Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sobe Mossman Sprint Triathlon

Yay! My first race report! I'm pretty excited. After a year of reading other people's race reports I get to post my own! Knowing me it'll be really long and I'll forget important details! Sweet! Here we go...

Since my fall a couple weeks ago, I've been having pain in my chest under, well... my left breast. I looked it up online and it seems to be "costochondritis," which "is an inflammation of the junctions where the upper ribs join with the cartilage that holds them to the breastbone or sternum." I was paranoid that it was going to hurt during the run since even walking seemed to aggravate the pain. So, Friday after work I went to this sketchy Asian massage place on Whitney Ave. It's called Naturegene Herb Store, they also seem to have some sort of herbalist/doctor type guy there.

A wonderful friend gave me a gift certificate there and highly recommended the place. It's super cheap, something like $20 for half an hour, $55 for an hour. Since I had the half hour gift certificate, I paid $20 for a full hour! "Jasmine" was my masseuse and she was great! It was a little weird at first, but she really worked my whole body, even the glutes! Honestly, a tad uncomfortable getting my butt touched by a stranger, but it felt awesome, so whatever. She worked my sore shoulder and chest.

I found it so hard to relax and just focus on the massage. My mind wandered and worried, and I kept telling myself to focus and to "be present". I have to work at living in the moment, and so I did my best. I kept worrying because I didn't have cash on me, and kept wondering what I would do if they didn't take debit cards. I played scenarios of going to the nearest ATM and leaving my purse so they didn't think I was skipping out on them. I know, it's kind of neurotic. I kind of had an epiphany on the massage table, I told myself to relax, and deal with things as they happen. I can't worry about what may happen, because if whatever I worry about doesn't happen, then I have wasted my time and energy. I didn't know it at the time, but this would come in handy during the triathlon.

Saturday I ran a bunch of errands. It was really humid and gross, and I was trying to keep hydrated by drinking water all day. The humidity also made the chest pain worse, and I was taking two Advils at a time. I practiced my transitions a few times, until I felt comfortable. I forced myself to eat Kashi Go Lean cereal for dinner. I wasn't really hungry but I knew I had to eat something. I went to bed around 10pm and woke up around 3:30am.

Ideally I was supposed to wake up at 3am. I left my apartment around 4:45 and sped down 95S going about 85-90mph, passing several triathletes along the way. I imagined they were wondering if I raced as fast as I drove. I got there around 5:15am when pre-race packet pickup started. I got my number, a sheet of stickers with my race number, 304. The body marking on my left arm hardly showed up. He wrote right over Alice's face.

It was a beautiful morning, and I couldn't have asked for better weather. I wish I took a picture of the sunrise with my BlackBerry. It sounds disturbing, but the ocean looked like an oil slick. There were so many colors in the sky, and the water reflected everything. My parents drove all the way from Western Mass and got a hotel room in Norwalk. Dealing with parents while having pre-race anxiety and post-race low blood sugar is an event in itself. I was happy to have them there but honestly, I lost it a few times. They were great though, and so proud of me. My dad took all the photos on this post.

I set up my transition area where I was next to my friend Jen on Trifitness. There were a lot of Trifitness folks there which really calmed me down. It was just like practice, and I think having them around really helped. I didn't feel out of place, and I knew if I had any questions (which I did), they would be there for me (which they were). I took two Advils for my chest pain, and two Hammer Enduralytes to prevent cramping before I walked down to the swim start.

Went into the water and warmed up a bit. Saw that Jen and Amelia were near me so I joined them. I felt good, and the water was the perfect temperature.

I was in the second wave. I'd say there were about 200 of us. Before the race girls were shouting encouragement to each other and getting psyched up. I found myself smiling. "It's just like practice," I told myself. I realized then to just enjoy it! There's no reason to take things too seriously. Then the horn went off and so did we...
I felt like a salmon swimming upstream. It was intense and awesome, and I struggled a few times but I tried my best to draft. I got my calves grabbed a few times, kicked off a few girls, got pushed by one girl on the final turn. I'm so glad I practiced swimming there the weekend before. I was prepared for the course and the current. At one point I took in too much water and forced the air out, sort of choking on it. I calmed myself down as to prevent an asthma attack. This was one of the moments where I reminded myself to "be present". "Don't focus on what could happen, focus on what is happening."

I swam in as far as I could and bolted out of the water, ripping off my suit. Don't I look graceful?

Seriously flattering photo of me:

Took WAY too long! 2:31! Out of 631 I placed 448 for my first transition. Yikes! I struggled with my bike cleats, which is weird cause I didn't have any trouble with them in practice. I'm okay with this though, because I realized the first triathlon is really just a HUGE learning experience.
Oh, and it doesn't help transitions to have your dad yell, "Hey Heath! Atta go!" Haha, but totally worth it!

Had trouble clicking in, but once I did, I was off! Passed a girl on my tri team in the first few minutes. I was going fast and passing people. I finally went to take a sip from my water bottle with Nuun in it, and I dropped the bottle! I knew I needed it for the run though, and I didn't want someone to get hurt, so I stopped, got off my bike, screamed expletives, grabbed it and went. I'm sure this cost me at least 40 seconds, and all the people I passed, passed me. My goal was to pass everyone, again. One woman I passed shouted, "Great recovery from the water bottle!" "Thanks!" I shouted back, it made me feel good. Having her show me some positive support made me want to pass it on. I became... chipper. Oh my god I was having a blast! And being nice for no reason! Who am I?!

