Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tri for the Cure: My first Tri in (gulp) 23 years!


First off, I have to start the Academy Award speeches with a BIG thank you to Katie, a fellow Denver blogger, who I've never had the chance to meet up with until a couple weeks ago at the swim race after I bribed her into doing with me (Alcohol is a powerful weapon :)).  She lives on the other side of town from me so meeting up haven't been convenient but when I found out she was doing this same triathlon, and has done it before, I stalked her with a thousand questions on FB and email ....had I known her address, I'm sure I'd have made myself at home for a couple weeks.  She was instrumental in getting me prepared for this race...and what a sweetheart to boot.

Katie and her friend Audrey - both were so helpful and encouraging!  You guys ROCK!
Pre Race: This is the biggest sprint triathlon in the nation (really!) so when Katie told me I needed to get my sorry butt there early to secure a good bike spot, like 5am early (my start was at 7:06am), I took this to heart and pulled into the parking lot at 4:55am.  The parking volunteers had us park about a mile away from the start, which is ridiculous because we passed 5000 closer in spots, but I guess this is the price you pay for being anal about a good transition spot (I am learning the tricks of the trade!).  Katie ended up parked right next to me which was really funny at the time - it was pitch dark so the fact we ended up right next to one another in a sea of cars was pretty great.  We met her friend, Audrey, and made our way to the transition area where they instantly found a perfect-o spot for my bike and helped me set up my gear.

Getting there 2 hours early lands you a sweet spot on the end.
Everyone who does triathlons uses a Hello Kitty towel, don't they?
We wandered around doing the ritual porta-potty and race markings and then I bid my friends farewell and good luck and got ready for my swim (Katie and Audrey were in waves about a half hour after me).


Swim: Because I'm an idiot and have never done a triathlon in 23 years, I signed up for the "competitor" wave, which is reserved for those who have repeatedly placed in the top 20% of previous triathlons.  Perfect.  The reasons why I did this was because when I registered, I had never done an OWS before and was terrified of having 1000 bodies in the water kicking me.  I also wanted to hopefully run before the heat of the day continued to try and melt Colorado (record number of 90+ degree days this year - woohoo!).  As it turned out, the swim races I did pre-registration eased my open water swimming anxiety and I really wasn't anxious anymore. Standing there waiting for my swim to start, I looked around and felt a little out of place by all the well-chiseled triathlon bodies around me and questioned my sanity for the thousandth time for not moving down to my age group wave  ....but soon I talked to a woman next to me who was also in my wave and she told me she wasn't a runner and the only time she runs is once a year at this race.  Guess I wasn't the only brainiac in the competitor wave.

The "elite" wave starts first, at 7am.  I thought there'd be about a hundred of these soles.  There were 3.  THREE.  So off they go then we wait three minutes for those three to get well ahead of the next wave, which is the "survivors".  These are all racers who are cancer survivors and they wear pink caps ("competitors" wear blue, in case you wondered).  There must have been about 200 of them - and I'm not kidding.  This was actually concerning me as I stood in the water waiting for my wave start and watching some of them "swim".  All swimmers are allowed buddies if they feel they cannot make the distance by themselves.  Buddies swim along side their swimmer and they carry a noodle in case the swimmer needs to use it at any time during the race to rest.  With about a minute to the start, all I could see were massive noodles in front of me; I had no idea how I was going to get around them.

The horn blew and off we went.  Starting in the water was different than the swim races I had been going to which started with a run start from the beach.  So about 200 of us were a little crammed in there, plus the sun was just coming up over the lake making it rather difficult to see anything but sun rays so it was a little dicey getting going.  I got a swift kick in the throat early on and a few noodles in the face I had to navigate around, but overall I had an absolute blast with the swim!!  I looked ahead and behind me a couple times and felt I was positioned pretty well in the top 1/4 of those with blue caps - I was thrilled.  Swim: 750M (1/2 mile), Time: 13.31, Rank: 92/1971.  

T1: So you get out of the water on a slimy boat ramp and you run UPHILL quit a long ways on pebbly cement (this hurt my feet - ouch!).  As I run up, I see Katie and Audrey waiting for their wave to start and high-five them.  It gave me a bit of a rush :).  It's a really long way to my bike, but I found it easily, thanks to being at the transition 2-hours beforehand :).  I think I had a great transition as I didn't have to deal with a wetsuit.  I somehow miraculously didn't forget anything.  Time: 3:45 (did I mention it was a LONG ways out of the water to the bike?).

