Let me just start off by saying I had a blast and have decided that I would totally do it again. Not saying I’m ready for 140.6, but I’d definitely sign up for another one of some distance.
Leading up to yesterday I was about as nervous as I’ve ever been about any athletic event. Having never done a tri, not to mention an open water swim, I didn’t know what to expect when the horn went off.
The race started at 9:00 (my swim wave at 9:30), but I got up at 5:00 and had my usual pre-race breakfast of a bagel with peanut butter. It’s hard for me to just roll out of bed and go to it. Even my training requires me to get up at least an hour early just to get things going.
We loaded up and left around 6:30 for the hour drive to the venue. I wanted to have plenty of time to set up and just chill before the chaos began. Made it to the venue around 7:30, racked my bike in transition and dropped my gear, before heading over to get my timing chip and body marking done. Once that was done I went back and set up my transition area.
Once I had that set up we made our way down to the waters edge, wetsuit in hand, to have a look at the lake and the course layout. Now seeing that spring has just recently sprung here in NC, all of my swim training took place over the winter in a heated pool 25 meters at the time. Yes, I had swam 750 meters, without stopping except to turn, numerous times, but I had yet to see what it looked like stretched out in open water. Of course my first thought was that’s WAY further than 750 meters and I was officially intimidated.
Moving forward I squeezed myself, or at least my legs and waist, into the wetsuit around 8:50ish. For those that have never donned a wetsuit, let me say it in and of itself is a challenge. Amy said a very nice and comforting prayer asking for calm nerves and safety before helping me squeeze the rest of my large mass into the suit, zipping up, and heading out onto the pier and into the 67 degree water. Since my wave (Novice Master) didn’t start until 9:30, I had plenty of time to get myself acclimated to the cold water and warm up a bit. Last thing Amy told me was to remember to just keep swimming like they say in the movie Finding Nemo. That came in handy later.
Waves went off every five minutes until they called my group into place and off we went. Let me point out, in case you missed it, I’ve never done a tri before, never an open water timed swim, and certainly have not swam next to this many people with the same goal. I had lined up about middle of the pack, not out front or in the back. Looking back I wish I had lined up in the front as I found out it was much less nerve racking having someone claw at your feet than to be clawing at or being kicked by someone else’s feet. It took about 250 meters for the field to spread out enough that I could get into somewhat of a rhythm. The wind had picked up a little so it was a little choppy or at least more than I was used to so occasionally when I turned to breathe I’d get a mouthful of water rather than air. I did fairly well sighting, so never really veered off course any. I’m guessing right around 400 meters I started to remember the last thing Amy told me and I just kept swimming like I had during my training and before I knew it I was at the exit dock climbing out.
I felt a little wobbly getting back on my feet and my heart was redlined. I unzipped my suit as I trotted/staggered down the dock because I had all intentions of getting out of the suit as I made my way down the pier, but I had the HARDEST time getting my hands out, so after I finally did I was off the pier and just decided to run on into transition and finish getting it off there. Swim time was 21:28, which was actually not far off of my pool time.
I finished stripping my suit, strapped on my bike gear and headed out onto the bike course (14 miles). T1 time was 5:31. Remember when I said the wind had picked up a little while I was in the water? Well it was out on the bike course too. There was one section of the bike course that felt like riding the cobbles in Italy. So rough I had to come out of aero and was bounced off my seat a couple of times. I got passed by a few people and passed a few myself. I settled in and knocked out the bike course in 52:50. I had hoped for a little better time, but the wind was killing my speed at times.
Back in transition I changed equipment and headed out for the run. T2 time was 2:35. The run course was an out and back 5k with a water stop at the 1 and 2 mile mark. I had prepped my own bottle of Roctane to carry with me just to get some glycogen’s back in as I headed out on the run. Turns out carrying the bottle may have been more of a nuisance than help. I didn’t want to risk a littering penalty so I held onto it until the water stop. I should’ve just chugged some before I headed out and left the bottle in the TA. I had emptied one bottle of water on the bike course and almost finished the bottle of Roctane before mile 1, but I was still thirsty.
The entire time I had trained for this I did a 4:1 ratio of run/walk. That went out the window after the first cycle. I’m not really sure why, except that I was thirsty the entire run, and it caused a mental block. I took on fluids at miles 1 and 2, but by the time I made it back to the finish my mouth was so dry I was doing that lip licking thing where I guess you’re hoping you might find enough sweat beads around your mouth to help out, but all you do is cause a slime to build up. I know that’s gross, but y’all know what I’m talking about.
Then out of nowhere I could hear the announcer calling my name and I could see the finish line. My buddy and TNT cycling coach, Scott, was the announcer for the day. He joking said he could come up with all kinds of nicknames for me, but he settled on the Ginger Avenger, then stepped out and high-fived me as I crossed the line. Run time was 39:02. Total race time was 2:01:26.
Amy and Elli were waiting at the finish line to give hugs. Best feeling ever!! I especially want to thank Amy and both of my girls for the support they gave me while I trained for this event. There was never a grumble from any of them. Also, the support and encouragement she gave me race day was what kept me going. I’m not a quitter, but there may have been a time or two that I may have taken advantage of somewhere to just sit a rest a minute, but her and Elli cheering kept me motivated to “droll on.”
I love you babe!!
Will - “Ginger Avenger”