Spoiler alert: I’m a triathlete!
Yesterday, I competed in my first triathlon, the Tri-It Triathlon in Bear, DE. As you can tell from the name, it’s designed to be very newbie friendly, which is exactly what I needed.
The day before the race, Kim and I drove up and went to the First Timers meeting and to the practice swim. That way, we got to get into the water and swim about 100 meters (the kids tri course). I was so glad I got in. I never got in an open water swim practice, so this was a good feeling. After swimming, I felt a lot more confident.
Race morning arrived and I was feeling pretty good. Nervous, but good. We met up with Jen and her moms, our cheering squad. Okay, they were really there to cheer on Emily, who was also doing her first tri, in the 9-10 year old age group. And Jon was probably there for Kim, seeing as they’re married and all, but they cheered for me too, so it counts.
We were pretty excited to see that the kids tri was before ours, and we all had to be out of transition when they started, which meant we had every opportunity to watch them. There were some really intense kids. And Emily did an AMAZING job!
Then it was our turn. Swim is definitely the scariest part of the tri, and the water was about 71 degrees, so I just wanted to get in and be done. We were in the second wave, so we watched the first group go off, then we waded into the water to get ready to start. I opted to be near the back of the pack since I wasn’t planning to place.
And we were off! The course was pretty simple, only 1/4 mile with two left turns. Easy peasy, right? Unfortunately, somewhere before the first turn, I got kicked in the face and got a bloody nose. It wasn’t too bad, but when I tasted the blood in my mouth, I panicked. I had a moment where I thought I was going to have to DNF, not because of an injury but because I was freaking out. So I swam to one of the paddleboarders and I was telling him that I was fine, just needed to clear my throat. Mostly, I was convincing myself I was fine though. He was SO incredibly nice and told me to do what I needed and pointed out the next paddleboarder, said it was his girlfriend, and that I could also stop there. I don’t know how long I waited – it felt like three minutes, but it was probably less than one. And then I swam on.
I just couldn’t get my rhythm though. So I did a lot of side stroke and weird breast stroke, just trying to finish. And finally, I was at the shore. Kim and I actually came out of the water at the same time. I don’t even want to know what I looked like, but I probably had a huge grin, because I was so excited to be done.
Now, transition time. The track to transition was pretty muddy, but they put down mats to try to make it easier on us.
I ran to my bike and squirted off my feet with my water bottle. I dried them with a towel and put on my socks and bike shoes. Grabbed my race number, helmet and sunglasses, and I was off. When I left, Kim seemed to be having issues with her socks. It’s amazing how the little things get complicated when you’re trying to do it quickly.
Onto the bike. I looked pretty good running out into the course. I mounted slowly and headed out. As you can see from the photo, the men’s wave was right on my heels (and some were ahead of me). But I just decided to do my best.
This course was fast and flat and I felt awesome. I didn’t push too hard, just set out and did my best. I got passed by a ton of guys, but I managed to pass a few women and that felt pretty awesome. I felt like I was finally finding my groove. I didn’t have my watch on, so I had no idea how I was doing, nor were there mile markers, so I was just cruising along.
I came back into the transition point and saw my cheer squad, but they didn’t see me. I sarcastically yelled “Thanks for the cheers, guys,” laughing, but they didn’t notice. Turns out they were yelling at the course monitors because somehow, cars kept ending up coming right into the bike course, not far from the mount/dismount line. Not good at all. I hadn’t noticed them, but I don’t know if they weren’t there or if I was just oblivious.
Reracked the bike and I was back out for the run. I couldn’t find my groove. I had a Gu and tried to set into my 1:1 pattern, but I just felt like I was struggling. I figured it was because my legs were so wobbly. At one point, a woman asked me if I was on track to podium for the Athena categories. I laughed, but it was a nice compliment!
I still didn’t know how I was doing, but by this point I had a watch on, and I knew what time it was, so I knew that my bike must have been fast. I continued to run, through the muddy course, around the turn, and headed back. At this point, I saw Kim, who looked amazing. Finally, I made the last turn to the finish.
It felt awesome to see the cheer squad out there yelling (and taking photos). I ran my strongest into the finish and I was DONE!
I got my medal and turned back to the cheer squad to cheer in Kim. We’re triathletes!
After the race, we went to check out the times. No wonder I was so tired!
Swim (1/4 mile) – 12:40
T1 – 2:21
Bike (10 miles) – 37:10
T2 – 1:22
Run – 22:55
For a final finishing time of 1:16:30. WAY faster than I planned. I am so incredibly pleased with my bike time. I had been training on hills, so this flat course was amazing. And the reason I struggled so much with the run was likely due to my tired legs, but also because I was running too fast. And the swim… well, it was pretty good, even with the freak out.
I’m so glad I finished and now I know what I need to work on for Iron Girl in August: not freaking out in the swim. I’m planning to get in as many open water swim practices as I possibly can with Team Fight and the Mid-Maryland Tri Club, and I’m going to ride the Iron Girl course on the weekends to get used to the hills. That’s my goal race for the year, and I want to finish strong.
But for now, I’m going to bask in the fact that I’m a triathlete!