Here I am all set up in transition! Up until 1 hour before the start, we weren’t sure we were going to be able to do the race. Storms kept threatening cancellation. 4am on race day, we got an email stating that the storm, if it kept moving at its present pace, would hit San Marcos right during the race time. The race could be cancelled as late as 7am. So, I drove the hour over to San Marcos not knowing if we’d get to race. I kept thinking that we’d be able to do it… I mean, I rented a bike, rented a wetsuit, planned this trip to Texas around the race… it certainly was going to happen, wasn’t it??
It was! Once I arrived on race site, there was NO talk of cancellation whatsoever. It was misting on us and was about 100% humidity, yet it was all a go. I got my packet, asked where transition was, and headed over to get set up. I made some friends, including an especially nice and helpful long-time triathlete named Emily. (She took my before and after pics!) She suggested that I walk the transitions: in from the swim, out to the bike, back in from the bike, out to the run… This was great advice! Had me visualize these minutes in motion and feel well-prepared. Although, I still fired off a couple of questions to Emily during the first transition: “Are you putting on another layer?” “Are you putting on sunscreen?” “Sorry to ask questions during transition!” Responses were: No, no, no problem.
I got other advice beforehand, as well: bring flip flops, bring 2 towels, and bring a bottle of water to rinse your feet. I didn’t have any of this, yet no need to fret. I was here to learn. Afterwards, in hindsight, I’d say none of those items are needed. I won’t worry about them for my next triathlon. Although, I might bring flip flops to Racine for the Half Ironman, and pack an extra bottle of water for the full Ironman. I’ve heard you walk a long way to the swim start in Racine, so some throw-away flip flops would be good there. Then for Ironman, you don’t want any gravel in your socks when you get off the bike to run a marathon – so I can see the need to feet rinse there.
I meandered over to the swim start, trying to arrive in time for the pre-race meeting, but not too early so I wouldn’t stand around just getting nervous. I wiggled my way into the bottom half of my wetsuit prior to the pre-race meeting announcements. (Pretty well-coordinated, if Ido say so myself!) Then we made our way near the water, I lined myself up about 2/3rds of the way back, and worked on getting my arms totally in and situated in the wetsuit. I was damp from the mist and humidity and was tugging hard on the arms, trying not to let my fingernails touch the suit, as the tri shop owners had instructed me. BAM! I was stunned, not sure exactly what happened. My left jaw hurt badly and best I could figure: I just punched myself!! I tugged hard, lost my grip, and evidently clocked myself. It hurt. I couldn’t figure out what I’d done to myself. I felt my teeth making sure they were there. They were. I checked for blood. Didn’t seem to be any. Moved my jaw. That hurt. Okay, well, looks like I’m going to have a raging headache later today. Can’t do anything about this right now. I’m not getting out of this line. I told myself the cold water would be good for it. And then, amazingly, I don’t recall thinking about it for the rest of the race.
[After the race I went in the bathroom to figure out if there was anything to see, along with my aching jaw. Oh yeah! I must’ve chomped and jammed up my tongue something good!]
On to the race! It was easy swim. I can’t tell you how delighted I am to write that. We went in the water one at a time. So, we had some space from the very beginning. The people around me were looking up, some were doing the backstroke – so I was back with the not-so-speedy swimmers. It boosted my confidence. I put my head down and got to swimming! I swam calmly (and crooked!), which I realized whenever I’d look up to check progress. I veer to the right! Swim was done before I knew it! The water got mucky close to shore. I just started shutting my eyes when my head went underwater. Volunteers were there to help us get out over the slippery rocks. Then on the path to transition! I walked and then jogged gingerly. (I need to toughen up the bottoms of my feet!)
Changed my gear in transition, asked my friend a couple of questions, and headed out with my bike.
Early – and late – on the bike there was a 1/4 mile of gravel. The Race Director kept making announcements before the race telling us to go look at it and determine if we were going to walk or bike through it. I figured with my bike handling skills, if they were asking, I should probably walk it. Took off on the bike, and saw the gal in front of me ride into the gravel. It didn’t look too bad. I stayed on my bike and stayed alrert, figuring I could unclip and walk if needed. It took all my concentration to maneuver around and avoid the big rocks and super loose sand to make it though. I rode it both times! And both times there were a pretty shaky few seconds. Yet, it was a great bike skills confidence booster.
I went probably a little too hard on the bike. The course was more hilly than I thought. I let myself push some in the first half, which was a steady uphill, because I hadn’t expected as much uphill in the second downhill half. Wish I’d had a little more left in the tank for the run, but I did well.
There were 2 steep hills in the run. I walked the top 1/3 of both. I could walk nearly as fast as I could run it, at that point, so I decided to conserve some energy and rest. The last mile was fun, moving and curving downhill on a trail. Near the end of the race, I was focused too much on my watch and didn’t see how close the finish was. Then, I didn’t have the space for a good final push.
AND…so glad the weather held off, so flad the swim went well, so stunned that I punched myself in the face, and SO proud to finish!
Then I got thinking… I just finished 20 weeks of what was about half of an Ironman 20 week plan, shouldn’t I be nearly trained for a Half Ironman?? Shouldn’t I rock a Sprint? WAIT! I caught myself. I’ve got to remember, I’ve never raced from one sport to the other to the other. I’m a new swimmer. I’m an average runner… I’m not going to immediately start winning tri age divisions! I’ve got to get the expectations set right in my head: I’m going to be doing 4 new tri distances this year. I’m not going to ace any of them (place and time-wise). Acing them will be completing them while executing smart races and feeling mentally and physically strong.
That I did. I aced this one!
On to the next one… 🙂