Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bringing home the hardware

FINALLY! IT HAPPENED!!! I finally brought home some hardware from a triathlon! I can't believe it!!! Well, want to know the story of how it all happened? Yeah, I figure since you're here I might as well tell you...

September 6th - forecast says it's going to be a clear day for the race tomorrow. Supposed to be in the high 80's but with my first Olympic-distance triathlon so early in the morning it may not get quite that high. However, hurricane Hanna has hit shore and we are anticipating getting a lot of rain tonight. Great, right? As long as race day is nice. Well, not so much. I went to packet pickup early that day in hopes to miss the major bands of rain coming through the area. Toward the end of the packet pickup times rumors began floating around with the TriRats (Reston Area Triathletes) and on that Hanna was going to dump a ton of rain on us and the lake we were to swim in might be too polluted/dangerous/e-coli filled for us to swim. Would the race be canceled? Nobody knew. Then the rumors came true - the lake WAS going to be too dangerous so the race directors had to make the incredibly hard decision to cancel the swim portion of the race and in it's place would add a 2.5 mile run. That would make the race a 2.5 mile run, 23 mile bike and 6.2 mile run with only one transition area. Okay, I guess I can handle this...for the past two weeks my pool has been closed for their yearly maintenance and I hadn't been able to do much swim training anyway. Although I have to admit my run training hadn't been very great all summer and I wasn't really looking forward to two runs.

September 7th - it was COLD out this morning. Wow, I'm kinda thankful now that we didn't have to swim because I would have been freezing coming out of that water. I figured I would just do the best I could and try really hard not to walk during the last run like I had been during much of my training during the summer. I was determined not to be sorry at the end of the race. I wanted to leave it all out there during the race and just hope I did enough.

The race began quite well. I was talking pre-race to a lady who said she was going to run a 10 minute mile and even though I started out a few people in front of her she never passed me. There was some question as to the actual length of the first run but to my knowledge it was 2.5 miles and I completed it in 21 minutes and some seconds which is less than a 9 minute mile (first transition was included with my official time which was 23:27). I felt pretty good about the first run and although my transition time was a little slower than I wanted I felt really good getting on the bike. The bike was a great experience for me. The course consisted of 3 loops so by the time I got to the second loop some of the guys (and a few girls) from the first few run waves had passed me. I tried to keep up with them (as long as I wasn't on an uphill section) and felt really good about the bike. During the last loop of the bike, though I started feeling my quads begin their slow, painful scream. I had never experienced quad pain during training so I wasn't quite sure what this was all about. Maybe the rolling hills, maybe the run before the bike - just don't know but I had to deal with it any way I could. Just as I was coming around the last corner to pull my bike into the transition area I dropped my chain - OH NO!!! Thankfully it was all down hill to the transition area so I just got on the bike and coasted. Looking back I should have pushed it a little, hopped on and then coasted because I lost some serious time. It wouldn't have changed the overall outcome but it would have changed my personal goal (more on that later). My final bike time was 1:24:14 which was a pace of 16.88 mph - a little slower than I had hoped but I'm blaming that on the hills and my quads. Transition #2 went quite well with a time of 1:19. Now I'm off to the final run. I will not walk, I will not walk, I will not walk...okay...maybe I'll walk just a quads were killing me and some of the hills on that run were painful. I'll remember to do more hill training next year! My final run time was 1:12:45 which was an 11.73 minute/mile pace.

I crossed the finish line completing my first duathlon - it's crazy to even say that since all my race paraphernalia says Reston TRIATHLON - but, hey, it was tons of fun. My goal for this race was to complete it in under 3 hours. Well, as I crossed the finish line the time clock read 3:01:43. I'm blaming it on the chain falling off and my quads killing me but I was happy to have completed it nonetheless. Little did I know what was ahead of me...

I went to the food tent and saw pizza there. I was thinking pizza would be good but after one bite I decided my stomach was nowhere near ready for that kind of food. Just give me some bread, a banana and some water! I walked around for a while, went back to the transition area and started cleaning up and then went to the bleachers to cheer on the remaining race participants and await the awards ceremony.

They announced the winners of the race and I commented to someone sitting beside me that they finished about an hour faster than I had. I still felt okay about my time because a) this is my first year racing triathlons b) this is my first Olympic distance race and c) I weigh more than the first two winners combined (probably!) hehe! THANKFULLY there is a wonderful category for me called "Athena." The Athena division is women who weigh over a certain amount. Typically that is somewhere in the 150 lb range and above. I had entered this race as an Athena and was very glad I had. They announced the first place winner of my group and she hadn't stuck around for the ceremony. Then they said - second place....from Sterling, VA (my eyes started opening up really wide) TRACY ENDO!!!! I jumped up from my seat and started running down the bleachers for my trophy. I was shocked and elated all at the same time. It was a wonderful feeling...I finally brought home some hardware...although this beautiful cheese platter w/wooden plaque is far from looking like hardware.

I'm so excited about winning this trophy that I've decided to add one more triathlon to my schedule this year - Oct 5th in Lexington, KY - Tri for Sight ( I hope all my Kentucky friends and family can come out and watch!