Given that two of my sisters are professional triathletes, you’d think I’d be uber-passionate about the sport. And I am: When it comes to other people’s endeavors. As for me? I love the idea of adding “Ironman” or even “half-Ironman “ to my bio, but I’m realistic when it comes to the rigors of training for such a grueling event. And, honestly, I ain’t got time for that. (Right now, that is. Never say never!)
But a sprint, I can handle. So when my friend Kristen (mom of two) asked if I wanted to join her in the Giant Acorn Sprint Triathlon in VA a couple of months back, I said why not. Yes, I had to literally dust cobwebs off of my bike. And yes, I had to borrow goggles from my five-year-old before my first serious post-baby #3 swim. But I planned a few bricks to go along with my regular running workouts, and before I knew it, it was race day. Was I ready? Not quite. But ready or not, I was doing this thing.
As we lined up along the beach at Lake Anna, the water was still, flat, and inviting. And 74 degrees. I wore a wetsuit because, let’s be honest, I need all of the help I can get. Chatting with Kristen and Danielle (mom of four competing in her first-ever tri!) beforehand, it struck me that I was way too relaxed . And then I worried that I wasn’t mentally ready and I was going to panic in the water once I started swimming. Even though it was just 750 meters, that was farther than I’d swam at a quicker clip in years (not to mention the whole hustle-and-bustle that goes along with a group start), so I had plenty of reasons to panic. But once the horn blew and we dove into the water, I stayed calm and just windmilled my arms and kicked as fast as I could, dodging other people’s arms and legs until I found clean water. And once I did, it was smooth sailing as I rounded the buoys and headed back to the beach. I knew a bunch of blue caps had gone way ahead of me, but then again I couldn’t see any in front of me or near me. Was I in last place? Had I swam off course? I just put my head down and swam to the shore without a clue where I was place-wise. Turns out, I did OK.
Swim Time: 14:14 (rank: 2nd in age group)
T1 Time: 2:17 (rank: 2nd in age group)
Oh, the bike. Let’s call this my Sunday ride in the country, shall we? There’s not much to be said here because I have zippy cycling experience and am more than afraid of falling off my bike if I go too fast, which in my Granny mind is like 15mph. Ugh, I’m such an amateur. And a wuss. I did push myself and I did manage to pass a few men (I was in the first wave of women), although they may or may not have been 80 years old. It was a rolling, 16-mile course, and I fared much better on the uphills than the down. The upside to being so lopsided on the bike compared to my swim and run is that I have LOADS of room to improve. So I hope to get pretty cozy with the trainer this winter.
Time: 52:18 (rank: 5th in age group)
T2: 1:13 (rank: 2nd in age group)
Partway through the bike, I started worrying about the run since my legs were burning from the hills. Then I reminded myself that it was only 3.1 miles which would be my shortest run in months (I’m also training for an 18-miler) and hopefully nothing I couldn’t handle. The first mile was pretty brutal (didn’t help that it was all up a mega hill), but I found my groove on the out-and-bike in the second mile and just focused on passing people. Before I knew it, I was winding through the woodsy path and could hear the sounds from the finish line. I was sure the course was short because the run went by so fast and I never had that “kill me now” feeling that I usually get in a 5K, but I’ll take that as a sign that I’m actually in decent running shape.
Time: 21: 24 (rank: 1st in age group)
Total Time: 1:31:24 (2nd in Age group, 22nd overall)
The Takeaway: Going in, my goal was to just have fun. And that I did. I had no idea how I was doing in my age group so hearing my name during the awards ceremony and actually getting to stand up on a podium for the first time since, oh, high school was totally cool. Granted, the women’s 30-34 age group is less-than-stacked (guess a lot of us are too busy having babies to race!) so measured up against the overall field of 250 women, I really need to play catch up to climb higher than 22nd. But that’s what next year is for…and there will be a next year…Kristen and I are already planning on it!