Sunday, July 08, 2007

I Am a Triathlete

I was up just before 3:00 AM, and we were on the road by 4:20 AM. We had to catch a shuttle from Dairyland Greyhound Park to the race site. Parking and catching the shuttle were a piece of cake. (Erin was not so lucky! She left her house about an hour after we left ours. Arrived to near Dairyland at about 6:00 AM and waited in traffic for over an hour.)

Bob & Olivia were with me. I sat with them for a few minutes before I went to set up my transition area. Unfortunately, I made a rookie mistake when I racked my bike yesterday. I left too much space between my bike and the one on the end. My bike was "bumped" from the second to the third spot on the rack. Still easy to find.

I joined Bob & Olivia again for a little while. We were watching for Erin not knowing how she was stuck in the horrible traffic. The start of the race was actually delayed because of the traffic. They also allowed anyone who missed their swim wave to join one when they were ready.

At about 7AM I began walking over to the swim start area. A slow take in all the sights & sounds walk. As I walked along the run path, I wondered about the stories of these women. About half way along the path, I came across a woman who had just finished chemo treatments. Her complexion was beautiful & flawless. I will carry the image of her in my mind always. As I passed her, the emotion of the day began to hit me. A tear trickled down my cheek. As competitors continued to walk a man began to speak about Danskin Triathlon traditions and other things that would happen today. A beautiful instrumental played for a few minutes before the National Anthem. The woman who sang it had a beautiful voice. The emotion of the day hit me again at that point and a few more tears flowed.

It was now time for the triathlon to get underway. The first wave, The Elite, are brought down into the water. They have a few minutes with Sally Edwards, National Spokeswoman for the Danskin Women's Triathlon Series. The Danskin traditional countdown began. 10 9 8... and the first wave was off! The event I have worked so hard to prepare for is here.

The second wave, Survivors, is brought to the water. Just about 30 seconds until they are on their way. The following waves go every 4 minutes!

I finally spot Erin in the crowd. She didn't get to see the start of the event because of the traffic at the shuttle pick up site. While I missed her & am sad she missed the start of the event, I was (am) thankful I had that alone time to experience the sights, sounds, and emotions of the day.

Erin & I talked for a few minutes before I headed over to the swim start to join my fellow yellow capped, 35-39 year olds. We visited with one another. Talked about race numbers, triathlon training, our strengths/weaknesses, and triathlon experience. There was only one other woman near me who was a first timer. The veterans encouraged us! Suddenly, the crowd behind us and to the right began to roar. The first runner was coming by. She completed the .5 mile swim, the 12 mile bike, and part of the 3 mile run before we were even hitting the water. I would estimate she did that in less than 45 minutes.

As our group was "on deck" for the swim Disco Inferno by The Trammps played. We all sang and danced to keep loose and get pepped up. The 15th wave was off and that means we are next. Looking around I see a few women who look a little nervous about the swim. The group I was talking to all looked pretty confident. We are in the front line of the wave. I was front & center! :) One of the Danskin Angels, the swim volunteers, leads us in some cheering. Asks us a few questions about who we are going to pass first (pink caps -- wave 15), and who we aren't going to let pass (green caps -- wave 17). She then gave us a word to remember as we go through the day - FANTASTIC! We are to use that word to remind us we are fantastic swimmers, fantastic bikers, fantastic runners, and fantastic triathletes. The countdown begins 10 9 8... and we were off. It felt really great, but the sun glared made sighting something on shore very difficult. Twice I swam outside the buoys and had to swim back to the right. I still felt like I was making really good time. I could see myself passing pink caps and only saw one green cap pass me. Bob said in my wave there were only about six women out of the water before me.

Swim Time 00:16:28

I ran to my bike. T1 went quickly and pretty well. I know I can shave more time off of it for next year.

T1 Time 00:03:11

The bike was tough. A lot tougher than I had anticipated due to the high winds, the heat, and the HILLS! I also need to look into getting a road bike for these events. The wide mountain bike tires are killers on a road in a race.

Bike Time 00:57:07
3051/3919 (UGH -- definitely needs work)

I hopped off the bike at the dismount point and my legs felt like Jell-O -- not the bricks I was expecting. Ah, a watering station. I wove my way between the racks to my area. I racked my bike and I was off.

T2 Time 00:02:04

Ah, another splash of water before I ran. My legs didn't feel too bad at all when I began the run. I think to myself I might be able to run the whole thing. I guess I though that too soon because shortly I felt my heart rate soar. I slowed to a slow jog. A lady points out that I had forgotten to take off my helmet after the bike. Oh, crap (excuse my! I take it off and try to figure out what I am going to do with it. I thought about throwing it down in the grass, but eventually I looped the strap onto my tank top. Looking back, I should have thrown it down. Bob saw me running with the helmet and when I took it off. He was trying to run after me to get it. He said it was pretty sad he couldn't catch me even after I had just finished the swim & the bike when he had done nothing but

The heat during the first half of the run was brutal. I did a little running and walking. I wanted to be able to RUN across that finish line and wanted to conserve that energy so I could. The watering station at about half way was a welcome sight. As was the Jelly Belly Sports Beans station, but neither of those were as good as the hose the firefighters had to spray us. I drank the water, ate half a package of the sports beans, and enjoyed the water from the hose. The course continued on about a quarter mile before we got to turn around and enjoy those three stations again. At the half mile left mark we got the biggest boost any triathlete could hope for -- an open fire hydrant! More pressure than that hose and just what I needed to refresh me for the home stretch. I ran the entire last mile and it was so exciting to see the word FINISH up ahead. Sally Edwards was there cheering us on, and as we crossed the finish line our names were announced and we were given a medal!

Run Time 00:43:40

Total Time 02:02:33
Overall Rank
Class Rank (35-39) 460/578

I did it! I am a triathlete!


carolynn said...

I am so proud of you!!

Those moments of silence before an event are so important...

Even I know the horror of the word "hill". During some of the past walks "hill" might as well have been another four letter word!!


Thanks for sharing your experience...I can only imagine how proud Bob and Olivia are as well.


Pen said...

Thank you, Carolynn! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh! Pen! Your words! I felt like I was watching your every stroke, pedal and stride of the way. I'm so very proud of you. How very proud you should be of yourself. ATTA GIRL PEN!!!!

Pen said...

Thanks Kelle!

diane said...

WOW, you rock girl. Congratulations. You were fantastic and have every right to be very proud of yourself. YOU DID IT!!!

Makita said...

Way to go! Congratulations!

You did it with a mountain bike? I'd love to do a tri but I have been holding off because I don't have a road bike... you have inspired me to proceed forth...

Pen said...

Thank you ladies!

Yes Makita! I used my mountain bike. There were quite a few using them. I would have preferred a road bike, but it is doable with a mountain bike.

I am going to look for an inexpensive road bike. Is there such a thing? LOL! I will do most of my training with the mountain bike, but race with the road bike.

I have heard you can get smooth tires for mountain bikes which may make a difference as well.

Jenny McB said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!WooHOO, so very cool to be able to run that last part. I am so proud of you.

I thought of you this week and wondered how you did. Have you started training for next year already?

Pen said...

Thank you also, Jenny!

I haven't started training for next year yet, but will this afternoon.

Alexandra said...

You did great!!
Unbelievable....i just can not find the right words *g*...

Pen said...

Thank you, Alex!