Oh my glob, I am still so freakin excited about how well the race went Sunday.
The day before, I ate a lot of fruit and some sweet potato. My stomach got a little upset in the evening, and that worried me quite a bit. Then I woke up bloated and totally couldn’t even make a nervous poo, and I freaked out a little bit more.
But I proceeded to have my planned breakfast (coffee smoothie with banana and almonds, scrambled eggs and a Lara bar), filled two water bottles with coconut water and one with plain ice water, Mr. T packed a cooler with fruit he’d cut up for me the night before to enjoy at the finish line, we grabbed my pre-packed bags and then got Mr. T’s truck all loaded up. We headed out around 5:50AM (isn’t Mr. T a super rad dude for getting up so early? I vote yes).
On the way there, I started my normal freakout, fidgeting and twitching like crazy. I was extra bummed because no one in my family was coming to cheer me on. My mom was too busy and I didn’t give my biodad very much notice, so he already had plans. But my trainer was supposed to be there, and I was looking forward to having his support on the run. To help calm me, Mr. T played some 80s rock and that definitely helped. I was holding out for Eye of the Tiger, but Pandora didn’t oblige. Oh well.
I was well prepared as we grabbed all my gear and headed to transition, where I met up with the amazing lady T. I set up transition, bike stuff in front, running gear in back, counted the racks coming in from the swim and from the bike, got my numbers written on me and got in line for the portapotty.
While waiting, I was chatting with the athlete behind me, and we heard that we now needed to wear our number bibs on the bike…not how I laid out my transition. Rats. I had finally worked up enough nerves to get my stomach going and took care of some much-needed biz, which totally calmed my stomach, and headed back to transition to move my race belt to my bike pile.
The rest of the morning seemed to fly by. Before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to Lady T’s mom and Mr. T and lining up for the swim start. My trainer J-Derp hadn’t showed up yet, and I was bummed but focused on getting a good swim.
The start went SO FAST. They release a swimmer every 3 seconds, so soon I was running across the timing mat, carefully and awkwardly walking into the lake and then I was off. I could hear Lady T’s mom cheering for me as I left and it made me happy. I quickly got into a rhythm, but then got jostled a bit on the first turn and ended up needing a quick reset to calm my oncoming panic. I rolled onto my back, took a few deep breaths, reset mentally, and returned to my stroke. I got flustered on the other turns as well, but powered through. My side felt a little crampy, and my calves were threatening to seize up, so I didn’t push my kick much, but focused on getting as much power through my stroke as possible.
Before I knew it, I was at the end of the lake, being helped out by the awesome volunteers. I didn’t check my time or anything, but figured it was done to the best of my ability and it was time to focus on transition and the bike.
As I made the first turn to run down the transition chute, the announcer called out my name and I was so happy!!! That was so exciting. As I removed my goggles and cap, I looked up, spotted Mr. T and was shocked to see my biodad standing next to him. I was so damn happy to see him – someone in my family DOES give a shit about what I do! It gave me a boost and I powered through transition. I wish I had a picture from when I saw them standing there – I know I smiled like crazy!
T1 went as smoothly as it could have and soon I was powering down the road and onto the farm roads around New Town. There was quite a bit of headwind, but it was mild compared to wind speeds we had ridden in during training, so I was glad for that. But there was still A LOT of the course that was headwind, and felt like we were lacking tailwind in comparison.
But here’s the insane part. Knowing the wind situation, I had aimed to average 15MPH. There were only a few points on the course (RR tracks, turns, being passed) where I ever even dipped below 15MPH. I knew coming into T2 that I had blown my bike goal out of the water and came in almost 8 minutes early. This caused Mr. T and Dad to miss me, but I had set up text alerts and the system texted Mr. T that I had finished the bike, so they ran over near transition to yell congrats as I headed out to the run.
The first two miles were pretty easy. I finished mile 1 in 10 minutes, but probably burned myself out a bit in the process. Mile 2 was 10:26, but I kept pushing my pace because I knew I was padding myself for the oncoming slowdown. I was hoping that J-Derp would be at the turn for the second lap so he could hop in and push me through the last 2 miles, but sadly, he wasn’t there.
But Dad and Mr. T were SO EXCITED to see me when I barreled around the turn, 2 minutes faster than expected. I hit the 2 mile marker, took my first walk break and tried to take down some coconut butter. My mouth was dry, so it took me longer than expected to get through just one bite, so I kind of gave up on it. I joked with one of the volunteers about it (it was G, one of my old spin instructors!), saying I’d be kicking people’s butts as soon as I stopped chewing. At no point on the course did I stop feeling completely elated and thrilled about the race. I was nonstop happy.
