Final Confession of a 'Virgin Triathlete'
Posted on 6/19/2012 by marathonmom72
Saturday I learned that I am not as strong as I thought I was. About a year ago I decided I wanted to complete my first triathlon, in honor of my 40th birthday. I picked a race, started training, and then attempted to begin blogging 'Confessions of a Virgin Triathlete'. I'm not a very good blogger, but I do train fairly well, so early Saturday morning I set out to accomplish what I had been working toward for the last year. My FB and MFP pages were flooded with well wishers, but the two that stuck in my head the most were from my brother-in-law who wished me 'luck in battle' and a fellow MFPaler who knew how hard I had trained and simply told me to 'do the deed'. Those words, along with a kiss from my husband, were on my mind as I stood on the beach waiting for my wave to start. I had been worried a few days before the race when we got the word that it may not be wetsuit legal. Swimming was my weakest area, even if it was the event I had worked on the most, and I really wanted the advantage of having the suit in the swim. After we got to the race, and headed to the transition area to rack my bike, I ran into 3 different people who had been nice enough to swim with me over the last couple of weeks. It was good to see familar faces. I headed to get my timing chip and to body marking and found out the race was wetsuit legal - water was 77* that morning. One more degree and it would not have been. Many were opting to swim without, but I decided to suit up and wait for my wave. I was so worked up with all kinds of anticipation that I was fighting tears before I headed to the beach. We watched several waves of swimmers before it was my age division - including a 10 year old boy who was in and out of the water before it was even my turn! I had heard all kinds of horror stories about how brutal the swim can be - getting kicked, bumped into, swam over, and goggles knocked off your face. By the time I got in the water I don't think I could feel my body from the neck down, but somehow I made it move. I woman to the left bumped into me. As I lifted my head to look around I took a mouthful of water about the same time I heard her say 'I'm sorry'. We each moved over and I put my face back down in the water and managed to find an open spot. I remember thinking that I was really glad I had the wetsuit on because I felt like I was going to pass out. But about halfway through the swim I started to feel a little more normal. Before I knew it I was out of the water and running up the hill, peeling my wetsuit off and headed for my bike. I finished the swim in a little over 11 minutes - much better than I was afraid I would do. I was a little long in my first transition (a little over 4 minutes) but it went smoothly. I made it to the mounting line, got on my bike, and began to be passed by an unceasing line of riders. Was I even moving? I was riding as fast as I could - but rider after rider was flying past me on the left. I began looking at their left calf to see their ages (from body marking) and realised they were all in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. These were not just people older than me, they were people who were in and out of the water AFTER me! As I was realising how 'over my head' I was in this bike ride, a man called out 'good job; keep it up' as he passed. He was 79 years old! A little later in the ride, I did manage to pass a 70 year old woman...but she made me work for it. I began to remind myself that I can only run my own race - not anyone else's, and I kept pedaling. I finished the ride in awe of these athletes who are so much stronger than I am and recognizing that I could go so much farther with my own fitness. I finished the 13 mile bike just a few seconds over an hour, racked my bike, and headed into the run feeling very humble and 'put in my place'. My second transition went well, taking me just a couple of minutes. I got just a little ways into the 5k, which was a down and back course, and realized that many of the people who were passing me on the bike were now walking in the run. I was doing well, despite the hills and the feeling that this was the longest 3 miles I would ever run. I've been running for two and a half years now, and I have decided that three miles are always longer after swimming and biking first! I made it to the first aid station and dumped the water over my heard and kept going. I made it past several people, and going down a hill overheard a woman remark that this hill was going to suck on the way back. 'Yes, yes it will' I thought. I made it to the halfway point, turned to head back, and reminded myself that I just had to make it back up that hill and I would pretty much be done. When I run my half marathons, I usually average around an 11 minute mile, but as I came around the last corner I heard my family yelling and my mother in law remark how great I looked. I saw my husband and kicked it into gear to sprint the last couple hundred yards. I finished the run in 31:12 - just a tiny bit over a 10 minute mile pace, after swimming 400 meters and biking 13 miles! My final time was 1:48 and change. I was hoping to do it in two hours, but made it under my goal. It was such a rewarding and inspiring experience! So much more than I hoped or dreamed it would be. One day I will be one of those older athletes that were passing me on the bike and be able to say that I did my first triathlon the day after I turned 40. Now I have to find my next event.