So, my first complete triathlon in… almost two years! I wasn’t going for any sort of goal other than finishing, and hoping to do decently. Either everyone in the field was really, really fast, or I was just really slow. Or both, which is highly likely.
I had gone home to Hampton the weekend before, so it was interesting not only packing for a tri after not having done one in so long, but also packing a week in advance, and knowing I’d be screwed if I forgot anything. I might have been Google-searching in vain, but I couldn’t even find a place in Hampton Roads where I could rent a road bike. (side note: transporting by bike from Arlington to Hampton was somewhat of a predicament)
Well, the good news is that I did not forget anything!
On to the race itself…
We (my parents and I) ended up leaving home half an hour later than planned (thanks, Dad!), which meant that by the time we got to Jamestown, I was rushing around frantically to get my bib and chip, and put my bike together, and get my stuff set, all before the transition area closed. And that was…. not very much time at all.
It was a somewhat long walk to the swim start and then, while waiting for the race to begin, I realized that my driver license and USAT ID were still in my pocket. Oops. Better just hope for the best! They ended up surviving, which is a relief. Not that I drive or anything, but I wouldn’t want to end up going to the DMV for a new card two years earlier than needed. And I’m sure the USAT card could have been easily replaced.
The race website had posted a couple days before the race that the water temperature was 78 degrees. Great, no wetsuit! Race morning, while I’m setting up, I see lots of people in wetsuits (seal suits, as my parents call them) and one woman said, “I didn’t think I’d need this today.” Uh oh, did the water plummet to 65 degrees? I asked someone the current water temp, and he said 75 degrees. 75 degrees? Not that I spend much time in open water, but does that really warrant a wetsuit?? Even if mine hadn’t been packed away in the trunk of our car, I wouldn’t have worn it because any time saved on the swim would be more than compensated for while I’d struggle to remove the darn thing. It really is comical. It always get stuck around my feet, ugh.
The water felt comfortable enough when I got in, and I felt I’d made the right choice. Or so I thought. I’d find out later that I was a fool for forgoing the wetsuit. But a happy moment came as I was waiting for my wave to start. Guess which song started playing on the loudspeakers? Yeah, you guessed it, “Work Bitch”. I love me some Britney any time of day or night, and at a race is even better!
So the swim was ok; we were told that we’d be swimming with the current. No rough water, and not salty either! But my lack of buoyancy, coupled with my already-meager swimming skills meant that I was waaaay behind everyone else. Story of my life.
Getting out of the water and running back up to transition felt good, though when I got on my bike, my legs felt like dead weights. Wow, what is wrong with me? I thought to myself. Nearly all the bikes were gone by the time I got there, so this 40K jaunt was pretty much like a training ride. Every now and then someone would zip by, but I just couldn’t get my legs to move. On the plus side, though, I didn’t have to worry about drafting, wheels crossing, etc. I realize now that I felt dead because my legs had been working so hard during the swim to keep me afloat. Silly me… I should wear a wetsuit not for the warmth, but for the buoyancy. And don’t kick so much. Mainly use my arms and just let my legs glide.
The bike course was mostly flat, except for the one hill around Mile 10 when we crossed the Chickahominy River bridge. Other than that, it wasn’t too eventful because there just wasn’t anyone around! And I kept cursing my legs for feeling like dead weights. This is was happens when you don’t do a triathlon in a long, long time. You forget important tips race-day tips.
Once I finally got back to transition after the bike portion, people were starting to finish the race! Noooo! Well, I just sucked it up and started my 10K.
By this point in time, the air temperature was pretty warm, so I grabbed a water bottle. I didn’t want to have to rely on some very spaced-out water stations, plus I always get really thirsty. I chugged along, since my legs were now doubly-blasted, not going very fast, but not stopping to walk. I felt like I should be better trained for this kind of race, because I’ve done lots of Olympic-distance tris. But nope, I felt like I was a beginner again. Oh well, if you don’t use it, you lose it. More motivation to train, smarter and harder.
The run was half-shady, half-sunny and I’d occasionally see another runner or two and try to pick them off (and succeed!). Towards the end, I didn’t know which way to go- whether I was supposed to turn at the arrow or keep going straight ahead. So I backtracked a bit and asked a couple of women behind me. Keep going straight, they said. Then it made sense; that’s where we had started. But in my tired mind, the memory had been very hazy.
And then the end was in sight! Was really nice was to see my parents out at the side of the road waiting for me, my dad with his camera in hand. My mom even jogged down the road for a couple of seconds, not in attempts to cross the finish line with me, but because she was happy to see me. And that’s really touching. I love my parents for being so supportive of me. They might not be the biggest enthusiast of me doing all this training and racing, but they would never leave me on my own.
As a race approaches the finish line chute, they like to hear their name being announced. My name was announced and people cheered. Or should I say, my “name”. It was such a disgusting bastardized pronunciation of my name that I think I visibly cringed. My name obviously is not American. Why then to people apply the rules of English in pronouncing it?
As I see it, I don’t have any reason to be embarrassed. It’s stupidity on other people’s part. Oh well. I got my medal and that’s all that mattered! And then I packed things up and we hit the road to head back to Arlington- home sweet home :)