Monday, September 6, 2010

Trek Women's Triathlon Part 2

Part one left off at Saturday.

We went to bed at 9:30pm for our 4:30 wake-up call, literally. The call was really annoying, I think it was Disney characters singing, "It's a small world after all..." I promptly hung up, and then both of our phone alarms rang.

I did not sleep well at this hotel. For one, the pillows were horrible, and then at 11:30-midnight, the family next door came home and their child, who must have been 6-9 from the voice was talking so loud, as was the father, and he was playing with some toys that clanked and clonked into a plastic bucket. The walls must be paper thin. I was pissed...who keeps their kid up that late?! Let me tell you, I was not quiet at 430 in the morning. Funniest part is Mirza heard nothing!! I would not recommend this hotel, but it was only $70/night with my triathlon discount, so it got the job done.  Definitely catered towards children...

We arrived early to the event to spare time driving there, and taking the shuttle, body marking, etc.

Waiting for the swim I had so much anxiety.
Swimming in the Gulf/ocean is scary enough, but a LAKE? This is FLORIDA. Florida lakes=GATORS. This was Disney property, but I am going to take a wild guess that the gators looked nothing like this:
People kept saying, "Oh, it's Disney,  they remove the gators..." I laughed because  I doubt that's true, and even if it is, it's difficult to prevent the gators from coming into canals, etc. LOOK, I know, I know, I  know...there's so many people in the water, they will be scared, blablabla. That's great. But that still does not make it any less scary when you're 1/2 mile out from shore!!

At one point, it was still pretty dark and people were on the pier area looking at the buoys, and we all saw something eerily making it's way across the water. It looked JUST.LIKE.A.GATOR. Turned out to be a couple of ducks, ha!

Finally, the sun rose, and it was time for swim. I was the 5th wave. I couldn't see much of the athletes before me because of the crowd, and I am short. All I knew was that it looked like an awfully long way to swim, and definitely further from shore than my last triathlon.

I am in the middle smiling at the camera...

And there I am in the middle giving a thumbs-up.

I look calm, cool, and collected, but in reality, I was freaking out about the lake like a sissy girl, "omg, it is so slimy, and muddy, and so much sea weed, wtf AM I DOING?!!"

We had a send off by Sally Edwards, who has competed in over 150 races. This was an all-women's event, and I must say, it was wonderful to not have any stinky boys around. The entire theme of the pep-talk was geared towards being supportive towards each other. She chanted, "What are you going to do if someone looks like they need help?!" HELP THEM! The motivational speech was wonderful. 

And then they counted down from 10, and we were off. #$^#$^#$^%# so much seaweed. I just kept reminding myself over and over, "It's only a plant, it's only a plant. A plant cannot hurt you!!!" The first couple of meters, I thought I was going to lose it. I inhaled some water, started to choke, and I felt claustrophobic, like I couldn't breathe. I saw my whole triathlon flash before my eyes. I didn't get kicked or punched too bad, maybe pulled a little bit, but the other triathletes were so nice and apologetic. After a minute or so, I just focused on swimming. 

The swim was 1/2 mile, which is double the length of my first triathlon.

It was long, but I tried my best to stay with the pack.  I did not want to be out in the open water too long with who-knows-what...

Every once in awhile, I would feel a swoosh of water by my legs, and I just kept saying to myself, "please let that be another swimmer!!!!"

However, there were tons of lifeguards surrounding us in the water, yelling out, "You're doing great, you're halfway there!!" And they would let swimmers know when they were going off course. They encouraged you to hold onto the kayak or boat if you felt the need. I loved all of the volunteers at this event.

Finally, it was over, and I ran the hell out of the water. SO DISGUSTING!! *shudder*

The swim took me a really long time (31:21 minutes!! I debated posting my breakdown times on here because it feels private, and they aren't the "best" times, but I don't care at this point. They may not be the fastest times, but for me, they are an improvement, and I am proud).

 I was so disoriented that I didn't remove my goggles. Mirza and I find this picture incredibly funny...

This triathlon was so much better than the last one because it was put on by a huge company (Trek and at Disney), so there were tons of spectators and volunteers cheering you on. Everyone was incredibly positive and encouraging. I love when people yell out words of does motivate me!

I made it to my bike and my feet were covered in dirt since I ran through mulch. I decided to not even bother with socks for my clip-in shoes. I had never done this before, so it was kind of a risk, but I see triathletes do it all of the time, so I decided what-the-hell to spare my transition time (3:18 Not bad considering my last one was >6 minutes, but it was a long run to the bikes at Fort Desoto, too). Also, I bought a race belt, so I didn't have difficulty putting on my shirt this time after the swim with the paper number. I also wore a triathlon tank from Danskin and tri shorts, for those wondering.
The ride was 12 miles. I had no issues with not wearing socks. About 1 mile in, a cop was yelling, "SMILE, they're going to take a photo!" And man, I smiled for every damn picture. I am sure they wanted some action shots, but I was cheesin' for the camera. I hope they got 'em! I cannot wait to see. At my last triathlon, they somehow got NO shots of me. Totally ridiculous! 

The ride was challenging. It was on a closed-off highway setting and a few "hills," such as the highway twists/turns, and ramps. The best was coming down the hills. I didn't just coast like some, I tried to use it to my advantage and pedal a bit, too.

Once I got back to the campground, I knew that I was almost done and I felt excited. People again were cheering, and I almost wanted to cry at one point. I felt proud of myself. I know what it's like to watch a triathlon, and to actually be part of it felt surreal, but totally cool:).

