August 11, 2013
Age Group F35-39
I woke up at 2:30, an hour earlier than I planned on waking. I knew I wouldn't fall back asleep, so I quietly crept downstairs and made a cup of coffee and turned on Pandora. My favorite Bach cello suite was the first song to play, and I took a deep breath and thought "this is how the day of my first triathlon begins."
Six weeks prior I decided to train for the Steelman triathlon without owning a bike or possessing the ability to swim more than one lap in the pool. Progressing from an amateur runner logging 10-12 miles a week to being strong and ready to race was a whirlwind of physical and mental challenges. The whole experience took me way out of my comfort zone as a homeschooling stay-at-home mom of four, but with the support of my great husband and the guidance of my coach I learned how to reach and stretch myself farther than I thought possible and saw amazing progress in the six weeks of heavy training.
My husband and I, along with my son, showed up at Lake Nockamixon around 5:15, got a good parking spot and I had plenty of time to set up my bike in transition. Two veteran racers were kind and helpful and after I was confident that everything was in order, a complete calm came over me, and any remnants of the panic that plagued me the last six weeks were gone. I was happy and ready to give it my best shot.
I got in the crazy long line for the potties and enjoyed listening to the conversations of other racers and watching those super-focused individuals stretching out every last muscle while waiting for the bathroom. Afterwards I met with my Dad, sister and brother-in-law, good friend, and husband and son. I was so blessed to have an awesome cheering squad with me that day. I knew no matter what, they were proud and happy for me. We chatted for a bit, and then they found a spot to set up their chairs. I lost track of my family in the crowd as the time for my swim wave was getting closer, but I was calm and walked around trying to stay in the rising sun's rays to stay warm. I found my coach, who I think was a bit surprised to find me all smiles. He had had to put up with more than a couple worried freak-outs during my weeks of training, but the final preparations and familiarization with the course had contributed to the morning's ease.
I got to my bike at the same time as the veteran in the same age group that was set up next to me, and she gave me some encouraging words. I felt strong and ready to bike up that first hill to get out of the park. In two minutes and 7 seconds, I was on my bike, heard a cheer from my coach, and was off pedaling.
I racked my bike, took off my helmet and was off running in 43 seconds.
After I met and hugged everyone, my husband went on Lin-Mark's website to see my time, and I laughed out loud when he told me I was third in my age group. I could not believe it. Total time 1:32:20. I originally had hoped to just finish, and then I had hoped to not be last, and there I was, third - I was amazed and grateful and happy. It could not have been a more perfect first race -- a beautiful day, people I loved cheering for me, my husband working hard to run around to snap pictures of my goofy smile along the way, my coach there to show his support, and the bonus of getting on the podium.
If anyone is reading this, and thinking about racing their first triathlon - go for it! Don't be scared. Well, you can be scared, but don't let that fear hold you back. Try it anyway. Go for it. You're going to love it, and you just might get hooked like me.
Special thanks to my husband for his never-ending love and support, for buying me a bike, and then paying to fix that bike when I dropped it off the bike rack of my van. Thanks to my coach, Kenrick Smith for making me ready to have the best race I could possible have, and for his patience with me along the way. And thanks to my friend Kris for watching my kids while I took swim lessons at her pool so that I could start this crazy triathlon journey.