Wednesday, August 31, 2011
At the beginning of the summer I blogged about how I had qualified for the triathlon National Championships and my parents were taking me.
Today I am going to write about the race and then tomorrow the trip itself.
I think I was in the 87th wave to start. The waves before me had swum in deceptively straight lines leading me to believe there was little current or pull. So I jumped in under that false assumption and started about ten minutes of treading water. While I was treading water the announcer announced, "Susan Williams is in the water." Susan Williams is THE U.S. women's Olympic medalist from the U.S. I was swimming with her. We were neck and neck.....right until the horn sounded.
I quickly realized that I was out of my league as the rest of the field pulled ahead of me. I dealt with that through the first and second buoy and I was being overcome by the next wave at the third. Then it all fell apart and I considered quitting as a lifeguard tried to beat me into returning to the course with his oar. The sun was in my eyes, I was swimming in circles, I had a cramp, and some jerk told me I was swimming sideways. (Just for the record....I MEANT too!)
The only thing that kept me from giving up was thinking that my parents had funded the whole trip and my mom had walked all the way to the race start. If I had quit then it would all be a waste. I never did see that fourth buoy, but I did spot the fifth and figured I might live, so I continued swimming and finally made it to dry land. I thought I had been out there forever, but it turns out it was right at 38 minutes. Not much off my usual pace.
Swim - 00:38:17
I managed not to pull a glut getting out of my wetsuit and headed on to the next phase.
I had rented a very nice tri bike for the occasion instead of paying for my own bike to me dismantled and rebuilt numerous times. It was awesome. Shifting was different as were the aero bars and the handle bars, but all in all it was fine.
The idea of hills had me intimidated ever since I signed up for the race. The first 2.5 miles were total incline. And to mock me the people ahead of me were FLYING downhill to finish up their bike. Usually my heart rate is usually only around 180 when I am going all out. On the bike my heart rate stayed around 225 the entire time. It was definitely hard, but not impossibly so. Vermont was beautiful and I had plenty of time to see it. I figure I was in last place because whenever I rode passed a volunteer or officer they started up their engines as if they were done with their shift.
It was quite exhilarating to look down and see my speed as 37.00 mph after the turnaround. Since I had never ridden the bike other than on the trainer for the fitting I was really praying the brakes worked. Whew.
The cramp I developed in the swim was noticeable on the bike, but not traumatic. (That's foreshadowing by the way.)
Bike - 1:27:30
The run is never my strong point and the feeling that I was in last didn't help. Neither did the half mile climb to start us off. UHG. I walked it and my side was killing me by the time I got to the top. I walked/ran as best I can. Five people from my age group passed me which filled me with hope AND despair. Each time I thought, "I wasn't last! But I am now."
At one point I was walking and a nice older (very older) lady competitor ran by me and asked if I was injured. I told her I had a bad cramp and couldn't breath and she encouraged me to run with her nice and slow. I did run with her for probably a mile and a half and I am so thankful for her encouragement. She was a previous world qualifier and very interesting too! By the time she ran off I only had a mile left.
Run - 1:13:22
Finally I reached the finish line and received my finishers medal. Both my dad and my mom were there to congratulate me. (Everyone else had packed up and gone home. Ok. Not really.) I was very glad my mom was able to see me race. I was even more glad my dad had pre agreed to a big honking LUNCH!!
Total - 3:23:46
Sometimes it is important to just keep going because it turns out I didn't do as poorly at the race as I thought I was doing. I was over my best olympic distance time by about four minutes. Really with the hills and the unfamiliar bike and all that wasn't too bad.
I came in 106th out of 107 in my age group. Of course if I were just basing my performance on that I would be disappointed, so it is a good thing I am not. It's like I told my dad. I was still getting passed, but I was getting passed by a much better class of athlete!
I was an experience I am lucky to have had. I hope to get a chance to return next year and do a better job since I have one national championship under my belt! Can't wait. (Mom and Dad - I will try to save up some money between now and then!!)
Tomorrow I plan to fill you all in on the vacation part of this trication.
Try to contain your excitement.