Wednesday, July 17, 2013

OMG I did an Olympic Triathlon!

Since my trial of Max Performances Title 9 Sprint Triathlon was fairly successful, when it was time to look at the line up this season I wanted something more challenging. I some how decided doing the Massachusetts State Triathlon was just what I need for a new challenge. I finally made it a reality when I registered on February 8th...and it begins!

I trained for 6 months for this (well really maybe 5 months cause I slacked off some). I felt like I was fairly well prepared, but still anxious about it anyway. The few weeks leading up to the triathlon were crazy busy, music festivals, whitewater kayaking, life. So I really wasn't focusing on the triathlon as much as I should have been, but I still knew I would do it and finish!

The morning of the race I was surprisingly enough calm and felt ready. I was lucky enough to have my husband, mom and best friend there to root for me. But even better I had another good friend of mine actually doing the race with me, well she did the aqua-bike portion. but even that is a huge event! I gathered all the my stuff and headed toward the giant arch!

After getting marked with my bib number on my upper arms and hands, as well as having my age written on my right calf it was time to go into the transition area to set up. Oh how I hoped I had remembered everything! It was fairly easy to setup because I was early and not many people were there already. But the best part was that not only was my spot marked on the bike rack with my bib number but it had my name on it too!
Once I figured out how to rack my bike without it falling off I was able to setup the rest of my "space". Which as it turns out was quite a bit because the stickers were not properly spaced out so everyone after me was squished together!

 At about 8:45am there was the opening ceremony, which included the singing of the national anthem, and letting us all know how the waves were going to be heading to the water. I swear just from standing on the beach I got a sunburn. But on the upside it was so hot I couldn't wait for my wave to get to the water!

We were up after the red wave, we all walked across the timing mats and got to our spots in the water. I tried to make sure that I was more towards the outside and the back but some how I ended up outside and up front. My first thought was, 'well this should be interesting'. They did a count down the horn blew and we were off. I think it's funny because the start was exactly as if we were on land the horn blew and we all had to walk past the buoys and then start swimming. It was your typical crossing the start back-up!

I did very well throughout the swim remembering to sight every few strokes to make sure I wasn't too far off course. For the most part I did well keeping my own space. I made the last turn and all of sudden there was this girl who my only guess could be was that she was not trying to sight where she was going because every couple strokes she was hitting me with either her hand or foot. Every time I tried to reposition myself she would be right back where I was. I finally lost her by going slightly off course but I got myself back. The greatest feeling is when the last buoy is within reach. I swam all the way in until my fingers could touch the ground. I stood up and tried to walk onto shore. For the first few seconds walking was the oddest feeling, I felt almost swirly. But I made it up the beach and crossed the timing mats!
As I was walking over to my transition spot I took a look at my garmin and was surprised to see how much faster I swam it then in my training more than a 5 minute difference! I was thrilled!!

Swim time: 39:03

Transition was easier than I thought it would be so I guess I either planned well or I was as stressed about it as the first time. I was able to get everything I needed for the bike portion and headed out

Transition 1: 5:01

The bike was more than I bargained for. It wasn't so bad starting out but by about mile 7 I was feeling it in my legs. The best part was that at every major turn there were volunteers at about mile 8 there was a turn and everyone said to me as I passed, "You're doing great, keep going, you're almost there." At that point I promptly looked down at my Garmin and realized I was only at mile 8. Not only was I not "almost done." but I wasn't even halfway there. That is probably my biggest pet peeve, don't tell people they are almost done unless it is the truth! I will admit I did stop a few times on those lovely hills but I never got off my bike! The course wasn't over the top with hills, honestly it was the fact that there were a lot of flat road. Which meant it was not difficult but constant work. I was at mile 20 and could tell how much the ride had effected me. My pace was much slower, I was tired! Once I hit the entrance to the park I knew I was home free and almost done with the bike!
Then I saw the beloved Dismount sign! I couldn't wait to get off that bike!

