Monday, June 30, 2008

A Couple Days Since

Wow! Yesterday, after having gotten much rest, it sank in a little more about what I had just done on Saturday. I am so excited I am ready to burst at the seams.

I knew that completing a triathlon was a big deal, that it would bring a major sense of accomplishment, yada yada yada. I was not prepared for the overwhelming pride and joy I would feel. Sigh...

Here's a link to the race results. They list them overall and then on another page break them down according to age groups.

I was 207 out of 217. Having come from none of these sports, I'll take it!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My First Triathlon

Caution: This video has audio, so adjust your volume.

Gary and I left the house at exactly 3:00 AM. I was one of the first 5 competitors there at 5:00. I'm really glad I got there early because people were still picking up registration packets close to 6:30, when the Transition area closes. This gave me time to get settled in and prepared. I was able to get my race number (number 1, by the way) on my helmet, bike and bike/run shirt. I was one of the first to get body-marked. (They mark your race number on both arms and write your age on the back of your right calf.) I got my timing chip secured and was ready to go. (They velcro a timing chip to your right ankle. As you enter and leave each event, you cross a big mat which records your times from your chip. It's really cool.)

About 6:45 AM, they played the National Anthem. Next, they said a prayer. I couldn't believe it. Good for them.

The wind was blowing quite a bit and I thought for sure the water would be freezing. It actually was not bad at all. This would be the least of my worries...

THE SWIM (.25 mile) (27 minutes)
Numbers 1-30 were the first to go in, so that was me. I got about a minute into it and, despite telling myself not to for months, I panicked. I could not get my breath. I said, "I can't do this, I can't do this." A sweet and confident voice close by replied, "Sure you can, honey. You can swim with me. I'm a slow swimmer. C'mon. You can do this." This older-than-me lady, #22, was a God-send. She was with me and a few others the entire way, letting us know if we were going out too far or in too close.

About halfway through, others were shouting, "We're almost done!" My heart sank because I was thinking, "Shouldn't we BE there NOW?" This was taking forever! I prayed for the Lord to get me through.

Look, I knew I wasn't going to drown. My legs were surprisingly only a little tired and I knew if I just relaxed and took my time I'd get through this. I should have bought some anti-fog stuff for my goggles because they were fogging toward the end, which just added to the helplessness I felt.

As we got close to shore, about 25 minutes later, #22 grabbed my hand and we came out of the water together. Thank God for her! I don't know if I were in her position if I would have been so willing to go so beyond a few words of encouragement and really look after and guide my competitors. I will never, ever, ever forget her kindness. Her selflessness has humbled me beyond words.

Gary was right there on the beach taking my picture as I finished. What a sight for sore eyes. He had been really worried about me because I wasn't with my wave. He would tell me on the drive back that some people had to quit the swim early.

TRANSITION 1 (3 minutes/30 seconds)
This went pretty smoothly, though I'm surprised it took so long.

THE BIKE (12 miles) (1 hour/4 seconds)
Coming from that swim, I had never been more relieved to get on a bike. Very soon into it, I started getting passed. I knew this would happen, especially given that I'm a beginner, but what surprised me the most was that there were still that many people behind me from the swim. I know some started in later waves, but I went really slowly on that swim!

What's great about this sport is that there were women who were bigger than me, and there were women who were older than me passing me. Good for them. Halfway through I was in a position to pass this one lady. I told her, "Good job," etc. She said she was slowing down to wait on a friend. I thought, "Well, of course she is. The one person I'll end up passing is someone who was intentionally going slow!"

The bike training really paid off. I finished this up in just almost exactly an hour. There was a pretty strong head wind the last few miles. The last 3-5 miles, I started passing people who had passed me which was kind of nice. Good for me.

TRANSITION 2 (1 minutes/45 seconds)
This went faster than T1. It felt great to put on my running shoes and ballcap because this meant I'd soon be done.

