That's right, guys, I survived the triathlon. In fact, I won it! Nah, just kidding. But I did finish each section, I didn't get kicked in the face by over eager swimmers, I didn't fall off my bike, I only ate one bug while riding the bike (I forgot to not open my mouth), and I ran the running portion a lot faster than I expected and reached a personal best!
Just to bring you down from the elation you are probably experiencing for me right now, this is all after 12 hours of extreme stress and panic about things that could, and did, go wrong. The night before the race, which is clearly the best time to make sure that your bike is shipshape, I found out that my front tire had a hole in it somewhere and it wasn't keeping air. This is at about 7:30pm on a Saturday, a time when most bike stores aren't open anymore. I ended up going to Eastern Mountain Sports in Harvard Square where the nicest man sold me two new relatively inexpensive, light-weight road tires, and then did a quick tune up to my gears. I explained to him that I was so relieved that they were open and able to take some time with me, so close to closing time. He said that it must be that I'm meant to go to the tri the next day. I'm not sure that I believe in the whole "meant to be" thing, but after the following morning I'm closer to believing it than ever.
The next morning, after leaving my apartment at 4:45 am and arriving at the race site at 5:45 am, I found out that I was missing a key piece that would keep my front tire on the bike. Saturday night, I had YouTube'd how to take your front tire off, which I needed to do to fit the bike in my trunk (I'm not a sporting enough cyclist yet to have a bike rack). There are a surprising number of videos on YouTube on this subject, and I watched a few and felt that I was up to the task. However, in the process I ended up losing a key piece that would keep my tire on the bike; that is, I was missing the nut that held it all together.
So that morning, after the hour long drive by myself to the race site, during which I had convinced myself that drowning really was a distinct possibility, I arrived to find myself in the above situation. After talking to several groups of extremely sympathetic but unhelpful ladies who were parked near me, one suggested that I go to the start where there would be a maintenance tent that might have the part. I bussed it over on the shuttle for onlookers, wheel in one hand and dismembered bike in other, and found the maintenance tent and almost fell to the ground with relief when they said they had the part. A big thank you goes out to the woman who walked with me to the maintenance tent and carried the wheel while I carried the bike.
Whew. And then the work began.
It starts with getting your bib number written on your thighs. This is the only way that they can take awful pictures of you and credit the photo to you. I would have been fine with foregoing this part, but I had no say.
This is a heat of women waiting to start. Note, this is not my heat. These ladies look much more put together and calm than I remember feeling when I was standing in the water. There were at least 20 heats, going at an interval of 3-4 minutes. Mine went right before this one and I'm pretty sure I was passed by most of these people. I know for a fact that I was passed by my friend Kendra, the one who had convinced me to do the tri.
On intensity: there were women, though not many, swimming with pool noodles. I may or may not have been passed by one of them. I'll leave that for you to ponder.
At the start of my heat, I felt pretty good. The water was tepid, the feet around me weren't thrashing too dangerously, and I was somewhat enjoying myself, despite the painful suctioning of the goggles on my eyes. What made me nervous was knowing that 50 people were going to be starting 4 minutes later. About halfway through the swim, I started getting passed by them. Once I was finally out of the water, the race photographer managed to get a photo of me looking like a 90-year old woman. Seriously, I had wrinkles.
I did not take this seriously. My times for transitions were the worst in my heat. I just...wasn't concerned about it. Interesting note about the timing for triathlons: you wear a band around your ankle that has a timing chip in it, which is how they know when you start and finish each section. It's nice because you get to see your individual times for the different portions as well as your times for the transitions.
I would include a photo of this part except that I don't want to have the copyright police come after me. But I looked okay on the bike, much, much better than the swim.
This part went really really well. I had not been on my bike at all before the race. By at all, I mean it had been about a year. I trained for this portion by going to Ride classes (spin) at Healthworks Fitness Center. For about two months prior to the race, I went to a class once or twice a week. Overall, I felt prepared, except for when it came to shifting gears to go up my first hill. See, in a year's time, you can forget things like you have to be in a low gear to make it up a hill. I was in the highest gear possible and ended up running up the hill with my bike. The rest of the hills were fine and I fixed my mistake :)
Best moment of the ride: I hear someone say "Kristin is that you??" and I look and see Kendra! We had not been able to meet up prior to the race start so I had yet to see the person who was responsible for getting me to do the triathlon and a proper thanks was due.
Kendra and I starting the run together
Allow me to refer back to a quote from a previous post.
"When you first transition from running to triathlon, it’s best to think of a triathlon as an extended workout. The swim is your warmup, the bike is a good way to dry off from the swim, and THEN you jump into the real race."
I hadn't drowned, I hadn't crashed my bike, and my adrenaline was going. Really, really going. My legs were hurting. For some reason, I get very social when I do races, and I ended up turning to a random lady beside me and asked if it's normal for your legs to hurt that much and she said yes, but that it gets better after the first mile.
My time for this portion of the tri made me extremely happy--I ran the 3 miles at a pace of 8:37. I don't run that fast, especially not after swimming and biking for the previous hour and fifteen minutes. I just don't. But I did. I part of me questioned if they had my time right, but I guess it makes sense. The energy at this race was amazing. Every person there was encouraging and positive, from the participants to the volunteers to the race officiators. Everyone was great and it was hard to not feel excited and energetic about it.
I would recommend this race to anyone who feels up to the challenge. In the swim, I finished 58 out of 61 for my heat. In the biking section, I finished 30 out of 61. In the run, I finished 15 out of 61. The only thing I was in any way prepared for was the run, and it shows in my time. I plan on doing this race again next year, this time with a little bit more practice swimming and some time on an actual bike beforehand.
Thank you Kendra for the encouragement and convincing me to sign up!!