Monday, December 19, 2011

My First Triathlon!

I want to preface this post by apologizing for how long it is...I'm still really excited about this experience. You never forget your first:

In 2010, I did my first half marathon, 2011 my first full and told myself that in 2012, I would do my first triathlon. Well, I completed my goal just a few weeks before the New Year and I feel GREAT! A couple months ago, I'd met Ironman Brain Boyle. If you haven't heard his story,
check it out! He was such an inspiration and the reason I ultimately decided to stop saying I would do a triathlon and actually sign up for one! On my 29th birthday, I registered for Vineman 70.3. Yikes! It was a crazy move considering I'd never done one. Knowing that I had to get a few under my belt, my friend Deb convinced me to do the Beach Blast Triathlon.

The event was
Rocket Racing Production's first triathlon. We decided on this one because it was local and great for the price. Rocket Racing capped the entries at about 75 participants so I thought it would be perfect for a first. I was a little bummed because it nothing like the marathon glory I was used to. No tech tee, no expo, and no medal. I went for it anyway knowing that it would be a good crash course in what a triathlon was like. My goal was simply to finish...

I followed one of the training programs from a book that had been recommended to me,
"The 12-Week Triathlete". Great book for anyone who's ever wanted to do a triathlon. I'll admit, the Thanksgiving holiday derailed my training a bit and the laziness continued on into December. I still swam, ran, and biked but I wasn't as consistent with my brick training as I should have been. I felt so unprepared physically, yet mentally ready...I even waited till the last minute (the day before the event) to even try on a wetsuit which was quite an experience. I rented the suit, came home, got my transition bags ready, and went out for a few drinks. Yes, guilty as charged! I had a glass of wine and a beer with dinner but like a good girl, called it a night early. I still couldn't sleep though. I can't say it was nerves because I felt confident in my ability to complete the event at this distance. I finally fell asleep at 3:30 a.m. only to have to be up a couple hours later.  

Next thing I knew, it was time to wake up. I grabbed my gear and off I went. I can't tell you how grateful I was to have Deb there. For some reason I couldn't get my front tire back on but she showed up and saved the day. We made our way to check in and set up our transition area. Once we were all checked in, the event coordinators explained the course to us; because it was a small event, the streets weren't closed off and there wasn't any signage. (A bit of advice, if you ever participate in a small event like this, PAY ATTENTION about the course). We made our way to the swim area and walked along the water to get used to the temperature. Not too bad for being December. I can honestly say, the water did not scare me at all. I credit this to being taught how to swim by getting thrown into a pool at a young age (thanks mom).The coordinators made sure we were all ready, I heard "GO!" and off we went. One arm in front of the other, kick, breathe, swallow some salt water and just keep moving forward. I kept at a steady pace alongside Deb but eventually she was a bit faster than me and I lost her. I kept looking for her but my eyes were more focused on the finish than findind her red swim cap. I got out of the water and started running to the next transition. As I was running, an officer who had been making sure we were safe crossing the street told me, "You're the second girl I've seen! Good job!!!" Come to find out, Deb was first, I was second and after us there were only about 3 or 4 other women participating out of 70 plus people. Pretty cool!

I slipped right out of my suit (much easier to get out of than to put on) and threw on my long sleeve, shoes, and my helmet. I was in such a rush, I forgot a few things like my sunglasses (not good because of debris on the road). Oh well. I kept going. I was worried about how I would feel in wet clothes but once you're on the bike, you just ride and don't think about anything but getting out there. Within the first mile, there was a pretty steep hill..."Be strong," I kept telling myself. I remembered a tweet from
Exmetal13 : @MissJewels212 be fear....and will do it. I got past the hill and kept riding. The bike part was great except for the fact that my feet and other parts of my body were numb from the cold. I got passed up by a few people but never once did I feel intimidated. I just kept pedaling along. At one point a couple people caught up to me and asked if I knew how to get back. I figured the same way we came but I honestly did not pay attention when we were being told where to go. Some chose to follow me and others went their own way.

I made it back, took off my helmet and threw on my cap. This is it...3 miles and you're done. Running 3 miles has never been an issue for me. I can usually do 3 miles in about 28 minutes...not today. I felt myself running really slow but I didn't care. It was my first time doing this and I didn't want to burn out. Come to find out, the distance was off (we recieved an apology from Rocket Racing; we'd done 4 miles in total). One of the guys I'd seen on the bike course who had asked me how to get back, passed me and said great job! It felt nice to hear that since there weren't volunteers, water stations or people cheering like in a normal event. I then saw Deb which again was great encouragement. I finally hit the turnaround and knew this was it...the last mile and a half (or in this case 2). I was still slow but again, I didn't want to clonk out. With my lower back begining to hurt a bit, I refused to walk at any point! Push through it Julie! As I neared the end, I picked up the pace. I could hear Deb saying "Go Julie!" I looked up and saw her but then I also saw something else that put a HUGE smile on my the finish was one of the event coordinators holding up a medal! Although it was a cheesy one, I was so happy because I wasn't even expecting it. I collected my medal and hugged Deb. It wasn't the finish I was used to with tons of spectators. I didn't cry like I usually do after a race; in all honesty, it felt more like a workout than an event but it really was a great practice for me. I never felt intimidated or scared. I just kept going knowing that every step I went pushed me closer to the finish and that one day I would be in Sonoma participating in Vineman. I loved this event for the fact that it was intimate, local, and the coordinators were so helpful. Thanks Rocket Racing for a great first time...both yours and mine!

Deb and I grabbed our gear and went off to celebrate our victory with some champagne and a yummy breakfast. A huge thanks to my friend for this moment and to our significant others for coming out with us after the race for support. I also want to thank all of you on Twitter for the well wishes. I sent a tweet at 5:30 a.m. about heading out to my first triathlon and many of you responded to wish me luck! Again, thank you!

Stay tuned for my triathlon lessons learned...