Before I was ever thinking about having a baby, I remember working as a personal trainer for many women that came to me with one concern, baby weight. After having a baby, up to five years prior, their weight had ballooned out of control and they had finally taken the time to reign in their health. While this pattern is the product of many social issues revolving around pregnancy, I was determined to avoid this struggle. Keeping weight off and staying healthy, are far easier. This is partly what fueled my desire to complete a long distance triathlon this year. I knew that having concrete fitness goals would maintain my motivation to regain fitness. While I wouldn't recommend the same goal for all women, a 5k would not be out of the question.
Approaching the race, I was nervous about my level of training. I trained hard and consistently all summer, but could not find the time for distance work once school and cross country began. Though this only impacted a couple of weeks, I think the first of those weeks made a crucial difference. I began waking up around 4:30 a.m. to fit in an early run or swim. My run after school was limited to cross country distances. So, I only found the time for longer distance workouts on the weekends. Additionally, a couple of mid-length rides followed by runs would have helped.
I began the race with the same disbelief of running the Pikes Peak Marathon. A little voice inside of me was convinced that I would not be doing this today. Somehow, we were all gathered here, ready to dive into ridiculously cold waters, but it was really just a dream. The dream feeling seemed to wear off as my numb feet kicked my way past the first buoy. Reality and panic definitely set in as a kayak notified me that I was headed away from the group. Yeah, I'm not a fabulous swimmer. The swim was out and back (1.2 miles total), like an isosceles triangle. Once I hit the turn-a-round, I finally had visibility, since I no longer had a glaring sun in my eyes. Even with tinted goggles, it was tough.
As I hit the shore, I began to experience the worst transition, ever. I think I was near hypothermic, and definitely delirious. My transition time was terrible (4:13) as I struggled to change myself with shaking hands. My first few bike miles were tough, lacking equilibrium, but soon I was having a great ride. I was able to pass a lot of riders for the first 40 miles, redemption for a 47:08 swim. I also kept myself really hydrated, maintaining a Gatorade on my frame and a water bottle in my jersey. I traded out my water bottle at each of the three stations along the course. I used Cliff bar Shot Blocks to manage my glucose levels. I also ate an Odwalla bar along the way, which I had unwrapped, broken into bits and stuffed in an open bag in my jersey. The bike course was not as tough as my 50 mile training rides at the Air Force Academy. Nonetheless, it seemed endless at mile 40 and running 13.1 seemed impossible at mile 50. For this reason, I think I needed a few more training ride and run days. Around mile 51, my front derailleur stopped shifting into the largest cog. This might have been a blessing, as I allowed myself to coast some downhills, but I also wasn't able to keep pushing. I finished my ride with a time of 2:57:28.
My next transition was smooth, and with a bathroom stop, I began my half-marathon. Again, I found myself passing a lot of athletes. I had estimated that my pace would average around 9 minute miles. I was looking and feeling better than most. At the start of the run, I had intermittent cramping in my abdominal and quadriceps muscles. I allowed myself to walk at each aid station (placed every mile), to keep the cramping manageable. By mile 5, my quads were in completely cramped, but I still felt strong. The course was rolling hills around the reservoir (out and back). At mile 11, with my bearings, I was able to boost my stride to the finish (2:00:51).
The race advertises a "slip and slide" finish. I was a little intimidated that I would be forced to get on the ground, then struggle my way up to cross the finish line. I was wrong and grateful that the "slip and slide" was after the finish and looked like a giant "bounce house". I was doubtful about using it, but did not want to look like a party pooper. Surprisingly, it helped me to instantly recover. Every race needs a "slip and slide"; I think the PPRR Fall Series needs to get on that.
I finished in 5:52:06, 8th in my age group and 38th overall female. My goal was to finish before 6 hours, so I'm pretty happy with my time. I'd still like to improve my swim, but I think that will just take time. I've only been swimming since January. The volume of necessary training, for this event, was absurd. So, I don't anticipate doing another any time soon, nor do I have plans to compete in a full Ironman. Instead, I plan to stick with the Olympic distance and improve my performance.
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