Bike: Now we have a looooong ways in transition to go until we can mount on the bike.  I'm just watching what everyone around me is doing, since I'm so "competitive" and I gotta look the part; everyone was running with their bikes in their bike shoes to the mounting area so when in Rome and all and ran with my bike I did.

I know this course like I know how much I hate onions - very well.  I ride and run here often as the park is practically in my backyard so every single inch of topography change is embedded in my head.  This is a huge advantage for me, who is bike challenged riding something flat.  I rode hard - at least for me, and had I not dinked around too much while on my bike with stupid things like getting my Garmin off my bike onto my wrist, re-positiong my Garmin so it wasn't backwards, which it was for the first 3 miles; iPod ready for the run; Chapstick; gum; chewing open a gel packet; repositioning the stupid race number on my bike - which kept creeping up between my legs and scratching them, I think I would have rode slightly faster.  As it was, I was THRILLED when I looked down on my time as I hadn't rode anything close to that ever before.  I was passed by probably 60 people, which is a bit demoralizing when it's one after another after another....I kept wondering what I need to do to be faster in the future because I just don't get how you CAN be - but like I've said before, biking is my real weakness so when I passed maybe a dozen or so people, I felt all Lance Armstrong-ish and I was having a much better time on the bike than I thought I would.  Bike: 11.4 miles, Time: 40.14 (16.9mph), Rank: 435/1971).

T2:  After dismounting you run back to your transition spot, which, let me remind you, it's a long way away.  My bike shoe strap came off and so "running" with my bike was proving to be very difficult because my shoe was falling off if I ran.  God forbid I'd want to spend time restrapping the thing when I was just going to unstrap them in a few feet.  I felt a bit more scatter-brained in T2 getting all my bike gear off and running gear on.  More logistics here than swim to bike, I thought.  Time: 2:18.

Run: Whatever grand illusion I had that I could rock the run part was very quickly smashed within the first few steps.  But before I could become smacked with a heavy dose of you suck running reality, I realized after I crossed the start line that I forgot my bib.  Holy hell, are you kidding me!!  So I ran back and strapped it on and then started the 3.1 mile death march, which quickly dampened my previous "I'm having fun" mood (in retrospect, this bib wasn't even NEEDED as I had a timing chip on....what a waste of a precious minute!)

Some masochistic race director decided the run needed to start on a half mile steep uphill.  Add that hill to my heavy-ass quads from the bike and there was no way I was running even remotely close to the pace I envisioned.  I stopped and walked within a hundred feet of the start to shake my quads out. I used the lame excuse that I wanted to stat my iPod, but really, I just had to stretch my legs for a few seconds; the fact that now my iPod was working was a bonus (let's also recall the amount of time I wasted on the bike getting it prepped for the run, too).  I took off running and started passing a lot of people (and a couple me :( ) but I never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever felt good running, no matter how slow I ran.  At the half way mark, I stopped to get some water and walked about 15 seconds.  At mile 2, my angry ankle started to rear it's ugly head and this seemed like a perfect opportunity excuse to walk a few steps and shake my foot.  When I got to the 1/2 mile now downhill (uphill at the start), I thought I'd be able to crank it up and nail a few road kill victims.  Um, no.  A couple times I'd look at my watch and see I was running something like 8:45 and I just wanted to cry.  Sad, simply sad.  Run: 5k, Time: 27:58 (9:01 pace - arghhhh!), Rank: 271/1971.

Overall: I saw Tara, who came out to cheer me on, just before I crossed the finish line ... it choked me up.  Literally, I crossed the finish line and couldn't breathe because tears were starting to well up.  This isn't like me at all, I didn't know where that came from or what to do about it.  I stopped for a few minutes trying to get Tara's attention but she didn't see me waving like a lunatic so I walked through the chute and at the end of the line..... there was my son, Brendan, waiting for me with a big hug.  I lost it, the tears started streaming.  What a dork!  Time: 1:27:48. Rank: 162/1971, Age group: 15/161. (Hiker mom, YOU WON the necklace by predicting the closest time - woohoo!  Thanks for the whole 9? of you who participated)



I waited around with my fan club for Katie and Audrey to come through, rehashing the whole race to them.  I had no idea of my finish time because my swim watch broke a few minutes before my wave start so when Katie came up after her finish and asked me my time, I thought about 1:35...so I was pretty stunned at my 1:27.  Katie had a great race, PRing by 5 minutes over last year and her friend, Audrey, PR'd by 10 minutes.  We all high-fived one another, grabbed some food...and made the long trek back to our cars - exhausted, but elated.

