Whoo-hoo! Glad I can put that one in the books because if I had to wait one more day to race, my husband probably would have smothered me in my sleep. Yes, I was that annoying and keyed-up. By the time we got to Vegas, I kind of just wanted to get it done with! But things were looking up by the time we walked into the Westin to pick up my race packet and rack my bike– something I have never done the day before a race. Finally Meghan had gone to the bathroom (she has an intense fear of automatic toilets), and the hundreds of women strolling about with their bikes and other cool stuff just put me in a good mood. In fact, looking at other people’s fancy bikes puts me in a good mood. I am (finally) starting to learn about bike components and stuff, so it’s cool to see what others have, and to see if the bike matches the person. I think mine does, if I am going for the “mom off the couch into a sprint triathlon look”:
So…I know, on with it!
We woke up at the crack of dawn for the 6:30 race start. The whole family had to come since we were staying in Henderson and the race was in Lake Las Vegas. The girls are early AM heroes at this point! I warmed up in the gym at the hotel before we went, downed coffee and a bagel, and we were off! I barely made it to transition to set up all my stuff before it was closed and we were down at the water. This event was a time-trial start where you seeded yourself, basically lining up where you wanted to swim. This kind of start is awesome for me, because you start 2 at a time, and I could line up near the front but not first. (I know, chicken). When I dove in, the water was murky but warm enough, and I felt great! I passed almost everyone in front of me by the first buoy, and kept going despite the sun in my eyes when I lifted my head to sight. At the end, there was just one person in front of me, and I took some time to slow my breathing and pace in order to transition. Plus, let’s be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure how to get back to transition (almost a quarter mile!) and I wanted someone ahead of me. Well, she stopped on the beach and I kept going alone, run/walking and laughing nervously since I wasn’t convinced I could find my way back to transition(although it was totally obvious in hindsight, thanks to you, large orange arrows).
Got to my bike, put all my gear on (yes, I will address my extraordinarily long transition time in another post, but hey, there was that long run from the beach and well…) and got out on my bike. A few people beat me out of transition, so I counted 4 people in front of me. I thought to myself, OK, prepare to be pummeled by passers-by, since that had been my previous tri experience. Somehow, I passed someone on the first hill, and kept riding. I was worried about all the hills on the course the day before, and they made it challenging, but I just kept thinking about all the things Trainer Guy taught me about riding hills and worked my gears as best I could, keeping my cadence steady. One person passed me about 5 miles in, but there was no one else out there all around. I started to think crazy people thoughts like, “Hey I am doing pretty good. I wonder how well I will end up doing?” I was deliriously happy as I approached the turnaround because there were only 5 people ahead of me, and it seemed most of the way back was downhill! Hooray! Who doesn’t love a good downhill?
Apparently, the wind. I went to turn and the wind slapped me right in the face, as if to say, “Hey dummy, this isn’t a walk in the park, you idiot!” I freaked for about 30 seconds, and then brought it back to Trainer Guy’s advice. Christine and I usually poke fun at his harping about “good circles” but focusing on that kept me from thinking about the wind and kept me moving as fast as I could. As I was getting to turn off the highway and into the resort, I started smiling. BIG. I started yelling, “Good job!” to the people on the other side starting their bike. All the way into the resort, where it was wind free and I could use the downhill for active recovery into the transition. I wish everyone could have seen my husband’s face when he saw me come down the narrow chute into transition. It was a mixture of “Oh my God, she did not die out there on that bike!” and “Holy shit, she’s doing a pretty good job!”
T2 was pretty simple (thanks speed laces, you’re both cute and functional), so it was off for the last leg. You had to run a big hill out of transition for the out-and-back 5k. Again, I panicked I didn’t have enough left in the tank to finish, but I kept telling myself to do what I could, and I would figure it out if I ended up dying out there. There were so many nice volunteers, I was sure one would scrape me from the road if necessary. I put my “thumbs up” and started running up the hill. On the second hill, I started walking because my heart rate was through the roof and my lungs were on fire. But I picked it back up, and once I saw the group of half-naked men handing out water, my pace quickened, only to stumble right in front of them and drop my cup of water (total me move). I pressed on, getting passed by a couple of women, and having to walk at least one more hill on the way back. And I kept a good spirit about it all. At this point, I have to give a little shout-out to Trainer Guy. All that crap I thought was so repetitive and annoying that he kept saying: 1) made me able to actually remember it and 2) totally worked. Just sayin’.
The downhill into the finish was awesome (again, who doesn’t love downhills?). I was flying and I was psyched because I knew I had done my best, I had fun, and I had put together an awesome race. I had to tear up a bit because I couldn’t believe how well I had done, coming off the Black Lung and not doing anything disastrous, like getting caught in my wetsuit or falling on the bike. Plus, I’m a crier. A volunteer hugged me and told me “Good job, honey!” The race director let me back into transition to get my inhaler before I had an asthma attack, and then I rolled onto the grass with the girls. I couldn’t have been happier.
Well…maybe a tiny bit happier. Apparently you can get a little happier when you hang out for the awards and delicious free breakfast (in case you’re wondering if IronGirl events are “worth it”, there’s no question!). There was a little part of me that needed to know “What if I did place in my age group?” and since they were not posting results and I do not know how/care enough to calculate everyone else’s time, I wasn’t certain about how I did. I knew my time (approximately) and when they announced my age group’s 3rd place winner, I thought, “I think my time was faster than that…”. Same with 2nd. Then I started to think “Hey, maybe my timing chip didn’t work…” and then they announced I had WON FIRST PLACE! There was some shock involved. I didn’t move and the announcer was like, “Is she here?” and I put up my hand and starting walking up. And then he announced that I had the fastest swim time of the day, and people were clapping and patting my arm.
It’s a lot to go from fat chick on the sidelines to being called to receive an award at a sporting event. We got back to the car and one of the women who beat me was arguing with her husband/ coach (not even touching that one). She’s yelling “13 minutes for the swim! It’s impossible! I’ll never do it!” Which was my time. And because I have no skills at thinking on my feet, I’ll tell you what I should have told her. “No, it’s not impossible. 2 years ago, I weighed 230 pounds and could barely walk a 5k. I was fat and miserable and disappointed with myself. Today, you barely beat me out there. I won my age group in huge triathlon. And I HAD FUN doing it. Nothing is impossible.”