She believed she could, so she did.
So I can officially call myself a triathlete!!! Woot woot!!!!
After my last post I was ready to finally get going with race day. Friday night I made sure to get a good night's rest since I've heard from several sources that the more important night of sleep is not the night before a race, but two nights before. I woke up kind of early on Saturday but I just lounged around and took it easy all day until Penn State played at 6. I made sure to hydrate all day long, napped in the afternoon, and made some short ribs to have over pasta for the pre race dinner. Penn State lost, so I went right to bed after the game. I fell asleep surprisingly fast considering the nerves were starting to kick in.
Race day started AWFULLY early. I woke up at about 2:45 and knew I wouldn't be able to fall back asleep. I stayed in bed until my alarm went off at 4:30. I popped right out of bed and put on my swim suit and tri shorts. Everything else had been packed the night before.
I had a banana with some peanut butter and a small glass of milk and headed out the door.
I had to park a little bit away from the race site, so I hopped on my bike, with my bag of gear on my back and headlamp to light my way, to ride a couple minutes to the race.
It really hit me what was about to happen when I got through the final check in where they marked my bib number on my arms and my age on my leg. I found PJ and started to get my transition area set up. I had a pile for the bike portion and a pile for the run. The advice I received was "just keep putting things on until your pile is gone".
Eventually it was time to head into the community center for the swim. Cue the scary music, THIS IS GETTING REAL. After one last bathroom break and a quick dip in the pool to make sure the water wouldn't be ice cold and shocking, it was time to line up. We had put our expected swim time on our registration, so the numbers were in that order so we wouldn't bunch up on each other.
Then it was time to start. We started at one corner of the pool and snaked our way up and down each lane until we reached the last corner of the pool. One person went off at a time with 15 seconds between each person. About 4 1/2 minutes after the first person started, I was up.
When I was given the go ahead I leaped into the pool and got started. I got a mouth and nose full of water when I jumped in and was a little panicked that it had all started, it took me about 4 laps to settle down. About 8 minutes later I had reached the end and climbed out the ladder. It was out the closest door and out to the transition area to get ready for the bike.
I had adrenaline racing through me when I got out of the pool and I half jogged/walked to the field where my bike was waiting. I was soaking wet and just tried my best to get everything together. Getting the socks on was probably the hardest part. Once I got everything on, it was time to run my bike out to the course. This probably took me 5 minutes. Definitely something I can improve on.
I was on my bike and ready to hit the trail where it was an out and back for a total of 15 miles. I thankfully got clipped in pretty easily. It took me a couple miles to pull my thoughts past the swim and first transition and to focus on the bike. When I got to the first intersection I was nervous the cops wouldn't be able to stop traffic, so I unclipped from the pedals and was ready to stop. After a couple intersections I realized the cops would handle the cars and I'd be able to cruise right through.
Since I had a bit of a head start thanks to the swim, I knew the majority of the racers were behind me. I got passed every couple of minutes, but was mostly by myself. I got to the turnaround and started thinking about conserving my legs for the run. I had started thinking about the 5k to still left to run after I made it back to the community center. There may have been a string of 4 letter words at that point cursing everyone who had talked me into signing up for this. The last quarter of the ride was almost all uphill, so conserving proved to be harder than expected. I finished the bike in about 1:05. Next year I want to get that under an hour.
This is where things got a little dicey. As I came cruising off the trail and into the transition area I couldn't get my right shoe unclipped from the pedal. My cleat had come loose and no matter how much I turned my foot, that sucker wasn't coming out. When I got to the dismount line I stopped next to a car so I could lean against it to undo my shoe and pull my foot out. I ran across the grass with one shoe on and one still on my bike. Luckily I had another pair of socks to put on since that pair was soaked. Again, socks were not an easy task and took way too much time. I had also planned to switch shirts and put on a dry one, but in the chaos of it all, I just left on what I had. Note for next year, don't wear cotton, it holds onto all the water from my suit and never dried. I had my mom and sister there cheering me on through the end of my bike and this transition. Too bad for them I'm not the quickest runner, so they still had a while to wait for me to finish.
I grabbed some water from the aide station and hit the run course. Only 5k left between me and the finish line. My legs were completely numb from the knees down from the chilly morning (it was about 50 degrees when we started) and the bike ride. I tried jogging but had to slow it down to a walk for a few minutes to get myself together. There was a no headphones rule so all I had to get me through the run was my own thoughts. I ran as much as I could and walked when I needed to. I tried to keep it to only walking the uphills and running the flats and downhills.
Everyone participating in the race was so up beat. Every single person I saw heading back towards the finish line was so encouraging. Everyone was saying to each other "You're doing great" "looking strong" "Killing it". Definitely helped me keep going until I got to the turn around to head back. Once I got to the volunteer at the turnaround point it was just over a mile until I was done. I tried to pick up my pace and run more than walk. Once I could see the finish line it was time to start grinning and no more walking anymore with everyone watching me come in.
I cruised to the finish line to end this crazy journey of not just a swim, not just a bike race, but a swim, bike and 5k too. Seriously, who decided that was a good idea?
Thank GOD it was over. Two hours and eleven minutes after I jumped in the pool, I was done.
When does registration for next year open?
I think this was the perfect race for my first triathlon. The pool swim was a little less chaotic than an open water swim, the bike was on a familiar trail that I've rode on tons of times, and the volunteers were amazing. The race was in honor of a local girl, Taylor Love, who has been conquering pediatric cancer since she was 18 months old. Check out her story here. Everyone was out to support her, so the energy was so positive and uplifting the whole day. I was so happy to have participated this year.
I can't wait to do this race again and to try out other local sprint triathlons next spring. And just 12 days into my 30th year, I get to cross something off of my 30 while 30 list.