I shouted thank yous to all the staff and cops. I felt like such a nerd, but I've heard it's the nice thing to do, and really, they have better things to do, like SLEEP! At one point I caught up to the girl on my team I had passed earlier. I hammered down and got serious. Behind me I heard, "You got this! That's right, you've got it, go go!" I passed her and a few people. Then the biker behind me got next to me, "Great job! That was great!" "Thanks!" and he passed me and was gone. Later I realized he might have been drafting off of me. Honestly, didn't care, he made me feel like a pro! Another guy rode next to me, "Sweet bike!" I was shocked, since there were some serious future machines out there and I have an outdated Fuji. "I've got a Fuji too!" We exchanged a few words and he was off.

When I was riding back to the beach on my first loop I heard my friend Kelly shouting my last name. She gets a kick out of screaming my surname while sounding like an old man, like she's my angry boss or something. Hard to explain but it makes us both laugh every time. Anyway I heard her shouting my name, and I knew instantly it was her. I saw her and my other friend Jason and I was so happy! I screamed "Yeeeaaaa Motherf***er!" and I have no idea why that was my response.

The bike is a blur to me. I know by the end I was hammering down and passing any girl who looked remotely in my age group. I reminded myself to guzzle down the Nuun and to SLOWLY place my bottle in the cage.

Kind of slow on this one too, I think because I put my bike on the rack weird and corrected it. Forgot to put on my running number.

I hadn't done any brick workouts for awhile and I totally should have! I felt like I was going SO SLOW! I looked at my Garmin, shocked that I was doing an 8:30 pace. What the hell?! I knew this was a symptom of running after biking but I never had it feel so slow before. I felt like I was never going to get to the first mile. Once I hit the first mile though things felt more normal, of course then I started to feel a side stitch coming on. I cheered on my friend Jen who was suffering from a serious stitch. The stupid "water" station had Gatorade. Sick. I grabbed it anyway and most of it landed on my face. That stuff is gross and sticky and it's a huge pet peeve to feel sticky like that. I saw Fuji pass below me on the loop and I yelled, "Hey Fuji!! You got it!" Hahaha, once again I'm such a nerd.

Around this time two girls in my age group passed me. I was sort of struggling with the mild stitch, and figured there was no way I'd make the top 10 in my age group so I didn't push myself. My trainer passed me and told me to go faster, I tried to match her pace but she's a machine. (She ended up placing 3rd in women's overall... oh and she's 47. I want to be in her shape and kicking as much ass at her age!) Nearing the end, I picked up the speed, passed a girl who was 24 (our age was written on our calf). Then, I summoned what I had left and sprinted across the finish line making a crazy face and mouthing "F*** YOU F*** YOU!" over and over. Don't ask me why, but I just had to get angry and freak out to push myself. I ended up passing a girl in my age group on this mad dash. She was next to me in the transition area, and after the race said she tried to keep up but couldn't and that I did great.

My run time was 24:33. Not bad considering that on my 2nd 5k last year my time was 24:13 and I hadn't swam and biked before it!

I felt great! After my 5ks last year I was a huffing, sweating mess. As soon as I got across the finish line, and took off my chip, I was totally fine. It didn't feel like I had just done a triathlon! I couldn't believe it. It shows me that I'm much more in shape than I was last year. Fitness is so hard to gauge, but this was the first time I realized how far I've come internally. To be able to do a triathlon and not feel exhausted is incredible. Muscles are visible, and can look great but I feel true fitness is within.

I had so much fun, and it was the perfect first race! It's been a long time since I've had such an enjoyable, happy time. I can't believe I was doing a triathlon with a smile on my face! I know every tri won't be as fun, and I can't expect to have everything go so well. Sure I made a few mistakes, but they were minor and it was my first! Like I said in my last post, I caught the bug I've been wanting to catch! Already signed up for a sprint that TriFitness is putting on in September. Debating signing up for a sprint in Boston in August. The Urban Epic sounds like a lot of fun, I'm just worried about the 5 mile run and the unfamiliarity with the area.

I learned so much from this race. Here's a few I can think of right away:

1. I learned how important transitions really are, and that I need to work on my transitions a little more. I know every article says that transitions are vital, but not ever doing a race before, it didn't sink in to me how big a few minutes can be! A minute less and I could've been 8th or 9th in my age group.

2. I can do this! Since I didn't have any idea of what my time was going to be, I aimed for under 1:30. When I looked back to the clock and realized I was well under this goal I was SO proud! I laughed with joy like I haven't in ages and hugged my friend Kelly. Now that I know I'm capable of 1:23 I would love to get below 1:20.

3. Push myself more! Ending a race and feeling like I still had more left in me?! I don't want to over do it, but now that I know I can in fact finish a triathlon, I need to have more faith in myself and push!

4. Do more brick workouts!

TriFitness Girls! They are a bunch of Amazons!

My friends Kelly and Jason, who seriously rock for showing up!

My results:
Bonus: I was 10th in my age group (out of 27). My secret goal was to be in the top 10. If I hadn't sprinted at the end, I wouldn't have made my goal!


Krista July 22, 2009 at 9:54 AM  

Great race report! Sounds like you had an awesome time. My transitions are really slow too but they don't feel slow to me... Now that you're hooked when will you do you first race?

Krista July 22, 2009 at 9:55 AM  

Oops! I meant next race... Must drink more coffee...

Toni,  July 22, 2009 at 9:55 AM  

I think you are AWESOME!!!!

Duran July 22, 2009 at 10:51 AM  

holy shit Heather you're a badass