French Linen

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mount Gretna Triathlon: Got the Nerve?

A cold start to the day

The theme of this triathlon seemed all too appropriate.  It had been 10 months since my last full distance Sprint triathlon and I was more nervous than I had been in awhile.  For the first time, I wasn’t worried about the swim given all of my swim training, but I was worried about the bike and the run.  Since Barb’s husband almost didn’t agree to be a relay team biker because of the hills – and he’s a good biker who rides those hills all the time – I worried if I could make it up them, especially since I haven’t had much hill training since last fall.  And, I was only up to 2.8 miles running in my attempts to keep it easy in my training and not overdo it like last year.
Barb and I had chosen to do this PA based triathlon that is only 15 minutes from her house this year instead of the Independence triathlon.  It offered a Sprint relay for her and her husband and her recruited runner, and it saved Mike and me from a crazy attempt to do the Independence triathlon the morning after his 25th college reunion, which is in the same state but 2 hours away.  I also like the I’M ABLE organization for disabled athletes sponsoring it.
So what did I have to worry about?  It turns out I worried about the wrong things.
As I packed and prepared, I went through the mental checklist of all of the things I had done wrong before….disorganized packing, forgot to leave my bike shoes unbuckled, didn’t loosen up the packaging enough on the shot blocks, forgot to leave my sunglasses in the transition area.  Nope, not going to do those again!  I also helped prepare David for his first tri, reading aloud the bike rules that a first timer may not know, many of which are grounds for disqualification.  We were all packed up and ready before we ever had dinner the night before, and off to bed by 10:30.
I fell asleep ok, but upon waking up at 1:00am, I found myself wide awake replaying the bike course over in my head.  David had driven us around the course a month before and I had video recorded it on my iPad which had allowed me to review it multiple times – a good thing for a complicated course with lots of turns and crazy hills.  I never did go back to sleep.  I figured the adrenaline would keep me going.
The Lebanon Daily New captured Mike coming out of T1
There was unfortunately never a chance to do a swim warm up either the day before or the morning of.  So, while I wasn’t worried about the swim, it was my first time in awhile swimming in open water, in my wet suit, in cool 65 degree water.  I wasn’t even to the first buoy when I felt that hyperventilating feel.  I flipped over on my back a couple times to reset my breathing.  Rounding the second buoying and eying the shore, it felt like the longest 500 yard swim in a long time.  I had done my fastest pool swim in 10:16, and a recent “slow” swim in 11:16.  My swim time was 12:16.
Arriving in T1, I knew I was taking a little longer than normal.  My first challenge was the timing chip – I usually wear it on the inside of my swim sock, but at the last minute they told us we had to have it on the outside, which made getting the sock off tough and then the chip was also loose and I had to tighten it.  I hadn’t been sure if I would be too cold so I had left a shirt and biking gloves in T1 and so my brain was processing if I needed those items – since I knew I was losing time, I decided to forgo it.  I grabbed my bike, left the transition area, and proceeded out the lane to the road.  I tried to look my best for the camera man perched to capture each newly mounted rider.  Once on the road, the sag wagon drove by and yelled, “you don’t have a helmet!”.
Ugh!!!!!  Riding without a helmet is grounds for disqualification.
I turned around and rode back to the transition area.  The spectators lining the bike course who did not observe my turnaround maneuver now thought that I was the front runner from an earlier wave!!!   “You go girl, you got this one!” they exclaimed.

Uh...take 1 and take 2...
 I now of course can laugh at this part of the story, but at the time my biggest question was what they would do with me….rip my number of and disqualify me on the spot?  You’re also not allowed to re-enter the transition area.  I put my bike down and ran to a volunteer explaining my plight – she let me in a side entrance.  Upon retrieving my helmet, I ran out over the transition mat again wondering what that would do to mess up my time (meanwhile, David, who was still waiting in the transition area for Barb, thought that he had taken a picture of the wrong woman the first time….and then when he saw I was running without my bike, he was really confused!).
So, I was back on my bike (re-smiling for the camera guy) and I figured since they didn’t stop me, I was still going to finish the race whether they would give me a DQ or not.  At this point, I had already given myself a penalty of probably about 7 minutes.
My run was the best leg!
It turns out my pre-race fears were unjustified.  I made it up the hills just fine, although I did see a few people walking bikes.  Including my self imposed penalty, I had a bike time of 1:11:19 (the course was 15.7 miles and my computer showed 16.2 miles with my detour), which was a slow 14 mph for me but reasonable given the hills.  And my run at 31:19, which I figured would be my worst event, was what I placed the highest in out of the 3 sports.  With a 10:06 per mile pace, it wasn’t my fastest run but considering my limited running training was respectable – and best of all, pain free.  In the end, they did not DQ me (it was not a USTA sanctioned event which may have had something to do with it).  At 2:00:12, I guess I can just say it was my longest triathlon to date.
I had the nerve to tri again.  I also had nerves leading to loss of sleep and a foggy brain!  The best thing about this race is that I also had the nerve not to quit – and a new lessoned learned I’ll be sure not to do again!

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