Bike: 1:43:34

My second transition was faster probably because it involved mostly taking gear off rather than putting it on. I will say I learned from last year when I forgot to untie my sneakers, so this year I got elastic shoelaces so it was so much smoother. I was all set and ready head out on my run. I was walking over to the run because if you have never tried getting your legs to run after riding a bike for that long takes some adjustment. Just as I got to the run out one of the volunteers asked me if I could go out the swim out instead. I thought that was odd but figured maybe something had changed. I turned around headed towards the swim out until I realized there were no timing mats there. Then I realized why he sent me that way he thought I was done and just leaving the transition area, haha if only! I turned myself right back around and when I got closer I said, "I'm doing the run." He replied, "Oh no I'm so sorry I didn't know cause you were walking." Seriously I highly doubt every single person ran out of the transition area. But thanks for adding time to my transition for our assumptions!

Transition 2: 3:38

I was thrilled to be on my way for the last leg of this race. Except for one minor problem I had apparently been doing a very good job of hydrating because I had to pee in the worst way. Luckily shortly onto the run course there was a port-a-potty, so I made a short pit stop. Then I headed out. My legs still felt like jello but I knew the more I went along I was just going to tireder so for the first mile I did do running intervals. But After that I just couldn't do it, my legs were beyond running. I kept track of pace thought and was still doing well walking. It was at this point I realized I had forgotten to bring any kind of fuel with me to eat...this was going to be fun! by about mile 2 I realized that I was the last person on the course. I actually even asked one of the volunteers on a bike. She said she was waiting to find out. A few minutes later she came back to tell me there were other people that had started the course. Part of me felt like she was saying that just to keep me motivated. But not long after she said they had been picked up and I was the last person on the course. This was very depressing for a while. At this point I decided well I'm last no need to hurry so I will just walk. I guess you could say I kind threw in the towel without actually throwing in the towel. I got to the turn around point and there was a fantastic volunteer who started yelling motivational comments at me when I was more than 8-10 yards away! Boy do I wish there were more people like that. However I will say my mood quickly turned around you see the same volunteer on the bike that had told me I was the last one on the course ended up being like my own personal race companion. She stayed with me for last three miles. We chatted quite a bit, about why I was doing this, how I got into it, about her and what she did. I really can't thank Tina Marie enough! It was quite refreshing. Honestly if my experience for every race was like the last 3 miles of this it would be great. I had a bike liaison, there was one volunteer that was driving in a cart up and down the course. Every few minutes he was stopping to give me a cold wet towel, water, etc! It was fantastic! Talk about feeling special hahahaha. I was so happy when I could finally see the finish line arch, in fact that was the only time in the last 5 miles I felt the urge to run! I ran across that finish line and was thrilled to be done!
They put my medal around my neck and I of course had to have a photo session. I did this triathlon as my First Descents Challenge so I wanted to make sure everyone knew that. I even had a special poster waiting for me at the finish line!
I Swim, Bike and Run so young adult cancer survivors can Surf, Kayak and climb with First Descents!

Run (Well really a walk for me): 1:54:27

When I was done one of the volunteers actually said to me, "now that you're done with your photo shoot you should come over here we have ice baths for your feet." I was thrilled because my feet were killing me and I knew I had blisters. While I was sitting there with my feet in the kid pools of ice and water he also brought me a water bottle.

So I felt bad about being last and I felt bad about everyone having to wait for me. But even though I was last they were all really nice, and took good care of me. I even got to have a burger from the BBQ because they kept them going until I was done. Even though I wasn't happy about being last everyone made me feel just as important as every other racer that crossed the finish line.

I am not sure I would do another Olympic Triathlon or if I do I know I really need to be a lot more serious about it and train harder. Let's just say I am looking forward to doing the Title 9 in September for half the distances!

I want to thank everyone at Max Performance and of course all the fantastic volunteers. You all really do make each and every race a success!

As I mentioned before I did this triathlon for First Descents which is a foundation that is near and dear to my heart. I will say that going to my very first whitewater kayaking camp really helped me realize that there are so many things out there that I thought I couldn't do and it was only because I never tried. Cancer changed my life and I will never be the person I was before but First Descents plays a huge role in helping me embrace the new me and really enjoy life. Please take a look at my other blog posts about first descents...
Stay Calm Under The Water - FD1
FD2 Day 1-3
FD2 Day 4-5
FD2 Day 6-7

I have until the end of August to reach my fundraising goal. Please take a moment to read about my experience and of course about First Descents. Then if you are inspired to please make a donation so I can help another young adult cancer survivor have an adventure of their new lifetime!

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