This summer was my first time competing in a sprint distance triathlon. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t throw myself into my first triathlon with no training. I had been training for my “main” race this summer, which is still coming up. I chose an Olympic distance triathlon in July. Seeing as I singed up for the Olympic in March I had plenty of time to train and I figured why not sign up for a sprint to see if I could actually complete a race.
So I signed up for a sprint race back home in CT in June. I knew going back home to do a race would be better than trying to do a race in Boston, having only the support of my boyfriend who has been preoccupied with studying for his CPA licence. My parents have always been the best pit crew (even though it does get stressful when they are both trying to tell me what to do.)
My training schedule up until that time had been swim in a pool twice a week, strength train twice a week, run twice a week, spin class then run (what I consider a Brick day) and two full days of rest. I am not trained in any of these disciplines whatsoever. I have been kind of going off of articles I find for running and my gut feeling of the mechanics of a freestyle stroke (going off of my swim team days of 4th grade where I did breast stroke….) Prior to my race I had never swam in open water. I have gone tubing and wake boarding on a lake but never ever have I put my face in ocean water and swam. This was my BIGGEST fear.
I stuck to my training schedule leading up to my race. And finally race day came. My boyfriend was able to get some time off of studying and drove me and my bike (I have named Missy…I’ll explain.) down to CT where my parents were waiting for us with a glass of wine.
I awoke that Sunday at 4:30am. The race was scheduled to start at 6:30am so I figured I needed a little extra time to eat breakfast and get everything organized before we headed to the race sight. I prepared my meal and was surprisingly calm. I usually can’t eat in the mornings on a big race day but that morning I could. I managed to wake my crew (aka my boyfriend, mom and dad) up at 5am. After their morning coffee routine we headed off to the race site. We arrived at 6am and headed over to the transition area. Thank goodness I had my crew because I had too much stuff to carry on my own (I tend to over pack when I travel somewhere, even to a race apparently.)
We found our way to the transition area that wasn’t too crowded but there were bikes everywhere. My dad somehow managed to get into the transition area to help my choose a spot. This proved stressful. It seemed like everyone was spacing out their race gear and bikes way too far apart. My dad tried hooking it on to a rack but one of the women there quickly snapped, “Bikes have to face in opposite directions.” and looked at us like we were stupid. Great start. But I shook off her comment. So I chose a spot on the end where I hooked my own bike, in the correct direction (thanks lady), and laid out my stuff according to the way someone next to me had their’s laid out.
I left the transition and got my numbers on my arm and leg (I felt badass) and my chip timer around my ankle. I slipped on my mothers wet suit (meant for scuba diving not triathlons) and then got really dizzy. My stomach dropped and I felt naucious. I thought it was because I didn’t fuel up properly so I ate what I could of a muffin I packed in my gym bag.
Things got worse before they got better….
The announcer came on, “Everyone head over to the swim start.” I was petrified. I couldn’t breath right and just seemed to stare out into the ocean where I knew I had to put my head in the water and swim. The first wave of men went then it was the women. I positioned myself in the back to avoid any conflict of arms and legs flying at me. The horn went off and I slowly walked into the shockingly cold water.
I do some warm up breast strokes, just as I have practiced, but I can’t seem to get to put my head under water without panicing. So I just do it. I swim to the first bouy and have three more to go until I can turn back home to safety (what I like to think of it.) After the first bouy I suddenly notice I can’t really lift my arms. I touch my zipper on my back and it’s completely down. My wetsuit flooded with water! I thought s**t I can’t swim. I managed to muster up some calmn and rational thoughts to myself. I worked out that if I flip on my back, swim, then turn on my front, swim, and alternate that way I can manage to get through the swim. And that’s what I did.
I finally reached the last bouy and swam my heart out to the shore. It was hard and when I stripped off the top of my wetsuit water gushed out. Awesome. I run to the transition area to find my bike. I throw on my shorts and shoes and head out. Surely nothing can go wrong now. Wrong. About 5 mi into the ride my chip timer fell off of my ankle. Crap. I didn’t know what to do so I soldiered on. Luckly, the bike route required bikers to do two loops. I get off my bike and grab my chip timer and tie it tightly to my wrist.
I managed to stay calm and push on to the run. The run seemed to be my strong part of the race. I felt awesome and energized. I looked down at my watch and it said I was running 7:00min miles. That couldn’t be possible! I have never run so fast ever, not even in training. But I managed to PR 3mi in 21min.
I crossed the finish line with such joy and pride I couldn’t stop smiling. It turns out I finished in 1:21 and I was 3min away from finishing 3rd in my age group! That 3 minutes came from me hopping off my bike to get my chip timer! Ugh! Success seemed so close. I remember thinking to myself I can do this and I can place!
- Always practice with your wetsuit – I used my moms wetsuit and only swam in it once for 10 minutes. Big mistake (one I shall repeat again…read my next post). I would reccomend to test out a new wetsuit for 30min in the water to get a good idea if it’s a good fit or not.
- Check your chip timer – I noticed that my chip timer was really loose around my ankle when I started. That proved to be my downfall in this race (on top of the wetsuit issue). Now, I always bring tape just in case my chip timer is feeling loose.
- You might surprise yourself – I encourage all of my spin students to sign up for a race at least once. You never know how well you will perform and you might prove something to yourself! I proved I can run 7min/mi!