It was a slightly chilly, but overall pretty mild 65-degree race morning. I had my pre-race meal (whole grain waffle with peanut butter) in my stomach and I was headed to the race site. First stop—the transition area. I did a last check on my tires pumping them up to the fullest (appears that I’ve been training on pretty low tires!). I set up all my gear by my bike and found a lady to marker me up—age on my leg and race number on my arm. Then it was one last restroom stop before I had a moment to myself. I took a deep breath and gazed at the mountains with the fog slowly rising over them. It was going to be a great race and my nerves finally were beginning to relax from the day before.
Swim Like a Fishy: An elite and a professional were in the first swim wave, which I thought was pretty neat. I had time to watch them finish their swim right before I went in the water. I later learned that the pro won the race (even though the elite beat her in the swim).
Two or three waves later (and some quick photo ops) it was time for me to head out! The water temperature (about 76 degrees) was warmer than the air. Our group walked out to secure our start positions between two large white buoys. One lady and I started chatting and she told me she was so nervous as this was her first triathlon. I chuckled and said, me too! We talked for a few minutes as we treaded water. She was surprised how many women were standing closer in where they could still stand (in the reeds, no less). We agreed that having a minute to tread water before our race started was actually calming.
Then before I knew it the start command was called and we were off. With 160 swimmers my objectives were: Don’t get kicked! Don’t swim too far off course. As you can imagine, it was initially difficult to get into much of a groove. I’d do a little bit of breast stroke/doggy paddle and then swim a few strokes of freestyle. A few times I had to slow down because I could see bubbles from the swimmer kicking in front of me. As I turned by each of the buoys I literally could reach out and touch them. I was on my way. Halfway to the second buoy I passed a few red capped swimmers who were in the wave ahead of mine. That was a pretty neat feeling and even better was that I did not see anyone pass me in the following wave (whew!). Soon enough the last buoy was in my range and I was making the turn for the final leg and then into the shallow waters and on my way running up the beach. I made it to Transition 1 (T-1)!
T-1: Transition one seemed pretty smooth. I quickly dried off my feet, making sure I didn’t have sand on them that could be a nuisance during the ride. Put on my shoes and socks, bike helmet, bike gloves, and bib number (for later in the run). And off I went.
Bike with Purpose: Since I saw the course the night before I knew that there would be plenty of hills. My race fan Andrew warned me not to brake when going down the hills because I would need that speed to get back up. And sure enough as I got to some of the steeper ones, there were women walking their bikes up. I’m proud to say that I never had to get off the bike to walk! I truly enjoyed the ride.
It was a beautiful out and back ride on a country road that took us out of Maryland and into Pennsylvania. Rolling hills and fields, farms with sheep and cattle, and even a papermill near the turnaround. There were very few fans out there—just a few guys who were sitting out by their pickup trucks at the end of their driveway watching us whiz by. And I’m not surprised that they wouldn’t want to catch a glimpse of a few hundred women riding their hearts out. As I got into a groove, I had some time to think and smile. I just finished my first open water swim in a race situation! Woo hoo!
I found the bike ride to be the best (and hardest) part of the race. On the hills women gave out words of encouragement. One girl (who was just a year older than me—thanks to those numbers they put on the back of our legs) kept passing me on the downhills and then I would catch her going back up. She said to me at one point, “great job…keep it going…you’ll catch me going up!” I think the most amusing part of the race was when I’d see someone much older than me flying by. It kind of made me annoyed to be honest and then I realized that I was really glad not to be one or two age groups above…those women are intense! (But they also all had much better bikes than me…so I’m saying that’s my excuse for being a teensy bit slower). It was the perfect temperature and even though there were some tough climbing moments I had a great time out on the course. And I was relieved that I did not experience any flats!
T-2: As I came back to the transition area it hit me that I had one leg to go! Running, here I come! This transition was much faster as all I had to do was take off my bike helmet and gloves and set my bike back on the rack. Now it was show-time!
Run Like the Wind: This was a 2.5 mile out and back run in the park. What I didn’t expect was how hilly it was going to be. My legs felt a little jello-y at first but then as I got into a rhythm I picked up the pace. I felt like I was flying by people. One lady even yelled at me as I went by her, “You’re looking good legs!” I had to chuckle…maybe she was hitting on me…then again maybe not! The run was fairly uneventful and soon I was nearing the finish line.
As I crossed the line, the announcer said, “You are an Iron Girl!” Funny, because it seems like it should be much longer of a race to warrant that accolade. I’ll take it though. I got my fun and very girly medal! And enjoyed every minute of the post-race, including a massage! I’m proud of my stats—especially my run time. The transitions could use a little work but for my first race not too bad. I can only get better! I must have been having a blast due to how big my smile was in these photos! Can’t wait to do this race again and sink my teeth into more triathlons.
Here are the official results:
|Swim||23:19||2:38/per 100 yards||593|
(Photo credits courtesy of my pit crew, Andrew L. Thanks for your support at my race!)