Please don’t let the smile fool you, I was terrified. And to make matters worse, 10 minutes before the picture, I was informed by (an obviously more experienced) fellow racer that my wet suit was on backwards. I kept hearing Damian from Mean Girls in my head saying “she doesn’t even go here.” As I looked around, I was confident that every single person at the race must have seen me take my wet suit off and put it on correctly. Complete embarrassment before 7am.
As we were corralled into waves, I felt myself blending into the pack and feeling a little less like the rookie with a backwards wet suit. Nerves set in as we stepped into the water. The race started. To fight my open water anxiety, I played mental games during the swim. Track down blue cap 100 feet ahead.. guess how many strokes till 1st buoy… The swim, my strongest leg of the race, was also my greatest fear. (as you may know from one of my prior posts) After assistance from my mind games and adrenaline, I finished my swim at 31 minutes and found that the open water swim wasn’t as intimidating as I had measured it up to be.
In T1/ on my way out of T1, I ate a Cliff Builder Bar. The builder bar, I found, sat too heavy to eat continually on my long bike rides. I tried this in the beginning of my training. However, immediately following the swim, I knew I needed something solid and substantial.
The Builder Bar has 270 Calories, 29 grams of carbs. I’m attaching the full nutritional info below for those curious. Not a fan of peanut butter Builder Bar.
On the bike, I felt strong. After purchasing my bike in March, I made the most of my 3 1/2 months of bike training. Side note- I wasn’t aware that in the colder months of training, like March, that most people wore shoe covers. I remember several rides where my feet would go numb half way through. I thought this was normal and that everyone was experiencing similar pain, but I later learned this was not the case and that even wearing wool socks made little to no difference when it came to wearing my tri shoes. Who let me wear tri shoes in the winter without toe covers?! So many lessons learned in the early days of training..
Anyway, all in all I came in from the bike at 3:05:26. The course had hills, but there were several flat spreads to break them up. From a racing standpoint, I thought it was a great course. For the most part, you were able to see pretty far ahead at any given point, which gave you an advantage in seeing where the rest of the competition was. However, I will say that the bike course had little to no shade. I lucked out with cloud coverage and overcast, but on a hot day, the bike course would’ve been much more challenging than it was this year.
On the bike, I alternated GU Roctane jell shots, CLIFF carb&electrolyte mix and water. I found that when I used only my carb mix on my rides, it was not enough. I never experienced problems with the jell & drink mix combo in the past, but for whatever reason that day, I started to feel sick around mile 32 from the combo. No matter how much water I drank, all I could taste was GU island nectar jell and I began debating on weather I would stop to throw up or if I would just let it out and hope no one was in the line of fire. Everything calmed down about mile 40, but the 8 miles of agony went to show me that even rehearsed nutrition does not always go according to plan on race day! Pay attention to the way that you feel through out your race and adjust your nutrition plan accordingly- That is my best advice.
I was a little disappointed with my run. I had a goal to beat my best half marathon time of 1:53.02. At the peak of my training, I was confident I would. However, after struggling through some pretty bad IT band issues during the run and in the weeks prior to the race, I split a 2:15.53. Halfway through the run when the pain had really set in, I knew my goal time was out the window. Each time I started to feel discouraged, I would look up and see my friends with this sign and I was reminded that regardless of my goal time, I was going to make this next mile ‘my bitch.’ I was also reminded that I have the best friends and family in the entire world and despite whatever pain I was in, they made me smile.
As far as transitions, I think I made pretty good timing. In fact, I was making such good timing that I completely forgot to attach my bib number after the swim. (Yet another it’s-my-first-triathlon mistake.) It wasn’t until about mile 6 of the run that a race official asked me about my missing bib number in passing. Around mile 8 the same official came running along side me with my bib in hand. She had gone all the way down to T1 to get it and then ran it back to me. For anyone who has raced the Kansas 70.3 you know how far of a trip that is! The remainder of the race, I ran with my bib tucked into my tri top, which I have to say is pretty stylish. I mean, I heard all the cool triathletes are doing it. (Yes, I finally bought a race belt.)
I was hesitant going into this race, but I fell in love with the sport while completing. Going into this, I wanted to prove to myself that I was more than a sprinter. I wanted to prove that I could push myself past my limits, and that I could face my fear of open water swimming. This race gave me confidence in my ability and opened a whole new door of possibility for my race future. I am so incredibly blessed to have found this new passion and to have had the support I did from my family and friends while doing it.