Feeling Tri-Umphant

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

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You know how I’m always saying that “I will succeed because I am crazy enough to think I can”… Well this past weekend, I was crazy enough!   

That’s right! It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for: My REV3 Olympic Recap

It would be wrong for me to tell you that it started Friday night with the race expo because the truth is, it started loooooonnnnng before that.  It started as a little, tiny, glint-of-hope, pipe dream.  It was one of those crazy goals that I wanted to do someday.  It was so far out of my comfort zone, I never actually believed I would do it.  Yes I hoped and I dreamed, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around ever getting there.

Through countless hours of training (and regular public humiliation) I learned to swim and bike… from scratch.  Ten months later, I found myself at a safety briefing for my first real triathlon.  It would have been far too sensible to start with a sprint distance.  Instead, I had set my sights on a half and downgraded to the Olympic.  I was clearly smoking crack out of my mind.

ImageI am reasonably sure that the actual job of the race director who gave our briefing was to scare the bejesus out of all the newbie triathletes.  I found this both cruel and sadistic. I had visions of him knocking over the ice cream cones of small children for fun while he spoke.  After stressing how hilly and difficult the course was, he actually made it a point to say that the race officials would be focusing their attention on all the newbies who didn’t know what they were doing.  Well thank you so much Mr. Sunshine, because I wasn’t terrified enough already.

After his glorious pep talk, I went home and couldn’t sleep.  In fact, I called the hubs almost in tears on my way home.  He assured me I would be fine.  I made him promise that he would have told me if he thought I couldn’t do it.  I tried my best to calm my nerves, but it was no use.  I applied my race number tattoos (while second guessing where I was supposed to put them, convinced that it would invariably be wrong) and headed to bed.

By 3 am I was wide awake and still utterly terrified.  There was no peaceful calm, no get it done attitude- just sheer terror.  I forced down some water and sweet potato and headed back to the park and bike transition.  I hadn’t racked my bike ahead of time because it was raining when I left.  I did heed the advice of the director and arrived well ahead of check in only to find it completely empty.  This dramatically dropped his credibility in my book.  I tried to catch some sleep in between trying to cram last minute calories and frequent trips to the bathroom for that wonderful pre-race nervous pee ritual we all know and love (hate).  Thankfully, I was forward thinking enough the evening before to have asked one of the transition volunteers about the set up, so I was at least fairly confident arranging my transition area.

Before I knew it, it was time to head to the shore.  On my way, I saw my personal kayak escort from my open water swim!  It was like the heavens themselves opened up and smiled down on me I was so relieved to see her!  She told me I would be fine, and I actually believed her… for like 30 seconds before I hit the water.  I did take the advice of the director and do a warm up swim.  It definitely helped with calming my nerves.  Once I was confident that I could swim without having an all out panic attack, I headed over to watch the other waves start.

I distracted myself by making friendly conversation with some other first time triathletes which, thankfully, gave me a sense of ease.  In fact, I entered the water feeling relatively calm.  I knew my task for the swim would be to remain calm and conquer my nerves.  It is something I have had to do countless times being terrified of swimming from the beginning (who knew that’d turn out to be such a plus?).  I just kept repeating “I love to swim” over and over in my head and focused on my stroke.  The course went by fairly quickly, and I learned my first newbie lesson- wear tinted goggles when open water swimming.  For approximately one third (the backstretch) of the course, I could not see anything above water due to the sun.  Instead, I tried to follow the trail of bubbles in front of me and hoped that the people ahead of me knew where they were going.  Once we were back on the final stretch, it was smooth sailing.   I was complimented on my way out of the water for being the first to exit smiling- which is amusing when you consider I started in the 4th wave and got passed by a good part of the 5th (the last)… who literally swam over me.  Did I mention that was the Athena wave (ie. Amazonian sized women)?  Yea, that was not intimidating at all…

I took my time in transition because I knew I could.  I didn’t want to rush and forget something.  My goal for this race was simply to finish, and I knew I had enough people behind me in the water that I wouldn’t get pulled.  I had no idea what my swim time was when I headed out for the bike. (It turned out to be 38:59) I was so relieved that the hubs and I had done the course earlier in the week as a test ride.  I felt so much more confident knowing every turn and hill on the course.  More than that, I had enjoyed the ride, and looked forwarded to repeating it.  It was beautiful with rolling hills and picturesque scenery.  There were two steep sections and a couple sucky hills, but there were also some AWESOME downhills with nice wide roads.  The best part was that the bad uphills were in the middle of the course while the fun downhills were all in the second half.  In my mind, they were my reward for all the hard work I had put in up to that point.  I slid back on my seat, tucked in, and FLEW down those stretches (On the preview I clocked just shy of 40 mph!).  I barreled past other riders- despite the fact that I managed to drop my chain on the way down.  I had to stop twice to fix it at the bottom and toppled once unclipping, but none of that even remotely dampened my spirits.  Even with dropping my chain and the stops, my bike took 1:54:39.

