I did it. Ironman Cozumel 2014, here I come!
I am a planner. I love having a calendar full of events to look forward to. I’ve been getting antsy that I didn’t have a plan of events for 2014 so I finally took care of it this past weekend. Here’s what is on tap (so far) for 2014:
Shamrock Half Marathon
Nike Women’s Half Marathon. I entered the lottery and hope to get in again.
Colonial Beach International Triathlon
Luray Sprint Triathlon
If the Reston Sprint had been my first triathlon there is no amount of money I would have accepted to do another. Going into this tri (like my previous), I had three goals:
One out of three isn’t bad.
I wasn’t too nervous this morning. I typically swim in a 25m pool and this snake swim was being held in a 50m pool so that was a bit daunting. Also, this swim was a longer distance than my last triathlon – 400m. Still, I have the most confidence in the swimming portion so I was eager to get started. I waited on the pool deck and chatted with a friend, only occasionally glancing at the pool. The water was a warm 81 degrees and the air temperature was around 80. At least I wouldn’t be cold!
Once I finally queued up to start the swim, I focused on the swimmers already in the pool – some athletes had beautiful, fluid strokes; one man was doing a doggy paddle; another man was just walking. All levels of swimming skills (or lack thereof) were definitely represented! As I neared the start with about 5 swimmers in front of me, I noticed that people had a choice of diving from the side of the pool or jumping in and pushing off from the wall. I decided to push off from the wall since that is how I have been practicing. Once it was my turn to start, I jumped in to get ready. However, when I jumped in my feet didn’t hit the bottom of the pool. I kept going down. Uh-oh! I had assumed that the pool was 5-6 feet deep – it clearly wasn’t. I hadn’t held my breath before jumping in so, without thinking, I tried to take in air – except I was underwater. I came up spluttering and coughing and before I could recover from my miserable entry I heard the word “Go!”
Well, darn! This wasn’t the swim start that I had envisioned. I was really looking forward to this portion, but my confidence was shot. I struggled down the lane, still coughing and trying to recover from swallowing water and getting so much up my nose. 25m down the lane I had to roll onto my back. I quickly was passed by the swimmer behind me and I thought about quitting. My heart rate was through the roof, I couldn’t catch my breath and I just didn’t think I could recover. I’m not a quitter though so I rolled back over and tried to get into a swim groove. That 50m portion ended and I took a 5 second stop at the end of the lane to calm down and catch my breath. It was not working so I took off anyway. I decided to switch to my backstroke (it’s not as good as my freestyle, but I refused to doggy paddle or walk) but that didn’t really help. Soon enough I finished my second 50m length but I was still struggling. I let a couple swimmers pass me before I pushed off the wall. I made it through the next 100m with a combination of backstroking and freestyle.
Finally! I seemed to calm down. I caught my breath and could feel my heart rate slowing. At this point, I had 200m to go and I was confident that I could freestyle the rest of the way. My form was good and I began to pass swimmers. According to my Garmin, I negative split the second half of the swim so I climbed out of the pool, confident that the worst of the day was behind me.
I managed to snag the best spot in transition for the ride portion – my bike was the closest to the exit. I cleared T1, mounted my bike and was on my way up the tiniest of hills. I turned onto the bike course and started to pick up speed as a rider came by on my left. He hadn’t called out so I was a bit surprised. He passed me and started to cut back over in front of me. He was a bit close to my wheel, but I thought it would be alright as he would speed up to pull away. Nope. He braked, held his diagonal line and clipped my front tire. !?#?!@?# I panicked, knowing that I was going down. I managed to unclip my shoes and fortunately came down in some grass. I quickly picked myself up, checked that I wasn’t bleeding and hopped back on my bike. That set the tone for the rest of my ride – I was tentative, slow and fearful of everyone who passed me.
Finally, I made it back into transition. My bike was quickly racked, I slipped my trainers on and I began the run. By this time, it was hot and sunny. The hat and sunglasses weren’t cutting it and Reston is very hilly. I soon started walking. I wanted the race to be over yet I didn’t run to end the pain sooner. Such faulty thinking. Those were the longest 3.1 miles of my life, I think (pretty close! It took me 41 minutes to walk). I crossed that finish mat thankful that this was my second triathlon. Given the abysmal swim and the bike incident, I would have never signed up for another tri (and I would have earned DNSs for the rest of my tris this season) if this had been my first experience with triathlons.
But here is the kicker: this race was longer, I nearly drowned getting into the pool, I had a bike wreck (and I was riding a new bike), I walked most of the 5K and I still beat my previous time. !?!?!!? I don’t even know what to say…