I started getting worried the night before the event. The Labor Day weather forecast included rain and I never bike or run when it's raining. Luckily I was able to get some sleep despite my nerves. The race wasn't scheduled to start until 8:45, so I didn't have to wake up insanely early. I got to the race site around 7:30 to get marked, and set up my transition area.
It was lightly drizzling while I set up my transition. I covered my shoes, helmet, and glasses with grocery bags to keep them a little dry. I was happy the rain brought some relief from the crazy Texas heat we had been experiencing earlier in the weekend.
So Many Bicycles in Transition
The kids' triathlon that was happening before our race had started while I was checking in. Watching the kids transition from swim to bike was so inspiring. If they could do this, so could I. So many of them were hard core too. While watching, I figured out that the kids' race had gotten a late start due to lightening. The race director updated social media to state that the Sprint Tri would also be delayed slightly.
I wandered down to the pool around 8:30. I immediately ran into a friend who encouraged me to jump in the pool and warm-up. I'm so glad I did because getting in the water and swimming made me feel so much calmer. After I warmed up I talked to my friend some more and then stood with my boyfriend while we waited for the pre-race meeting. I eventually spotted my parents who came to watch and waved to them. At last it was time to line up! Seeing 450 people wrap around a pool is pretty crazy. We sang the National Anthem and then Swimmer #1 was ready to hop in.
I had to wait for 130 people to start before it was my turn. It went pretty fast though since they started a new swimmer about once every 10 seconds. I passed the time by making small talk with 2 people nearby me in line. We discussed how we trained and both were very surprised to hear it was my first tri. I must have looked professional (just kidding...). The girl even gave me some tips for the swim and for future triathlons. Thanks #133!
Finally I was up. I jumped in and began swimming. I was so excited that I took off too fast. I was ready to pass the girl in front of me but couldn't do it. About 100 meters later I was dropping back and people were passing me. The water was more choppy than I expected. I guess with 10 people in each lap lane I shouldn't have been surprised. I also had to remember to look in front of me so I didn't run into anyone. I didn't practice this. I stopped once at a wall to catch my breath for a second.
Getting out of the pool was a relief. That portion was harder than I expected. I ripped off my swim cap and goggles immediately and began running up the ramp to the transition area. Outside, the ground was still wet. I got to my stuff and tossed the wet grocery bags aside as I slipped on my helmet and shoes. I took a second to drink a sip of water before grabbing my bike and running off to the bike mount line.
The bike course was made up of two 7.5 mile loops. As I started loop #1, I felt small rain drops stinging my face as I gained speed. I was not excited about the rain, but happy I was riding my old mountain bike instead of a road bike with slick tires. During the first lap I got passed a number of times. The bikes that were passing me were super speedy and when I looked at their race numbers, I realized, these were the people that would be placing in the top 10.
There were two tough hills on the course, but luckily I practiced these during my training. I was surprised with my biking performance. I was able to wear my Garmin Forerunner 10 and when I glanced down every mile, my pace was way faster than any training ride. When I was approaching the end of lap 1, I started to get really excited because I realized that that first lap took less than half an hour, which meant I could finish the bike portion of my race in less than an hour. This was my goal, but after my last two training rides, I thought I would be a few minutes over an hour.
Happy Biker at the Halfway Point
Lap 2 was uneventful and went by fast. Before I knew it, I was racking my bike and throwing my helmet down. I was ready to run. I had planned to wear a hat on my run, but since it was soaking wet and the clouds were still out, I went without it. I ended up abandoning my sunglasses on my run too because they were so dirty from the rain. Luckily a nice spectator picked them up for me (Thanks Mom!).
Right after the mile 1 marker and water station, my parents and boyfriend were in the median cheering. They told me my friend was right ahead of me, which gave me motivation to speed up and catch her. My legs had adjusted to running at this point and I wanted to be done. This gave me enough fuel to keep running along. Around the 2 mile mark, my friend was in sight. There was a turn around point ahead, so when she was running back in my direction I told her I was going to pass her. This was a perfect mental motivator for me. I ended up passing her about a quarter mile from the end. Her family and friends cheered for me too as I ran by them.
Thumbs up Running Along
The end of this race was really cool. There were a few quick turns so I couldn't see the finish line. I normally don't like that, but there were lots of volunteers to point the way. Finally after the last turn I saw the finish line and a huge crowd of people in an amphitheater. It was so cool! I felt like everyone was watching and cheering for me (even though only 3 people there knew me). And with that, I was finished!!! It felt so great to be done.
The finish line and my adoring fans ;)
I celebrated with a Chick-fil-a sandwich and a St. Arnold's beer, both provided by race sponsors. I spent a lot of time visiting with Daniel and my parents before heading back to pick up my gear. I also got to congratulate my friend on her finish. She was a part of a relay team, but did the swim and run portions. She also expressed how proud she was of me for finishing my first triathlon. I couldn't disagree, I was proud of me too.
Official Result - 1:38:29
Final thoughts: The swim was harder than I expected, but both my bike and run went better than I expected. Would I do it again? Probably. Would I do a longer distance? Definitely not in the near future. Did I have fun? YES!
Until next time...I will be Running Along.