TRI'd it, LOVED it.
And here it begins, another blog post about a "first time" for me. Who would have thought at 30 years of age that I would be pushing my body like this?! I have never had more respect for my body like I do right now. The human body is resilient and I am thankful to have a working body that allows me to train the way I do.
There is so much more to racing than just crossing the finish. It's everything you sacrifice and work so hard for leading up to that day that helps you learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of. And I say this after completing a Sprint triathlon! What will I say when I finish an Olympic distance.......maybe one day!
IT STARTED WITH AN INDOOR TRIATHLON....
Nearly 10 months ago, I participated in my first indoor triathlon. At the time I was working for Life Time Fitness and my co-workers encouraged me to sign up. LifeTime Fitness one hour indoor tri is a great way to explore the triathlon sport in a non intimidating way. It is a 10 min swim, 30 min bike and 20 min run--do what you can during that time frame. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be and I enjoyed the challenge of doing back to back disciplines. Shortly after that my sis in law who is no rookie to racing, asked if I wanted to do a triathlon in October which was about 9 months out at the time. I hesitated as I always do when trying something new, but as she explained the distances of a sprint triathlon, I quickly turned that hesitation into a yes.
THE MERMAID SERIES and SPRINT TRIATHLONS
The Mermaid Series is an all women's event company that offer many different races all over the country. They even have a Sprint Triathlon Family and Friends option which allows you to start the race with your family and friends. Most tris are organized by age, for example if you are 30, you will race with 30-39 age group.
The Sprint distance is a great intro into the sport of triathlon. Distances vary depending on the race but for the Mermaid Series triathlon it was a 600m swim, 11.5 mile bike and 2.5 mile run. I felt good about the bike and run as they are activities I am more familiar with but that swim, not so much. 600 meters sounds short but try doing 10 laps in a regular size pool with no breaks, that'll change your mind real quick. Oh and this swim was in open water--ya, hi ocean...or more like bye ocean, no thanks! Being that the race was 9 months out, I knew that would be adequate time to train, build power in my legs and spend more time in the water.
While I am active and felt good about my fitness level when I first started tri training, I knew I had a ways to go in feeling fully prepared for the race. I began reading Triathlons for Women by Sally Edwards. It is a great guide that walks you through your first day of training to race day with so much encouragement in between. It includes an 8 week training plan, simple techniques for the swim, bike, run and an overview of the importance of nutrition. I felt so inspired during the first chapter as I read about Julie Moss and her incredible IronMan finish in 1982. To read about women before you that helped pave the way in what had been a men's only sport for such a long time was moving.
My workouts were no more than 1 hour long, 6 days a week and in the weeks leading to the race I started doing doubles. A lot of training days include brick workouts where you would do two disciplines back to back, ex: bike then followed by a run. This helps get your body used to the transition of each discipline. Let me tell you, they don't call it "brick" for nothing. That is exactly what your legs feel like!
Like most people, the swim was the most daunting of the 3. I kept putting off training for this and only got in the pool about 6 times before race day. I knew I was going to struggle here and my strategy was to make up for the extra time I knew I would spend in the water during the bike and run portion of the race. I didn't see the need for a tri coach as the sprint distances seemed reasonable. I created my training plan based on the Triathlons for Women book and a lot of research.
Recovery and nutrition are just as important as your training. Your body needs to rest and repair itself in order to get stronger. Nutrition is vital. Athletes view food as fuel and eat to perform. Calories need to be rich in nutrients in order to support the increased demands that are placed on your body during rigorous training.
Training came and went and as soon as I knew it I was on a plane to California to participate in my first triathlon with some kick ass women that included my sister and sis-in-law. SIL is a seasoned triathlete and was gracious enough to get my sis and I set up for success on race day. We borrowed bikes and helmets from her. The day before the race was my first time on a road bike and whoa what a difference! I'm so glad I was able to pick it up quickly--can't wait to get a bike of my own. My sis rode a mountain bike which is a bit heavier but much easier to ride. The Friends and Family Sprint Tri is a very friendly atmosphere so it didn't matter what type of bike you rode. The goal was to finish what we started.
Goggles--only purpose is to keep the salt water out of your eyes. The ocean looks like one dark green hole when you are immersed in it!
One piece bathing suit--I wanted to be as protected as possible in that ocean because well sharks.
Swim cap--provided by the race. This helps to identify what wave you are in.
Ear plugs--the screw in type are very helpful! Last thing you want is swimmers ear during the race.
Ankle strap--provided by the race to track timing. You keep this on for the entire race.
Wet suit--not pictured because I rented mine onsite at the race.
Helmet--required by the race.
Road Bike--some races offer rentals on-site.
Tank and shorts--to go over your bathing suit. If you want to save time during transition that's the way to do it.
Shoes--hardcore triathletes have clip in biking shoes but I brought my trusty Brooks.
Cushioned socks--must have! They keep your feel comfy and protected.
Bib--helps identify you and easier to tag you in photos :)
Keep everything but the helmet and bike.
Run belt--keep snacks and phone inside.
Run watch--track your progress, an tri watch is ideal for this. I will be getting one!
I opted for a hat because, helmet hair.
We woke up before the sun on race morning, ate a quick breakfast of oatmeal and banana and made the trek to Capitola Beach. We unloaded the car, checked in and quickly got settled for the journey ahead. That hour went so fast! After getting branded by a sharpie with my age and bib number, I found that the race was 15 min away and I still didn't have my wetsuit--whoops. I made the barefoot run in my bathing suit with my sister, had 3 people help me put on the darn thing and headed on to the start line.
My sis and I ran into the ocean water moments before the gun to get acclimated to the ocean temp. To our surprise it was warm! A big embrace and a minute later we were running into the ocean with about 80 other women for the 600 meter swim. As soon as I was far enough out where I couldn't feel the sand any longer, I panicked. My breath got shorter, the current was making it impossible to make any progress, self doubt kicked in and survival mode was on. I looked back at the shore and thought to myself "maybe you weren't ready for this". That negative talk left as quickly as it came and I back stroked my way around the pier. The technique I practiced went out the door and I did what I had to to finish that swim. I was kicked, felt god knows what touch my legs in the water, drank a lot of salt water, lost my breathe, you name it. But I never rested on the surf boards of those life guards and didn't stop swimming until I could stand.
I found my sister during the run to the bike transition and we jogged our way up the hill in our wetsuits. I quickly dried off, got dressed and was on the bike, cycling fast to get through those 11.5 miles. I spent 19 minutes in the ocean and wanted to make up for it so my legs were pumping hard. I saw my sister again as I made the loop around the route. I yelled her name and flashed a smile, I didn't wave because I was scared to fall off the bike, LOL. I am not a seasoned cyclist so I played it safe. The course included some hills and man, they burned so good. I wasn't sure if I still had my legs at one point.
As I made the 2nd transition, I heard a familiar voice in the crowd say "Loli!!!" (that is my childhood nickname). My cousin Eric found me! As I began my 2.5 mile run, he paced me every step of the way. I told him I was tired and he encouraged me to keep going. I snacked on my gel and that helped give me the second wind I needed. I never stopped to walk and even ran off course for a bit but I crossed that finish winded and nearly in tears, joyful tears.
Jess crossed that finish line smiling for the camera. I waited as she caught her breath and gave her the ultimate teddy bear hug. We did it. Triathlon finishers.
If you made it this far down the post, high five! Thanks for taking the time to read.