Well, I've told you everything else, why not how I got started!!!
A few years ago, I was at the gym swimming with my mom. There was a poster for a triathlon called Ramblin' Rose Women's Only Triathlon. My mom made a comment that I should give it a try. I already had the cycling and had been swimmer in high school. I was a runner in middle school, but gave that up after a knee injury in my freshman year during an indoor track meet. I had always had issues with my knees, but I believe that is where the issues started with my knees. I figured, I could probably get through it with minimal training, and decided to sign up. Unfortunately, I was too late, registration had closed. I missed it again the following year. Shortly after missing it for the second time, my gym was offering a triathlon training group with training specific to triathlon and classes. I signed up.
I spent the winter with this group training, changing how I ate, working out for hours at a time. In February, I registered for my first triathlon, Excellence Triathlon in Clemmons, NC. The swim and run were encompassed within Tanglewood and the bike started and finished in Tanglewood. Having already made several trips to Clemmons and Tanglewood to visit a friend who lives in Clemmons, I figured where else would I rather spend my Mother's Day than with my husband and daughter and racing.
More training leading up to the race including more issues with my knee. Despite the issues with the knee and having to go back to walking and work back to walk/jog I was still ready to race. Throughout my training I would go back and evaluate where my practice times stood in comparison to times from the previous year in my race group. Looking at the times from the previous year and then averaging out my typical swim times, average bike speed and usual 5k times, I figured I could actually podium in my first race.
Two days prior to this race, the actual race itself was thrown into question. A tornado hit Clemmons, NC and inflicted a fair amount of damage in and around the area. The night before the race, we headed to the packet pickup and saw that the bike course had been changed due to storm damage and downed trees. Unfortunately, I had not driven or ridden the bike course an the area was unfamiliar. I knew I had a great downhill on the way out and a bad uphill on the way back in. No worries, I ride in Fuquay and surrounding areas.... I can climb a little. The best piece of advice I had been given in my training was not to bury myself on the bike because I still had one more event... the 5k.
Race day!!! Up at 4:30am to shower, get ready and mentally prepare for my first race and then load the van. We get to the race site, get my timing chip, set up my transition area and then opening ceremonies. As I look around, I notice that even for a pool swim, some of the other people racing have wetsuits of various sorts. Here I am in my tri-shorts and tri-top. No problem, I'll be okay. The closer to my start time, I start getting really nervous. I had already used my inhaler (activity-induced asthma) and left it on the table near the pool exit. 3 minutes before, I join the group around me in jumping into the deep end near the swim start. O M G!!!!
I come up gasping for air... the water is so cold my body won't acclimate and I can't breathe. Can't catch my breath. As I linger in the cold water waiting for my turn, my breathing calms down and I get hopeful that once I get going I'll be fine.
I put my face in the water and push off the wall and come up gasping again. Everytime I put my face in the water, I can't breathe!! OMG, what is this. This is my race and it sure as heck isn't going the way I planned. By the end of the first 25, I am breast stroking and hyperventilating. At 50 yds, I make it to the end of the pool where Mitch and Mae-Lei are watching, cheering and taking pictures. I look for them. They are my strength, my motivation and I contemplate quitting. While waiting for my start, I saw someone swim 100 yds and get out of the pool and quit. At 125 yds, all thoughts and previous expectations sink to the bottom of the pool. I am still breast stroking, hyperventilating and stopping every 25 yds to keep from passing out in the pool. At the end of the pool where Mitch and Mae were, I kept finding them every time I got to that end. Finally, last 25 yards and I am on to the bike. I made it... I didn't quit. I jump out of the pool and cap and goggles off, grab my inhaler and off to transition.
