Monday, July 18, 2011

I Tried the Tri

And I survived!

Oh where should I start? Rewind about a year and a half ago when Megan K invited me to a sample sale at Run Like a Mother auther SBS' home. She pointed out some cute silver shoes and told me they were tri shoes. Hmmm, I thought....I'll never do a tri, but those are cool looking shoes! Sold! I guess you could say that it all started with a pair of shoes.
Last summer a friend of mine did a tri and the variety of events sounded more fun to me than just running. But I don't swim. What to do? Well, I have a year to figure that out. Fast forward this February and it's time to sign up. March, April, OK, I said I was going to do this and the first step is paying money for it. I signed up in April and with my confirmation email came a bonus side of throw up nerves. What have I done??? I'm not a swimmer, never have been, never in my life have I even swam laps for fun or punishment. I think I probably passed level 3 swim lessons at Lake Shore 30 years ago and that was it.
My youngest daughter has been reluctant to swim, so I thought we'd learn together and signed us up for private lessons. After a couple weeks of trying to learn the front crawl and a crash course of side breathing technique, I decided I'd stick with the side stroke. Once I settled into lap swimming with my stroke of choice, I felt much more comfortable. I took spin classes once a week and ran every once in a while. So I guess, I felt comfortable with my training.

Sorry this is getting forward to my scary open water swims....
Kline line three weeks ago, slow as molasses, but I did it with one stop at the dock for an arm hang to catch my breath.
Frenchman's Bar river swim two weeks ago, probably my lowest point....freaked out, hyperventilated and got caught up in someone's fishing line. I spent the 12.5 mile bike ride afterward figuring out how I was going to get out of the swim portion. My dear husband quietly let me freak out and told me if I could just calm down, I could do it. I really didn't believe him at that point.

Frenchman's Bar river swim one week ago with good friends Michael and Lisa. Maybe having a friend there helped, I don't know, but it was NIGHT and DAY different for me. I guess I just calmed down or knew what to expect, or acclimated to the water better. Not sure. I did start my crazy breathing again, but my dear husband ever so sweetly yelled at me, "Knock it off, you can do this" It was what I needed to hear, it worked, I started breathing normal. Down the river we swam, slowly but surely. For the first time in this whole process I finally felt like I could actually do this.
Race week: I decide I should probably have a road bike for race day. Nothing like waiting til the last minute. My friend friend offered me hers. I picked it up Thursday had it adjusted Saturday, rode it around Saturday and thought ok, I'm set!

Race day we woke up to what I thought was sprinkling, but lo and behold it was POURING. Great! Well, maybe it'll let up before we start. We grabbed some garbage bags, got loaded up, choked down some oatmeal and got going.
We arrived at Frenchman's bar and the rain was tapering off as we set up our transition stations. We heard instructions and walked down to the start of the swim. Major butterflies were settling in. Lisa and I were in the first wave, so with ALL onlookers' eyes on us, we enter the water and try to acclimate with two minutes to go. Boom, we are off
and it's like the tortoise and the hare story. How can these people swim so fast?? Going as fast as I could, I slowly made my way and my awesome parents and friends walked the beach the whole half mile with me encouraging me and cheering me on.

It was slow going AND COLD but I finished. Ran quick as I could up the hill to strip off my wetsuit, grabbed my bike slipped on my awesome tri shoes and I was off. (I have to add here that my sweet humble friend Kristen approached the bikes just as I was getting on my shoes. Yes, she started the swim 10 minutes behind me and caught up at the first transition, wow, she's fast)

It took about 30 seconds for the first person to pass me, then another, then another, then another (yes, Kristen was one of them, she's fast on the bike too), you get the picture. I didn't think I was going slow, but I guess I wasn't going fast either. It would have probably helped to have the road bike longer than three days before the race to get in a little more practice :( I also knew the run was coming and it was going to be hard after biking. The bike ride was a little boring to be honest with you. I had no equipment on my bike to tell me how fast I was going, proabably not a good idea. I made both turn arounds without crashing...double bonus!!

When I was about 3/4 of the way done with the bike ride, I saw my husband pass the other way, I have to say that was really fun. We did a lot of training together and I was missing him during the race. We yelled encouraging words to each other and I finished up my ride just as the sprinkles were turning to rain. I did a quick transition from bike to run and I could feel the end was near. The rain turned to pouring rain. Yuck. Not to bad to run in, but I felt so bad for the onlookers and volunteers. The first mile my legs felt like jelly,but I guess it got a little better. I didn't walk and only got passed by a few, that's an improvement! Up the hill to the finish line in the sheets of rain. My parents, my daughters, friends, it was a great finish, especially crossing the finish line with my girls!

Would I do it again?? Probably if I was a better swimmer. Maybe a relay or a duathlon??

Thank you Nicci W for the wetsuit and tri shorts and lots of encouragement, Thank you Megan K for the bike jerseys, awesome race day pictures, encouraging posters and amazing support, Thank you Poppy M for the road bike, thank you Ryan for cheering us on in the pouring rain with no jacket or umbrella! Thank you Nana and Poppy for taking care of our kids and your heartfelt words of support and love. I have to say I was overwhelmed by all the texts, fb messages and phone calls. Thank you all for not letting me quit until I reached my goal.

One final note...after looking at all the race results, I couldn't believe what I saw....out of all the women racing that day, I came in 12th for quickest transition from bike to run (I was VERY excited to see my name on a top list)...I could be wrong, but I think it was those tri shoes :)


The Corrigan Five said...

yes! i knew you would revive the blog:) wahoo! i loved reading your story, and i'm so proud of you for conquering your fears and accomplishing something so awesome!

Amy said...

I love this recap of your tri! I am encouraged by you! Way to go! All because of the cute shoes...

Tamara said...

Awesome Mara! Happy you are back to blogging - hope to hear more from you!

Rachel said...

Well done, friend! You are inspiring! :)

Poppy said...

You are a triathlete. Congrats girl!