If you believe in yourself you can do anything. This saying is so cliched but so true. If you know me personally, you know I am a planner. And you know that if I am doing a race it is planned months in advance. I never get to the start line without tons of training, testing different foods, sneakers, outfits etc….But I am happy to report that I have recently learned how to be spontaneous…well sorta, kinda….It has been a long time since I put on a race bib, got those pre-race jitters, and had sleepless nights with nightmares of over-sleeping and missing the start line…. I’ve missed it all! While dealing with a hip injury all winter I was forced to get in the pool. Little did I know how strong that would actually make me. I was spinning and swimming way more than I was running this year. Of corse, along with weight training and pilates.
Triathlons have always been tempting to me but I was always concerned about the swimming portion. Now I had no reason to be! My swims have become really strong and I feel so comfortable in the water. I knew I had to do one! But after so much time without any races, I was scared to race. I was scared to put my fitness to the test and I didn’t want it to totally suck. Racing had always been fun for me and I was nervous that since I hadn’t been running as much it wouldn’t be as enjoyable or fun anymore. But the Jersey Girl Triathlon was calling my name! This race was a no brainer for me to join – the start was 5 minute drive from my home, it was an all female race, and offered a great course for newbies. I had every reason to do it!
I signed up for the race on a Friday with the race being on the following Sunday. Yikes! I had never swam in an ocean before, I didn’t have a tri suit, my bike needed a tune up….I was so overwhelmed! I didn’t know the first thing about a triathlon. But I knew it would be Swim, Bike and Run and I knew I could do all three. But so much to do and so little time!First things first – Brian Shae one of the amazing coaches from the Jersey Girl Triathlon had an open water swim that Monday night and the Friday morning 5:30 am! Done and done…..It was great to get in the open water because it is soooo different from swimming in a pool. I sent my bike for a tune up, got tri bars and ordered a Betty Design Triathlon one-piece. I went for the one piece and sports bra because I didn’t want anything riding up or down. And indeed, it was simple and super comfortable.
4:15: Alarm went off — I left myself a little message when the alarm went off “But you love this”
Everything was laid out from the night before so there was nothing to think about. Coffee in hand and off I went.5:15: Arrived at transition. Holy Cow, I just realized I don’t know how to even mount my bike. I spotted a nice gentleman wearing an Ironman hat and figured he could probably help. My friend Adele (who is a pro!) helped me set up my transition station and pack what I needed!
- 2 towels
- 1 bottle of water (wipe feet after swim)
- Bombas socks tucked into my running shoes (loved bombas for every sock you buy they donate to someone who needs)
- race belt (this was a life saver so I didn’t have to waist time pinning on my bib during transition)
- baby powder (if needed to wipe sand off)
- Finis goggles and swim cap
6:00: Time to eat! Breakfast of choice Purely Elizabeth’s Muesli soaked overnight in almond milk, 1 teaspoon of maca powder, 1 teaspoon of chia seeds, 1 teaspoon of almond butter and handful of berries. Swim starts at 7:02 this will give me time to digest and not feel heavy. I have to say this was the perfect thing for me and I would have this all over again! Then the coolest thing happen! Someone came up to me and said they recognized me from my blog! Say what?! I was so honored and it was just the boost of confidence I needed before marching up to that the start line. I didn’t get to catch your name but if you’re reading this — Hi!!
6:45: Scoping out the crowd and freaking out because everyone in my age group looks like major swimmers. Happens to be most of them are lifeguards at the local beach club….no wonder….Found someone mounting their bike next to mine (Lily – she took pictures of me for you guys :)) and was she is so sweet, as we exchanged pre-race nerves! It’s so funny talking to people before the start of a race. You feel like you know them your whole life!Swim: 6:02–300 yards
Getting ready to go in – feeling good with my Betty Design suit, Finis goggles and race cap on! Then, Bam! I’m off in the ocean. The swim was 300 yards. My goal was under 10 minutes so I knew that if I saw 10 minutes on my watch I would allow myself to panic. I expected the worst..I heard stories of people’s noses breaking, teeth chipping, getting knocked in the face….My swim couldn’t have gone better! I had to turn around and lay on my back once because I felt my heart rate get way too high. I didn’t feel fast on the swim though. I thought I was in the back of the group.