THE RUN (2 miles) (24 minutes/56 seconds)
My legs were so heavy the first .5 mile, having come off the bike, but they did start to feel lighter eventually. The first and last parts of the run were on a sidewalk. The middle section was through a trail in the woods. There were some seriously big mud puddles I had no choice but to stop running and walk to get around.

Another competitor caught up to me and we walked the last quarter of the first mile. I remembered her from the bike. She was one who had passed me but who I ended up passing at the end. I do regret not running more because it really added a lot of time to my event, but it was nice to relax a few minutes.

When I reached the end of mile 1, I ran the whole second mile back. When I hit the sidewalk part of the run back, a volunteer was there saying, "Just four-tenths of a mile to go." Four-tenths of a mile? That's a snap!

As I was coming around the last bend, the announcer said, "And here comes Lora Abernathy" and some other words I couldn't make out. I was busy looking for Gary and I spotted him. He was standing a few feet in front of the finish line ready to take my pic.

I crossed the finish line and mat and a volunteer took off my timing chip and placed it in a box with the others. The box was pretty full already. :-)

Gary and I met on the other side of the finish line and hugged. He said, "I have never been more proud of you." I'm really glad he said that.

I went to the Transition area and just threw all of my stuff in my bag. Gary took my bike and put it in the SUV and I took my bag to check out the preliminary results. At that point, I had come in 39th out of my age group (30-34). Clearly, I hadn't placed in the top 3, so I wasn't going to stick around for the awards.

The final results on the website show that there were 217 competitors and I came in 207. There were 42 in my age group and I came in 40. I did the entire event, including Transition times, in one hour, 57 minutes and 15 seconds. I figured it would take me about 2 hours so I actually came in under my goal. Of course, my true goal was just to finish the thing.

They assigned numbers alphabetically, so that's how I got the number 1. So when people spotted my number they would say, "Hey, number 1" or "Hey, there's number 1. Yay." It was kind of like being an event celebrity. That was the only way that was going to happen unless I'd have been the girl who drowned that day. :-)

This event was extremely well-organized. They had plenty of volunteers stationed at different points on the routes cheering you on. Though the swim was first, this is what made the swim feel so lonely. Other than #22 and some others (I don't know if they were the same ones throughout) in my general area, no one from the event was close by. I couldn't even spot the lifeguards (though I wasn't really looking for them). Very lonely swim indeed.

The big question: Will I do this again? The answer is...uuummm...definitely! When I got home - after a long nap - I checked out some on my potential list spreadsheet I created back in January. There's one in Akron with a 250 yard swim (the one I just did was 440), a 7 mile bike and a 2 mile run. The second one I had planned on doing until today is in Mt. Sterling but it's a half-mile swim. As I sit here today, there is no way I would double the swim I just barely did today. Gary said I just need to train for the swim even harder over the next two months and do that one. He's probably right.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Deep Breath Before the Plunge

OK, The Lord of the Rings fans, this is how I feel:

You know in The Return of the King, when Pippin and Gandolf are looking over the balcony the night before the big battle, watching Mordor explode in the distance with a rageful light? Yes? OK, good.

Pippin says to Gandolf: "I don't want to be in a battle; but waiting on the edge of one I can't escape is even worse."

Gandolf replies, "It's the deep breath before the plunge."

I feel like Pippin. Of course, the difference is I could escape my battle tomorrow. I could just not show up, but I won't do that, so there is, indeed, no escape and my analogy is intact.


I practiced going through the transitions this afternoon. It took me 1m: 44s to change from the swim to the bike. It took me 1m: 6s to change from the bike to the run.

I'm heading off to nap now. Maybe I'll get some sleep tonight. Stay tuned for the full report and pictures! Thanks, everyone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Night Before the Night Before

I went to Ann's to swim this afternoon and I practiced Total Immerson's Overswitch drills. I focused on slicing my moving hand in the water at the front. At that very moment, the front hand begins its move to the rear. I did a few strokes and then rolled on my back to breathe. It felt really good to feel my torso rotate as I moved my arms this way. I cannot believe the forward movement I got from swimming this way. Wow!

