2015 Racing Rivals Triathlon Race Report

OOPS I DID IT AGAIN… I originally had no plans to do this race. Famous last words, right?? But… after having so much fun at Wet Dog last week, a few encouraging comments and messages from some of my tri friends was all it took to get me talked into a last minute registration. Doing my second tri less than two weeks after my FIRST tri?? This is what life is like when all of your friends are athletes!

(Photo by Gregg and Rachel Gelmis of We Run Huntsville)

Pre race: As I set up my transition area, it suddenly occurred to me that I was not nervous at all. What a difference from Wet Dog, where I was pretty sure I was going to puke before I ever got to the swim. I felt comfortable this time, definitely not an expert or winning athlete, but at least I sort of knew what I was doing and how things were supposed to go. I spent most of the pre race time just chatting with friends– many of them grinning big, giant “I TOLD YOU SO” smiles. I have always told my triathlon friends I didn’t see myself ever doing one… but look at me now! Debbie, a friend I met through a Fleet Feet training program, said, “You’re all in now, aren’t you??” “Don’t get me wrong, I still think this all nonsense,” I replied, motioning towards the mountain of gear at my feet, “but it’s fun nonsense!”

As I was talking with my other friend, Lori, she mentioned that we should probably go ahead and get our warm up swim in. The water was almost HOT. Ack! We did a quick lap up and around the first buoy, then back to the beach to wait on our wave to start.

Swim (400m): Each age group got to start in their own waves; I was in the youngest group and ours got to go second, after the males. As we stood on the beach I started to feel a little nervousness about the start– it was different than what I expected, and I wasn’t sure how to best to tackle the “EVERYONE RUSH THE WATER AT ONCE!” method of starting, ha! Soon we were counted off, and I just followed the lead of everyone around me– WOOSH! We all splashed in and I tried to stay out of the way of the more accomplished athletes.

As I swam I realized I was in a tightly packed group of faster swimmers, surrounded on every side. I wasn’t sure how to get away without getting kicked or kicking someone, etc. I started to feel anxious and out of breath and knew that I had to do something or this swim was going to be a bust. I slowed, tried to allow the fast people behind me to pass without too much arm/leg flailing, and as soon as I was alone I flipped on my back to catch my breath. “Calm down,” I told myself, “this is your favorite part, take a deep breath and ENJOY IT!” After a minute or so of the back float I flipped back over and continued towards the small island we were to be swimming around.

(Photo by Gregg and Rachel Gelmis of We Run Huntsville– do you like my swim face??)


As I made my way around the island, looking up every once in a while to make sure I was heading in the right direction, I kept colliding with the same girl. I felt bad because I thought it was my fault, but as I kept a closer eye on here I realized that she was swimming zig-zags right in front of my path. I tried my best to get out of her range but continued to bump in to her every minute or so, once getting elbowed in the face. Ouch! At once point I was pretty sure I saw her heading in the wrong direction, and wondered if I should call out, but didn’t think she’d be able to hear me anyway. After rounding the island we headed towards another beach for the finish. A mistake I made at Wet Dog was standing at the end of the swim too early and then having to awkwardly run/walk through the waist deep water to get out. That slowed me down a lot! This time I continued to swim right up until I got to the edge of the water– that made for a much easier exit! (Swim time: 11:30)

(Photo by Gregg and Rachel Gelmis of We Run Huntsville)

Transition 1: A short little jog brought me back to the transition area, I dashed over to my bike and struggled to get a shirt on my wet body. Mental note: stick with the loose fitting, lightweight tank top next time! Helmet, bike shoes, and race number on, I was off! (T1: 2:12)

Bike (12.5 miles): I think cycling is officially my least favorite sport. It always feels good at first, but by about mile 8 or so my crotch is ready to NOT be squashed anymore, ha! I hopped on at the mount line and headed off. This course was significantly more hilly than the last, and it was a couple miles longer too. I rode conservatively because I wanted to make sure I still had plenty of steam for the run. The surroundings were lovely though, and I was enjoying all the nice country road views. About halfway through I started to feel like I was expending more energy than I should be– I felt like I was pedaling HARD and barely moving. I looked between my legs and noticed that my back tire looked slightly deflated. Uh oh. I knew that if it ended up completely flat the race would be over for me. I continued to ride carefully and was very cautious about bumps and road debris. I was getting passed constantly and was starting to get a little discouraged. Come on bike! Don’t fail me now! I reached the turn around point and now my tire was significantly flatter, I knew air was slowly leaking out but wasn’t sure how long it would last. I was passed by a large group on the return trip I started to feel like I was the last person out there. “Who cares if it’s last place! JUST FINISH!” I told myself, and when I rounded the last corner and had the dismount line in sight I cheered inwardly. Glad that was over!! (Bike time: 49:21, 15.19 mph)

Transition 2: Bike racked, running shoes on, and SHIRT OFF! It was HOT by now and all during the bike ride my shirt was uncomfortably sticking to my body. There was NO shade on the run course so I was not going to deal with the extra fabric. (T2: 2:23)

Run (5k): YIPPEE! Run time! My legs felt surprisingly decent after having just pushed them hard on the hilly bike course with a flattening tire! I didn’t question it and pushed the pace as much as I could. Like I said, there was ZERO SHADE for the run course and I quickly heated up. Every time I touched my face it was dry and salty. Yuck! I was desperate for some water– even though I had been chugging it all during the bike I felt parched and dehydrated. Despite the heat, I was determined to take no walk breaks and just tried my best to shuffle/drag my feet along. I passed by a police officer guiding traffic near the turn around, he told me I was doing great and I asked, “Am I still running? This doesn’t feel like running!” he laughed and assured me I was. Whatever I was doing, it was forward progress. I was tired and overheated and dying of thirst, but somehow still happy to be running. FINALLY I made it to the turn around where the water was. BLESSED WATER! I took four cups– two to drink and two to splash on my head. I know it was only 5k, but I really could have used more than one water stop, especially since it was so hot.

 (Photo by Gregg and Rachel Gelmis of We Run Huntsville)


The best part about out and back run courses are seeing all the participants along the way. Everyone seemed to be sharing words of encouragement, and lots of my friends called my name and cheered for me, and it made me not feel so tired. When I rounded the corner towards the finish line I heard my friend Suzanne call, “RUN FOR SPARKLE!” Ha!! I laughed and raised my arms as I crossed under the arch. Hooray! It was over! I could finally find some shade!! (Run time: 37:23, 12:01 min/mi)

(Photo by Gregg and Rachel Gelmis of We Run Huntsville– Probably the DOOFIEST finish pictures ever. Please enjoy my ridiculousness.)

Total time: 1:42:50.

Overall, a very fun race despite some complications. The bike malfunction was frustrating, but I’m not really sure if there’s anything I could have done to prevent it or even fix it mid race. The air was going out so slowly, I didn’t notice it when I took my bike out for a short spin pre race, and since it was such a short race, stopping to change the flat would have REALLY put me in dead last! Thankfully it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t at least complete the course, and I still had tons of fun despite it. It’s hard to not enjoy yourself when surrounded by so many fun, friendly athletes. I love that I was able to run faster this time, but I definitely need to work on making my transitions faster. Final thoughts: time to join the local triathlon club 🙂

Only a few more weeks until the next one! 😀


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