Monday, August 18, 2008

A great day for a triathlon

Yesterday's triathlon went beautifully. My time wasn't anything to write home about, but it was right about where I thought I'd be, given my lack of any serious training. In fact, as I was thinking about it this morning, it's rather remarkable I did as well as I did. Two years ago when I was training for the same event I was working out 6 times a week at least. I was running twice a week, doing speedwork and long runs. I was swimming twice a week as well, going for long bike rides on the weekends and in the weeks prior to the race, hitting it hard with brick workouts (biking about 10 miles, followed by a 1.5-2 mile run). This time, not so much. I've been running a couple times a week, most weeks, but no speedwork and my longest runs have been 4 miles, not 5 or 6. I literally hadn't been back on my bike since the last race I did 6 weeks ago, I've been in the pool only a handful of times, and I haven't done a single brick. Granted, my fitness level is obviously still pretty good, and I do classes at the gym once or twice a week. But still. I don't feel like I specifically "trained" this year and yet I was still able to complete this race, and only about 9 minutes slower than last time. Not too shabby, I have to say.

The race started off on a great note with the swim, if you can believe it. In the last event, I HATED the open water swim. I was miserable the entire 400 yards and just wanted it to be over. This one was twice the distance - 800 yards which is about half a mile. It looks like an eternity from in the water, let me tell you. But I've done it before, and I've concentrated my swimming workouts not on getting faster or improving technique, but in preparing myself to be in open water. I've been swimming with my eyes closed to simulate the lack of visibility and did a practice open water swim to help get my confidence back. It worked! I had a great time out there. My time was abysmal - it took me over 30 minutes, when I'm fully capable of doing that distance in 20 - but that's ok. I took it easy, took breaks on my back when I needed to, and just swam it on in. I didn't get freaked about being in the lake, I was able to get to it and actually swim, rather than that crappy half-assed kicking/side stroke thing I tried to do at my last race. So although it took me forever and a day to get through it (LOL), I didn't hate it and that was my number one goal for this race.

The bike leg was the most fun. The course is awesome - it goes along the lake and then over a floating bridge (it's a freeway, but they close the express lanes for us to ride on). The view is awesome, the weather was great and it was a really enjoyable ride. It seemed a lot easier than I remembered it, somehow. I think the bike I have now is a big part of that. I'm riding an actual road bike instead of my modified mountain bike. What a difference skinny tires make! I had an awesome bike ride, and my time was great too - helped offset that slow swim ;).

Coming in from the bike, I realized I had to pee - badly. There were porta-potties near the run start, so I decided to take the time to stop and pee. Boy am I glad I did. Remember that scene in Austin Powers when he pees for like 5 minutes? That's what it felt like. I swear, I don't swallow water when I'm swimming, but it must soak in my skin through osmosis. I always have to pee like a racehorse when I'm done swimming. After that I felt much better - well worth the extra minute or two it added to my transition time.

My run was good - not very fast, but I felt strong and I ran the whole thing minus the big hill. The run course is nice, winding along the lake and it's largely flat. There is one hill that is quite steep. Almost everyone around me was walking up it. I walked it (I walked it last time too). The cool thing is there's always a group of dudes playing drums at the bottom. Very cool motivation. I thanked them for being there as I passed.

There's this one spot on the run course that is probably my favorite. You have a view out over the lake and can see the I-90 bridge going across, which is what we'd biked over. It looks really far away and makes you feel like you did something pretty spectacular, to know that just a little while ago you were way over there, and now you're here, about to finish this huge event.

The weather turned out great too. Saturday it was in the mid-90s. That would have been utterly miserable. Sunday it cooled down, and although it could have been cooler and was a bit humid, it was nothing compared to the day before and ended up being pretty nice weather for a race. A woman on the run leg kept yelling out, "It's a great day for a triathlon, ladies!"

Overall, that was probably the most enjoyable race I've done so far. I had fun the entire time, not wondering what I'd gotten myself into or focusing so much on where the heck is that finish line, LOL. My last race was tough and left me feeling like the best reason to do it is for the afterglow. This one made me glow at every turn. I was almost teary several times throughout the race, thinking of where I was, what I was doing. How many people out there will never feel that thrill, because they can't, or because they don't think they could.

I am glad it's over though; I've been feeling a little raced out, even with just three events under my belt this year. But that was a good amount for me, at this time in my life. But I am SO glad I went ahead and did it. Over the last week I'd been wondering if doing this race was really worth it. It's huge, and the logistics can get complicated. But as I was out there, I remembered why I love it. There's something pretty special about being a part of an event that big, where everyone is cheering everyone else on. The energy is spectacular.

The finishers medal that I got says, "The woman who starts the TRI is not the same woman who finishes the TRI." It's very true. You can't come out on the other side of an event like that without changing, at least a little. It teaches you something about yourself, about what you're capable of.

If I wasn't hoping to be pregnant this time next year, I'd be planning on doing this race again. I'll have to shoot for it in 2010.

1 comment:

Mandy said...

I could hear the sense of accomplishment in this post even more than in your voice yesterday, and I'm incredibly proud of you. It sounds like the guys playing the drums and the woman who was saying that in the run pack really added to the feeling of even though it's a very individual accomplishment, you're also cheering each other on which is so cool.

OH! And as if the description wasn't enough to have me a bit misty eyed, the thought of you pregnant this time next year finished the job nicely.