My bike time was 49:35. I felt I had been going faster, but it's all good. I ran, racked my bike, threw off my bike shoes, and put on my socks.  Transition 2 was 2:04.

Now, onto the 5k ...

I was completely exhausted, but pushed myself to run. I had planned on using a 9:1 method, but after the first 9 minutes (keeping in mind, I am running pretty slow...), I felt good, so I just kept going. I'm not sure how far into the run that I did take a walking break. I was concerned that if I did stop to walk, that I would have a difficult time motivating myself to start running again! I ended up taking a few walking breaks at the water stations (3 of them total), but they were only about 1 minute breaks.

The 5k felt like it went on forever. I always underestimate how far 3.1 miles can be sometimes. At one point, we passed by a fork in the road, and we were to turn right, go down (forever), get to the man playing the bag pipes (random), water station, etc., and then turn back and we would run the other way at the fork, back to the race site. When I first passed the fork, I heard them tell a runner ahead of me that it was just 400 meters to the finish from that site. Once I passed the fork, I picked up my speed.

And then I heard the music, and I could see the race site! Tons of people were lined up, and the music began to blast louder, I could hear the announcer. People were surrounding me on each side and extending out their hands for me to slap. I felt bad-ass! I started to RUN as fast as my tired little 5'3 legs would take me. I think spectators love to see people really push it at the end.

The finish line was exactly as I had imagined all those times prior to ever doing a triathlon. I WAS SO HAPPY!! The music was beating inside of my chest, the Zumba girls were dancing, people were clapping, and I heard my name being announced, he said, "HERE COMES NICOLE...NICOLE, THEY'RE GOING TO TAKE YOUR PICTURE NOW, SMILE!!" And then I crossed the finish line!! aaah. I loved that moment. 

Throughout the whole run, one of the main things that kept me going was knowing I would get a MEDAL. I have never received a medal or trophy before because growing up, I did not participate in sports, dance, etc. I knew that if I made it out of the water, and if my bike did not get a flat, then I would be guaranteed a finisher's medal because eventually I would finish the race, even if I walked.

Run time was 39:13. That's a little over 12 minute mile, which is good enough for me on that day!!! At my first triathlon, I walked majority of the way, and it took me about 45-46 minutes, ouch.

You don't have to be first, you just have to TRI. I was not first, but I was not last (I was 406 out of 561 overall, and 20/23 in my age group. Surprisingly, I thought I was last in my age group because of the swim, so I was happy with the 20th!) and so what if I had been last?!

I did so much better this time. Even Mirza commented that he thought I did better, in fact, he did not expect me to come hauling ass towards the finish, hence the lack of photos!

  I think a lot of it had to do with knowing what to expect, and the race itself. Trek Women's Triathlon put on a great event, with so much support and organization. Also, I loved the all-women's aspect. Not once did some burly 56 year old man pass me on the bike. GIRL-POWER!

If you're ever thinking of doing a triathlon, I highly recommend finding an all female event (assuming you're female, of course). The atmosphere is inspiring.

And now, for the best photo you will see all year...
They were giving out muffins the size of my head. I told Mirza to take a photo of me eating the muffin as a joke since it was so big...
Check out that guy next to me!!!!! I didn't even notice until Mirza pointed it out. It looks like we're in a muffin-eating contest!! Cracks me up still.

After the race, we still had to drive an hour and a half back to St. Pete, so we stopped at Cracker Barrel (ohyes) for breakfast. I had two eggs, hashbrowns, rye toast, and pancakes with cherry topping. It was a lot, but seeing as the last meal I ate prior to the race was the day before around 3pm, we were both starving. I grossly under-fueled for the race since the hotel's cafe was not open at 4:30am. All I had before the race was a cup of instant oatmeal! 

Stay tuned for what's in store next!


Anonymous said...

Woot woot, CONGRATS on the finish and the great times!

Diana said...

wow how inspiring! Way to go! I love hearing race recaps! Especially with tons of pics:)

Niki said...

Congrats girl!! Way to improve from the last one!! Glad you actually had fun in this race! I agree with you about an all women's event. My first tri was women only and it was awesome!!

Iris said...

I really enjoyed reading about your triathlon! I would have been uncomfortable swimming in the lake, too - I hate feeling algae/seaweed/slimy stuff on my feet. =/ Oh, and the alligator factor, too...

I'm proud of you!! I imagine you were exhausted by the end. You totally deserved the Cracker Barrel breakfast! I don't think it's a lot at all, considering what you just did that morning. :)

Inspiring post - almost makes me want to do a race. ;) I would have to train for a WHILE before doing one, though. I did a couple of 5Ks in high school, but I feel like I have little endurance for running now.

Anonymous said...

Wow, congratulations of completing your second triathlon! That is pretty awesome stuff there. I've always thought about attempting a triathlon, but I don't have the confidence in myself yet. I can bike, I used to swim, and well, I'm getting ready to attempt my second 5K (6 years after my first one).

Kelly said...


Lisa (bakebikeblog) said...

What an awesome race recap!!!! haha and that muffin (eating contest) photo serioulsy had me in giggles!!!! Great job!

nurse XY said...

Great job! I got all tense rooting for you while I read!

Emily said...

Congratulations!! I also stayed at All Star Sports & was in Wave 5! I didn't even want to think about alligators in the water...ugh! Great job!

Anonymous said...

you rock. that is all :)

(i refuse to go swimming in lakes bc of gators-- can't get over the fact that i know they're out there somewhere waiting to bite us!!! )