I completed my first triathlon of the season last week-end. I used the race as a warm-up to my first 1/2 Ironman (ever) this coming week-end. Ugh, just writing that makes my stomach quiver. It was a satisfying day. I rode down to the race site with tri club mate Gil a.k.a. snoopy. Water temperture and the weather dominated the conversation. The area had storms the night before so we were curious what the day would be like.
We arrived at the race site and parked the car about 3 blocks from the transition area. We then went our separate ways agreeing we would eventually meet up during the day. I had done this race last year and loved it but my performance wasn't quite what I wanted it to be. I tried to put those thought away because I wasn't going to "race" this race, I wanted to just find a rhythm with the open water, my bike and the road and my feet and the street. Oh, how could I forget transitions! Those as well.
After picking up my packet and getting acquainted with the pap, I moved over to body markings and chip pick-up. The weather was a little humid but nothing to be concerned about. After being marked I went on to the bike racks, they were full. Well, not really but when I see the racks I always hope to see wide open spots. I never want to touch someone elses bike or stuff and when the racks start filling up, well that's almost impossible. Fortunately I found a good spot and didn't touch anything but the rack. The woman who came in after me tho didn't have the good fortunate I did and was reprimanded. I was thinking of saying - hey, we're having fun out here - chill. But instead tried to make friendly talk with the poor lady that was just chided for touching the other girl's tri bag.
I put on my wetsuit and went for a short swim. Got out of the water and tried to do a little yoga just to loosen up mentally and physically. Didn't work tho, was to self conscious that I was being watched, so I just practiced my breathing as I walked closer to the beach and watched as each wave went off. Saw Gil and wished him luck. Before I knew it I was in the water. Flashes of doubt ran thru my mind. "Have I swam enough?" "What if I tire half way thru and freak?" What was I doing? Why do I do this to myself before every race, even when it's not a race for me?
Off went my wave. The swim felt good. I swallowed some water. It wouldn't be an open water swim for me if that didn't happen. The arms were starting to feel a little heavy at the first turn. I kept making mental notes to swim one more day a week. How would I fit that in? Maybe I could ride to the pool and ..... hey wait is that a different color swim cap? It's not blue, hey maybe I'm doing a little better than I thought. Getting more swimming in vanished and finishing the swim dominated my mind. I got to the beach and it was off to transition.
3 racks down, 3 racks down, go to the front of the rack and 3 racks down. And there was my trusty bike, just waiting for me with my trusty shoes, trusty new helmet and trusty sunglasses. Off came the wetsuit, on went the socks and shoes. WOW, things were going smoothly. Took my bike down, oops, forgot the helmet. This is were things got ugly. Reached for the helmet and knocked off my bars instead of grabbing it. The helmet flew with the glasses. Put the trustworthy kickstand down and retrieved the helmet but couldn't find the glasses. Huh? Now how could they just disappear. Saw my goggles and actually considered putting them on but the risk of ridicule forced me to look further for the glasses. And there they were, grabbed them put them on and saw team mate Tom standing there with his camera documenting the entire fiasco. It was time to ride.
What a ride. From the time I got on it was smooth. In the past I have struggled with trying to find a rhythm the first couple of miles and then settling into a speed before coming back to transition. Not today, for some reason it was all good. Gentle breathing, easy pedaling. It felt like someone was pushing me. I'm so used to being passed on the bike. 4 women riders passed me. I caught and passed 3 of them. I kept telling myself tho, keep things easy, you're using this as a warm up. It all felt good.
Got back to transition and moved onto the run. Started the first mile and the humidity hit me. Made sure I had my inhaler but held back on using it. Thankfully I never had to use it. Just tried to steady the breathing and concentrated on staying calm as I approached each "gentle rolling hill". I ran some of the Rockford course a couple weeks back and was telling myself that this is what I had to look forward to so just get used to it and keep the stride short. It worked. I was able to see some friends on their way back to the finish. I get a burst of energy when I'm able to yell to them. MJ, although she said she didn't feel it, was looking great and no I couldn't hear her breathing :) The "Wildflower Hat" was a nice site. Another friendly face. "GGGGooo Rrrrannndddyyy". After the turn around my legs felt good and I wanted to push things. I kept my head down and saw a lot of number on the calves of the athletes. With about 2 blocks to go I saw a "49". I put it in my head that she was in my age group and I could catch her. I cautioned myself that if I was going to pass her I had to have it in me to sustain the pass to the finish so that she didn't come up on me. Well, I moved in and did it. I finished happy with "49" behind me. It was good.
I took almost 4 minutes off of my time from last year. How does that happen. I don't really race the race and take off that amount of time. I guess the the long distance training is paying off. Now, this week-end. Rockman. Rockman. Rockman. I have the good fortune of doing it with clubmate Bubba. I'm looking forward to it. :)