Today I crossed another thing off the "Things to Do in Life" list: Complete a triathlon. About 6 weeks ago I saw the Montclair Tri listed on my friend Tamara's race calendar---I decided to give it a Tri. It was now or never. I knew I was in great shape from Crossfit, so add a new racing bike, a few practice rides, and a mere 4-5 practice swims and I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
Pre-Race: I came home from a party on Saturday night (no alcohol!) and had a snack of scrambled eggs. A few hours later, my body rejected the eggs and I found myself hanging my head over the toilet. This was NOT how I wanted to feel just hours before the race. Off to bed...then awake again at 1am and 3am as my body decided to rid itself of everything and anything that was left inside. Luckily, I had a few hours for the Imodium and pepto to kick in. I sipped water and dozed until 4am and prayed hard that this would pass. Thank God it did!! Tamara and Stuart picked me up at 4:30 and we were off!
We arrived at the race parking lot, got our stuff together and we took off on a quick 1.5 mile ride to the race start. The sun was just coming up at that point and the place was buzzing with athletes decked in spandex hauling fancy bikes and backpacks full of gear. I got my number, lucky 190. With my body all marked up with my numbers it all finally felt real! I was going to do this--no turning back now!!!
Race: I was in the second wave with a ton of other women--all women racers under 39--a big heat. I donned my swim cap and goggles and waded into the water after the men took off. The water was warm and I was shockingly relaxed. The buoys looked like they were miles away. I chatted up the girls next to me and they advised to "chunk" it. Don't focus on the end buoy, just the first, and then the next, etc. We took off and immediately I got a face full of water and a kick in the head. Great start, girl! I doggie paddled while everyone else swam by and then I got down to business. The first buoy passed and I was already tired--sidestroke time! How was I going to finish? I fought the "I suck, why did I do this" thoughts and just focused on relaxing and the soft sound of all the other swimmers stroking by. I spotted the next buoy and just said "make it halfway, just halfway". Made it halfway, and headed back to the beach. I finally found my rhythm after the turnaround! I just held my core tight and kept kicking and tried to relax the arms. I kept thinking, "I've done crossfit workouts way harder than this--keep going!" Awhile later I poked my head up and I had veered a bit off course, go figure, but managed to get back with the pack. I could see some white swim caps behind me so I knew I wasn't last in my wave. Just don't be LAST! I peeked up again and the beach was visible. I just kicked harder and knew I was going to make it. I don't remember crawling out of the water, but I do remember Tamara cheering for me and saying I looked great as I stumbled towards transition. My legs were wobbly and I was kind of dizzy...
I found my bike, got my shirt, socks, shoes, and helmet on and took off -- climbed the hill at the start of the bike easily and soon I was in on course and sitting relaxed in the saddle. It was a three loop rolling hill course. The first half of the loop was FAST. I was flying, passing people, and feeling strong. Then I hit "THE HILL". Oh...My...God... I had it in the highest gears and I was going like 2 miles and hour. It was like hitting a brick wall in every sense of the word. It was like time just went into slow motion. Stuart passed me on the second lap and yelled out "That's one hot bike!". It made me laugh out loud as I struggled through "The Hill' the second time. I had so much fun on the bike I didn't even mind the pain of the hills or the fact my feet went numb. As soon as it started it was over, and it was on to the run.
2 laps for the run. Now I had to run up "THE HILL" twice on another looped course. I caught Billy (Tamara's cousin and another rookie triathlete) at the start of his second lap and we ran it together. I was great to have someone to share in the misery. Billy finished strong and Tamara cheered me on shouting "2.5 more miles!! You can do it". I realized I could and that I already had gone 23 miles and I still had juice left. I wanted to run a negative split on the run so the first half was slow and I was able to pick it up on the last half. On THE Hill I battled some stomach cramps, but focused instead on just picking off runners rather than how bad it hurt. One by one, I would catch up to them, run with them for a bit, drop them, and move to the next target. I got to the last 3/4 mile, found my stride, and sprinted to the finish! It was so awesome to see Tamara, Stuart, Nick the dog, Billy, and Joe and the rest of the crowd cheering me on.
It felt great to finish something so big, something so challenging. The adrenaline high you get in such a race is a truly awesome feeling. Today, I felt really strong, like the athlete I want to be and am slowly becoming. For the first time in a long time, my mental toughness matched my physical toughness. I didn't panic on the swim, I calmly worked through my cramps, I backed off when needed, and pushed it hard at every opportunity.
This race and my respectable time of 2:17:05 is a testament to the amazing things Crossfit will help you achieve. With minimal training in any of these sports over the last two months, I still completed this race strong, confident, and with a solid time! (Thanks, Jerry!!)
Who's ready to join me for the next one?!
PS-Stay Tuned for photos and split times for the swim, bike, and run!