I loved this race and all it stood for.  Even though I took a few noodles to the face during my swim, I couldn't have been more moved by all those cancer survivors giving it all they had to show the world they live!  I wasn't bothered at all having to fight my way through them; you can't help but not be touched by their determination to survive.  Do I love triathloning and want to do more?  Um, the jury is still out on that, at least for right now.  Had the run gone better, I think I'd have signed up for about 10 more this year, but I have a lot of work to do in the running department (it's NOT just this 5k; my running in general is nowhere near where it needs to be to race feeling well right now) and so I bid the triathlon farewell until next year....and then who knows.  I haven't totally ruled out wanting to do a full IM still for my 50th birthday next year....so I guess this race didn't do too much damage :), but this race also showed me that if I ever do a full IM, I want - and WILL - be race ready for it!!!!
Audrey, Katie and I - happy finish smiles all-around!
Until next time....
Run (tri, bike, swim...) strong!

63 comments:

Jennifer said...

Great story brave lady. Running after biking is so hard but it sounds like you did pretty well and a PR by 5 minutes! Supa!

Michelle said...

What an awesome day!

C2Iowa said...

You R O C K!!

Well done. You should be happy in every sense.

bobbi said...

Rockstar! You KILLED the swim (and the bike too!) so CONGRATULATIONS! I have no clue how triathletes do it - I sure don't think I could - GREAT job!

Katie @ Will Race for Carbs said...

Love it! You are too funny Jill!! You were so awesome and it was such a pleasure to meet you and guide you through the race!! I was going to get my sorry butt back to blogging and write a race report about this but you did such a good job I just don't think I need to ;) Here's to next year because you know I am going to try to talk you into doing one again!! :) You're the best Jill and congrats on a fabulous race!!!

Tasha @Healthy Diva said...

You did awesome!!!!! Seriously, YOU ROCK JILL!!!!

Petraruns said...

I think that's a great time - I am so envious of your swimming skills and I know you don't rate your biking but your bike average speed is NICE - I would be happy with that! Running uphill after the bike is a pain in the butt - I had that in my sprint and it's an unbelievable killer. Strangely enough I was Very emotional after my tri recently. Could it be it broke me a bit? Maybe. Anyway - it sounds like it's a good way for you to get caught up and work out without putting too much pressure on that ankle fo yours. How was it afterwards?

CautiouslyAudacious said...

WooHooo great job! Welcome back to the triathlon world! You can always come do one in NM they are very small you don't have to deal with crowds :-) Oh man sorry you ran back to get your bib... I always get emotional at a race don't ask why because I rarely get emotional in general.

Denae Coates said...

Awesome job!!!!

Michelle said...

Great job Jill!!

hiker mom said...

Woohoo! Congrats! You did awesome:) I am doing my first tri on the 19th so this was a great recap for me:) Excited about the necklace! THanks!

abbi said...

Congrats! I think you did very well! Your recap was entertaining to read, kind of sucks about forgetting your bib when you started out for the run!

pensive pumpkin said...

omigod wow you are so amazing.

you almost make a tri sound fun. almost. LOL

Whitney said...

Great job! I love that you went out and did it at all. Me? I don't know how to swim (seriously, I can snorkel, I can doggie paddle and that's about it), I can average about 11 mph on a bike - but I haven't been on a bike in 3 years.
Anyway, I don't know why I just told you all of that... but congratulations on getting out there and on doing so well! Really!

Karen said...

Congrats! You did great! It's cool they have a survivor start too.

Jeff Gallup said...

Awesome!! Congrats! :-)

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Anything beyond; show up, stand behind line, run until you cross another line is so much beyond my logictical abilities it is not funny. So I can only imgaine how hard managing a tri is. You are amazing! Congrats on your tri return!

Adrienne said...

Welcome back! Funny how those things don't play out like they do in our minds-but it's part of learning how to race a triathlon.

That being said, awesome job! I bet with some more practice (those dang brick things), your run will be more appropriate:)

Watch out Ironman-WTG!!

Caroline said...

you have all my admiration
seriously
congratulations!

HappyTrails said...

Ok Michael Phelps' sister - we know you can swim, you certainly can bike (I know because we've ridden together), and I know you can run... You did awesome!!! - particularly for a comeback event after 20+ years - you should feel encouraged! Ok, I HAVE to ask you this - and you know I love you - but an ipod for 3 miles - REALLY???!!! It made me laugh! :-) Since you have the park so close to your house, you know what you should be practicing, right? A bike ride followed by a run UP that dang hill - over and over - season those quads! :-) I might have to join you. You done good - keep it up! Practice makes perfect....

