Me and my awesome new pal, Christine.
My TriathaMom was a couple of Saturdays ago and I know you've all been on the edge of your computer seats just waiting to hear about it.
I made an awesome new friend, Christine, who gave me a ride up on Saturday morning. We left early so we would have time to drive the bike course before registration started and we talked about how nervous we were the whole way there. (It was her first one, too.) We found the starting point, got lost on the bike course and made it back (with help from my phone's GPS) well before registration ended.
I got my body markings (race numbers on the arms, age on the left calf) and we went to set up our bikes in the transition area. I was happy to see that ours were not the only mountain bikes, although road bikes were definitely there in abundance. As the sun started to come up we took advantage of the short lines at the port-a-potties and then played the waiting game until start time.
As we walked into the pool area my concerns about being too cold were immediately put to rest. In fact, it was almost too warm inside the rec center. As Christine and I found a place to sit near the pool I noticed that the pool was 13 feet deep at one end and had a small 5 foot deep shelf-with-drop-off on the other end. I immediately started to stress out over this. One thing they stated on their website was that if you needed to walk the swim, you could. I was comforted by the fact that I could walk if I tired out - alas, I am not 13.5 feet tall. From that point until the time I exited the swimming pool I am fairly certain I exhausted myself with anxiety.
Just before the swim began a gal with a microphone hooked into the rec center's speaker system talked about something for 5-10 minutes. There was so much chatter going on that I could not understand a word - but luckily the instructions filtered through the crowd and we all realized that those with the fastest starting times needed to head up to the front of the pack. I knew I could do the swim in about 20 minutes or less so I ended up being just in front of the women who were using kickboards for the swim. I almost cried a few times, almost completely gave up once, watched as some of the starting swimmers returned from their bike ride, but after roughly an hour I was able to start swimming.
People using kickboards passed me, one sweet gal even asked if I was okay and if I wanted to share her kickboard, but I finished the swim second from last. A paramedic stood where I exited the pool and asked, "How are you feeling? Can you do the bike and run?" I told him I was going to finish this thing, no matter what, and didn't even try to run to the transition area because I was completely worn out.
I toweled myself off, laced up my shoes, snapped my helmet on and headed for the start of the bike portion. As I left the transition area a volunteer called, "LAST BIKE OUT!" I started to pedal and could never really gain any momentum because the first 4 miles was a gradual uphill slope. However, I had promised myself that I would NOT walk any of the bike ride because that would be just silly. I passed a couple of women with flat tires and one gal who was walking her bike. I offered words of encouragement and they did the same. At the end of the 4th mile was what I heard many of the other racers dub 'Sick Hill'. I shifted my bike into the lowest possible gear and s l o w l y made my way up it. It about killed me when the chain slipped and I had to dismount to fix it. Talk about jello for legs - and I still had 7 miles to go! Once I crested Sick Hill it was pretty smooth sailing from there on out. There were a couple of magical downhills where I'm pretty sure I was flying. At one point a white van pulled up alongside of me - my family! They were there to cheer me on. What a boost! That gave me the burst of energy I needed to finish up the bike ride.
I hurried in to the transition area once again to ditch my bike helmet ("Nice hair!" Allen called out to me, laughing. I had serious helmet-head with my natural curls frizzing out along the bottom. So I quickly put my hair into a ponytail, too.) and head out for the 5K. As I left the volunteer directed me to the 'after-party'. "I'm just starting the 5K," I told him. "Where do I go?" He instructed me to follow the green arrows and then called, "LAST RUNNER OUT!" (What the heck is that all about, anyway??) I started at a speed-walking pace and eventually decided to see how my legs would respond to a slow jog. It actually felt pretty good! I passed up a couple of women who were walking this portion and some of my kids ran the last mile or so with me. I would say I probably ran at least 2 of the 3 miles. Go me!
As I came in to the finish I was ready to cry. I did it. I could now call myself a triathlete! I got my cool finisher's necklace:
At this point I pretty much just wanted to fall asleep.
When I got home I looked up the results to see where I finished. Out of 331 women I placed 321st. However, the most important thing was that I finished at all since I was really only competing against myself.
Would I ever do this again? Probably not. After my anxiety over the long wait to swim in a 13 foot deep pool and a bike ride geared towards beginners which exhausted me to no end, I think I'm going to call it good and stick with running.
In conclusion: I came. I swam. I biked. I ran. I finished.