Then I started coming out of the ocean and noticed all those fast swimmers I was eyeing! I was coming out with them, booyah!
Note to self:
- Your swim time is still counting until the time you get up to the transition area- AKA don’t take your time running up and off the beach
- Wear your hair in a braid– I spent a good 1 minute in the transition area trying to get my hair out of the bun it was in!
Transition: 2:44—damn bun!
Bike: 39:06–11 miles
No clip ins for me! Well not yet. Since I got to the transition area early I was able to hop on my bike right out of the exit. Lifesaver. Grabbed my bike, helmet, sneakers and off I went running with it until I got the okay to jump on. Although I did not practice biking outdoors too often, I spin 3-4 a week. My legs were more than capable. I knew the bike would be a somewhat of a recovery for me. I wanted to be able to pace myself and catch my breath before the run. I held back a little too much here, but in the end this may have paid off and saved me from bonking on the run.
In my race nutrition bag on my bike:
- 1 Coffee RXbar– It had caffein, protein and dried fruit! Perfect for mid-race nutrition.
- Vega gel
- 2 water bottles filled one with Nuun and one with Vega hydrationI wasn’t hungry and didn’t even felt like I needed something. But it was comforting knowing it was there if I needed it.
Note to self:
- Learn how to work your gears before going on the bike. Later on learned I was in all the wrong gears, making it harder for me on my legs.
- “On your left” I may have said this 10,000 times on my bike. This is the proper way to pass people.
Transition: 1:38–Smooth and easy.
Run: 24:55–3 miles
Believe it or not I was most nervous for the run. The crowd was overwhelming heading off the bike and into the transition. I heard my parents from the side yelling among everyone else screaming. It was a huge rush. Oh, and then I stepped off the bike and I couldn’t feel my legs. Triathletes know the feeling!
Helmet off, quick sip of water, race belt on. Let’s do this. I know this boardwalk like that back of my hand. I run here all the time. I kept repeating to myself– “How lucky am I that I get to race on this beautiful morning. Feeling healthy and strong. SOOO lucky!! What I would do to have done this last summer (I had meniscus surgery). Take in the energy from the crowds. Let it lift you. Let it push you….” If the crowds of people wasn’t motivating in itself, the ages of these amazing athletes were! I kept an eye on girls in my age group but there was this woman with a 61 on her leg- basically triple my age – right in front of me and I couldn’t pass her for the life of me! Gosh, I hope I am still doing this at 61. Then I found a girl – 23 with blond hair, wearing a white shirt – and I stayed on her tail. If you can’t tell by now, I am driven by competition!The 3 mile run felt so long and I felt so slow. My watch kept reading 8:20s but I didn’t believe it. I thought my satellite was off because I felt like I was running a high 9s pace. So I paced myself by the women around me. I started chatting with the woman next to me (who was not in my age group) and I told her I needed to pass that girl in the white shirt. She ran in front of me and I followed her lead until I couldn’t see her anymore — she flew! I slowly but surely passed the white t-shirt. I crossed the finish line and heard the announcer call my name out. And he actually pronounced it right. This was my first race in a long time. And I felt healthy and injury free! I believed I could and I did!Total Time: 1:14:24 Age Group: 9 Overall Place 81
It didn’t matter what the clock said when I finished. I was happy to finish and I don’t think I ever started a race with those intentions. In the past I have always been aiming for a PR or an Age group award. This tri made racing feel fun again! And that’s all I wanted. I wanted to have fun. I feel surprisingly great, other than some tight muscles – nothing a little foam-rolling won’t fix (obsessed with my GRID foam-roller). And Pilates with Dani from Pilates Blast will do the trick to help stretch out my tight hamstrings.
Whats next for me? Well one of the first things that crossed my mind was Ironman…then my second thought was, Hell no!..Half Ironman…Yes! Maybe next year? It’s a reachable goal and I think focusing on my swim and bike will keep me healthy for my runs. I have my eye on an Olympic tri in early September but haven’t made anything official yet. Right now I am still enjoying the high from competing in my first Triathlon!