It happened! I am officially a triathlete. After the race, I told Bruno I’ve been adding a lot to my identity this year. I’m now a trail runner, a Crossfitter (is that a word?), and now, finally, a triathlete. I also feel like a runner again. I keep saying it, but I do not take it for granted. I’m still so grateful. There are only a few months left in the year and so far, I’ve been consistently active in all of them.
But I digress! The race! The Robert Huntley Memorial Mini-Triathlon is a local race in Coldwater, Michigan. The proceeds go to scholarships for Coldwater cross country runners, so it was a race I was especially happy to pay for.
I woke up close to 5 in the morning and did my normal routine. I made coffee, drank water, put the dishes away (this is the way the first ten minutes of every single day of my life goes!). Bruno woke up and started making me breakfast, so I hopped in the shower. I ate breakfast, oatmeal with strawberries and granola. Bruno brought most of my stuff in the truck. I double-checked to make sure I had everything. We left at around 6:15.
I do not know why, but the quiet morning drive to a race is one of my favorite parts. It is dark. There is hardly anyone out on the road. It feels peaceful. Even though I always feel like I’m scrambling to get things ready, the drive to a race always calms me down. I drank some more coffee and water. We listened to tunes and talked about my plans for the race.
It was beginning to storm by the time we arrived. I checked-in and set my bike and my first transition stuff up (I had no idea how to rack my bike). I kept everything in a plastic bag, hoping that it would not get soaked. It actually ended up working out, my towel was a little damp, but my shoes and socks were dry. At this time, every time it would lightning, the race would be postponed for another half-hour.
We waited in the truck and every time it seemed like the storm was ending, lighting would strike again. I broke the no-new things rule for racing and ate one of those Honey Stinger waffles. It was delicious. In the words of Madonna, absolutely no regrets. Bruno read his kindle while I continuously refreshed the doppler radar. Around 9:30 I noticed more people getting out of their vehicles and heading up, so I figured I would follow. Good thing I did, because the race was about to start!
The swim portion started in the lake. Coldwater Lake is shallow. I think they said only eight feet deep in its deepest parts. We walked out to the lake and waded to the starting line. I did not feel too nervous at this point. The water was cold, but I felt like I acclimated quickly. I just was ready to get swimming. The whistle blew and the gun went off and we all started swimming.
And it was like I forgot how. My heart was racing, not from fear, but I felt way more out of breath than normal. When I swim in the pool, I swim three strokes then breathe to my right, swim three strokes then breathe to my left. It was like I completely forgot how to do that. I was breathing almost every stroke, then I would stop every few strokes to see where I was, making sure I was heading in the right direction. It was so shallow that sometimes I would take a few steps, swim again. I eventually got myself to do some consistent normal swimming, but I’m sure it was not efficient or effective. I’m not sure what happened. I was not afraid of swimming in the lake. I felt safe. I’m not sure if it was lack in trust in myself or what. Next time. Next time.
The part I was actually most nervous about was the transition from swimming to biking. We were helped out of the water and I waddled, I mean ran, back into the transition where I changed into my socks and shoes. This was actually not as difficult as I feared. Little things. I put on my helmet, grabbed my bike, and as soon as I left the transition area, I hoped on and was back on my way. Once again, not as bad as I feared. All these little things that I was afraid of: not being able to get my socks in shoes on over my half-dried feet, struggling to get on my bike (weird fear, right?), or that I would have problems getting my helmet on. None of it happened. It went as smoothly as I could hope for a beginner.
The bike part was my favorite part. My odometer was not working because of the rain. I could not get it to turn on and tell me how fast I was, so as of now, I have no idea how fast I did those six miles. I just tried to go as fast as I could. It was an out and back. Some people were wearing headphones on the bike which made me a little nervous in passing them. I tried to say “left!” as loudly as I could. My fear of having a collision never happened. The only difficult part was the wind on the way back, but I just kept pumping my legs as hard as I could. The best part was a cute blond three year old shouting on top of her lungs to me, “YOU CAN DO IT!” Little girl, you had no idea how much I needed that. Also, you are the Rob Schneider of the mini-triathlon. I mean that as a compliment.
The first mile of the run was the second hardest part. I know that running post-bike does not feel good. It is like your muscles are in whip-lash mode. It took me awhile to get my watch started, but when I looked at my pace I was initially going at a 12 minute mile pace. My plan for the run was to take the first half mile to warm up and increase pace as I went along. I ended up finishing the first mile in around 10 minute pace. And then, just to show you how hard that first mile was in comparison to the last two, the second mile I ran in 8:30 minutes and the last in 8:15 minutes.
I finished! I’m still not sure of my time. They are supposed to be eventually posted on facebook and as I’m not sure of our exact starting time, I can’t really estimate.
This race was such a reminder that doing new things can be so rewarding. It was also another reminder of the happiness of the beginner mentality. So many of the faster triathletes, the ones with carbon triathlon bikes and aero helmets who seemed like they really knew what they were doing, were so kind and encouraging. They were happy to answer questions about the course and questions about transitions. Some cheered when I saw them on the out and back of the run. When I told a few it was my first triathlon they were especially encouraging. It really helped with feeling intimidated. They really helped me celebrate the joy of accomplishing something brand new.