(Photo by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville – The 2015 Tri 101 Group!)
Roughly 16 weeks ago, I decided to do something kind of crazy… I knew I had many long distance races on the calendar for my fall and winter season, so I wanted to do something fun and different over the hot summer months to keep everything fresh and avoid the dreaded burn out. Tri 101 training class? Why not! I have completed all of the running related training courses Fleet Feet has to offer, why not start in on the multi-sport ones too! I was completely new to the sport, didn’t know how to swim AT ALL, extremely uncomfortable on the bike, and definitely had no clue about putting it all together. I had many, MANY moments of “WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF IN TO?” and spent a lot of time being terrified of learning new things…
How far I have come 🙂
(Photo by Eric Vanderslice)
Pre Race: Race parking was quite a ways away from the start, so I made sure we got there in plenty of time to accomodate the walk over, getting all my gear set, and get a warm up swim too. I saw tons of my friends and they were all so excited for me, knowing that this was the goal race for the tri class I was in. It was so awesome to hear all of their words of encouragement– seeing so many friendly and familiar faces put me at ease immediately and I felt little to no nervousness. The race venue was CROWDED. It takes place at an indoor pool, with the bike on the surrounding roads, and the run around a pond nearby. I was interested to see how the pool swim would go, and wasn’t sure if it would be better or worse than open water.
(Photo by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville )
Soon it was near time for the race to start, so I hugged my family, who were sitting on bleachers inside so they could watch the swim, and lined up with my fellow racers outside of the pool. Everyone was packed together and one by one, in order of bib number, we were allowed to set on the mat and into the pool. Since I was number 237, it was going to be a while before I was able to start. I passed the time chit chatting with friends, and before I knew it I was inching closer and closer to the edge of the pool.
Swim, 400m: I stood behind the timing mat and waited, after a few moments, a volunteer touched my shoulder and shouted “GO!” – I jumped into the water and pushed off hard. My shorts, which have either already lost their spandex or are somehow too big after only a few months, caught drag in the water and it felt like they were going to fly off, yikes! No more super hard pushing off of the wall for me, ha! The swim was chaotic, to put it lightly. There were SO MANY people in the pool at once! I found myself frustrated because I was needing to pass people every couple of seconds, but I tried my best to settle into a rhythm and get my breathing even.
(Photos by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville )
Each time I reached the end of a length, it seemed like there were a few people hanging on to the wall to catch their breath. This made it a little difficult to quickly transition to the other lane, so instead of switching lanes, and the pushing off, I pushed off in the current lane diagonally into the next (I feel like only swimmers will understand that). It worked well and helped me to avoid the traffic jams. About halfway through I started being able to hear my mom and Scott yelling for me. I could only catch every couple of words, but knowing they were watching made me swim so strong– I wanted to impress them with my awesome swim skills, ha! Near the end, I turned my head to take a breath and someone kicked their foot down only inches from my face and I sucked up water from the splash. 16 weeks ago, that would have finished me off– swimming near other people was SCARY and swallowing water was EVEN SCARIER! This time I simply rolled over on my back, coughed a little, caught my breath, and then rolled back over and finished the swim strong. I love the swimmer I have become!
As hard as it was to navigate the lanes with so many other people in the pool, I gotta say it was nice to actually be able to see where I was going vs. having to look up constantly like in open water. At the end of the 400 meters, I climbed out of the pool, gave a high five to a volunteer, and ran off towards transition. My whole body tingled with excitement and I had a giant smile on my face– the swim was great and I couldn’t wait to get on with the rest of the race! (Swim time: 10:03)
Transition One: I forgot a shirt entirely so this transition was faster than usual for me– all I had to do was clip on my helmet and get my bike shoes on. Zoom! I was outta there! I crossed over the mount line and nearly fell over while trying to get on my bike. I was maybe a little too excited 🙂 (T1: 1:47)
Bike, 7 miles: Off on the bike– I knew this was going to fly by since it was such a short course. The bike is my least favorite thing, but I was enjoying myself and feeling stronger than I usually do. As per usual I was getting passed non stop by people on much fancier bikes, but I did pass a few people myself, so my ego wasn’t totally crushed 🙂 The worst part of the bike was a small out and back section, the road was in poor condition and the rattling was very unpleasant. I couldn’t wait to be off of there! Other than that, the route was flat and easy and just like I thought, went by super fast. In under 30 minutes I was already back at transition and ready for the run! (Bike time: 26:06)
(Photo by Rachel Gelmis of We Run Huntsville )
Transition Two: This transition felt like it took me an eternity! I wrestled with my running shoes and socks for what felt like 10 minutes, and I also got confused about where the run out exit was so I wasted more time running in a circle trying to escape– so I was shocked to see my time as short as it was. (T2: 1:47)
Run, 5k: YAY! Time to run! I was thrilled to hear my mom’s voice calling out to me as I ran out of transition, having her cheer me on is one of the best feelings in the world. The run course followed a crushed gravel path in two loops around the pond. To my surprise my legs didn’t have that horrible baby giraffe feeling that usually comes when getting off the bike– I guess the short ride is to thank for that! I was definitely tired and wasn’t moving particularly fast, but I was running well and knew that my race was going to be a success. I mentally made it a goal to not walk at all during the run, no matter how tired my legs were. After all, it was just a 5k right??
(Photos by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville )
Loop one went by super fast and just as I started on loop two I felt a burst of motivation, I tried my best to pick up the pace but my heavy legs were protesting with all their might. Oh well, at least I felt strong! That’s a major improvement over my other triathlons. There was one aid station that we got to visit twice and I drank two cups of water both times. It was a cloudy day, but the air was still humid and I was sweating a lot (what else is new). There was a small group of teenage girls volunteering and their cheers were constant and enthusiastic– I loved passing by them!! The loops were fun because it allowed me to run alongside many people I usually never get to see beyond the first few moments of a race. Before I knew it, I was coming around the corner and heading towards the finish line! WHOOO!
There were tons of people lining the sides of the course as I made my way towards the finish. The closer I ran, the louder it got! I heard lots of clapping and a girl announcing called my name– I crossed the finish line victorious! I think I can say, I’m definitely a real triathlete now. (Run time: 36:33)
Me and mom, my loudest and best cheerleader 🙂
All of my family very kindly gave me big hugs despite the fact that I was wet and sweaty, ha! Scotty immediately asked if I wanted anything, and I asked for a cold Coke to drink while I cooled off by a fan spraying water. After resting for a little while I went over to the results board, just curious to see what my times were. I was completely shocked to see my name at the top of my category, I was first out of 16 other racers…! What?? That can’t be right… I need to verify. I asked one of my more experienced tri friends how it all worked, and they confirmed, I was indeed in first place. COOL! We hung around for the award ceremony, and I took the opportunity to ham it up on the podium since it’s something this turtle girl so rarely gets to enjoy 😉 Final thoughts: I am so thankful to have ended my first ever tri season on such a great note and at such a wonderful race. I can’t believe how far I’ve come in such a short time, and I am so thankful for the Fleet Feet Tri 101 group and everything the coaches and my fellow participants have taught me. I had SO much fun training for this race, and am eagerly planning to join Tri 201 next summer 🙂