On Saturday afternoon I was pretty surprised to discover that the race was being held in Manassas, and scrambled to get out to packet pick-up in time. After packet pick-up, there was a pre-race meeting, which mostly contained the message, "you swim THEN you bike THEN you run." The Q&A session was rather entertaining, as it included almost entirely questions about running on the pool deck and whether or not you could use the locker room for T1 because you don't want to bike with a wet butt, do you??? That'd be crazy.
We got dressed up (there have been SO MANY showers in my life this week) and went to my favorite place on earth for dinner than night, and had a really nice time sitting out on the patio while the sun was going down.
Saturday night I spent a while stretching, foam rolling, and icing before bed. 5am came pretty soon. I got up, ate breakfast (cheerios and chocolate soy milk), and we loaded up.
Let's do this thing.
I got transition set up pretty quickly, got body marked, and stripped down. I was trying to stay off my feet as much as I could, and avoid the insanity.
transition ready to go!
I have to do WHAT now?!
sad panda to be in the 30-34 AG when I am STILL 29, people!!
ready to go. staying calm.
I've read a lot of blogs where people talk about mantras. At some point in the past few months, I read a blog with a mantra that struck me: faith not fear. (If it's YOUR blog, PLEASE let me know so I can give you credit. Also, please don't be mad that I stole it, it's awesome). I also have been really tuned into an Angels & Airwaves song lately, with the line "believe you want this" in it, and it just really speaks to me. So I wrote myself a reminder. All I had to do was look down, and remind myself. Believe. You want this. Believe in your training, girl. Faith, not fear.
We all shuffled inside for the banner. When it was done, the first wave started. I purposely did NOT watch the first wave, as I didn't want to be anxious and grumpy about the speedsters that were in the pool, and I didn't want to psyche myself out. So instead, I killed time. There was a lot of it.
Yes, I'm 4.
I totally got this. Also, this swim cap is giving me an excellent face-lift.
No, seriously, a lot of time to kill. I mean, I had tight adductors.
Swim: 425 yards, 8:04
Finally, it was time for me to get in the water. We had to estimate our swim times, and our waves/placements were based on that. I added about 90 seconds onto what I thought my swim time would be, as I really wanted the opportunity to take it easy, but also so no one would be trying to drown me. Boy, was THAT a bad idea. Instead, I spent most of the time trying to drown other people. At the first traffic jam, I waited patiently for it to clear, but then I realized - this is a RACE! Get outta my way, people! So at the next one (there were a lot), I just swam straight through. During the pre-race talk, the director emphasized that the swim was just like an open-water swim, and the only rule was that you had to touch the wall on both sides of the rope before heading the other way. She was basically encouraging aggressive swim behavior. I can walk that walk. I know I didn't hurt anyone, but I caught up with, fought through, and left in the dust at least 4 traffic jams. And I was swimming what, to me, was a really relaxed pace. I wasn't even breathing heavily when I got out. Note to self: next time, estimate actual pace. I felt shocked that the swim was over, and ready to roll.
start (I'm easy to find in the bright pink cap)
I walked across the pool deck (pre-race Q&A notes: walk, don't run! no, you can't run! no, not even if you want to! no, not even if you are wearing SPECIAL SHOES. I hate people.). Once I hit the transition area, I ran over to my pile of crap, sucked down a Gu, pulled my bike shorts on but NOT NEARLY HIGH ENOUGH IN THE BACK (you'll see this later), shoes, sunglasses, helmet, gloves, bike, see ya later, bitches.
this is my very serious T1 face. stay outta my way.
Bike: 11.2 miles, 31:18 (21.5mph avg)
Once I got out on the bike course, I noticed that at some point, the sun had come up. Hot. I started out slow, as I didn't want to pound my legs too badly, but a girl who I took turns attempting to drown in the pool came up behind me and passed me just before the first turn, and I was bent about it. I dropped the hammer on a slight climb after the first turn and let thunder thighs do what they were born to do. I wouldn't see her again until the run, when she smoked my ass (the only woman to pass me on the run). The bike course was a 3-loop course. I got passed once by someone who looked like He-Man, but passed tons of people myself. I felt like I was working, but not going flat out. There weren't clocks on the course, so I didn't see my bike time until after the race (and wasn't paying attention to my bike computer at all), but I was completely shocked to see this time. I figured I was averaging 16-18mph based on the way I felt. Hurrah for caffeinated Gu!
