Monday, September 21, 2009

Three, it's the magic number!

So Sunday was it. The TREK Women's Triathlon. The tri I've been training for since MAY, and my third and final race of the season.

It was the biggest, the longest, and by far the best run of my events. The big national sponsor probably helps with that, but it also had a terrific atmosphere. And the fact that I got to do it with so many of my ladies didn't hurt either.

So race day started bright and freaking early. Race started at 7:15a, and I had to park, rack my bike, get body marked (grosses me out to do the day before), get set up, get into my wetsuit, and oh yeah, I live 30 min away.

I got no sleep the night before (can't sleep, won't wake up, can't sleep, need to sleep, so I don't bonk, can't sleep, need to sleep too much- kind of night) so I was a little cranky when I got up. Thank GOODNESS I had everything packed & ready to go.

I get into Seattle, and know that I'm blocks away from the park when I see people walking their bikes... uh, oh. I follow a stream of traffic to park in a field a block and a half away from the MASSIVE Genesse Park. The good thing I see- roads are closed until 1pm. I KNOW I can finish 5 hours...

Fast forward, transition set up, event zero (the wetsuit wiggle) complete. I find some of my amazing tri friends, and we go get into the water to wait for our wave. I meet even more of my friends, and a few more who are not friends yet. I don't really swim as much as get acclimated, and ready for the water. I'm in wave 8, so I've got some time to relax.

Out and back into the water for our pep talk from Sally Edwards. If we see another woman in trouble the way to give her energy, "You Go Girlfriend!" And the word for today, terrific! We are terrific swimmers, terrific cyclists, terrific runners, terrific triathletes.

10... 9... 8... 7... 6... All I can think- DAMN that second buoy looks FAR away. 5... 4... 3... 2... Holy crap, whose idea was this again? 1... and we're off.

This is the first race I've been in where we've got so much water support. I'm keeping it slow and steady. Around the first buoy, still no panic attacks, no flipping on my back. Snow and steady. It's OK to rest a little. Don't need help, just breathe a little, and stroke, stroke, slow & steady. Random musing while I swim along- I wonder- how much time I will cut down when I lose all of the weight I want to and get the breast reduction down from ridiculous to just big? Seems like my K cups would cause a lot of drag.

"You are not alone," kind of cheesy Michael Jackson song, but keeps me on tempo. Around that second buoy, it's not so far away. And now I can see the end of the swim. Stroke, stroke, slow & steady. Still no panic attacks, and no flipping over. At the end, over the icky milfoil. Stroke until I touch 3 times, people to help us stand, and I'm headed up the hill for transition. 29:37 for my first ever 1/2 mile swim.

My spot was the far side of the transition area. The major advantage to being slow, it's much easier to find my bike with so many others from my rack already gone. Headed out, big crowd to cheer us on, and I'm feeling good. Out flat on our way to I-90, but then we climb to get to the Express Lanes. Getting passed, which is OK, but the actual trail to get onto the bridge is a walking trail, split for bikes going both ways. With an "s" curve. Straight uphill. Lost momentum, and for the first time in a tri, I'm off my bike and walking. Seemed safer than a crash.

The bridge was chilly, but not too windy. Steep high rise to get up onto Mercer Island, and into the tunnel. Lots of shouting for encouragement, cool echo. I get to turn around soon right? Nope. Never noticed there are hills in the Express Lanes on Mercer Island before. WTF? Going, going, and at the bottom of a hill, the turn around. Losing all of my lovely downhill momentum. Crap.

The way back is easier, because I know I'm more than half way. Push, push, hips starting to hurt. Hands falling asleep. Up the Seattle side high rise, and then it's almost all down hill. Second Chocolate gel- drink some water- CRAP- don't crash into that wall. Blow a kiss to the photographer, and back into transition. 1:00:08. (Yes, this is almost 20 min faster than Lk Samm)

Second transition is my fastest ever. Drop the bike crap, grab one more drink, my visor, and for once my heart rate monitor (HRM) to keep my honest, and in just over 2 min, I was off again.

Started out walking (my heart rate monitor said I could- but if I got under 140, it was time to run a little) but walking fast. I felt like the biggest mistake I made in the 5k was to start out running too fast. It's easier to set your own pace after the swim start in a tri- there's no crowd mentality. Saw a walker up ahead and jogged a bit to catch up and walk with her for a while. She was in a relay, but it turns out that she also did the Breast Cancer 3 day in 2001. We chatted about the importance of training, and drinking things like Gatorade even if they taste nasty, and then I checked my handy dandy HRM and was off & running.

My couch to 5k coach wrote a blog several weeks ago about races she likes, and says that she thinks out & back races are boring. I respectfully disagree. I like seeing others and shouting words of encouragement on the bike course. I couldn't tell you how many people I high-fived on the wun. We're all in it together, and it helps to see more people IMHO.

Anyhow, I was fairly true to my HRM, and picked up when I could/needed to. I already knew when to slow down. :)

Big hill, walked, no big deal. I met up with some ladies who were in my tri coach's new group. We wan together a mile or so. It was nice, although I think I let myself off of the running hook a little too much. We lost one person slightly, with a little run downhill. More and more down hill, and then we were in the park. Robin says to me- "I'm running at the orange."

So I was planning to run, as well, and I did. But then I saw my son, hubby & mom. And my son says, "You finished mom, I'm so proud of you!" in his shrieky little 6 year old voice, and I ran a little harder. Next thing I knew, I was sprinting. Like, OMG-someone-is-going-to-grab-my-child sprinting. And grinning. They called my name and said, "Wow, look at her go!"

And then it was over. I was hugging my boys, and my mom was crying. It was the best I've ever felt at the end of an athletic thing. I know how people get hooked.

My original purpose for this blog was just to share my training journey, and hope that by showing other people what I have gone through, they would believe that they could do it too. I still contend, if I can do a triathlon, ANYONE can. And as I've done this, I've made at least three people I know of decide they could, and not only sign up, but complete triathlons. I know of a couple more who are still in the planning stages, and at least one who went through with plans when it would have been easier to give up. I think that makes every single one of us a success.

My time for the wun was 50:40, my best for a tri, and only 3 min slower when I did just a 5k the weekend before. My total time? 2:28:15. Two min better than my stretch goal. I told a friend yesterday that my time may not have been a great time in GENERAL, but it was a great time for ME. And I'm the only one of me who was in it, right?

So this COULD be my last blog, but I think that this is just the beginning. I'm seriously looking at at least 5 races next year, starting with one where I learned to swim in Corvallis, OR in May. I'm hoping to lose some weight this winter to make all of this less work. Still thinking about more 5ks, so I can improve my wun time. Maybe some spinning classes to help me in the bike. And I'm still working on that $2200 in the couch cushions.

Hi. My name is Ange. I'm a triathlete. Come tri with me, the best is yet to come!


  1. Fantastic!!! Congratulations on achieving even more than you ever expected!

  2. You go girl! You should be proud of your self!