The day finally came-June 17, 2017-my 1st triathlon. I picked this Tri because it’s local, it’s flat and it’s the shortest triathlon distance. Oh and of course as you guessed we get pancakes at the finish. The distances go like this: Sprint (1/4 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 5k run), Olympic (1/2-1 miles swim, 24 mile bike, 10k run), Half Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 50 mile bike, half marathon run) and a Full Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 116 mile bike and full marathon). As you can see each distance roughly doubles in mileage.
It was a perfect day for a race. It was overcast, warm and not breezy-score for the bike course. The course starts right next to Vanderbilt restaurant (next to Sand Ln) and runs down Fr. Capodanno Blvd to Miller field. The cool part is that it’s a closed course so there’s no traffic. But there’s a course limit and bike course closes 10am and the street opens to traffic so you better pedal fast. The main station or transition area is staged at the ballfield right next to Vanderbilt. This is our hub where you set up all your stuff along with your bike and get everything ready for all the legs of the race. After the swim this is the place where you go to change and grab your bike and subsequently where u re-rack the bike before your run. Every time you enter and exit the transition you go over the timing mat so each leg including transition gets timed. So it looks something like this: swim, translation 1 (T1), bike, transition 2 (T2), run and then finish.
I get up really early that day even though it’s literally only 20 minutes from my house I’m nervous and my friend advises me to get there early to get a nice spot on the rack (corner spots are the prime real eastate). I get there around 6:15 and find the rack with my number but damn it there are people there already and they took the best spots. Oh man! But I make a friend and take the spot next to her. It’s also her first tri so we chat for a while to ease the tension. I lay out all my stuff and try to keep an order: bike stuff in front and running stuff right behind that. I try to look around and count the racks so I can see where I am and can find my spot easily in a sea of bikes. Now time to get marked. Last chance to make a quick pit stop which takes forever due to only 3 porta potties (a note here to organizers to please have at least 10. We were on line for 20+minutes). Now I get my wetsuit on and head to the athlete meeting where the race director Joe Patanella gives us the race rundown.
We all walk down to the beach and along the shore, our swim distance, to the start of the swim part. There are about 5 waves each starts about 5 min apart. I’m in the last wave. I line up and walk over the mat into the ocean. The gun goes off and it’s on! The swim is the most challenging part for me. I haven’t swam since back in the old country when I was on Jr Olympic swim team. I have an issue with putting my face in the water because I can’t control my breathing which stems from my anxiety which in turn turns into panic until I inhale water and choke. That is why I chose to do a triathlon because I really hate not being in control of my body and swimming is something that is a challenge that I need to accomplish and conquer. I started training in January and I swim 3 days a week including more ocean swims now. I keep swimming. I love how boyant I am. The wetsuit plus ocean water make it nearly impossible to drown. I get smacked and kicked but I’m not panicking because my friends warned me that will happen. I keep sighting and I see some people stopping and walking. Nope, not me. I’m not gonna stop. I’m gonna swim it all! I see the big bouy that we all must swim around. I go around and head to shore. Omg! I made it! Never in my wildest dreams I would think I can swim in the ocean and non stop and in a race. I’m flying high. Up the sand dune into transition area to get ready for bike portion. It took me a while to peel the wetsuit off and rinse my feet And get my gear on. Gotta work on that. The bike portion is great. It’s fast, it’s flat and it’s fun. I don’t have a nice fast or fancy bike. I had this hybrid for over 15 years. It’s heavy and not that comfy but it’s a bike and that’s what I have to work with. I pedal my crazy legs like there’s no tomorrow picking up speed. I feel like I’m flying but apparently not that fast cause I keep getting passed. It’s ok. I just tell myself “You go as fast as you can, keep pushing”. I see my family cheering me on and tear up a little. Just knowing they are watching me makes me go even faster. 3 loops on Fr. Capodanno and re-rack my bike. This transition is super fast cause I rode in my sneakers-time save, score! I run out and see my family again. Thank you! You guys just gave me an extra boost. The course was altered a bit due to construction so we re-routed unto the boardwalk. It’s an out and back run. I can’t feel my legs and I’m reminded that’s why we do brick workouts. It’s a weird feeling-feels like I’m running on air except my legs are so numb I can’t feel them. Why am I hugging and puffing? I look at my watch and see I’m doing an 8:20 min mile. Whoa?! That’s a bonus. I grab some water and it’s homestretch. I see the finish line and I slow down just a tad so I can savor the moment and then I see my family again and I’m just so excited. Olivia gives me a high five and I’m done. I’ve finished. I’m officially a triathlete! Can I go again?
I’m flying in clouds and I couldn’t be happier with my finish and the fact that my family was there to share this with me. We all make our way to the finish festivities where we get to eat now. Pancakes!!! And all the other goodies. Kids are in heaven, they share a pancake with me. There’s music and friends and festivities. This was just way too much fun and I think I’m hooked. I trained so hard and that made the finish even sweeter. I finished in 1:27, 9th out of 34. I didn’t win any awards but I feel like I won a gold medal! (Here’s the breakdown of times: start-8:12am; swim-11min; T1-5:30; bike-43 min; run-25:25; total 1:27; finish-9:40am).