Sunday, August 24, 2008

Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon

My day started out at 4:50 a.m. - and that probably wasn't early enough! I had prepared the night before to just wake up and basically run out the door. I only needed to grab my gatorade, my cell phone and a small breakfast and I was out the door. An hour later I arrived at the race site in Columbia, MD for the Aflac Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon. After parking in the back, back, back field I finally was able to grab my air pump and head into the transition area to get everything set up. It seemed I only had about 10 minutes before the announcers were telling us to leave the area because the first swim wave was getting ready to start. Wow - that seemed really fast! But, I was able to get all my items in the correct place and ready to go.

I headed toward the start line and when I got there I noticed other ladies with yellow swim caps like mine near the front of the line. I thought that was odd since the pre-race instructions mentioned my swim wave wouldn't start until an hour after the first wave. I asked a few ladies standing around how much longer we had and they told me only 15 minutes. WHAT? 15 minutes? Well, I thought I better go ahead and take my energy gel so I'll be prepared for a strong swim. As I was moving up to go into the water I mentioned something about the quick start and someone else said maybe I was in the SECOND yellow swim cap wave. Second wave? What was this all about? Then I realized the group I was with was the 30-39 year old ladies and I was in the group with the Athena & 20-25 year old ladies. I was standing in the wrong group but now what? I've already taken my gel! Well, it ended up that many people that were supposed to be in my swim wave actually went with the first group and my group of ladies was considerably smaller which made for an "easier" swim.

7:45 a.m. the Aflac duck yelled and my swim wave was off. This was my first time in an open water swim (at least with other people) and there is really only one way to describe this this video... . Feet kicking you, hands hitting you...that is what triathlon swim waves are all about! Even when you feel you are finally safe from it all you get a kick in the stomach just when you least expect it!

I tried to take it slow during the swim so I could conserve my energy for the bike (my strongest leg of the race) but I ended up coming in 10th place in my division with a time of 25:47 for 0.62 miles. I felt pretty good coming out of the lake but once I got on the bike my energy seemed to drain pretty quickly. Of course, this was a pretty hilly course but I had done a preview ride about a month ago so I was somewhat familiar with the course. Unfortunately I hadn't trained on enough hills to get me through the course in a good time. My typical speed during my training rides had been around 17 mph but my overall time for the 17.5 mile bike portion was 1:09 which put me 6th in my group and at a pace of 15.1 mph. My two transitions weren't too bad although I felt I could have gone faster in both of them. My first transition was 2:57 (3rd place in my group) and the second transition was 2:14 (5th place in my group). The final leg of the triathlon was what really killed me. My allergies had been acting up terribly during the bike ride but they really got to me during the run. Not only that but I was just wiped out from the other two legs and MY legs didn't want to run but walk! My training pace has been around 9:30 - 10 min/mile but the 3.4 mile run took me 40:30 to complete (still 5th place in my group) with an 11:55 min/mile pace. YUCK!

All in all I completed the race in 2:20 and 6th place in my category. Of course, they give trophies and cash to the 1-5th place ladies in each group! Darn!

The best part about the entire race was at the end...I had been following a woman during the entire run that I wanted to pass really bad and I just couldn't get up the energy to do so. About 1/2 mile before the end another lady helped push me to keep going and I told her I wanted to beat this particular woman across the finish line but I needed her to help me through it. She ran beside me and we pushed up the last hill together and about 2/10th of a mile from the finish line I kicked it into high gear and passed the lady. I don't typically sprint to the end but it felt so good and because I looked so strong the crowd was cheering like crazy and because my name was on my race bib I heard people all over the place yelling "GO TRACY!!!!" It was a great feeling! As I crossed the finish line the announcer said - Here is Tracy Endo from Sterling, VA - She is an Iron Girl!

I'm so thankful to have been able to complete this race - all with God's help. So many times throughout the race I thought of my friend Farah who was going to race today but couldn't because she found out she has breast cancer this year...and then our common friend, Kim who I have run with several times before who also found out she has breast cancer. I raced this one for you two!

I can't wait for my next tri in two weeks - an Olympic distance tri. Should be a lot of long as I don't come in last!