Saturday, September 11, 2010

First Triathlon

It has been a while since my first triathlon, but I finally have gotten around to writing the experience down. It was the Veterans Park Sprint Triathlon on August 14th. Boy what an experience; I will defiantly be doing another triathlon next year. It will be another sprint level for sure, but another one none-the-less.

I want to first say that without my bf David it just wouldn’t have been as memorable an experience. He kept me calm when I was nervous before hand, and he was there with my camera taking pictures and video at every transition. I got out of the water, he was there, I set off on the bike, he was there, I get back from my bike and fall off my bike (lol), and he was there. He was an integral part of the entire day. Not to mention treating me to a carb out at Pizza Hut that evening.

Ok, the official time of my first triathlon was 2:00:01. I met my goal of 2 hours; that one second just makes it all the more memorable of a PR, ha!

When I was standing in the sand with my friend Christina at the start line I was very nervous, excited, and I just wanted the event to start. Every time they would yell start for a wave of people to go in the water, I would get that much more excited. Finally, my wave – wave 4 – came up. The water was full of a lot of women of all shapes and sizes and most of them were doing their first triathlon too. A kind of camaraderie that would last the entire event started between us, and we were all telling each other, “I just wish it would start”, “if I can just get through the swim I’ll be good!”.

And finally they said, “Start!” and we were off. I started swimming my normal style, not knowing what open water would feel like, but I quickly learned it was like the pool but a lot more, well, open. In fact very open, no bottom to touch, and nothing to hold onto. I had to swim a rectangle of 400 yards, although it seemed a lot longer. Halfway to the first buoy I had to go into the back stroke to conserve energy. Thank goodness for the backstroke. I think I did 70% backstroke the entire time. It allowed me to keep moving even though I was tired. I made it to the first buoy and I just held onto it, glad that there was anything to hold onto at all. There was a woman already doing the same thing when I got there. We rested together, and were telling each other, “ok, now we just have to get to the next buoy”. And we were off again. It was this middle stretch when I had slight twinges of panic because I was breathing hard, my face was red, and I didn’t have anything to hold onto to rest. I literally had to keep going or I would drown. Well, really I wouldn’t have drown because there were boats standing by to pick up anyone that got that tired, but I did not want that to happen. I was going to finish.

After some regular strokes, back strokes, and even some doggie paddling I made it to the second buoy. The same woman was there I saw at the first buoy. We congratulated each other for making it to the second buoy as we caught our breath. Both of our goggles were getting fogged from all the heavy breathing. The more experienced women swimmers started to pass us as we hung onto the buoy; they were very nice and encouraging. They would cheer us on and say “you’re almost there!” and “you are doing great!” It was really nice to hear that; it was a lot better than just hearing my heart pounding from swimming so hard.

And we were off again, the other woman and me, to the finish line of our swimming adventure. We kept saying we should stop at the yellow buoy that is between the one we just came from and the finish line for another rest, but by that time I was ready to get out of the water. I started to swim regular strokes to get to the end faster. Some younger swimmers started swimming right on top of me, which made me a little miffed because they were being so inconsiderate, but it was a race. So after they passed me I swam just a little harder and slapped my hands on the backs of their legs. Just to make it even. I made it to the yellow buoy, but then I thought, “No, I’m going to finish the swim now”. So I just kept swimming till the end. I saw people were starting to get out of the water so I knew I was close to where I could put my feet on solid ground. Finally I lifted myself out of the water, and I was exhausted to say the least, but I had done it. It was one of the toughest things I have ever tried to do, and I did it. David was right there with the camera, and I didn’t know it at the time but he was videoing me getting out of the water. He cheered me on as I ran up the hill to transition. Oh, and yes, of course there had to be a steep hill to climb to get to transition.

Transition one went smoothly as I had my water bottles already on my bike and all I had to do was put on my helmet and my gloves, get my shoes and socks on, chug down a energy gel, and then I would be off to the bike. David was standing there with the camera and talking to me as I transitioned. That was really nice. He even caught my disgusted face as I ate my coffee flavored energy gel. A reminder to me in the future, don’t ever by coffee flavored energy gels again, yuck! The only other mishap in transition is that I had trouble getting my socks on with my wet feet. I finally just plopped down on the ground and then shoved them on my feet; same with my shoes. Then I ran my bike to the starting line and started peddling away.

