A new race distance only means one thing…an automatic PR!
So I wasn’t fast, but I finished with a smile on my face. That was the goal all along. The team (and then some) were at the finish chute cheering me along, which was really nice!
Anyways, let’s head back to the beginning.
The day before, I felt like I was going through the motions. I just got back in to town from a family emergency trip. The weight of the world felt (and still feels) like it is resting up on my shoulders. From time to time I’m able to break free from the shackles of the weight but then I’m reminded again of all the things still left to take care of. I have my timing chip and I put it on the night before — a 3x tradition at this point. I sticker my number on my helmet (not before trying to get the gunk off from my last race number almost two years ago), sticker my seat post, thread my number through my race belt. I lay out all the gear I require for each of my sports in small squares divided up on my bed. It’s like I’m heading in to training for the billionth time. No big deal. I search the apartment high and low for Body Glide (it was hiding in one of my many, many baggies of gear). Things get packed and repacked and repacked into my bag. Wetsuit or no wetsuit? I cram it in there anyways.
After packing, I head out for a quick indoor ride. Like, 1 or so miles. I’m just testing the brakes, the gears, everything. I ride along Eastlake, heading past the docks where I went swimming in the lake. I head past some homes and apartments. I wind around my neighborhood during golden hour and it was beautiful. I wished that I had spent more of my time outdoors than indoors — something I used to do more of when I was training for shorter distances and not so worried about time and efficiency. I get back home, feeling hopeful, and head to bed. Even though this was my first olympic distance race, I slept well. I sleep well now before half marathons because they don’t seem to play mind-games with my psyche anymore. Then again, I might’ve slept well because I was exhausted.
The next morning I rose at 4:30am. I slide in to my trisuit, left my arm warmers behind, but got everything else. I headed to Seward Park on Lake Washington and pulled in to the first residential parking spot I saw. Right across the street from me was my coach and a few teammates. How serendipitous! Andy helps me prep my bike, checking my tires (they are still new since I barely took it off my trainer), and we head on over to the transition area. This was one of the few things I had actually not rehearsed. Where does everything go again? I tried to visualize my first race…and my second race…to no avail. I end up just neatly arranging things as I saw fit. One thing I got right was putting my sunglasses and bike gloves in my helmet, which was hanging from my handlebars. My socks were individually placed in my shoes. I had a few water bottles around. Seemed like I had everything I needed.
Transition closed and some of my teammates were scattered around the start. The only other teammate who was doing a full race was Amy, and since she was doing a sprint tri she wasn’t starting for another hour. The rest of the teammates were doing a relay, and they would start later as well. I took the liberty of swimming out to the dock and back to get a quick warmup before the race officially started. The water was warm! It wasn’t just the wetsuit either, but the water felt great. I swam out with my eyes open underwater. The darkness and milfoil didn’t seem to phase me all too much like it did before. I headed back to shore and then waited to be called with my age group.
As the swim got started, I tried to relax into it. Kept my breathing under control. Tried not to care too much if I was being passed up. I took it at my own pace, no matter how slow I thought it was, and I kept going. I was with my orange swim caps for awhile before the water started mixing up with different colors, but I tried not to think about it too much. One loop eventually became two. I got caught in a few tangles in the water, but I stayed zen and kept going. Before I knew it, I was out of the water!
On my way out I was excited that 1) I had such an easy, breezy, enjoyable swim and 2) I wasn’t dead last. I headed back to the transition area to grab my bike and that’s where I spent a few minutes confused. Where do I put all of this stuff? Wriggling out of my wetsuit, grabbing my sunglasses and bike gloves, figuring out what to do with my drippy stuff and where to hang my beloved goggles without losing them. I ended up just throwing a bunch of stuff on the ground (very unlike me) and took off with my bike. I think I managed to get my goggles in my bag.
So the bike part was fun but slightly embarrassing. I ended up getting off my bike twice — once at the beginning, when I was stuck behind this man who had a tough time biking up a steep part of the race. I had trouble too but not as much trouble as this guy. He went so slow that I couldn’t keep my balance behind him, so I ended up wobbling off my bike and just trekking up the hill. (I trekked up as quickly as he biked, if that was any indicator.). Then, the second time I got off my bike was at the turnaround on the I-90. I zoomed past the turnaround since I was unable to stop/corner/turn in time. I flew by the cops and they started laughing, which is fine. People laughing at/with me is not a big deal, but being able to turn without falling is by far much more important. I was able to turn around eventually, not too far from the actual turnaround site, but then I was wobbly getting back on the course. I was so wobbly, in fact, that I wobbled right into the center divider. (The bike portion of the race was done on the express lanes of the highway.) That ended up fine too, and the rest of the bike went off without any issues.
The run was also very pretty and a bit quiet. The race started thinning out between the sprint distance and the olympic. A few hills that I ended up walking because I was feeling a bit sore at the end. (Racing after two weeks of downtime will do that to you I guess!) I finished the race with a smile on my face, which is always the goal.