Today, I did something that I’ve been wanting to do for over a year now.
I completed a triathlon and lived to tell the tale. 😉
Yesterday after a long morning of class and work, Michelle and I left Mt. Pleasant to go stay with my friend Beth in E. Lansing. As always, we went to an Italian restaurant to carb up for the race. I find that I always perform my best when I eat a very heavy pasta dinner with lots of breadsticks the night before. 😉 We also got ice cream and spent the evening watching the lion king and relaxing. It was a really great way to keep our nerves at bay. All the food also helps me fall asleep really easily. I crashed hard last night and had nightmares about drowning and forgetting how to swim. My dreams before a big race day are always like that though. Before my first marathon, I had a dream about my marathon turning into a hunger games arena. x_x
I woke up this morning feeling pretty rested but nervous. I kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong. Preparing for a triathlon is a lot more involved than preparing for a running race. For running all you need is your outfit, shoes, bib and fuel! Triathlons are a lot more complicated. I kept worrying about getting hypothermia on the bike since it was so cold out and I was afraid my tri suit wouldn’t dry quickly. We got to the race site and had about an hour to kill after checking in so we relaxed, checked out the pool and prayed it would warm up a bit. Thankfully, the swim was indoors. I could not do an outdoor swim right now especially with how cold it was this morning. At about 8:30, the race directors gave us a pre-race talk about how the swim would work. It was pretty simple. They arranged us in a line and had a swimmer start every 40 seconds. I somehow got put into the front of the pack which made me very nervous. I didn’t like the idea of possibly being trampled over by people passing me. As I was waiting, I chatted with an older man in front of me who is a cancer survivor (!!!) but he was doing nothing to calm my nerves. He kept telling me about the time he was diagnosed with early stages of hypothermia during a race like this one and it was not what I needed to hear. Luckily our coach and his wife were there doing the race and they were super encouraging the whole morning. Pretty soon it was time to start the race!
Swim: The swim itself was 275 yds. We started at one corner of the pool and ended at the opposite corner. It was pretty simple and the water was really nice. This was honestly the part I was most nervous about though. I’m not a strong swimmer but I’m getting better. It’s mostly my mentality. I have an insane phobia of drowning (go figure) and I’m still learning how to trust the water and trust my abilities. I started off feeling really strong but got really nervous and started hyperventilating a bit in the middle. I used breast stroke just to get myself to calm down and then went back to front crawl and finished strong. They didn’t really do a great job of timing us but I’m pretty sure I finished in about 7 minutes.
T1: Surprisingly, I didn’t feel as cold as I thought I was going to. My adrenaline was rushing and I was just concerned with getting on my bike and starting. I dried myself off quickly with a towel, threw on two warm top top layers with my bib on it and put on my shoes and helmet.
Bike: This bike course was BRUTAL. It was a really simple out and in course but it was insanely windy from every direction. I felt like I was going to be blown off my bike at any moment. On top of that, the course was hilly. The hills where you were riding into the wind were the worst. When I saw someone biking towards me they would yell that it got better right after the turnaround point. Good! At least I had something to look forward to. I was averaging around 14 mph but on some of the hills I dropped down to like 7-8 mph. Not a fan of that. After the turnaround, it did get a little better. I never felt like I was tired on the bike which I took as a good sign that I could definitely go longer. However, the conditions were rough today. Everyone was talking about the bike being the worst part because of the crazy winds. Getting off the bike was a very interesting sensation.
T2: When I got off my bike, my legs felt awful. I did a ton of bricks during my training so I was really surprised that my legs felt so tight. I hobbled over to the bike racks and took off my helmet, drank some water and immediately went out to run.
Run: My legs did not like me during the run. The course was really pretty though! I did the best I could. I have no idea how fast I was going but I passed people and didn’t feel like I was over-exerting myself. It was just a 5k so I pushed to get it done as quickly as possible. When I got to the last stretch, I gunned it for the finish line and finished strong! My coach and his wife had finished just before me so they were there to congratulate my finish. It felt so good to be done!
This race was TINY so I honestly have no idea what my official times were. I was just focused on finishing and getting through that awful bike ride. It was a great first triathlon and I would highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to be in a very stressful environment for their first tri or if someone is not used to swimming in open water. Good job, Williamston! 🙂
After the race, we all went to IHOP, got epic pancakes and shared race stories. It was a great way to celebrate becoming triathletes! I could not have done it without my awesome classmates and our coach, Dave. You guys are the best! 😀
I learned a lot from this race. I learned that your mental game can make the difference between finishing and not finishing. I could’ve given up so many times but I’m so glad I didn’t. I’ll be doing more triathlons soon and incorporating more swimming into my workout routine. I have a long journey before I become an Ironman! 😉