My 5 year old daughter (SwimBikeGirl) was sick the night before, so I went to bed just before 10:00 pm wondering how much sleep I would get. She started coughing around 2:30, so after a couple of hours of checking on her every ½ hour or so, I gave up and got up at 4:30. Breakfast was coffee, PB&J, and 2 cups of hot water. I picked up TriBuddy at 5:30. We got to the race at 6:00 am – first ones there. We racked our bikes and set up our transition areas. I put sunscreen on (mistake #1 – next time numbers FIRST) bc the sun was already brutal. Got written on, and just kind of milled around watching people come in. We met several members of my triathlon club (Central MA Multisports) – they all had great advice for transitions and first races in general. I took some Immodium and 3 ShokBloks around 7:00 am. TriBuddy and I did a swim warm-up and met a couple of other newbies (we may have been the only ones!!). I wore my blue tinted goggles – definitely a good choice, as the swim back was straight into the sun. The defogger I got at the store was also $8 well spent.
It got to be close to 8:00 so we all bunched up for the swim. It was a wave start – men over 40 first, and then women under 40. As we were standing there one of the CMMS gang found me again and reiterated that I could take my time in the swim, just breathe – everyone here is here to help you. It was nice.
Standing in the water waiting was not nice. Most anxiety filled portion of the whole day. It was 2 minutes, then 1 minute, 30 seconds, then GO!
The Swim 12:32
The swim was ¼ mile out to a buoy and then back to the beach a little ways down, to make a “shark tooth”. I went steady. I did not go fast (I don’t really have a “fast” anyway). I wasn’t too jostled – most of my wave was ahead of me. I did get too close to one woman a couple of times. She was doing breaststroke and I got froggy kicked, so moved over and gave her some space. I didn’t panic, I sighted fine. It was pretty hard to see. Just slow and steady and swam until my hand hit sand. I was mildly gratified to not be the last out of the water in my wave. My lungs were burning though. Man. In retrospect, I wasn’t exhaling enough underwater to allow myself a full breath in while I swam.
The first thing I saw running up the chute was a running buddy and her kiddos come to cheer me on, and I heard what sounded like lots of people yelling my name. It was awesome – I can’t believe she came all the way down with the kids, and the CMMS gang was great. Or whoever was yelling. Love them all. Got to my spot. My cap was taken from me when I got out of the water, so… goggles down, sunglasses, helmet, rinse feet, shoes and go. Pretty smooth.
The Bike 46:28 (15.49 mph)
The bike course immediately goes up a hill. No problem – hills are ok. First thing I noticed was that my computer wasn’t going. Tried to fiddle with it, and just gave up and settled in to “racing naked”. That’s fine. Maybe that is what was meant to happen today – the universe’s way of making me be present. The second thing I noticed is that my lungs were on fire. Unlike usual in biking, my lungs were so ripped up from the swim that I could NOT catch my breath. This continued the entire rest of the ride. Even on flats, I could not breathe. A mile into the bike I dropped my chain. Again – “this is ok” I told myself. I coasted to a stop and pulled my bike onto the grass. I started fiddling with it, when two women appeared from nowhere offered to help. I must have stopped in front of their houses and they came over and offered to hold my bike up while I fixed it. I will love these women forever, whoever they are. I remember telling them “this is my first race I have to finish!!!” Fixed and up – going again. I would guess I lost about 4 minutes. The rest of the bike was unremarkable. It was a rolling course – no real big hills in either direction. I still couldn’t push up the hills like usual (or perhaps I could and it just hurt more). Legs were 100% fine, lungs were dying. I got passed by all the fast men over 40 (the wave after mine), but not too many women. And I felt ok. I tried really hard to breathe. I tried to drink some from my water bottle and managed another ShokBlok – it was just so hot and dofficult to catch my breath long enough that I felt stable on the bike to fuss with my water bottle. There was a crash around mile 7 with an ambulance – I saw a woman in a blue tri kit with a red helmet down on the side of the road. Spent the rest of the ride looking at the runners coming up and trying to find TriBuddy, because I was pretty sure her helmet was white, but I wasn’t 100%. Gave prayers and thanks to the gods for keeping me safe and hoped the other woman wasn’t too badly hurt. I finally saw TriBuddy running up the hill from transition and was very relieved. Again I didn’t know it, but my time on the bike for 12 miles was 46 minutes. My goal was 44, so with my chain problems, I paced exactly where I hoped to.
