So, it's official! I completed the Steelman Triathlon and am a Steel(wo)man! As they say in triathlon lingo, it takes one ball to play most sports, but tri's are a two ball sport, LOL! I still cant believe we did it. I'm so excited.
(we dont look too rough for 3 hours of hardcore work!)
But let me start at the beginning....
On May 25th, I blogged about doing a triathlon, and on June 15th, I registered (although I'd made up my mind to DO IT about a week before and bought a bike in early June). So, with 10 weeks, give or take, of training, that brings us to Saturday, August 7th. Sarah and I went to pick up our registration and to sit in on the informational session (which was a HUGE help). We were psyched! Back at my house, we had dinner with our cousins who were visiting (and whom Bobby and Maya LOVED), and then tried to get to bed... Which, didnt really happen, since Bobby was cutting his 5th tooth (he now has five with #6 trying to push out). So, on less than 2 hours sleep, we were up at 3:30am and out the door Sunday by 4:30am. Sarah had made a special iPod mix, which we blasted and sang our hearts out to, and, by a little after 5am, we had arrived and got an awesome parking spot!
We racked our bikes and set up our transition area (we were wave 12 and at the back of the area, but this worked out great because it is where we came in for the swim and where we started the run). We were both nervous and excited. We jogged off some excessive energy as a warm up, then participated in the swim warm up, which let you get in and practice for 15 minutes in the 80 degree lake. Then, it was time to watch the Olympic athletes start! Five waves down, and the Sprints started. We were the last Sprint wave and we hugged on shore before fighting the rocky entrance and getting in the water. And then, we were off!
My goal was 3 hours. A good, average 1st-timer time is around 2 and a half hours... So, knowing I'm not super fast, I was hoping 3 hours. The race was off and I was in the water. I made a major mistake by staying to the right (since I thought I would be slow compared to my peers) because I ended up farther from the "track" than I wanted to be, so I ended up swimming harder against the current and longer than I needed to, but that's okay. Live and learn. I wasnt the last person out of the water, and I even passed 2 people from the wave before us, so yay! Out of the water and jogging into transition. Woo Hoo! I quick dried and got my socks and bike shoes on, then my helmet, race belt, and gloves. My bike (which a non-cool person had draped their balloon tie around- UGH!) took me a little longer to untangle, but then we were all good, and, one gel later, I was on the road!
The uphill road.
Okay, so I realize it's not all flat, but being told it is "mostly flat" gave my mind some ease. I've come to the conclusion that race folks... liars... (I mean that in a good way... If they didnt lie to me, personally, I know I'd never have the nerve to keep going!). So, I'm going up the park exit... And up... And up... And I'm feeling the impact from the just-over-a-half-mile swim (it was 860 meters not 800 meters...) and, I decide, I'm going to stop my bike before I throw the chain, and walk a little. So I did. Maybe 500 feet? Before the get-your-butt-back-on-the-bike-because-you-didnt-train-to-walk slapped me in the spot of my brain relegated to pride. So, back up and off. And, finally, after what seemed like forever, I got out of the park and onto the flat road.
Did I say flat? You'd think I'd know since I drove the course earlier. But no... There are hills. Some small, some big. By the time I saw the bridge (which was what the literature called a turnaround), I was pretty excited. No turnaround! It was farther down! On the way back, again, hills and more hills. And a fakeout turnaround. And then it was back into the park and "all downhill". NO! How is it possible that there are hills both ways??? I thought that was something my grandparents added to their stories about walking just to tell me how easy I had it!
Biking down the hill into transition, there were throngs of people cheering. Now, mind you, I dont know these people, but they were cheering. For me! (and for everyone else!) Cheers of "You Did It!", "You're awesome!", and "Congratulations", along with the whoo-hoos and applause made it all worth it and gave me the motivation to sprint into transition, rip my shoes off and replace them with my running shoes, and get my butt in gear. I grabbed another gel, washed it down with sunshine hot water, and took off for the run start, where I got a glass of gaterade and kept going.
I walked part of the run, which I'm not proud of, but Sarah tells me that I either walked really fast (which I doubted) or ran more than I thought (which I REALLY doubted) because my time was only 2 minutes longer than our TexMex 5K. So, either way, I guess I shouldnt be that disappointed in myself! The run was a combo of sunshine and shade, and the park is really beautiful. It was well marked, and there were motivational sayings scrawled over the trail in chalk.
I had a great time and in all seriousness, the volunteers and race people were amazing. Whether it was lifeguards in the water, firemen and EMTs on the road, or water station volunteers on the trail, they were super supportive and wonderful. This goes double for the athletes, who were more than willing to tell you that you were doing great when they passed you, or the Olympic competitors who told you to not give up and that you were almost there (even when you werent). Their support was part of what made this such a great experience.
But what was the best part?
After kicking butt and doing her tri in under 2 hours (2 hours was her goal- she came in 5th out of the Athena participants and WILL be placing next year, I am sure!), she screamed for me as I ran by our transition area (part of the run course ran by transition), but then, she joined me for the last mile of my run. She ran back to run me in. I know she had to be tired and hurting, but she came back for me. No woman left behind.
When I crossed the finish line, she made sure I got my ice cold towel (which was AWESOME!) and we embraced and just relished in the fact that we did it. We are triathletes!!!
The food tent had the best watermelon ever, and some delicious pizza. We finished off with some bagels. It was carb central. And man was it good.
Today, it's a day later and, although I was a little sore this morning, I'm feeling really good. I can tell I worked out hard, but nothing that will keep me from not doing it again.
Oh yeah, I've already started planning for next year. :)