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My free finisher photo. Thanks REV3!

My transition time between my bike and run was shorter than my first primarily because I ate while running out.  The run course was hilly but completely manageable; and the miles went by quickly.  Because I knew I was in no danger of getting pulled, I ran smart instead of fast.  I picked a comfortable pace.  When the hills got steep and I thought I could walk faster than run, I did.  If ultra running has taught me anything it’s that there’s no point or glory in running when all you are going to accomplish is burning out your legs.  It’s better to spare the energy and kill it on the downs and flats.

So that is what I did, and it worked for me.  I finished the run strong- blasting through the finish (It’s amazing how much faster I can move when the end is in sight!) with a total time of 3:43.  The hubs was there waiting with one of our friends.  They had actually ridden out to meet me on the bike course and cheer, though, in truth, they met me going up while I was headed down and were completely out of breath.  I was still happy to see their faces, nonetheless! I also was fortunate to have AMAZING support from the the Waterbury Tri Club peeps volunteering throughout the course.  It was definitely a HUGE boost every time I saw any of them- and especially when I hit the aid station at mile 5 of the run and they all erupted into cheers.  I would have stopped to hug each of them had I not been so ready to be finished!!!

I can’t even begin to explain what it feels like to work SO HARD for something and then FINALLY achieve it.  Even though I still have not reached my dream of a half or full ironman, I did accomplish my goal of becoming a triathlete- and that is HUGE!  I am now officially a woman who is too badass for just one sport.  I swim, bike, and run.  I will continue to swim, bike, and run until the day when I no longer can.  There may even be an Ironman Full REV at Cedar Point 2015 on the agenda.  Who knows what the future holds.

You can bet no matter where life takes me that I will keep pushing and challenging myself.  To me, that’s what really living is.  It’s taking risks, getting out of my comfort zone, and redefining myself everyday. #thriveon

Are you a triathlete?  Thinking of becoming one?  You may be interested in checking out the ladies below for some laughs and inspiration:

Brook’s Tri Sprint Recap: The raw, [uncensored] TRUTH about my race day mistakes. – Make sure you aren’t drinking anything when you read Brook’s blog or it may come out your nose.  You’ve been warned!  Also consider joining her Sole Sisterhood while you’re there! It’s completely free.

Swim Bike Mom’s  Journey to 140.6: Week 3 of 24– Really you should just read her WHOLE BLOG and her book.  In case you hadn’t noticed yet, I’m kind of a big fan.  She speaks my language, and by that I mean snarky… oh and she refers to her lady parts as “the queen”… This may make us soulmates, but I don’t think she’s realized that yet so we’ll keep it on the DL (That’s “down low” btw)

Norma Bastidas’ Record Triathlon Brings Awareness– I first heard of Norma in reference to her ultra running, which is pretty darn amazing in its own right.  I am not going to give you all the deets of what makes her such an awe inspiring individual because I really want you to read it yourself, but I will say that this women has truly persevered beyond just learning to swim for her Mega Triathlon (woman after my own heart…).

That is all for now my loves!!!! I hope you are having a wonderful week!

Go chase your dreams!!!!

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12 comments

  1. Congratulations! I was reading your previous post – the one about going out for a pre-race ride with the cycling group – while sitting in traffic this morning and was really hoping that you managed to have a great race, and I’m so happy to see that you did! Triathlon is such a rewarding, awesome sport, and I’m excited for you to be part of it now.

  2. Glad you had a great race! Congrats.
    I had tinted goggles for the swim, but even I could barely see after that first turn on the swim.
    And the race director IS a nice guy. I promise.

    And just to clarify, it is the Cedar Point FULL REV. Not “ironman.” 🙂 Different, but we like to think better as well.

    1. Thanks so much! Yes, I did realize there is a difference, and I should have said “ironman distance”. I had a great experience with REV3, so is be thrilled to do a full 140.6 with them (when I’m ready). The Ironman title is not particularly important to me given I’m not shooting for Kona here. To me, it’s about conquering the distance more than anything else.
      I’ll take your word on the race director 😉

  3. Awesome job! I am considering taking adult swim classes (I plug my nose when I go under the water – I’d have a long way to go before I could even consider thinking about attempting a triathlon.) You are inspiring!! 🙂

  4. Well written……It was a great read !! Glad that our paths crossed last year in that swim class….. i give you a lot of credit…. You are a true inspiration,…..PS The bike rack fits….THANKS !!!

    1. Thanks so much Brian!!! I’m very glad we crossed paths too although you are so friendly and social I’m not sure we needed swim class for the introduction ;). I’m so glad the rack fits! I hope you get lots of use out of it!

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