Yesterday I crossed something off my bucket list: Complete an outdoor triathlon!
The Ozark Valley Triathlon was simply amazing. From the course, to the volunteers, to the after-race drawing and prizes (I won a box of Powerbars and a coffee mug!), I couldn't have picked a better first outdoor triathlon! While my performance will never be in the record books, I had an absolute blast and I am officially in love with triathlons!
This past week a friend reminded me with a wonderful verse from scripture that kept me mentally tough during this entire race.
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31. (<--DGR represent!)
I repeated this verse over and over again, which gave me a sense of peace and strength during tough moments. What could be a better mantra than God's own words?! I wonder what took me so long to figure this out?
The morning started early with a 5:30 alarm. I always thought I needed a lot of stuff for half marathons, but my goodness have I been enlightened. Here is everything I needed:
- Tri shirt, shorts, and shorts bra
- Swim Cap
- Swimming watch
- Hand towel
- Running shoes
- 2 bottles of water + 2 bottles of Gatorade
- 3 Gu packets for fuel
- Change of clothes/shoes for afterwards
Whew, thats a lot!
The race was held at Lake Weddington, a state park 20 minutes from my front door. We got to the park at 6:45, just enough time to get body marked, set up, take a Gu, use the rest room (again), and attend the pre-race meeting before we headed to the start line. The transition area was a little overwhelming for me and I kept looking around to make sure I was setting things up right. As far as I know, I didn't do anything faux pas.
As the countdown began, I watched the first two waves go ahead. Females age 39 and under were in the third and final wave, 10 minutes after the official gun went off. See, still nice and relaxed:
My fellow female competitors were incredibly nice and encouraging. A few women I was wading next to found out this was my first outdoor triathlon and they gave me plenty of tips for the swim. Such a great camaraderie among runners and triathletes! My main focus on the swim was to start in the back so I wouldn't get tackled at the start. See me waving? Yep, way in the back!
The hardest part of the swim was staying on course. I kept veering every which way but straight, which left me frustrated and using way too much energy searching around for the right direction. I definitely chugged some tasty lake water more than once. Open water swims are seriously legit and completely different than pool swims. I'm glad I did at least one open water swim during training so I wasn't totally naive, but I wasn't prepared for this.
Nevertheless, I still ended up with a great time (for me)!
1000 yard swim: 00:22:15.4
We then had to run 200 meters uphill to the transition area where I was completely under prepared and became flustered. It went by too slow and I had way too much to think about: Gu, hydrate, fix my hair, clean my feet, put on socks/shoes, helmet, start the Garmin, etc. Then I had to go back for my racing bib and had to repin it because it kept falling off. I definitely need to work on my transitions!
I absolutely loved the bike course! We road along country roads with beautiful northwest Arkansas scenery: big ranch houses, cows, beautiful rolling hills. Well, the hills were nice to look at, not climb. This course had a major hill and consistent rollers which left me exhausted. My goal was to keep about a 16.5mph pace and that is exactly what I did.
19 miles bike: 01:06:26.5
My second transition went by much more efficiently even though I could barely rack my bike because I was so fatigued. All I had to do was take off my helmet and down another Gu + water and I was off, with legs that felt like lead.
Surprisingly, the run was my biggest struggle. Before the race I felt confident tackling the four miles, but by the time my body had swam and biked for 88 minutes I was spent. I think the biggest mistake I made during training was not making my workouts long enough; my body was not prepared to be pushed for that long.
That being said, I am really proud of the running leg. The weather was HOT and the course was brutal! It was a two-loop course with a long, steep hill I had to climb twice. Each time I got to the hill, I willed myself to run but my body couldn't do it. I resorted to walking the hill both times, and was completely out of breath by the time I reached the top. I could have easily puked if I let myself.
The one good thing about hills is that you get to run down them, which is where I made up my time. The last quarter mile was downhill to the finish and I pushed it to the very end, reaching a 6:09 pace at one point.
4 mile run: 00:40:25.6
Total time: 2:16:05.9
Crossing the finish line is one of the most rewarding and exhilarating feelings. So overwhelmed!
After I cooled down (by pouring ice water over my head) and caught my breath (90 degree heat with humidity is brutal!) I was finally able to relish in the joy of finishing this triathlon. While there are things I can work on, I am so proud of myself and feel so blessed God has given me a body capable of this. With three long months of training, my body was ready to be challenged and I accomplished my time goal of a sub 2:17:00. Success!
I can't forget my awesome Ironman boss who helped me train, cheered me on, and pushed me hard! Thanks Andy- you rocked this race!
And of course I had my wonderful, amazing and handsome husband who never complains of these early mornings, is my official race photographer, and is proud of me no matter the finish time. Truly blessed I tell you.
Ladies and gentlemen, tri season has just begun. I can't wait for my next one!