My Amazing Tri
This past summer I competed in the US Triathlon Olympic Distance National Championships and had one of the most amazing experiences. I had the opportunity to race against the best of the best. Was I intimidated? Definitely. Was it awesome? MOST definitely.
Because of my love of mud runs with non-competitive PARTY atmospheres, I’d slowly been removed from the world of triathlons; however, qualifying for the National Championships from one of the few triathlons of the season that I had done ignited my competitive fire.
The intimidation set in when I went to pick up my race packet at the “Tri Village.” I was used to seeing Mohawks, costumes, tattoos, and crazy fit commandoish frat guys screaming “HELLZ YEA,” and sucking down beer. I didn’t run into any of those types in the tri village. Instead, I found myself in a sea of competitive athletes who seemed focused, serious, and ready to race. Although I earned the right to be there, I felt out of place. I didn’t feel as though I belonged amongst such “qualified” looking competitors. It felt comforting to discover that I wasn’t the only one. A few of the competitors I spoke with as we set our stuff up in the transition area felt the same way. Even the cashier at Whole Foods, who noticed the freebie tri socks that I was wearing, assured me when I relayed to her my nervousness, that at least three customers who had been there earlier also felt intimidated.
My intimidation soon gave way to my competitiveness the minute the horn sounded, and I took my first stroke.
The swim, funny enough, was no longer my strongest leg. I find it funny because for years, swimming had been my go to sport. Lately I kind of freak out during open water swims, and have to calm myself down. A friend later pointed out that as she lost body fat through her workouts, she had to fight harder to stay afloat. Regardless of the validity, I liked being able to have an explanation – which has helped in subsequent open water triathlons. But in this particular triathlon I did initially freak out, but was able to calm myself down and finish my 1500-yard swim in 27 minutes. I was only one of two athletes WITHOUT a wetsuit. Prior to entering the water I walked by one of the spectators who tried to take my mind off the chill in the air “You look beautiful,” she told me. Haha, I jokingly wanted to tell her that I would keep that in mind – that it didn’t matter that I was freezing my tushie off – at least I looked beautiful as I froze… but I was too nervous.
Next came the biking – probably my weakest leg. I didn’t realize that I hadn’t done so badly on the swim… until LOTS of athletes in my division started to pass me. As I pedaled, I cursed myself for not having taken my bike for a test ride prior to the race. It had been in storage up until a few weeks prior to the race, when I brought it to a bike shop for a tune up. A SMART person would have test driven the thing but with a hectic schedule, I was just happy that I found the time to get it TO a bike shop. However, despite pedaling with what seemed like my knees by my cheek, I seemed to go out pretty strong… until I realized, “Wow, I have to go back, don’t I?” For a while I did Indian sprints with this amazing athlete as we continued to pass each other, back and forth at different points along the course; cheering each other on – briefly complimenting the other on being such an animal on the course. Her name was Christine and we had briefly met during transition setup prior to the race.
Christine soon gained momentum she left our game and left me behind in the dust.
When it finally came time for the run, I felt my strongest, and was happiest with this leg. I was able to hold a 7:50 pace during my 6.2-mile run, and made up time as I passed some of the athletes who bested me on the bike – including Christine. I even had enough in me for a super sprint finish as I ran past two more ladies in my age group. Haha I jokingly tell my friends that I could be DYING in the middle of a tri, but the important thing is looking strong at both the start, and at the finish – you know, where most of the spectators are. 😉
If I were serious about training and had time in my schedule – in between my full time job, my part time job, and my kids with their academics and extracurricular activities, I would DEFINITELY work on my swimming and biking. Overall, I was really happy with my performance that day. I finished 1784th out of 2677 competitors, 509th female out of the 1131 women competing, and 72nd out of the 160 in my age group.
Looking back, I remembered it to be an AMAZING experience, and definitely one for my Sandy, ‘Herstory’ book!