Gary and I will be leaving the house at 3:00 AM Saturday to get to registration which begins at 5:00 AM. We totally don't get why they have to start these things so early (7:00 AM). I mean, it's not like it's an Ironman which would take all day.

I'm more nervous about making sure I will have brought everything and that I get set-up in time than I am nervous about the three events.

Tomorrow I'll practice changing clothes and gear from the swim to the bike [Transition 1 (T1)] to the bike to the run [Transition 2 (T2)]. I was thinking of going to the Y, but today was a good day, it wore me out and I absoluely have to rest tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

First Open Water Swim

Gary went with me to the lake this evening so I could do my first open water swim (OWS). There were probably 30 other people at the beach, but I needed someone to keep an eye on me.

The other triathletes (those on say to at least get in an OWS once before your first tri, because it is a completely different experience from swimming in a pool.

Before I went, I was feeling apprehensive about the swim part of the race, in particular whether it would be required to wear a wetsuit (got no return phone calls from the race event people :( ) or whether I needed one based on my experience. I'm not saying that I have no apprehensions at all now, but I feel so much better about the swim portion.

(Wetsuits are typically required if it's under 74 degrees because they help keep you warm. The forecast for Saturday is 82 but that's the high. At 7:00 AM, it could be on that 74 degree edge.)

What's really unique about this race is that you can stand up at any point, you just can't walk it, of course. That makes me feel better about it.

My only mistake for this swim? Forgetting my nose plugs. Yes, I use noseplugs. I mean, I can suck in a lot of water during my swim or I can suck in a little. I choose a little!

I will go to the Y tomorrow for some more practice and I may run tomorrow evening. After that, I must do nothing more before the race on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Big Brick

This morning, I biked 13 miles again. The last time I did 13 miles, I did it in about an hour and 17 minutes. Today, I did it in about an hour and 9 minutes, shaving off a nice 8 minutes from my time. Though, I actually tried to go faster this time whereas this last time I was just trying to make it through. I had been getting off my bike 3-5 times because of hills. Today, I got off once.

I got done with my biking, came back in the house, drank a bottle of water, switched to my running shoes and shorts and traded my bike helmet in for a ballcap. I then headed out the door for my 2 mile run. To my surprise, running after biking 13 miles was not that much different than running after biking 2.5 miles. My 2 miles took me about 20 minutes. When I started the uphill climb on my second mile, I thought for sure completing this run would take me so much longer, but it didn't.

Wednesday, I'll do another brick, though I'll just do a 6 mile bike and a 1 mile run, so I can taper off.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ready or Not, Here Comes the Last Training

Tomorrow I will get up early (7:00 AM) and do a bike/run brick. Hopefully, I'll be done by 9:30 and then I will start my work day.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

First Tri in 6 Days

My first triathlon is in 6 days. It's a quarter mile swim, a 12 mile bike and a 2 mile run. Just 2 days ago, I biked 13 miles for what was easily the longest ride in my entire life.

Just 6 days before that, I biked 7 miles for what was - at that time - easily the longest ride in my entire life.

It's smart to increase just a little bit more with every few sessions, but I just don't have that kind of time.

I've done a really bad job of training with regard to biking and swimming. Not getting my bike functioning sooner and not getting a Y membership have hampered my ability to train in those sports.

On the positive side, my running has gone really well. I'm at about a 10 minute mile and I owe it all to ChiRunning. Bad knees were keeping from running, but I run knee-pain free now; plus I exert less energy which helps.

I'll be doing at least one brick this week (biking and then immediately following up with a run). I'll do an open water swim out at the lake, too, to acquaint myself with this aspect of the race.

Swimming? Worse comes to worse, I can always backstroke the thing.

How am I feeling? I typically don't get butterflies until right before the event. The reality of what I'll be doing, though, has sunk in and I'm excited and a little anxious. I've been wanting to do a tri for 9 months and now the time is here. I just can't believe I'll be doing this.


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