Packing: I laid out all of my things before I put them in my race bag. I took a picture. Looked at picture and realized something was missing. Can you tell what it was?
Morning of the race: We camped and arrived at the campsite on Friday night. We realized the campsite was about 12 miles from the race start. Not exactly ideal but it worked. I woke up at 4am and stumbled to the bathroom to brush my teeth and try to wake up from a not so sound sleep.
I got back to our campsite and lit the camp stove to boil water for my oatmeal. Made my oatmeal and almost gagged each time I took a bite of food. It was awful. I had to force-feed myself. I also ate a half of a plain bagel and one banana. All of it was GROSS!
Transition area: I checked my bike in on Friday night, so all I had to do was bring my race bag and set up my transition area in the morning. I laid everything out, put on some sunscreen, got my cap and goggles and headed to the potty. And from there down to the swim.
The Swim: It was a fairly breezy morning, but a warm breeze. The lake temperature was 71 degrees. I decided last week that I didn't need a wetsuit for this race. The water was the perfect temperature. However, the water was so choppy and wavy I knew I would be in for a challenge.
I was really lucky enough to be in the first wave. I really wanted to just start and get it over with. The gun went off at 7am on the dot. I positioned myself to the left of the pack towards the front. I got going and about five minutes in I had a panic attack. It was so incredibly wavy I could not catch my breath. I waved down a lifeguard in a kayak and told her I was panicky and she told me to take three deep breaths and start again. I did that and was fine! I was really worried that the anxiety would continue but it didn't.
I made the turn around and headed for the swim finish. It was rough and it was challenging, even though I am a strong swimmer. Most everyone I talked to agreed it was a brutal swim.
I finished the swim in 39 minutes, much slower than my average mile pace but managed to finish 4th in my age group and 67th overall! Not bad for such a difficult swim!
Notice all of those dudes in wetsuits and notice the STUD without one!!!
The Bike: HOLY COW!!! This was HARD!! The first 30 or so miles were rolling hills, not bad, beautiful scenery, somewhat challenging. I was very good about taking a serving of gel about every 15 minutes, sipping on Perpetuem (YUCK! Didn't finish the whole thing), water and Nuun.
The last 26 miles were BRUTAL for me. Including a giant climb up the side of a mountain. By this time it had become fairly hot and the ride was not in shade. All of the racers were so awesome, everyone kept cheering each other on and helping out when it got rough. It was great.
I ended up finishing in 4 hours because of all those incredibly challenging hills. My husband met me in transition and asked if I was OK, I was. I had trouble getting my right shoe on and kept swearing up a storm. I told him that I would see him in a very, very long time. I was so tired and it was so hot! But I knew I could do it. I just kept telling myself that "I can do it, I can do it!"
The Run: The most difficult thing for me during a triathlon. It was HOT, HOT, HOT. During my training I was not able to train in hot weather because we have had such cold spring and not a very warm summer.
I was able to borrow my mom's Garmin for the run! It helped me so much. My goal was to keep my pace at an 11:00 minute mile or under. I was able to do this for about 6 miles. By this time the temperature had crept into the 90s and again there was no shade on this course.
This race was so well supported, it was awesome! Water, gel, orange slices, Heed and ice at every stop! Thank God! By mile 6 I was hurting. I could feel a blister forming on my foot, but I kept thinking how I just need to keep going, it's just a little blister. I kept on trucking along, taking two minute walk breaks when I felt I needed to. I would kind of mosey through the water stops because it was so hot.
There was this incredible woman that was not racing but coaching some of her clients. She stopped to see if I was OK. She was asking all sorts of questions and saying such motivating things to help me keep going. She left and said she would be back after she checked on some people (she was on a bike). She ended up coming back and I told her my hands were really swollen. She quickly gave me a salt pill and said that should help a little. She caught up to me again and gave me another! Bless her heart, she did not have to do that at all!
Mile 13: Wow! Hot much?? I could see the finish line in the distance but still knew I had a ways to go. At this point I was crying and then I would stop and get my head straight. I was crying because I could not believe I was so CLOSE to finishing! It was an unbelievable feeling! The closer I got the more emotional it became. There was a hill right at the end and I actually ran up it because I knew at the end of the downhill was the finish line! Once I started running downhill I could not contain myself. I was crying like a baby. I couldn't believe that I was going to finish this!
I saw my two friends at the finish line and they were cheering for me, the announcer didn't say my name :( and I didn't see my husband :(. But my girls were there and greeted me with hugs and cheers and told me I was their hero!The other person that greeted me was the medic. Apparently I had no color in my face, which could indicate something was wrong like heat exhaustion, dehydration etc. He put his arms around me and walked me to the medic tent. I laid down, they took my shoes and socks off, I took my shirt off and they put bags of ice in my pits. They took my pulse which was fine, gave me water and made me stay there for about 10 minutes. I was so high on adrenaline that I didn't even realize that I was overheated.
My friend called my husband who was nearby, constantly checking to see if I was coming in, but since the announcer didn't say my name he missed it. She told him I was in the medical tent and he raced over to see me. He felt so bad he missed my finish, but at least someone was there to see it!
Results: I met my two goals! Finish, and not to come in last! Boy was I close to not meeting one of those goals! I finished 185 out of 200 and 11th in my age group in 7:50. Eeeek! Oh well, I finished!
Things I have learned:
1. I can do anything I set my mind to!
2. Obviously I did something right by training all on my own... I did finish ;)
3. Would like to join a team to help me get better and biking and running.
4. I need to ride my bike MUCH, MUCH more! The trainer will be my friend in the winter for sure!
5. I will do another one soon!
6. I'm not ready for an Ironman... not yet!
7. I don't have swim that much!
8. Bring salt pills when you know it's going to be hot!
9. Encourage your fellow racers, they will encourage you!
10. Don't camp while participating in a big, long race. Get a hotel! It's much more comfortable!