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!|
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).
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.
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?).
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
, 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!