I did it! I finished my first triathlon. Here’s the proof!
I experienced great conflict about posting these pictures, only because I’m just a teeny bit vain. I managed to overcome that defect in favor of the possibility I could inspire someone to get out there and try something new!
Just look at me. If you ever let your imperfect body prevent you from doing something, reconsider your position on that.
I look at my swimsuit picture, and I can’t help but be happy. Seriously. I was so happy in that moment that I finished the swim and that I was really in a triathlon. You can see it. There’s nothing fake about these photos. I’m a real person with a real body. I’m proud of that body. It works pretty darn good, and I’m thankful to have it. I am unhappy about my flab hanging out there for the world to see, but I’m not going to look like that forever. It’s a good reminder and motivator to keep me moving forward in this journey and not look back. I do want to mention that I got my awesome swimsuit from Junonia. They are a plus-size activewear company. Thank God for them! The suit was the perfect thing for this event, and I felt like I fit in with all the other triathletes! Yay!
The night before the race, I went over a number of checklists to make sure I was ready to go:
- inspected bike, loaded it into the van
- breakfast for race day
- race gear: swim goggles, swim cap, tri-suit, running shoes, socks, shirt, race belt with number, sunglasses, bike helmet, bike gloves, water bottle, towel, timing chip, additional clothes to change into afterwards
I had planned to have a relaxing evening preparing mentally for race day, getting good sleep, etc., but I received an incredibly negative comment from someone intended to induce guilt. It took me awhile to snap out of that vortex of negativity and focus on my business. It affirmed the “right-ness” of doing this triathlon. I’m not just doing this for myself, I’m doing it for the people I love, and the people who love me.
I was full of nervous energy all evening, and was so anxious about my early morning alarm, that I woke up about every hour throughout the night.
4:30a Woke up, took meds, took shower.
5:30a Ate breakfast – 1 banana, 1 slice whole wheat bread, 1T raw almond butter – and got on the road.
6:00a Arrive at the race venue and found a parking place a block away. I had everything I needed in my backpack so I could bike to the venue.
6:05a Went through body marking. Race volunteers with big fat Sharpies wrote my age on my left calf and my race number on both of my upper arms. They checked my timing chip (which you wear on your ankle with a velcro strap) and my race numbers. They assisted me with my bike and bike helmet race number tags. They were experienced triathletes there to help the kids and novices get situated. The volunteers were awesome!
6:15a Found my bike rack, or at least thought I did. I discovered I was in the wrong spot when I realized there were labels on the racks with your name and race number. Doh! I had to move my bike one rack over and redo my setup. This was easily accomplished with help from a friend. (Big shout out to Cynthia! Thank you for everything!)
6:35a Walked around the venue and checked out the pool deck. I wanted to make sure that there were steps at the swim exit, since I absolutely cannot hoist myself out of the side of the pool yet. Steps out, check! After that I was so much more relaxed! The crowd was definitely picking up around this time and the bike corral was filled with competitors and gear.
6:50a Pit stop while the lines were short.
7:00 Watched the sun rise over Tampa Bay. It was stunning! Walked back to the bike corral to leave my running shoes and socks set up for T1 (transition 1 – swim to bike). I double-checked my gear: shoes, socks, bike helmet, race belt, sunglasses, bike gloves, shirt. I took my swim cap and goggles with me as I walked barefoot back to the swim venue. I was ready!
7:15 Competitors were filing in around the swim holding area to wait for the start. Music played over a lound speaker, and a race host interjected chatter keeping the crowd entertained. It was pretty cold standing out there in a swimsuit for half an hour. Race ceremonies commenced around this time and included an excellent performance of The Star Spangled Banner. Competitors 1-50 were then asked to go to the pool deck and line up in numerical order. 51-100 had to line up just off the pool deck, as well.
7:30 The race began! For this leg of the race, you approached the starting position and crossed a timing mat to jump in (feet first only.) Some people had crazy entrances like cannonballs! They released racers into the water one at a time, about 10-15 seconds apart. I was so excited when my turn came. I jumped in and was unprepared for how deep it was at that point in the pool – much deeper than I expected. Anyway, I started my swim and it took me one lap to relax and get into my stroke groove. I swam freestyle using my arms almost exclusively. I’ve read that you should maximize your stroke power and capacity without the benefit of kicking so that you have relatively fresh legs for the bike. I’m not sure about this strategy in the future, but this day, I was glad I did it. I felt like I had a decent swim. The people cheering at each lap turnaround were wonderful!
I finished the swim and started hustling to T1. I tried to jog a bit, but running in a parking lot barefoot was painful. I found my bike quickly and began the transition. I put on my shirt, race belt, helmet, sunglasses, socks, shoes, bike gloves, then walked my bike quickly to the bike start. The bike leg was much harder than anticipated. Between with high winds, mountain bike, and cobblestone portion, I felt like I was fighting a battle the entire ride. The scenery was spectacular, though, and I enjoyed every minute of it!
When I finished the bike leg, I racked my bike, took off my helmet and gloves, grabbed my bottle of G2 and headed out for the run. Within the first 20 yards, I started getting a cramp in my left calf, so I took a little time to stretch it and drink. I walked for a little while, making sure to really stretch my legs and feet before I picked up the pace. I eventually got into a groove, but it was a slow groove! As I got closer to the finish line, the crowd started getting bigger, and some real cheering was going on! Pretty soon, I heard the announcer say “Ann Adair from Tampa, Florida! Great job! You’re going to come back for the big race next year!” I waved to the crowd as I ran through the finishing chute. It was so exciting! I got my medal, and they took my timing chip off of my ankle. I met my race neighbor, Kim, #120, and my friend Cynthia. We had a round of mutual congratulations, then headed to the post-race food. It was decent: pasta, Gatorade, water, bagels, fresh fruit, muffins, cookies, chips, etc. I ate a little bit, then it was time to head home. We had to wait for the last wave to finish before we were allowed in the bike corral. I packed up all my stuff into my backpack, hopped on my bike, and headed to the van. I felt pretty darn good.
That’s pretty much it. One down, and one to go on May 22nd! I’m really looking forward to it!