 17 minutes. That's nearly 30 minutes ahead of my goal and it leaves plenty of room for improvement!