GUESS WHAT KIDS!!
I did it. I finished my first sprint triathlon. Peanuts, I know, but we all have to start somewhere. Despite having a Bud Light budget, I was able to finish with a smile on my face and a strong desire to do more triathlons in the future. As much as I hate writing race recaps, I’d be remiss if I didn’t write about popping my Tri Cherry.
Beautiful Sandusky, Ohio! actually, the city of Sandusky isn’t beautiful but it does contain Cedar Point, America’s Roller Coast (trademark blah blah). I’ve been coming to Cedar Point since I was a small child, but this was one of first times I came by car, not boat.
I brought my friend Andrea along to be my sherpa/map-reader/life-coach/brain since Randy wasn’t able to make the trip with me. I also had three friends that would be doing the Half Iron Man Sunday morning: Staci, Shawn, and Paul.
Race Day Morning!
I woke up feeling refreshed and excited, despite an evening spent sampling Sandusky’s “night life”. I put on my tri suit and 100 temporary tattoos with my race number and Andrea and I made our way to the transition area. Shawn, Paul, and Staci were awesome enough to wake up bright and early with me. Shawn also attempted to help me set up my transition area, but alas, only the Sprint Tri athletes were allowed. Boo! I was counting on his help but no big deal, I copied off the people around me. As I looked at all the high-end tri bikes I couldn’t help feeling like a fool with my $400 road bike with a helmet I purchased at Meijer’s.
It was a beautiful morning for a swim in Lake Erie, and as I waded out into the water I noticed the temps were good and I was confident in my decision to forego my wet suit. Besides, I hadn’t trained once in a wet suit so why would I mess with it now? Come to think of it, I had only done one short open-water swim before this and wasn’t really prepared and oh my God I’m gonna drown…
Before I could completely panic it was time to swim. Adrenaline overtook me and I only focused on the swimmers around me and staying on course. In fact, I was a little obsessed with staying on course and was constantly looking up to make sure the buoys were in sight. There was one girl who kept bumping into the side of me. Every time I’d move over she’d get closer. I gave her a good kick and she backed off. Like sharks, you must show other swimmers you are a threat and they will quit attacking you.
As I finally approached knee-deep water I wasn’t sure whether to run my way in or swim. Every article I read said swim until you no longer can to conserve your leg energy. Well, I swam in two feet of water and felt stupid. As soon as I stood up my tri-bottom sucked onto me like a second skin. I passed Andrea and my other buddies cheering me on as I made my way to transition. “Do I have a camel toe?” I shouted to Andrea, who shouted back, “Who cares? GO!”
In all, my half mile swim took half and hour to complete. Pitiful. I definitely have some work to do before my next triathlon.
Ah, the dreaded bike portion.
Transition from swim to bike took me nearly six minutes. I was obsessed with getting my feet as dry as possible to prevent blisters. Also, I had no fucking clue what I was doing. Prior to my race I had gone on one 8-mile bike ride, so I had zero expectations for this leg. I finally made it onto my bike and was directed onto a beautiful, yet deserted, road along the coast of Lake Erie. The view was pretty, but there were no other bikers in sight and I was worried I had made a wrong turn. Finally I spotted a photographer. “Am I going the right way?” I shouted at him. “Of course!” he replied, looking at me like the idiot that I am. At least I didn’t ask him if I had a camel toe.
The final half of the bike portion was along a main ride that was NOT closed to traffic. I’ve never rode a bike on a road before, let alone with cars whizzing by, so I was pretty cautious. I drank no water because I thought if I bent down to grab my water, I’d fall off my bike and get flattened by a car. I was so thirsty. All in all, it wasn’t a bad ride. Dare I say it was relaxing? Obviously I didn’t “race” this portion, I just enjoyed it. The 12 mile ride took me 50 minutes to complete. Not as bad as my swim, but not great either. Oh well, on to my run…
Well, I certainly learned what I’m good at. As I wheeled my bike into the transition area, I definitely got a sense of the dreaded rubber legs everyone talks about. I had no idea how I was going to run on those things. However, seeing all my buddies cheering me on gave me the strength to turn my hobble into a running-like motion.
The run portion was a stupid double out-and-back loop through the parking lots of Cedar Point, not exactly the “run through the park” the website advertised. Oh well. I had no watch on me so I was blind to my pace. The rubbery leg sensation went away surprisingly quickly and I started feeling stronger. On the run I enjoyed doing what I normally do during a road race: people watching. I saw many fit people and many people who did not look like your average triathlete. It always makes me happy to see all shapes and sizes participate in athletic events.
I’m not sure if dehydration was making me delirious, or if I was feeling a “tri high”, but as I made my way around my second loop I felt ecstatic. “I’m gonna hug and kiss everyone I see! I don’t care if they’re a stranger! I love everyone!” I kept thinking to myself. I heard my name called as I crossed the finish line and saw all of my awesome friends cheering. Luckily for them I spared the kisses but grabbed each one them despite being a sweaty mess. I was so happy to be done.
My 5K time was 25:00, only about 30 seconds slower than my PR. I’m still not sure how the hell I pulled that off.
I HAD A FUCKING BLAST!! Seriously. I’ve never had that much fun doing any other athletic event in my life. There are definitely more triathlons in my future, and I’m even toying with the idea of doing a Half Iron Man next year. I’ll probably have to sell a kidney for the proper equipment, but hey. You only need one, right? Believe everyone when they tell you triathlons are addicting.
The next day I was able to play cheerleader for all of my Iron Friends. If you ever have a chance, go watch an Iron Man race. It was an inspiration. Seeing all different ages, body types, and abilities convinced me a longer distance triathlon was in my reach.
Phew. Well I hope this wasn’t as boring to read as it was to write. My description did not even come close to capturing the fun, excitement, dread, fear, and empowerment I felt completing my first triathlon.
Next stop: The Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY