I first went to the transition area to drop off my bike. It's basically long metal bars that you perch your bike on from the seat and where you place all of your gear to transition from each leg. Registration was pretty easy and a good distraction from the nerves. A volunteer put my race number in permanent marker on my arm and my age on my calf. I asked him if he had neat printing but he just laughed. I wanted it to look good! I went back to set up the rest of my transition area, trying to play through each part in my head and what I'd need, when. Late nights of watching transition videos on Youtube gave me a few good tips. I found J and the boys and eventually my brother-in-laws who were also doing it as well. As the race got closer we all gathered by the lake and the nerves kicked into high gear. Getting into a wet suit is no easy task. A lot of people had them but it probably wasn't necessary. I was counting on it help me with buoyancy and a friend had kindly lent it to me. The race started in waves by age group, three minutes apart. The time was approaching quickly as we waited on the beach.
This is the part I trained for the most but was the most nervous about. I LOVE the water but have never been a strong swimmer. Many people told me to wait for most people to go first so I wasn't in a huge pack, but even after doing that, there were plenty of people around me to bump into. Let's just say swimming in your own lane in a beautiful pool with lane lines is nothing like swimming in a lake with a wet suit in crowded water. I knew that going in and my main goal was not to panic and bail. I felt like I was pretty slow and it wasn't pretty. My strokes were nothing like in the pool. I ended up doing some weird one-legged breast stroke for much of the way and even flipped on my back a few times, the true sign of a rookie. The hardest part mentally was when people from the next wave started passing me. Swimming around the last buoy I could see the beach and people starting to reach land so I just told myself I wasn't going to die and kept going. I was actually really happy with my time, all things considered.
Transition 1 (T1)
To get from the beach to the transition area required running up a huge hill which was tough. I ended up walking near the end. I got the wetsuit down to my waist fairly quickly and had learned a trick to get my swim cap and goggles into one of the sleeves. Getting the rest of the wetsuit off wasn't too tough and my main goal was to dry off enough. I had another friend tell me that she was so wet her shoes and socks were soaked which made for a difficult run.I had tri-shorts (also lent from a friend!) and a sports bra under my wetsuit so basically needed to get on a shirt, race belt with my number, socks, shoes and helmet. I put elastic laces in my shoes to make it easier. I felt good about the transition and was ready for the bike. I ran right past J but he didn't see me and I realized he was looking where I had first parked my bike...forgot to tell him I had moved.
Once we got out of the conservation area the bike course was a straight out and back with a few hills. I had an upright hybrid bike so I knew I'd be at a disadvantage to the majority of people on road bikes. This was by far the most enjoyable leg. I went as fast as I could and enjoyed watching the people coming the other direction. Having our ages written on our calves proved to be a nice distraction as I thought, "Huh. That lady passing me is in her forties and started three minutes behind me. Way to go lady!" The ride seemed to take awhile but I was able to calm down, catch my breath and realize I was actually doing this!
This one was fairly simple. All I really had to do was park my bike, take off my helmet and put on my running hat. Having no cycling shoes has it's advantages I guess.
All of my boys were there to cheer me on as I started my run which was a nice encouragement. I'm not sure if I'd say the swim or run was more challenging but it was definitely difficult. I had done a decent job in my running training and done my brick workouts (running after biking) but I was pretty tired at this point. And to my surprise the course was very hilly. I walked for a lot of it but luckily most people around me were in the same boat. I saw both of my brother-in-laws on their way back and we exchanged high-fives. I was feeling pretty discouraged at how hard it was to run after all my training so that was a nice pick-me-up. I finally made it up the last hill headed down towards the finish line and of course I had to run for that part. My boys, other family and friends were there to cheer me on my last few steps. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see the clock at 1 hour and 3 minutes as I crossed the finish line, and later even happier to realize three minutes were shaved off to account for the second wave start.
Overall I found my first try-a-tri super challenging. There are so many things for us rookies to learn. I remember thinking on the run, "Well I guess this is the last time I'll be doing this" but my finally time was 1 hour 7.9 seconds. I was the first person in the race to hit the hour mark and now the competitor in me wants to get under an hour. I'm hoping that won't be hard with one race under my belt. After seeing my photos, a friend from high school gave me her old tri bike which was extremely generous of her. I've gotten it tuned up and bought some cycling shoes to start spinning, but have yet to try it out. It's a whole different world than my comfortable upright hybrid, and definitely a faster one! It feels good to accomplish a goal that took up the better part of a year to work towards. Hard work aside, racing really is a lot of fun! I think I'll be back for more next season.