Okay, enough wasting time...let's get to it!!!
I have been so apprehensive about this event. A few weeks back, we did our first triathlon of the season and I just about lost it. I was so overcome with fear and I immediately decided that I wasn't going to do the Olympic distance, I was only go to do the sprint. After a day of coming to my senses, I chose to stick to the plan and go ahead with the full meal deal. .9 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, 6.2 mile run.
All week long I had been more excited than anything else - probably because I was so tired!!! I was concerned about the fatigue I was experiencing, but really just figured it would be what it would be.
I woke up Saturday morning and felt like I needed to throw up, I was already nervous. On the drive out to Hagg Lake, I told Trevor that I couldn't wait to get started so I could stop feeling so nervous. I had many thoughts run through my mind - mostly about how I could get out of doing what I was about to do. I just didn't want to do it. How could I do it. What was I thinking, why had we made the decision to go after this goal.
Trevor, of course, was in the passenger seat, calm and collected. He was talking to me as if we were going to the movies and I was having a heart attack in the drivers seat.
We got to the Lake and unloaded our gear. We were cutting it kind of close and had to hurry. There was a group of people at a car next to us who were getting ready and I heard one of them say "before we get going, let's say a prayer". I had the urge to go join them. I needed a prayer. I felt even more sick to my stomach now!!!
We got checked in and started setting up our gear. I was putting my timing chip around my ankle and the guy had told me that the straps were sharp on the edges, so make the band tight, then back off one notch. For some reason, that translated into this "the band stretches, so make the band tight, then tighten it one more notch". As soon as I snapped it, I knew it was too tight. No time to do anything about it now, so I just had to deal with it. Awesome.
We stopped at the bathrooms and headed down to the beach. Trevor's wave start was at 8:01, mine was at 8:10. He went down to the beach and I waited. My heart rate was really high - around 125. I was SO nervous. Trevor's wave went off and then mine headed down to the beach - it was all the women doing the Olympic distance - about 60 of us. I got in the water to wait, put in my ear plugs, secured my cap and goggles. And waited. I looked at my watch and my heart rate was down at 100. All of a sudden, I knew I was ready. I decided to enjoy every minute of it. I knew I could swim the distance.
The horn went off - I took a few breast strokes just to get moving. For the first time, I felt no panic. I put my head in the water and started swimming. I stayed to the outside of the pack and didn't feel crowded at all. I rounded the first buoy and was feeling pretty good. I kept reminding myself to relax and enjoy.
The Olympic course was two laps - the sprint course was just one lap. However, the sprint people were set to start at the same time that I was coming around for my second loop. As I swam towards the buoy to start the second loop, I could see them lined up on the beach ready to start. I knew I needed to kick it in a little and get around that buoy before the other swimmers got there. I did and had no problems.
Around the last buoy, the water got a little choppy just because there were so many other people in the water with me. The faster of the sprint folks had caught me and the slower of the Olympic folks were there with me too. I came around the last buoy and saw the exit from the swim. I was on the letter "Y" of my counting and all I could think was "You are going to do it."
I got to the end of the swim, climbed out of the water and looked at my watch:
Swim time: 36:53
My heart rate was around 165, which is too high, so I walked up the carpet to the bike racks and gave myself some time to calm down. By the time I got to my bike, it was back down in the 140s. I took my time and got everything set for the bike. A friend had told us to make our transitions deliberate and not waste energy. I think I actually said that word out loud while I was putting on my bike shoes.
Transition 1: 5:54
Now, on to the bike. The course starts with an uphill right out of the transition. I was ready for it and had no problems. As I made the turn onto the main road, I was so overwhelmed with pride that I started to cry. I told myself to pull it together and get on with it! So I did.
The course was hilly, but honestly, not as bad as I expected. We do our training rides on some ridiculous hills near our house and none of these hills were as bad as the worst of those. I like the long steady climbs. I got my fill of those on this ride. My heart rate was where I wanted it, I drank my fuel just as I had planned. I felt really good.
As I came around the first loop, most of the people around me turned off to start their run - they were doing the sprint distance. As I started my second loop, I found myself all alone and wondered if I would be alone for the next loop. As I came to the top of the next hill, around the bend I saw some others. I quickly caught up to them and passed them. On the second loop, I passed several people. Everyone was very friendly and talkative. It was very supportive - we all cheered each other!
About half way through the second loop, I saw my in-laws. They had come out to watch us. That put a smile on my face and got me through. As I was approaching the end of the second loop, I saw Trevor getting started on the run. I love when I see him. He looked great. We cheered each other.
I got back into the park and dismounted my bike.
Bike time: 1:31:11
I made my way through the crowd of people (there were about 1000 of us out there between all the events going on). Many were sprinters that were done, so they were just walking around, taking their time. I had to dodge a few to get back to my bike rack. I got them and took off my bike gear, put on my shoes and my visor, some sunscreen and off I went.
Transition 2: 3:18
Off to start the run. I'm not a fast runner and I am okay with that. Lately, I've been running 10:30 - 11 min miles. Today, I wanted to push it a little and get that pace down around 10 min miles. I figured I'd take it easy on the way out and once I hit the turn around, I'd see how I felt and go as hard as I felt I could comfortably go.
The run was very hilly. Lots of ups and downs - quite a few people walking. I was going - strong and steady. I saw Trevor's parents again and then Trevor again. I knew I was almost done and I felt great. At one point, I was passed by a 57 year old woman. There was another 30 something girl there too and she turned to me and said, "that lady is amazing". She passed me and I said "we all are". She agreed.
I climbed the last hill and saw Trevor and his parents waiting there for me. As I came around the corner, I saw the finish line and was so happy to be done! They announced my name and said "welcome back". I love that.
Run time: 1:03:09
TOTAL TIME: 3:20:25
Trevor had finished in 2:59. We stretched, got our gear together and headed to the car. Trevor was a ways ahead of me, but when I got to the car, he wasn't there? He finally came around the corner and said he had gone to see if we got finisher's medals. Apparently, there were only medals for people who placed in their age group - he then pulled out a medal and put it on my neck - I got 3rd in my age group. I knew there was no way this could be true. NO WAY. He said the guy said it was true. I figured I would wear the medal proudly. It didn't say 3rd place, it just said "Hagg Lake Olympic Triathlon" and the date.
The results were up online Sunday morning and I finished 12th out of 18 in my age group. The rules had stated that they would not be mailing awards and that you had to be present to get your award. That meant that finishers 3 thru 11 had packed up and gone home by the time I finished! And since Trevor went to ask about medals, I was able to secure one.
Today was one of the best days of my life. About half way through the bike ride I realized this: I can do so much more than I ever give myself credit for. I owned it today - I was in the moment for the entire event. During the swim, I put my head down and swam. I seriously enjoyed every single minute of today and can't wait to do it again. I love that Trevor and I do these things together. I'm real proud of him too!