Sara and I headed to the Expo Friday to attend a course talk and get body marked with our bib numbers. The moments in which this lovely volunteer was writing with permanent marker on my skin is when I really felt I was going to DO this. A wave of nervous excitement and pride came over me much like (but not nearly as intense) as attending my very first marathon expo (Chicago 2006). I was one of those folks with body marking. I was going to be a triathlete!
Friday was spent eating delicious pizza at a South Loop spot called Flo & Santos. Saturday we procured a bike for Sara (yeah, we are both clearly rookies, me on a mountain bike, her on a rented bike!), went for a run, went for a swim (both short, don't worry), napped, then headed for a great night at City Winery (review to follow). Then early bed-time for bonzos.
|Sara in the very dark transition area.|
For me, this race was all about the swim. Getting my first open water swim in a race situation out of the way. As you can read about here, the swim ended up being more a comedy of errors than an athletic pursuit, but I did my best to make up some ground on the bike and the run.
Leaving the swim all I could think was thank god that's over. I did it, I did it, I did it. I wasn't super happy about the way I did it but I was proud knowing I went from being a non-swimmer to completing a swimming event in just a few short months. As I told my new friends in the corral before the swim start, for me the race ended at the swim finish, the rest was an emotional cool-down:) In reality, however, the end of the swim is when my competitive juices started flowing and I tried to make up ground.
|Smiling to myself, DONE with the SWIM!|
|Transition at sunrise. This is just one small section of T-town.|
A little known fact about this race is that there is a quarter mile run from the swim finish to T1, which is incorporated into the swim time (so if you notice that even the fastest swimmers times are a bit slower than you'd expect, that's why). By the time I jogged to transition, I totally forgot how to find my bike. I tried to pay attention, I located landmarks etc but I still couldn't find my bike. So I spent something like 6 minutes in T1.
I ended the swim with only 10 women in my age group behind me. So not great. But I knew that despite riding a mountain bike in the regular bike division, I could gain ground on other 'Wave 11' ladies during the bike. By this point, my breathing had totally normalized, so I worked to get my heart rate up again and vowed to remain short of breath throughout the entire bike. I kept looking for women who I thought would be in my age group and then I'd pick them off with great satisfaction when I saw the '11' on their calves:) I didn't love riding the bike, but I did love that all of the people who passed me either had aero bars or those paratrooper looking aero helmets meaning they were much more serious triathletes than I!
|Yes, I'm aware how goofy I look.|
|Goofy up close.|
I will say that the allergies I've been suffering from for the past week or so were REALLY ANNOYING when I was trying to breathe through my mouth AND my nose during the bike. I was breathing heavily enough that I really needed those two extra respiratory orifices to help me out! So I decided to try another first for the day....the farmer's blow. (Yes, I've trained for and run 11 marathons without ever doing this; I find it gross.) I looked around, ensured no one was near me, and went for it. I think it went okay. But I kept wondering if someone was going to come up to me and say "Lady, the results of a poorly executed farmer's blow are on your face". Sadly, the nasal passage air flow related relief only lasted a few minutes, so basically I spent the whole race breathing only through my mouth. Despite this, I averaged 15.3 mph which I'm happy with. Especially on a mountain bike!
T2 was better than T1 but I still have a lot to learn about transitions.
Then, the run. Oh, the wonderful run! I decided to just relax and take my time. I knew this would result in a respectable run time. I also knew that if I relaxed, my pace would gradually increase because that is what I do in my short bricks after spinning class. I'd been starting at 10 min mile pace, then gradually increasing the pace over the course of a mile to 8 minute miles. I wasn't thinking 8 minute miles were in the cards for the tri but I thought the overall strategy would be a good one.
|I've got to stop ruining good pictures|
with my goofy wave!
|Great shot by Adam!|
|The guy in blue tired to pass me so I|
sprinted to the finish.
|Look, I'm flying!|
|Help, how do I stop?|
Sara had a super impressive finish, well under 2 hours, kicking my but by 10 minutes! I'm so thankful to have such a great (albeit long-distance) friend and racing partner. Her performance definitely motivated me to push myself even harder in training and future races. And we're so photogenic to boot:)
|We are triathletes!|
|Celebratory city pose!|
This is just the beginning.