Julie said...

It made me totally happy to read your report! I don't know how you can't be happy with yourself? You rocked it...I'm not just saying that you really did! It was basically your first one and you did great! Really look at those numbers, really look at them Rank: 162/1971, Age group: 15/161. Seriously? 15 out of 161...now I know you would have liked to podium but hell top 20!! Girl I'm going to have kick some sense into you....only because I love you.

And I love that your son was there and I really love that you got choked up...that's what keeps me doing these things...they pride even if I'm slow in getting it done, going longer and accomplishing more!

ajh said...

I need to find a race that lets someone swim next to me with a noodle! I like that! Look at your swim rank! Wow! You are one rocking swimmer my friend.
Were many people wearing wet suits?
Your bike rank is great too. I am AMAZED at how fast people go on the bike. The best I have done is in the 15s. My friend asked me if I was going to have my shoes on the bike and jump into them. Sure......and break my other wrist. Do people do that?
Oh man your getting your bib is like my whole forgot the chip thing! And yes so aggravating and a wast of a minute or more. Your run rank is great. You are hard on yourself!
How sweet that your son was there! LOVE IT!
As you can see I devoured this race report. Good job Jill!!!

Char said...

I loved reading this. How brave and inspiring are you!! I watched the triathlon at the Olympics and know haw tough an event it is. And there you are giving it a go. And you did such a great job.

Kate said...

I'd kill myself trying to get into bike shoes ON the bike. And even knowing you were a competitive swimmer incollege I'm STILL floored by how fast your swim was. Wow!

I know the run pace was disappointing, but how many brick workouts have you done inpreparation for running off the bike? And of course people were passing you on the bike...you were in the competitive group! I bet you'd have seen something much different if you'd gone in your AG wave.

You're awesome...I could only dream of doing this well in a tri. Way to go, my friend!

Alma said...

Congratulations on your incredible tri! The tone was so great compared to the trepidation you had going into it. Even if your run didn't feel the best, you still did a great job given a bum ankle and all. I'm glad this got you in the gut & gave you a release. Nice to have those moments.
Way to go Hiker Mom!

Liz said...

Yay, well done! I LOVED reading this report, especially after watching the Olympic Triathlon yesterday on tv! I can't wait to read the report when you do your IM!! You are AWESOME!

Johann said...

Fantastic Jill! You are awesome! That is a super performance after 23 years, really, really well done! You are a lot braver than I am. I'm using some crazy ultra goals as excuses to not go for a tri or Iron Man. Yes, I'm too scared. (mainly of biking)

Mike said...

Awesome race Jill!!! That swim time was smokin fast for sure. Solid bike leg. I know you were disappointed in the run but that's a pretty good 5k time (specially as part of a tri) for a lot of us readers out here, just sayin. Seriously nice work. Top 10% in both your age group and overall is impressive!

The hello kitty towel was a great idea! I might have to get me one of those :-).

Do you have an IM in mind for next year? I'm considering one myself and making a list of candidate races I would consider.

Teamarcia said...

Fantastic race! So not surprised you rocked it. You NEED to do that IM. NEED TO. Yay for Hikermom too!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I have the BIGGEST smile on my face right now

Congrats

SupermomE12 said...

As everyone else has sad, you did an amazing job!!! Congrats on a great race and I hope you are feeling really really good about it. :) Hugs!

lindsay said...

um i participated.

i loved this report. haha. i was laughing and josh is all "why are you laughing". the competitive wave. the noodles. the extracurricular activities on the bike... hilarious. i'm glad you kept your composure and didn't "borrow" a noodle or three.

congrats on your back-in-action triathlon! so, we will expect regular tri's now, right?

brg said...

nice work my friend. you always make me laugh! :)

Kathy said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome super woman!! Oh, the open swim scares me to death.
You ROCK!!!

Kandi said...

We were triathlon twinsies... I was 227 in mine too!
I had fun in my swim too.. but you are WAY faster than me. I swam half that distance and took a few more minutes! ha.
Sounds like you had a fun race. Glad it didn't scare you from doing more in the future. I have been swimming more laps this summer than ever before and now want to sign up for a second tri... but I'll probably wait til next season.

Little JBird said...

You're so awesome! :D

Paul said...

That was a score! Your position excellente!
Pretty darn good finish for your first tri in so long!