Bike in and down then ran to my spot. I decided was too tired to try the standing shoe transition, so I sat down most ungracefully. Whatever. I didn’t get enough sand off my feet before the bike and it was bugging me, so I was glad I brought socks for the run. Helmet off (biggest fear #2 – running in a bike helmet – check!) hat on. Sock #1 on. Oh crap its upside down. Fix, sock #2 – also upside down. The trick of rolling your socks so they slide right on apparently isn’t so good for getting the heel side up. Whatever. Bike on the rack (someone was trying to take my picture doing this – it was also ungraceful).
The Run 32:05
The run course also starts running up a hill. I didn’t even touch my Garmin to try to turn it on. I was meant to do this race “naked”. My legs were a little heavy, but still the lungs were harder. And the sun was BLAZING. My right arm under my number started to hurt – I knew then that my sunscreen had been wiped a bit when they put the number on and I was burning. All I wanted was to not walk. I settled into a shuffling pace – probably no more than 12 or 11 minute miles, and just plowed along. A couple of times runners passed me and said “Don’t give up!” and I said “I’m not! I’m not giving up – this is just how I run!!!” Saw TriBuddy again just before the turnaround – she crossed the road and we high-fived and we both said WE GOT THIS. I turned around, grabbed a cup of water, and started jogging back. Sun sun sun sun. Burn burn burn. I told myself I would not walk. And I didn’t. Coming back into the finish, I did pick it up to a reasonable pace and sprinted the chute. I finally saw my family on the hill, and my running buddy and her kids. As I ran in the clock said 98 minutes and change and I thought I’m gonna get there before 100!! (I still don’t know what that means). My time was 32 minutes, for a 2.8 mile course. My overall time for the race was 1:33:17 (100/120). All in all about where I had hoped to be – the best version of the race that I could do.
As soon as I crossed the finish, I stopped but the world didn’t. It rotated 90 degrees. TriBuddy’s husband came over and I held onto him while trying not to throw up. Hubby and the kids came over – I crouched down to give the kids a hug. My 4 year old son said “you did great Mommy” and I hugged him and cried. I think Hubby kind of moved me into the water then and then TriBuddy gave me Gatorade. I remember arguing with Hubby that the kids should go in the lake because it was so hot. It’s all kind of blurry. Coming back a CMMS teammate found me and told me to eat. Eat NOW. Protein. Or I would get sick. I tried to comply – ate a banana and some trail mix/granola. Drank a ton. World was still all spinny.
Kids got numbered up! We got them registered and into their puddle jumpers. Set up their transition zones. We got them down to the water. The 11-13 year olds went first and they all just ran through the water. Cheaters. 7-9 year olds next and that wave did the same. Then it was the 4-6 year olds turn!! My kids both resolutely refused to run. They swam the whole thing. SwimBikeGirl kept wanting to go in deeper (the kids race was along the shore) and I kept telling her no swim to the flags!! The flags!! Hubby and I suggested they get up and run and they said no Mommy it’s a SWIM!! Gotta love their dedication.
Got SwimBikeGirl up and into the chute, back to our transition. Getting everyone, including Hubby and I, back into our shoes seemed to take years. Then SwimBikeGirl was out and riding. The kids’ race goes up the hill immediately as well. She pedaled and pedaled and I pushed her a little bit. Once they hit the flat SwimBikeBoy took off so I ran after him. It was so hard to run. That kid is FAST. At the turnaround there were 3 cones set up in a triangle about 4 feet apart. The kids are supposed to go around all of them. SwimBikeBoy showed off for all the police officers by going THROUGH the first 2, looping a tight turn around the last, and threading back through the front 2 again. Everyone was laughing and cheering for him! I yelled “That’s my kid!!!” Then sprinted again to catch him. Oh my. At the top of the hill both kids got a little nervous, so Hubby and I each grabbed a handlebar and jogged them down the hill and into the chute. SwimBikeBoy took off again.
Back to T2 – little bikes down helmets off RUN. SwimBikeGirl was in her element. She ran and ran. I paced her while Hubby stayed with SwimBikeBoy, who took a quick walking break about 1/2way around the field (the run was a 300M around a field). I was actually pushing to keep up with SwimBikeGirl, who was gleefully recounting something about Phineas and Ferb and the magic necklace she was wearing that made her super fast. We got into the chute and I said “Run Run tell me about it later!!” So we ran in and she got her medal and was SO proud. A couple of minutes later Hubby and SwimBikeBoy ran in. The kids were so psyched.