Well, I did it! Sunday I participated in my first triathlon in four years…the Tri-ing for Children’s triathlon in Eagle, WI. This was the second year my husband’s family has gotten a group of people together to complete a triathlon, and I participated this year in the sprint tri. I have to admit I could have been more prepared for the swim and bike portions of the race, but I knew my running would be up to snuff after all the training I’d been doing for my half marathon the weekend prior.
The weather was pretty abysmal, with temps in the low 50s and cloudy. It felt more like early October than late July! I wasn’t feeling very excited about getting in the water, but when the time came, I got in and tried as best as I could to adjust my body temp to the water before getting ready to start. Thankfully, the water was warmer than the air, so after getting in, I really didn’t want to get out!
The scariest part of a triathlon for many is the swim start – legs and arms flying, everyone trying to get their own plot of water to swim in – but I felt pretty good this time! By the time I made the first corner I was in a groove and had found a clear path for the rest of the distance. Getting out of the water is also a rough part, as you go from being horizontal to running vertically in about 20 seconds! After shrugging off that feeling, I was in transition and ready to go for my bike.
The bike route was flat and fast, and it was less windy than the day before during our practice ride, which also made it less brutal while drying off! The whole time I kept looking at people’s calves, where their age was written, to see if I could make up some time and pass other women in my age group on the bike. I had a really hard time finding anyone under the age of 30, so I figured I must be pretty behind the pack…and sped up.
Once I got back in to transition, I got ready for the “brick” feeling of having concrete blocks on my feet that’s typical for anyone getting off a bike and starting to run. It always feels like you’re going about two miles per hour for the first mile, so I kept trying to ignore that feeling and focused on the fact that there were only three miles to separate me from the finish line.
Out on the course I saw lots of other people who looked closer to my age, which made me think “Aha! I’ve found them.” Then, I focused on just slowly increasing my speed to hunt down anyone in my age group – I was NOT going to be last. Yes, I do have a competitive streak buried deep down inside. 🙂
On the last mile, I passed three other women in my age group, although now I realized that some may have been doing the Olympic distance, which shares the route with the sprint athletes. I was feeling pretty good but also tired at the same time, and with less than a mile left, I knew I could push it and finish feeling happy about how it went. It felt great to get that final push to the finish line, and it brought back all those feelings of competing in my college years and how much I enjoy triathlon.
The best surprise of the day? I won my age group! That’s never happened to me before (except once, when I was 19 and the only one in my age group), and I PR’ed my 5k time! It really helped me put the disappointment of my half marathon behind me and focus on the positives and energy I got from doing a triathlon again.
I really hope that our upcoming Middleton triathlon on August 17th gives all our athletes that invigorating and inspiring feeling when they cross the finish line – regardless of where you finish! Remember: we all cross the same finish line!