I’m going to try to recap Saturday as succinctly as I can, but no promises.
The nerves set in Friday night and I had a hard time sleeping. After a restless night I woke up a bundle of nerves on Saturday morning. We were meeting my mom around 6:45 so were up and out of the house by 6:20am. Guelph is about a hour from Ajax, where we met my mom, and I wanted to be there around 8 am. Registration started at 8:30, and I wanted to be set up and have enough time to figure out where I had to be when before my start time of 10am.
The trip to Guelph was uneventful, although a little longer than we thought. We arrived around 8:15am. The conservation area was clearly marked and easy to find – my fee to the conservation area was covered but we had to only pay $5 for the car to cover my mom and Shawn’s entry to the park. Not too shabby. Parking was easy to find and we had arrived early enough to get a good spot.
Transition was located close to the parking, so I left my “entourage” and claimed my spot on the rack. I only have my mountain bike, so no fancy bike shoes to worry about, so my transition area looks so little!
Headed over to registration after racking my bike, and again everything was easy to find and figure out. The different registration areas were numbered, so all I had to do was go from #1 to #2, etc. Loved my swim cap (bright pink!) and my t-shirt. How cute is the design?
At this point I had probably 45 minutes until I wanted to get into the water to start warming up, so we went down to the water and tested it (cold but not freezing – like an unheated pool rather than a lake. Which is good, since I was without a wetsuit). When I’m nervous, I can’t sit still, so I left my mom and Shawn by the swim start and headed back up to transition to fiddle around with things and find out exactly where the run and bike started. And then it was time to put on my pink cap and head down to the water.
This is when the nerves really set in and I wanted to back out. I’m not going to lie, I was so scared that I really did contemplate being a complete baby and going home. Getting into the cold water and trying to swim some warm up strokes helped, but only a little. The cold and waves caused me to start hyperventilating and it was all I could do to not walk back up onto the beach, up the hill to my car and go home.
Standing back on the beach with my wave I found a few other girls to start chatting with, and they eased my mind a little. Then it was 10am and the first wave headed into the water. And at 10:03, we joined them.
As soon as I started swimming I knew I was in over my head – literally and figuratively. My swimming had not at all prepared me for the current, or the waves, or how hard swimming with both would be. I made it my goal to finish the swim and not be pulled out. I wouldn’t drown (although I felt like it a few times) but I wouldn’t be out of the water very fast, either. The plan changed from swimming to surviving, and I swam from kayak to kayak, taking breaks when I needed too, and shamefully swimming on my back for most of the swim.
I have never in my life been so happy to be able to touch ground as I was when I reached closer to the shore. As soon as I could touch I started walking through the water rather than swimming. I wasn’t last out of the water but I was pretty frigging close. Embarrassing? Most definitely.
I calmed down a bit on my lengthy trudge up to transition and started to mentally prepare for the bike and run. (Off topic but I’m SO glad I bought a number belt to wear – it made transition so much easier.)
The bike was fantastic. I passed a bunch of people on both the out and back. I felt strong the entire time and unlike my duathlon last year, I never wanted to quit on the bike. The scenery was nice, the other athletes were lovely, and the route wasn’t too hilly. There was one big hill that was worse on the back part of the out and back, but overall it was more “rolling hills” than big hills. I can’t speak enough about how happy the bike made me, I still get a little giddy thinking about how it turned out. I hit my own time goal perfectly for this portion of the race, and still had a tonne of energy left in the tank at the end. Maybe I need to start biking more…
Back to transition! Racked my bike, took off my helmet and put on my hat, and headed out for the run. I ran by my mom and Shawn who were cheering – I just shook my head at my mom and she laughed and yelled “You’re still standing!”
I was more than still standing – I was running. My legs felt strong, way stronger than after my duathlon last year. as with the bike, I passed people on both the out and back portions of the run. By this point it was really, really hot. Both the water station and the gentleman with the hose were greatly, greatly appreciated. As I came closer to the finish, I again saw my cheering section and this combined with being able to actually see the finish line made me push it a little bit harder (and I actually passed a girl right before the finish line. That never happens).
The food after the race was okay – I got a veggie sub from Subway and a pop. The expo was nice too – lots to look at and buy, but I was too nervous before the race to look and too tired (and hungry) after.
So what did I learn? I learned that I need a swim coach. That I’m tougher than I think sometimes. That I’m stronger than I know, and that I really should have and could have pushed it harder on both the bike and the run, as I had so much left in me at the end. I learned that triathlon is HARD.
And I think I’m addicted.
August 12 – Niagara – Try A Tri #2?
Let’s do this.