I have to say the bike portion was my favorite of the triathlon. The wind blowing against my skin felt great after that hard swim. I really didn’t have any problems getting my legs to work after all the swimming; I think I was just glad to not be swimming anymore. One story I can tell about this leg of the journey is that I got stung by a wasp! Boy did that hurt. I wasn’t the only one either, a lot of people were complaining that they had to swat off some wasps. It stung me when I was reaching back to get my water bottle behind my seat; right on the armpit. It started throbbing, and then all I could do to ease the pain was just start crying. I think that is the funniest thing, on my first triathlon I cried not because of fear I wouldn’t finish, not because of pain in my legs, but from a stupid wasp. Another happening during the bike portion concerns my emergency kit my friend Natalie made for me that carried my tire kit. She sewed it up just for me to fit between my under seat water bottle holders. When I was half way through the bike I started slowing down and didn’t know why. I peddled harder but to no avail, I was still slowing down. My first thought was, “oh no, I have a flat tire” Well luckily Natalie had given me this awesome little bag so I had my tire changing kit with me. So I get off the bike real quick and look at my back tire, and I saw that the little sewn bag had started to sag down and was rubbing against my tire slowing me down. How ironic! The kit I brought along to change a tire was slowing me down. So I tightened the little bag up very tight, and I was off for the rest of the bike.

I see the transition area again and I was ecstatic. I even see David sitting there by the red line I have to stop at, ready with the camera. As I slow down to get off the bike, however, my legs must have been a little more tired than I thought because I fell off the bike. I fell right on my knees, and knocked off my rear seat water bottle set-up; one of the water bottles even fell off and started rolling way. I bounced right back up though and asked David real quick if he was get my rolling away water bottle and keep it for me. This all happened pretty quick though, and soon I was in transition putting my bike back on the rack and taking off my helmet. I was pretty tired by this point after my 13 mile adventure, but ready for the last stretch, the run.

I was so excited about the last part of the triathlon that I forgot my paper number when I left transition. This is funny because I had to borrow a running belt from a nice lady in transition to even have something to pin the number on with; after all that I just forget it. I just shrugged it off and kept running. Well, running is what I would have liked to do, but my legs were telling me a different story. It was more of nice strolling jog to the finish. I kept going though; I would pick things in the distance and just focus on getting to that point. During the run I met back up with the woman that I had seen on the buoys during the swim. We jogged together telling stories about our bike portion and encouraging each other. Then another woman came up and joined us as we jogged. I don’t think I would have remembered her except she had full make-up on! I was shocked; I sure would like to know what water proof make-up she was wearing. We jogged together for a little while, and then I had to start walking a bit to catch my breath.

I finally get to the last half mile and everything started to get congested because people were all around watching their friends finish the triathlon. I met up with another woman sharing my pain and we started jogging together. We got behind some person in a car that was in our way; the exhaust from the car was horrible. We were both pretty mad and used enough energy to pass the car. It was only going like 3 miles an hour anyways, so it wasn’t that hard. It shouldn’t have been there to begin with, stupid driver, lol. We rounded the final stretch and this is when I walked a little to conserve a bit of energy. Then I saw David with the camera and then the finish line. I mustered up enough energy and sprinted across the finish line. It was a great feeling. They handed me my medal for completing the event and took off my ankle tracking chip. Then I stood on the other side; just standing there with my water bottle. I was tired, but I could still walk. I was still alive. I had done it. Then I saw David and he immediately gave me a big hug. It was a great feeling.

David and I chilled the rest of the day. We ate some sausage dogs that the event had cooked up, and sat inside the hotel of the event for some air-conditioning. Then I took a sorely needed shower at the cabin we were staying at and then we left for home. He then took me to Pizza Hut and I had the best tasting pizza ever.

All-in-all it was a great experience. I saw, I trained, I decently conquered. Now I have my sights set on my first half-marathon. 13 miles of just running. Hey, that should be easy right, no swimming or biking? We shall see.