The weekend I’ve been training 10 weeks for has finally come. I’m not quite sure when the nerves really kicked in, probably sometime Saturday morning. I managed to distract myself Friday with a dentist appointment, running errands and a Nationals game (I didn’t have a drop of booze the entire evening either, thank you, thank you). Here is how my weekend went, with some lessons learned along the way…
My tri-buddy Andy had plans to meet at my place at 2pm to carpool over to Luray. We were also meeting my friend and softball teammate D. Rice, who made the somewhat last-minute triathlon entry decision, at the lovely Luray Caverns Motel room I reserved. I must say, trying to figure out what to pack for a triathlon is tricky business. I certainly over packed. At first I laid out about four outfits, like I had plans to look nice and impress people. So once I got real with myself I minimized that down to two outfits, but still managed to over pack with snacks. Who was going to eat all this goddamn food? The answer to that is beyond me, but hey, better safe than sorry? I spent the greater part of the morning trying not to freak out and watched two episodes of SOA, because biker gangs and guns calm me apparently.
With car packed and ready by 2:30 we were on the road to Luray. Arrived at the luxurious motel by 4:30, which we were pleasantly greeted by my now favorite person from Luray, Cindy. Seriously if you ever stay in that motel say hi to her, she is a saint. After unloading, we took Andy to the course to practice his open water swimming while D.Rice and I took a car ride to explore the bike course. Which, make sure when you are in bumfuck nowhere to already have the biking directions loaded on your phone, otherwise you drive aimlessly searching for road marks until you randomly get service to load up the course map. We managed nonetheless and although the course had some pretty serious hill climbs I felt better about it overall. Andy’s swim went pretty well too… meaning at least he didn’t totally freak out.
After packet pickup we went to The Purple Door for our pre-race grub. Potentially fancier than what we should have gone for (Uncle Buck’s!), but tasty nonetheless. Spent the rest of the evening watching SOA (I have already mentioned its calming effects), and got my gear ready to go. Also got lots of awesome good luck messages and probably the best words by far from my buddy Alex, who just moved to VA: “You’re gonna do great tomorrow. I’d encourage you to just be real open to the whole experience and try to find things to enjoy as you swim, bike and run your way to the finish line.”
Lights out at 10PM. Alarms set for 6:15AM.
Sunday (THE day):
Alarms off ar 6:15am, out the door by 6:50. Which, make sure you have everything before you leave, this will come into play later. Arrived at Lake Arrowhead by around 7:15am. As we are unloading the Soul I look around and realize MOTHERFUCKER, I left my bike tag and race bib in the motel. Typical Em move. So I jump into action, leave my bike with my tri-buddy and rush back to the motel Dale Earnhardt Jr. style. I make it there and back by 7:45am. I apologize now to all Luray residents, I was the crazy bitch in the black Kia Soul peeling around town. After running around like a chicken with its head cut off to get my timing chip, marked up and everything set up I managed to make it to the water by the 8am start. Luckily I was in the 8th and final wave of swimmers so I had a good 15 minute buffer until my start.
What. a. clusterfuck. At least to start off. Limbs and water everywhere, which made it difficult for me to get into a my normal stroke pattern. After struggling through to the first turn, the crowd dissipated and I was able to get into a better stroke pattern. I still needed to alternate between freestyle and backstroke just to keep my breathing in check. Overall time: 22:07. Not what I wanted to be at ideally (under 20 min) but not bad for my first go attempt.
The transition out of the water was not as awkward as I anticipated and I was able to lightly job back to my bike. Then I was pleasantly surprised by my two friends B and Wissman running up yelling for me! Did not expect them to be there, but so awesome to know I had some supporters (and awesome photographers too). I was a bit of a poke though. Total time: 5:00 min. Ooops.
The views were amazing, and honestly my favorite part of the whole experience. I kept a moderate pace with the bike since as my friend Alex mentioned, you can’t get your first one back, so might as well enjoy it while it is happening. Hills were a bitch, but I refused to step off that bike. Total time: 1:12:01
Somewhat more seamless than T1, minus I started running out the in, AND I forgot to put my bib on. Noticing a theme here? I freaked out at first and told one of the volunteers who offered to try to find it for me to pick up on my way back in from the run (since I had already reached the starting line). Needless to say that didn’t work out, and I almost thought my bag was stolen for a while post-race. I thank the guy for trying though, whoever you were. Total time: 3:42
Knee held up well for run with my compression sleeve, although the downhills were certainly not my favorite. Bes thing about this was reaching the finish line and seeing B, Wissman, D.Rice and…ALEX! He also decided to show up for support. I must say I have some pretty awesome friends. Total time: 29:05
Total Time: 2:11:52
Finished 306 out of 451 participants, and 14th out of 33 female novices.
That’s it. Race over. Officially a triathlete.
Grabbed some lunch with my spectators and tri-buddies at Artisans Grill and headed back to the city. I was even talked into going to the Nats-Pirates game (thanks a lot D.Rice).
Lessons learned? Next time have a checklist, and check that shit twice. Now to visit the orthopedic and find out what’s going on with this knee, all while searching for my next event.