My pace slowed in the third mile, putting me into the 11:15 range. But my average pace was still below my 11:00/mile goal, so I allowed myself a walk break and started the last mile (which actually wasn’t a full mile – the course was a bit short of 4 miles). The sun was getting intense and my side cramped a bit from trying to hydrate, so the last mile was a challenge. I walked more than I wanted to, but I was reserving some energy for the final push.
I came around the last turn, with the finisher’s chute in sight, Mr. T and Dad excitedly cheering me on, and I just put on my wheels. A few ladies cheering from the side called out that there were people behind me, so I smiled at them and sped up even more. I had the biggest grin on my face as I took huge strides to cross the finish line. The announcer again called out my name, congratulating me on finishing strong. Just check out the series of photos the photog snapped as I finished (yeah, yeah, I spent the $10 and bought the photo package…I figured it was worth it once I saw how funny these were):
And then I was done. I snagged a cold bottle of water and walked for a minute, found Mr. T and Dad, sat in the shade to enjoy a few bites of watermelon, then headed over to cheer on Lady T as she finished.
When Mr. T told me my final time, I was blown away. My goal, which I thought might be a bit too aggressive to hit, was 2:24:00. My actual time was 2:15:03 – I KILLED my goal by almost 9 minutes!! Holy shit balls!
I was so elated. I am still riding high from having such an awesome race. I’m bummed more of my family and friends weren’t there to be excited with me at the end, but it meant SO MUCH to have Lady T, her mom, Mr. T and Dad there. Seeing Dad was the best surprise, and he told me he’s been bragging about me to his friends about how awesome I am. That makes me feel loved, and that’s all I really want in life. Mr. T is so proud of me, too. He’s been so supportive in this journey, and he calms me on race day. I would be a mess without him. And if Lady T wasn’t in my life, I don’t know that I would have ever had the lady balls to even attempt a triathlon, but thanks to her awesome inspiration, I have some awesome memories and even more awesome goals ahead of me.
Clearly solid nutrition and hard work did a lot to power me through the day, and I don’t want to downplay that, but the moral support I received from everyone on the course (especially my ‘crew’) seriously made everything so much more rad. The whole time I kept thinking to myself that THIS is why I do this. THIS is why I have days where I feel deprived, where I am tired and don’t want to push but push anyway, where I’m emotional and even sometimes deflated…because all of those things are offset by the overwhelming power of how amazing it feels to have 2 hours, 15 minutes and 3 seconds of sweat, work and complete, utter euphoria.
THIS is why I’m a triathlete.
After cooling down and packing up our gear, Lady T and I headed home. Dad went on to his plans, and Mr. T basked with me in the afterglow of awesome. We snacked, napped, went to our favorite antique shop, had some Mexican food (QUESO DIP!!!), went to a local brewery to share some beers (which didn’t really taste so great to me, sadly), relaxed and had pizza and red wine for dinner. We went to bed full and very, very happy.
My hips and outer thighs were a little bit sore, but I never even really got stiff. My knees felt a bit worn out a few times, but my body has really reacted well to the beating I gave it…which means I probably could have pushed harder…which means next year is really going to rock.
For the first time in a long time, I am absolutely, positively, 100% PROUD of myself. No one else did this for me – I had help along the way, no doubt, but out there on the course, it was just me. I did this. I accomplished something awesome. It was no Ironman, it was no top finishing time, but it was a performance so much greater than I expected and I know I did it because I worked for it.
Looking at the race pics, I can see that there’s still improvement waiting to be made – both for my body and for my form – but those are simply goals for me to achieve. Going forward, I have lots of awesome waiting to happen. I have at least one more triathlon (Sunset Hills sprint in August) where I’ll be training for speed and get some bike hills under my belt. I’m considering having vengeance on the Lake Mattoon Oly, but I don’t know that I want to make Mr. T give up part of a holiday weekend for another race…so we’ll see. I’m going to start increasing my run mileage, hoping my knees and feet will support me on the journey to my first marathon. And I’m going to try to plan my training to get me to a Half Ironman next year. I want it. I think I can have it. I will absolutely try for it.
And in the meantime, I auditioned for Club Fitness’s Spinning program and got hired last night, so I have even more fun to look forward to in the coming months!
A year ago, I wasn’t sure I’d get back to where I could complete triathlons again. I’ve come so far, and I’m excited to keep going. Life is great, and the fun has only just begun.