I would do a few more shorter ones to iron out the transition kinks and get used to the whole thing more and then do a HIM.

Black Knight said...

Great and wonderful adventure. Sometimes the dreams come true!
Now you are a triathlete too!

funderson said...

You are so amazing! Way to go, pretty lady!

Petraruns said...

About to tag you lovely lady - check out my blog shortly!

Marlene said...

Well it has only taken me a WEEK to find & read this. Jeez do I ever suck! I have not been devoting ANY time to blogging these days and it makes me sad, BUT I do think of my friends (like you!) often!! I was so excited to see on FB that you were doing a TRI! YEAHHHHH. Dark side, baby!

Huge congrats!! Sorry that the run was such a suckfest (BEEN THERE, and meanwhile I thought that would be my strength. Go figure) but you go through it and finished in a seriously awesome time. Way to smoke the swim and kick some butt on the bike, girl! So proud of you.

Come on, do another, you know you wanna.......

Coy Martinez said...

That is a GREAT race for so long between your tri's!! If you have any swimming tips, you can send them my way, I'm so slow that I can't stand myself :) !!

Suz and Allan said...

Nice job with your tri!!!

Terzah said...

Kicked in the throat and you still rocked the swim?! I'm with Kathy, it scares me to death. I'm so happy for you (been out of town so I'm just catching up with the report!). I hope you do more tris--the run will come--do some up in Boulder!

DRog said...

traithlon!!!
way to go
you did awesome!!! is that CC Reservoir? sounds like a fun time, you had really good results.
Congrats!!!

D

Raina said...

Jill, I did end up stalking your time- though I have NO idea what is good or bad with triathlon! All I know is that you are an ANIMAL for doing all those different things...and that you CERTAINLY ARE a BRAINIAC for starting in the competitive wave :D ..!!

The running part will come.
Great report. I always enjoy your writing voice :)

mighty termitey said...

i'm so proud of you jill!

my cancer free hooters thank you as well. ;-)

xo

2 Slow 4 Boston said...

This was such an awesome post, I had to read it twice. Actually, I read it a few days ago without comment, so now I have to read it again to know what I'm talking about. :-)

Funny how the run was the worst leg. I've heard from other triathletes that by the time the run starts you feel like the race should be over based on the fatigue.

I'm impressed with your times (even on the 5k with hills)

TX Runner Mom said...

Great job! I love that medal, too!

Robin said...

Wow you did fantastic....23 years since the last one...amazing. Congratulations!

Anne said...

I'm a little late to the victory party, but it sounds like all things considered you really rocked your first tri in two decades. Loved how you moved down and then way up in the rankings on the run. Yeah, running during triathlons is a whole different ball game. Great job, Jill!!

Molly said...

WhooHooo!!! you did a fantastic job, can't believe you forgot your bib : ) I can TOTALLY see you doing an IM, hope your foot is feeling better!

Bron said...

Hi there! First time commenter, long time reader.

I think you did an AWESOME job! My best 5km would prob be just under 25. Minutes, so to do 27:30 thereabouts with ankle issues, heat and hills - that's a fantastic time!

Just take what you've learnt from this race (you'll never forget your bib again I'm sure!) and apply it to future events - and I'm sure there will be loads of them!

Irene said...

Holy moley, woman! I've been out of the loop for two months and you go and do a tri! Wow! Congratulations!

If anyone can do a full IM it would be you, for sure.

XO

Brian said...

Great finish, Jill!

I've never done a tri or duo, but I did some bricks while my wife was training for one, and I so remember that wobbly leg feeling at the start of the run-after-bike portion.

Stacey Pomerleau said...

Great report.... Congratulations!!

Jimmy said...

Great race report! Congrats on your good showing. Keep up the good work!

Raina said...

Hey Jill - hope you are having a great week! Waiting for a mega-post here :D

On the Right Track said...

Jill...I have no other words of wisdom to say that someone else hasn't already said...YOU ROCK!!! you continue to impress, motivate and support all of us out there...and at the same time amaze us with your strength.

Thank you for being a part of my life right now...it is greatly appreciated, and I feel empowered by you and your life experiences!

Alyssa Duhe said...

Killed it for your age group. Baller!!!!!

Tim said...

Jealous of your swim. You bike as fast as I do. The run get faster for you without effort. Great job!

Tim said...

Your swim pace crushed my best pace, and I've been doing triathlons for 5 years. I hate you. lol

Bookmaker Casino said...

I think that it is great that you are trying to go back after 23 years. I think that It isn't so late to keep it on.