The day started bright and early with a 4:30am wake up call...ugh. I grabbed my gigantic pile of gear, tossed it into the car, poured myself yet another water + gatorade cocktail in preparation for the 90 degree temperatures ahead, and hit the road with my dad. When we got to the race site, I headed over to the transition area to set up my bike and gear. I'd read a ton of different people's strategies for setting up their transition area, and to be honest, all of the crazy tips for speed people had kind of just freaked me out! Since I had no time goal in mind, I decided to just go with what made sense to me and laid out my things...
I finished setting up around 6:15. The race started at 7...but my wave of 23-25 year olds didn't start until 8:44!! Needless to say there was PLENTY of time to apply sunscreen, wait in line for the rest room, walk the swim in/bike out route through the transition area to get a feel for things, etc. etc. etc. Around 7, Dad and I found a great spot to stand to watch the early swim waves. The swim was a little unique, as it was in this weird lake/pool hybrid. It had zero depth entry and a sandy beach, but also had chlorinated water and brick sides. As we watched wave after wave of swimmers, I realized that TONS of the women doing the race were swimming breast stroke, back stroke, dog paddling...one woman even had a snorkel! That definitely made me feel better about my own swimming skills (or lack thereof!). Eventually, I decided it was time to head down to the beach and find some other swimmers from my wave.
We swam in a zig zag up and down the pool/lake, around the orange buoys.
My wave start!
When it was time for my wave to start, we waded into the water until about our thighs and waited for the countdown. It was already so hot out that I was excited to get in the cool water! Before I knew it, it was go time! I have to be honest, I had a tough time with the first chunk of the swim. I couldn't seem to catch my breath and get into a groove. Thank goodness I had done a couple of open water swims, so I knew I would probably get a little panicky/struggle breathing at first. It was way tougher than my lake swims the past two weeks, though, just because there were so many more people starting together and that stresses me out!! I don't even particularly like sharing lanes at the pool... Being a women's race, there was no intentional kicking or swimming over each other, but it just freaks me out to have people so close to me. It took me a good third of the swim to stop panicking/breathing crazy, and up until the last third to actually get into a groove! I knew my parents and my cousin would be watching from a hill at the end of the pool, so I treaded water and waved to them at the end of one of the lanes, per their request. :)
"Look! I haven't drowned yet!"
As scary as it was at the beginning, the 1/2 mile swim was over before I knew it! Swim time: 16:08. I jogged up the beach and into the transition area for T1. I had no trouble spotting my bike, probably because I'd taken the time to walk through the the route for Swim In before the race and new right where to look. I dried myself off, pulled on socks and shoes, bike gloves, sunglasses, and helmet, sprayed my neck with icy hot and hoped that it wouldn't kill me on the bike, grabbed a gu, and walked my bike through the transition area and out the other side. T1 time: 4:46. The race was super well organized, and there were volunteers to tell you exactly when to mount your bike. I finished my chocolate gu and hopped on.
I'm no great cyclist, but I hadn't been super worried about the bike leg during my training until my neck cramped up last week and had been killing me on a couple training rides. Thankfully the adjustment my dad made to my seat height combined with some tweaking to my posture seemed to do the trick! The bike leg went GREAT! I was totally loving the cool breeze and the slight hills that were just big enough to give me a chance to coast a little bit. There were tons of hybrid and mountain bikes on the course, but I was super glad I had splurged on a road bike last fall! Like I said, I'm not a great or particularly fast cyclist, but I was able to pass other women like crazy during the bike leg, mostly because of having a lighter bike than a lot of others. The bike course was 14.2 miles consisting of two loops. Bike time: 50:47.
I'm 99% sure that I'm waving at a little kid in this pic and totally missing my dad standing on the opposite side of the street!
After a nice downhill into transition, I hopped off my bike and hustled back to my gear area. I racked my bike, exchanged my helmet and gloves for a hat and my IT band straps, grabbed another gu, and headed out to the run. T2 time: 3:31. (Note to self: Work on transitions for Tri #2...) It was hot hot hot by the time I started on the run course, already close to 90 degrees. I expected the run to be MISERABLE because of the heat, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. There were 3 water stations on the 3.1 mile course, plus a few spectator groups with hoses, sprinklers, ice, and even wet towels. That definitely helped! It's been so long since I've run a 5K that I couldn't believe how quickly it went by! I remember passing the marker for mile 1 and thinking, "Whoa, we're already a third done!" Oh the magic of a short running race. :)
Usually I am stopping my garmin in the finish picture--broken watch FTW!
Total Finishing Time: 1:45:31 (and still smiling!)
I felt SO good after this race! Not only was it an awesome feeling to finish my first TRIATHLON, but I felt awesome about how strong I felt during the entire race (minus the first couple hundred swim yards...). Plus, I couldn't believe the difference in how my body felt between this race and a half marathon. Yeah, I was tired, but I wasn't sore at all and had no problem walking around town to find a place for breakfast with my family. Pretty awesome! Before we were even in the car to head home, I was already planning my next tri!
Now, it's onto the next 2012 Goal: Sub-30 5K. BRING IT!