I got up this morning energized, ready to hit the road to do the sprint distance triathlon that I signed up for over 6 months ago. (500m swim, 14 m bike, 5K run) I intended to do the springfling tri; but, the day before the tri I did a half marathon, in May, and I was pretty worn out after the 13.1 mile run. I called the race director, Cheri, to tell her I couldn't do the tri. Luckily, Cheri offered to move my entry into the fall race. This worked out well for me, because I am in the last few weeks of training for the Chicago Marathon, on Oct 11 (only 2 weeks away), and used this latebird tri as a cross training workout.
I arrived an hour early for the tri and found they were running ahead of schedule. This turned out well since I was positioned to start in a late heat. And I like to "get it over with".
I picked up my packet and was marked with my number. I positioned my bike on the race rack. I went to watch the swimmers in the pool. This is a time for me to prepare mentally for the race. I always get nervous doing the triathlons because I'm afraid of swimming. I'm proud that I actually do it. I swim breaststroke; it may not be fast but it allows me to keep me relaxed. I tend to tense then breath when I'm not supposed to, sucking water when I breathe. The less water I drink while swimming these races, the better!
I talked with Joan, as I stood waiting to check in 10 minutes before my heat. Joan is a good friend, has been a college & USS swim coach for decades, and is a very seasoned swimming expert. I shared my fears of swimming. I mentioned that it took me several times to pass beginners swimming when I was 4 years old. She gave some suggestions on perfection; you don't have to have a perfect stroke to swim. I talked with her about my goal to do an Ironman. I told Joan that I decided to dive in and learn more about the Ironman (time it takes for preparation, training, eating, and the actual race), by doing my first 1/2 Ironman 3 weeks ago and volunteering for the Madison Ironman. The 1/2 Ironman went surprisingly well, I was 'very' strong in the run, but needed work in both the swim and bike. I handed out water at both the bike and running aid stations, during the Ironman, and was able to get a better understanding how much effort I will need to put in to prepare for the Ironman, and I realize I am not ready. l told Joan that I need to work on my swim and bike techniques. Joan offered to help me learn swim techniques and offered to meet me a few times a week to help me out. She said many times you need to learn to relax while swimming. If a person is tense in the water they don't swim very well. I was relieved and took her up on the offer.
I excused myself to hit the bathroom one more time, before my swim, and then headed over to check in for my heat.
I sat on the side of the pool waiting with my group to be called to approach the pool. I was the 3rd in my heat, which I wasn't too sure about. Last time I was first, which allowed me the freedom to go at a good pace. My time is very slow, but wasn't sure how things would work out. The official led the three of us to lane 1 and told us the rules. He gave us permission to get in the water. In a few seconds, he gave each of us a ten second difference to start our swim. I kicked off the edge. Breaststroke! I know it's a slower stroke, but I'm comfortable with it, can set cadence to my breathing and able to see where I'm swimming. I heard Gina cheering for me on the deck. This helped me calm down, knowing someone was there to help me along the way. After a few laps I lost count of my number, I was supposed to swim 20 lengths or 10 laps. I stopped by the end of the lane to ask the guys, who were recording my laps, what number I was on. I was a little confused with their response, because I was counting in laps and they told me the lengths. I tensed with worry. They said 6 and I thought I was on 8, which means I was really on 12 lengths, farther along than I thought. I kept swimming and passed both swimmers. Eventually, the 1st swimmer tried to catch up and kept hitting me in the feet as I swam. This was another distraction during the swim. I finally saw the red flag, which meant only 1 more lap to go, at the end of the pool. I kept a smooth cadence the last lap. I got out of the pool and headed to the transition area to get ready for the 14 mile bike.
I took my time in the transition area, dried off, put on my socks, shoes and helmet. I drank my powdered protein drink. (I love that stuff, it tastes really good!) I walked my bike out of the transition area to start my ride. I knew the course since I've done this race 2 times prior to this race, so I felt pretty confident, I was going over 20 mph the first few miles. I hit the turn 4 miles in and the wind hit me with tremendous force, and that threw my planned average mph off. I was going a slower speed than planned. I worked hard to keep the average that I planned, going under some times, but stay determined the whole length, wind hitting me strong. I kept my average bike pace, only going below when I hit some hills and wind at the same time during mile 11-12. I made it in and took my time during transition.
Drank some more powdered protein drink, changed into my running shirt and cap and walked to the run start. I started running where my chip got activated and felt really strong. I ran really well. I passed the first two runners and ran up the trail hill. The soft ground in the wildlife reserve felt so good to run on!!! The first mile had a pretty good hill, but I run this course for training, so I was pretty strong running the hill. I passed my next 2 runners, on the sidewalk for a short stint, and then turned back on the reserve trail, which again was so great to run on. They had a table with cups filled with water; I grabbed some water and kept going. I ran more and passed another runner and hit the 1/2 mile bridge that runs along the marshy area of the reserve. I thought to myself, wow, I'm really feeling strong during the run, and it feels great. Keep going with it. I ran through the woods for the next mile and then hit the field which was the mark for one more mile to go. I ran around the field corner, picked up a water cup, and saw two runners walking. I kept running my pace, passing the first guy and then was up to the next guy, who mumbled something. I said what? And he said, "Where did you come from?" It took me a while to respond, pausing I said, "I just keep chugging along". Then passed him and turned to run up the hill along the residential area of the field. I saw someone in a red shirt in front of me about 500 yards, and I just kept running. Eventually, I caught up with her and passed her the last 100 of the race. I ran down the hill and saw the finish line up the sidewalk. I ran to the finish very strong.
I wasn't sure about my time, because of the bike and the strong wind, but it was an awesome cross training workout!!!! I took a shower and went out to see what my results were. I came in at my regular swim time (slow but finished), 2 minutes slower on the bike and 2 minutes faster on the run.
I was very proud to have accomplished this training race today.
Perfect weather and challenging conditions.
Well worth the trip!!! =)