The quick report is that I made it through my first Olympic Tri yesterday. I achieved all my goals, although goal number 2 almost went down (details below).
I woke up at 4:20am, ten minutes before my alarm was set to go off. Guess I was a little nervous and didn’t sleep all that well. We stopped at McDonald’s on the hour long drive to Cochiti Lake to grab some breakfast. Even though I have a hard time eating the morning of races (I usually don’t eat before my morning training workouts), I got an oatmeal because it was still about 2 hours until the start of the race. I forced the oatmeal down on our drive and we got to the lake around 6am.
Rick helped me get everything set up in my transition spot and it was soon time to get my wetsuit on. We wandered down to the lake and met up with my friend, Sherri, who was getting ready to do the Sprint Tri.
I got in the water to do a few warm up strokes, and it felt really good. I was hoping to be able to stay relaxed during the swim and not panic at the start. Having only done 3 open water swims and never having done 1500 meters straight, I was a bit apprehensive about how the swim was going to go. I’d been told it is helpful to just stay calm and not go out to fast and get out of breath and panic, so that was my plan.
Here I am just before the start (I’m the one with my hands on my hips next to a girl in a faded red wetsuit). I was in a wave with all women after the men had already taken off, which I was happy with. There wasn’t too much thrashing, and quickly I got into my stroke and had a great time on the 2 loop swim. I got out of the water around 35 minutes (definitely not fast, but not bad for my first time), and was really happy with that. Up the beach I went to the transition area. I had a little problem getting the wetsuit off over the big timing chip that was on my ankle, so that cost me a bit more time than I would have liked, but soon enough I was off on the bike.
I hopped on the bike and was immediately met with a long huge uphill climb. I was having a hard time clipping my right bike shoe into my pedal (remember this for later), and was slowing down on the hill, so I decided to just pedal with my foot on top of my pedal until I got to the top of the hill and then tried again to get clipped in. I struggled a while longer and finally got my shoe clipped in. The bike was a 2 loop course and, while I’m not a great cyclist, I think it went well. I consistently pedalled the entire time, got passed by people on nice tri bikes, but passed a few people on the hills.
As the bike was coming to an end I was getting concerned about unclipping my right foot. This shoe has given me problems before, even in spin class I’ll sometimes struggle to clip in and out, but I never had trouble clipping in on my road bike, until today. My fear of not being able to unclip, and hence my Goal #2 of not falling off the bike, was beginning to set in. I started to try to unclip a bit before the transition area was coming up, just to ensure I had enough time, but I struggled and struggled and could not get my shoe out. I attempted to remain calm, but thought for sure this was it, I was going to meet the pavement. I was quickly approaching the area where you are to get off your bike and the nice volunteers were telling me to dismount, I called out to them and told them I could not unclip my right foot. I unclipped my left and the guy reached out to catch me. I landed upright on my left foot, continued to try to unclip my right and finally just pulled my foot out of my shoe. I am so appreciative to him for helping me not bite it!
I ran through transition with one bare foot and one bike shoe on. I guess it helped me make a faster transition because I only had to take one shoe off! On with my running shoes and hat, off with the helmet, and off up the huge hill I went. By now, the sun was beating down, it was getting really hot out and I was not feeling great. I do not do well running in heat and had visions of the St. George Marathon in which I ended up in the medical tent with dehydration. I knew I needed to take it easy as I was already feeling overheated. So, I did what I never thought I’d do in a 10k, I walked up part of the hill. The aid stations were giving out water and cold sponges, so I grabbed some sponges and they definitely helped to cool me down a bit. I ran and walked off and on and just focused on not overheating. It was probably a good thing that I didn’t have my Garmin on so I had no idea what my pace was. Fortunately the last 3/4 mile was downhill, and Sherri, who rocked the Sprint Tri (taking second place in her age group!), ran with me for part of the way at the end. Turns out my run time showed that I ran an 8:25 pace, which I am shocked since I walked so much.
Total time was 3:04:23. I’m happy to have survived my first Olympic Tri and had a blast doing it. Although running is still my first love, I can definitely see doing more triathlons in my future.