This is a race report that shouldn’t have been written at all. This was a race that wasn’t planned to happen and certainly not trained to race. But faced with a last minute entry from one of the sponsors, I succumbed to temptation and signed up for the Allatoona Sprint Triathlon. I had done a very similar course just last year. I was stronger than last year (not necessarily faster, sadly) and I could swim, bike and run the distance of 500m, 16miles, 5k. Right? Right! Reality hit me only after I picked up my race number.
Race day packing was made so much simpler from the awesome checklist that I posted last week (even if I say so myself). I packed everything in 3 different plastic bags and put it all into one big bag and off I went! The best part about the race, in spite of the ungodly wake up time, is that it is only 30min from my house! Transition opened at 5:30a, and I was there at 5:58am! Guess 6am was the “magic” time because cars were rolling in by dozens while I was wheeling my bike to the transition.
One of my favorite parts of triathlon is body marking. Since that is the closest to a real tattoo that I will ever get, it makes me feel like bada$$ !
Swim 23:08 for 500m
With just one OWS this season, nervous was an understatement. I hadn’t been swimming much in the pool either, so add in an extra dose of nerves. I did a little extra warmup in the water to get rid of the panic and I’m glad I did because I panicked twice at warmup! Ran into Meredith of Swim Bike Mom who gave me a little pep talk. And similar encouragement from so many experienced triathletes I knew! It always amazes me when people take the time to encourage nervous nellies like me! I lined up at the back and decided to go on the outside of the course to avoid being trampled! My Garmin says I swam 627m instead of 500m.!! Not good. Not good at all.
Surprisingly, all panic left me when I hit the water. I swam confidently all through. I want to say that I swam strongly but with a time of 23:08, I don’t think I can quite use the word “strong”. I did not panic when someone touched me (maybe the other person was startled themselves). Remembering the hard head kick I got from breaststrokers at Acworth Women’s Tri last year, every time I’d spot a breaststroker near me, I’d move away. The entire swim the song “Under the Sea” from Disney’s Little Mermaid was stuck in my head! I may have seen some underwater creature dance party!! Or that could’ve just been my way of distracting myself from panic … Or maybe I was in my
delirious happy place … (And because I want everyone to have the tune in their head for their next OWS. You are welcome. 🙂 ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPQVrjnC1jo
When I got out of the water, it was super easy to spot my bike – there were probably only 3-5 other bikes left in the transition. I didn’t realize how hard it was to run even the 15 yards from bike rack to mount line in the tri shoes! Last year, I didn’t have that trouble with running shoes. Since I don’t think I am ever going to learn how to get my feet in the shoes after starting to ride, this is something to just suck up. And point to note for next year – get a pair of socks that’s one size too big so it goes on easily!
Bike 1:10 for 16miles
After hobbling up, I started the bike course on a slow incline going up from the lake. Just as I was starting out, the first place guy came in to start his run! Yep, that just happened. As the second (or third) cyclist was coming in, I was at a 5 way intersection and the cyclist almost missed his turn and was on collision course with me before he recovered rather quickly and turned. Whew! Would not have been good for either of us The worst part of the course was the first half with the steepest hills. I got to one I recognized from last year when I walked it up. This time, I went cadence-cadence-cadence, push-pull-push-pull-push-pull and made it up! Just after this hill, I tried to drink and ride and dropped the bottle while trying to get it back in (I know, I know – I’ll learn it. One day.). Good thing the course was only 16 miles, else I’d have been severely dehydrated after losing that bottle! There were a couple of long hills that had me cursing a bit, but I took in stride. I never pushed too much to the point where I was tired, and I passed a few people so that was a huge booster. On the last long hill, which seemed like it was endless, 2 other girls and I put our spirits together to make the climb. One girl had given up and was walking up the hill and we encouraged her along. (I don’t think we were drafting, and at the 4mph we were going there was certainly no “draft”, but we were definitely grunting and cursing loud enough for everyone to hear) The best part of the bike course was all the volunteers – every one of them were cheering for us like we were leading the pack! It all made me smile even more wide.
Ah – the agony (for me) of trying to get off the bike while balancing on jelly legs! And trying to balance while getting on my running shoes!
Run 39:18 @ 12:36
Jelly legs aside, I was feeling good on the run. The course is a steady uphill for most parts (or that’s how it felt like to me) and I took it easy with 40sec run, 20 sec walk. Lots of finishers walking back and encouraging us stragglers. I was passing back and forth with another girl in my age group and after 1 mile, we decided to suffer together and did my run-walk intervals. I felt good throughout the run and could’ve pushed a bit more. (The time was eerily the same as Acworth Women’s Tri last year on the same run course) The best part was turning into the finish street and running smack into my kids!!
I had a great day and I couldn’t stop smiling. I still had it in me to push a bit (or go longer), but I never quite knew when to push it. I surprised myself by how confident I felt on the swim (even though that voice at the back of my head is screaming right now – how could I be a ‘decent’ swimmer not afraid of distance and still swim so slow!! Slower than people who had to rest holding on to the kayakers!! Shoving that voice away for now, to revisit later.) Even though obviously not trained, I am still amazed that I was in an “ok” shape to do the triathlon after signing up less than 10 days ago. Going into the race, my goals were not to panic (or drown) in the swim, not to fall on the bike (walking was acceptable) and to run as best as I could. I met the first 2 of my goals and the run was steady not hard. And this race now makes me rethink my decision about doing no triathlons this year! The sport is really addicting!