As I approached the dismount line, there was someone ahead of me that was going pretty slow. I swung my leg over my bike and gave her a wide berth as I got to the dismount line, but I guess I wasn't paying attention when I jumped off my bike, because when my shiny, slippery, trick bike shoes hit the pavement, I wiped out. This is where I remembered not yanking my bike shorts up all the way. Everyone in the corral gasped and "OMG"d, but I was fine - just some road rash on my booter. I hopped up and yelled, "don't worry, I practiced this!" and ran into T2. The other woman just laughed and yelled, "have a good run!"
10 seconds before I play slip n' slide. Look at those low shorts.
I'm fine!! Gotta run now!
Run: 2.6 miles, 23:58 (9:13 avg)
I got my shoes changed pretty quickly, grabbed my water bottle and left. It wasn't until I left transition that I realized I didn't put on my watch, and since there were no clocks on the course, I would have no idea where I was in the run. ARGH! The run, like the bike course, featured lots of u-turns. Since I was still kind of early on, there were very few people on the course. Not a lot of crowd support through here either, so it very much felt like a lonely morning run. Some of the volunteers cheered and yelled, but some just silently waved their yellow flags. Awesome. After the first mile or so, I made a point to cheer on everyone I saw (a lot of people, with all the out-and-back turnarounds). The course involved sidewalk, road, track, jogging over a patio, around some stairs, across a little field, and passing by the bike course. I was passed by a few guys, including the guy that was at least 15 inches taller than me that started the swim 2 people before me, but only one woman - the woman I smoked on the bike course. I yelled, "get it, girl!" when she passed and she laughed. My legs felt pretty much fine during the run, but it was starting to get hot and my brain was running out of happy juice. I spent most of it singing Carrie Underwood's "Wasted" to myself (stuck in my head, I have NO IDEA why, but I wish it had been a more helpful song) and dumping my still-mostly-frozen water on myself. When I turned the final corner, I cranked out every drop I had left, and thumbs'd-up the finish line as I ran through.
are we there yet?
yeah. didn't pull the bike shorts up all the way, all right. good grief.
Total: 1:07:17, 8/23 AG, 119 overall
I was pretty blessed to have my best friend and the poet as my amazing cheering section. There were so awesome and every time I passed them, I got pumped. I can't say enough how much I appreciated having my people there for me. It made this race even more special.
We packed up and headed back, and went out for an amazing breakfast at Fireflies.
chocolate-chip french toast? YES PLEASE!
A few notes...
"Everyone" says that the first time you attempt a new race, your goal should be to finish, and I agree with that 100%. However, based on my training, I had some super secret time goals. Secret time goal A: 10-minute swim, 1-hour ride, 30-minute run, with 5 minutes for transition, 1:45 as the total. I figured that would be pretty easy to stomp on. Secret time goal B wasn't that different - maybe getting under 45 minutes for the ride and under 26 for the run. I was shocked to trounce that by almost 40 minutes. I wasn't surprised at my swim time. My run was slower than recent runs have been, but I walked 2-3 times for 5-10 seconds each, so I wasn't surprised. My bike time shocked me. Thanks for the hips and thighs, Eastern Europe.
I think I'm going to save the "what I learned from this and where I go next" post for later in the week because this is already 290 pages long, but here are a few short things I now know:
- don't jump off your bike.
- get a bike bag you can reach while riding (oops, seat bag).
- take 1 extra second and PULL YOUR DAMN SHORTS UP. no one wants to see that much boot/crack/hip spillage.
- size L bathing suit bottoms are no longer your friend.
- all those people that say to run in a hat are smarter than you.
- no, seriously, don't jump off your bike! just climb down.
- getting in a car for 7 hours and then sleeping on the floor is maybe not the best recovery strategy
I also want to give a huge thank you and shout out to all the people that were texting and blowing up my facebook and twitter accounts while I was racing - it made me warm and fuzzy to read it all after and I can't say thank you enough or tell you enough how deeply I was touched by it. All of the people I've met through blog-land and twitter-topia are so much of what motivates me on a daily basis, what gets my butt outta my chair and into the gym, what keeps me going, what helps me to fight against the crappy jacked-up body I've been dealt and accomplish things like this. I've felt like I've been apologizing to people for making a big deal out of such a tiny tri - "oh, yeah, I am doing a tri, but it's just a tiny one, nothing real" - all week, and you know what? Eff that. I swam, I biked, I ran, I pushed my body and I felt vibrant and alive. That makes me amazing, even if my dog is the only one who thinks so. Because I think so.
And if any of you say, "when are you doing a half IM?" in the comments, I will flaming-dog-poop your steps. I have a steady supply and I'm a cranky wench, don't cross me.