I'm not even sure where to start this. Last weekend I completed my first 70.3 triathlon. It was months of preparation, a big stressful lead up, and then a lot of freaking work!
I'm going to keep this as brief as possible because I could probably write an entire book about this race.
- I traveled across the entire country (to Boston from Anchorage, AK, legit across the country) for this race.
- I swam in not one but TWO lakes. Prior to last week the last time I swam in a lake was when I was about 8 years old.
- I finished in about the amount of time I expected, I did not cry, and I was able to walk when I was done (those were all of my goals).
The swim was in a lake. Lakes scare me almost as much as (if not more than) the ocean. To make matters worse, it was rainy on race day, making the lake dark. And scary. After getting my transition situation all taken care of (it poured rain before the race so I tried really hard to keep things dry), we got into our waves. The start was a rolling wave start, so two people into the water every five seconds within your wave. That worked pretty well, I just stuck myself towards the back of the wave because I honestly had no idea how this swim was going to go.
The water temp was 72 degrees. The air temp was somewhere in the same realm. When I first got into the water my arms and face were cold (I have a sleeveless wetsuit), and the water was dark. Really, really dark. After about 3 minutes in the water I was having trouble breathing to the point that I had to stop and just float to get it under control. It really didn't feel like a panic attack, but it was bad enough that I was pretty sure that my race was done. After talking to a few other people it seems that it could have just been the fact that the water was cold and dark and my body just didn't like it so much. Anyway, I got things under control for a while and kept swimming. After I went around the second turn buoy and was headed back to shore, I had to take another little break and get things under control again.
Once I got out of the water I had a little bit of trouble getting my legs back. Fortunately this race had wetsuit strippers so I just had to sit down and let them pull my suit off. It was amazing.
Despite my best efforts, my bike shoes were soaked. The humidity was about 100% so I tried to dry off as best as I could in transition because I wasn't excited about being soggy for 56 miles. I threw on a bike jersey because I also didn't know how warm/cold I would feel being wet with the humidity and air temp.
I got onto my bike and off I went. The first two miles of the course involved a lot of turns (6 in total I think) but the course was well marked and well staffed with volunteers so there was no way you could miss a turn. It was a two lap course so I just sort of settled in for the ride. The goal was to push it a little, but not too much because I still had 13.1 miles to run after I got off my bike.
The course was pretty flat with some rolling hills. Enough to keep things interesting but not enough to make it feel particularly hard.
My first lap felt pretty good. I made a conscious effort to eat and drink enough (which is hard, especially when I was not feeling particularly hungry or thirsty) and just tried to pace myself. The end of the lap has a couple of good uphills and then is downhill for just long enough to make it feel like you are super fast!
The second lap was a harder (obviously), I was tired, my butt started to hurt, and I was kind of over being on my bike. On a couple of the uphills I slowed wayyyy down and realized that it was probably because I needed to fuel more. So I forced myself to eat and drink more (it had probably been at least 15 miles since I had fueled at that point).
T2 was probably the worst. I got off my bike at the dismount line and had lead legs. I sort of wobbled to rack my bike and change my shoes.
The run is my favorite part of a triathlon, but it was by far the worst for this event. As I headed out for my run, my goal was to keep my pace under control for at least the first 8 miles (the 8 mile mark is my nemesis in a half marathon, it's where the wheels fall off 100% of the time). I had the worst time finding my groove. After about 5 miles I finally was able to convince myself to just run the 1 mile to the next aid station (there were aid stations every mile). I have blocked out a significant portion of the run, so all I really remember is that it was hard and it was slow.
There were a couple of times when I actually thought I was going cry (that's pretty out of character for me), but I didn't. When I finished, I was pretty sure I was going to barf (one of my friends who went with me is a nurse practitioner too and she said I was so pale that she believed me when I said I was going to barf), I didn't.
Overall I'm pretty happy with my race. It was my first race of this distance so I tried not to have any expectations. I learned a lot and have many, many things I want to do differently for next time (and there will be a next time)!
Currently I'm enjoying my recovery. No workout expectations (and therefore not a lot of working out), which is amazing after 20 weeks of having a workout scheduled almost every freaking day.