So yesterday was my first attempt at an Olympic Distance Triathlon. I had been super nervous all week since we go the athlete guide. There was a strict bike cutoff and the weather was calling for cold and rainy. It would also be my first race in a wetsuit.
On Friday I picked up my race packet. I learned that the bike cutoff wasn’t as strict as they made it seem. Apparently it was put in place to “discourage people who weren’t actually going to try to race” this was from the race director. I wouldn’t do this race again for the sheer fact that the race director believes that slow = not trying or as he put it “not training”. I put a lot of effort into my training for this race but I’m not super fast. I’m working on it but when does slow equal not trying?? This was my first experience in triathlon with that blatant mentality.
We left the house around 5am and got to the race around 6am. We immediately went to setup in transition. The olympic distance participants were using T-Blocks. I’ve gotten to know Marcus – the inventor – and I like these blocks, sort-of. I was lucky to not have anyone to the right of me so I had plenty of room. I think if people know they need to go handlebars in they are great. Otherwise, it blocks your ability to get into your transition area. So I got all set-up and headed over to the MMTC tent to get wet suited up. and head to the race start.
The waves were held a bit because the had set-up the night before and detached but soon enough we were in the water. I got to the first turn buoy ok. There was lots of vegetation and driftwood that you had to get though, I assume from the storms the night before. Unfortunately, that is where my race went south. I started swimming and about half way I started to panic a bit. Jon had said if you have an issue just find a kayak, so I looked up and there was nothing. No support anywhere to be found. In an effort to figure out what to do I started to panic more. I tried to keep swimming but that made the wetsuit feel like it was choking me which caused even more panic. A friend snapped a picture of the men’s start and it shows the entire field…do you see any water support??
It took about 2 minutes for help to get to me when I started signaling. The nice canoe man asked if I wanted to keep going but I knew that I couldn’t. Mainly because I knew if I started to panic again there was no real help and I prefer safety. So he flagged down a jet ski for me. Believe it or not this was my first time on a jet ski and it was fun! Find the positive in even a bad situation. When we got to shore they told me they had to take my chip but I could keep going if I wanted.
I got to shore and this lady I didn’t recognize comes running up but she was in a Mid Maryland Shirt. I told her what happened in the water and that they said I could keep going. She looked at me and said “Well then lets keep going. Its happened to me before and I was defeated then pissed. You paid for it at least get some time in” I later learned her name was Lisa and she is my race day hero. She ran all the way to transition with me and was there when I came out with my bike to cheer me on! I was kinda negative and another guy I didn’t know said “keep going! We don’t do negative in Mid-Maryland) and that was all I needed! My mom and Chris were at transition. I told them what happened and they also cheered me onto the bike course!
I got out onto the bike course and was on my own. So I took my time to get out of my head and not be mad that I had essentially had quit it also started to pour down rain (I couldn’t catch a break) but thankfully it only lasted about 5 minutes. As I got comfortable on the bike I really started to enjoy the ride. The community was great! They were cheering from the porches and it was great. UNTIL you got out onto Eastern Avenue. This part of the ride was absolutely terrifying. There were car whizzing past at 40 mph and let’s just say most did not know the 3FT law!! At one point I had to decide between hitting a pothole and a car. I chose the pothole and it was very jarring. I had decided to wear a camel bak instead of my speedfil because we didn’t have it hooked up right. As I tried to get a drink when I needed it I discovered a pinhole in the hose as instead of the gatorade coming up to my mouth it shot a pretty stream to the left (still couldn’t catch that break!!).
They had warned about slowing down for sharp turns. There were actually a bunch of those slow-down turns. The worst of which was from Eastern Ave to Earl’s Road. You really had to slow down to make the turn because it was wet and there was gravel. Then you turned and looked up the only big hill in the course. For which you now had no momentum to get up.
In addition to the hair-pin turns, gravel, potholes, and traffic this course also had such gems as broken roads, trash, and no shoulders. I will say that it was well-marked and the volunteers were fantastic about stopping cars at the busy intersections. I got back to transition feeling great cause I did the whole bike course. I finished it in 1:56:00. I was even able to hit 23mph on the straights. Sadly, that’s the only time it was a “fast” course since once you gained momentum you had to slow down to make a turn.
I got back into transition and changed to go out to the run course. I started running and just wasn’t super motivated. The run course was a 2-loop course through parking lots in the park. My mom was there cheering us on and I love her support. She had little hand bells. She said Jon’s about 20 minutes in front of you! SHOCKER! As I made the turn out onto the main road of the run I saw Amber and Casey there cheering! It was an awesome sight!! I truly love surprise cheer squads!! I followed my intervals and just kept running. I was at mile 3 when I got back to Amber and Casey and now Jon was with them. I decided at that point to stop. The run was dull and I didn’t need to do it at that point. I also had no desire to run through the cheering crowd and/or through a finish line. I had decided I wasn’t taking a medal and I didn’t want to actually have to turn it down.
All in all I feel good about my decision to bail out of the swim (hey hey Jet ski!!) but I am said I didn’t get to fully test myself. My race buddy felt the same way, she pulled herself from the swim also (apparently a lot of people did).
But I did take away some valuable lessons:
1. I need a professional bike fitting.
2. I have the mental drive to keep going even if things aren’t going my way.
3. I hit 23mph and that was an awesome accomplishment!
4. My husband is the ridiculously photogenic tri guy!! Can you believe this!!But he did take first place in his age group! So proud!!