By the time I reach my bike, I am seeing spots from hyperventilating and not getting enough oxygen. I use my inhaler, put on my bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses and jog out of transition to get on the bike. The bike is mine, I am a fairly strong cyclist all things considered and figured I could make up some time on the bike. The downhill gets me off right and I keep going. The first hill I come to, I tackle the way I normally would and at that point, I realize that my only goal is to finish. My legs are toast from the asthma attack in the pool and I realize I just need to stay within rules and just use this race as a learning experience. I get to the turnaround and on the way back, I feel like I am actually recovering a little bit. I start playing leapfrog with another woman on the bike. I finally pass her and get away. I am feeling better. I crest a minor hill and start downhill and all of a sudden I hear a noise coming from my front wheel. It sounded like a major airleak coming from my front tire. I stop at the top of the next hill and investigate. Remember that tornado??? It sprayed leaves from the trees everywhere. Evidently, one decided to hop a ride to the transition area between the front fork and my tire, catching in the brake caliper. BTW, in the mean time, here comes my leap frog buddy and off she goes. Crap!! I remove the leave, remount my bike, having lost all momentum and good feeling and off I go to finish the bike leg. CRAP!!! Big hill upcoming. I tried to build as much steam as I can heading into the down hill ahead of the hill and carry as much of it as possible, back up. ....
That didn't work so well. I am 1/4 of the way up the hill and here comes this guy running beside me up the hill yelling at me to pedal and push and just keep going. I'm already in the wrong gear, can't catch my breath and LEAVE ME ALONE DUDE!!! I finally crest the hill at about 3 mph and turn, ever aware of the dismount line, I quit pedaling. Up ahead I see someone yelling, KEEP COMING, KEEP PEDALING!!! I finally coast into the dismount zone, off the bike and my legs are jello. Crap, this is why they call them bricks. My legs feel like lead and won't move. Everyone is cheering and yelling and encouraging me to GO!! I finally get back to my rack in transition, helmet off, cycling shoes off, sunglasses and hat on!! Out of transition and into the run (HAHAHA) more like casual stroll at this point. I go past the train and there is Mae-Lei and Mitch cheering me on. Mae is standing on the train yelling GO MOMMY GO!!! I needed that. Best energy jump ever. Still walking I give her a smile and a thumbs up. The picture looks like I am dying, but hey, 2 down, 1 to go.
The 5k. I had resolved to stay with a young girl ahead of me and try to match her walk pace. Next thing I know we are headed down a double-bump hill and I see everyone turning left onto a gravel trail. By this point, young girl is about 100 yards ahead of me. I am getting passed like I am standing still and really not caring. This is where I learned what a fraternity/sorority triathlon truly is. I am sure I looked close to death by the time I reached that shade covered trail. Other racers are encouraging me to just keep going!! Keep going #325 you are almost there. I hadn't even reached the turn-around yet and I am barely moving. I make it to the turn-around and head back, moving along and returning the favor to the racers behind me. By now, young girl is long gone and I just want to finish. I finally make the right off the trail and back up to the finish. Or should I say UP and Up and UP!!! That double bump hill was great on the way down, but it SUCKED on the way up. With less than a mile to go, I pass a sheriff assisting along the race route and ask him for his sidearm. I honestly wanted to shoot myself. My legs hurt, were cramping and I was done for. I was gonna crawl across the finish if I had to. I finally make the turn towards the finish and at seeing the crowd at the finish and hearing them cheering, it gave me one last surge of energy. I was able to jog the last 100 yards into the finish and was greeted by Mae-Lei and Mitch.
Final count, I finished 194th out of 197 racers. Last in my race group and swearing that it would be my first and last triathlon.
Well, so much for that. I raced another tri that year, finally making it into the Ramblin' Rose. I did pretty well and was happy with my time. The next year, I raced two more tri's, swearing to never race one of them again. The run course was MURDER!!
This year, I have planned on 3 races, the first one again on Mother's Day weekend. White Lake Sprint. My first open water swim. I learned from the first race to never have expectations at a race. Too many variables. My hopes for this year are to have fun and enjoy the process.
I hope you all have learned or taken something from this post. Triathlon isn't easy, but don't let that scare you. If you want to tri it... do it. If you need a training partner, e-mail me. I enjoy triathlon because it's a challenge and if an of you truly know me, you know I love a challenge. SO!!!!
Sign up, train, and race. I don't race to place, I race to finish and enjoy the camaraderie of my fellow racers and enjoy it greatly. Come race with me!!