Race Recap: Millennium Triathlon
I crossed something off my bucket list yesterday and became a triathlete! I had been toying with the idea of a tri for awhile, but kept putting it off. Finally though, the idea was one I couldn’t let go of and knew I had to go through with it, so I registered for the Millennium Triathlon. Spoiler alert: this was one of the hardest things I have ever done – and I couldn’t be prouder for how I persevered to the finish line!
It consisted of a 500 meter swim, 14.8 mile bike ride, and a 5k run. With the hit my training has taken of late, I was nervous about how it would go. I set myself two goals: finish and don’t be last. In the back of my mind, I was hoping for a sub-2 hour finish, but knew that would be a reach.
In all honesty, it didn’t seem real until I got to the race Saturday morning. It started to sink in at packet pickup, but not enough that it felt truly real. Friday rained pretty much all day, so I was nervous that it would still be raining come race time or that the roads would still be wet. Fortunately, neither came to fruition! It still had a serious case of pre-race jitters, though!
All morning long, I thought to myself that I wanted a picture with my cheer squad – Jacqueline and Sara came to cheer me on and seeing them throughout the race was amazing. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them cheering me along! I was also happy to see Bari before the race started off – she was also doing her first tri yesterday! Also? Swim caps are a good look for nobody.
Hooray for familiar faces!!
It was perhaps not the greatest idea to save my first real open water swim for the race itself, but let’s be honest – if I could go back and do things differently, there’s a lot I would have changed about my training. Since they haven’t perfected time travel yet, it was what it was. I didn’t quite know what to wear for the swim, but ultimately opted for my sports bra and shorts. I wasn’t investing in anything fancy for my first tri. Thanks to the extraordinarily hot summer we’ve been having, the water was quite pleasant, somewhere around 75 degrees. Before I knew it, the first three heats had taken off and it was my turn to hop in the water! It was now or never!
The first third of the swim was HARD, trying to find my rhythm and get my muscles going. The second third was where I felt my strongest, and as we rounded the bend back to shore, I was just ready to be out of the water. I felt really good until people from my heat got further ahead and the heat after me started to pass me by. I was quickly feeling slow and discouraged, but still confident and determined. I was out there doing it, and that on its own was worth its weight in gold.
Theoretically, I knew how this would all play out but how it actually went wasn’t so smooth. The towels I brought to try my feet weren’t absorbing anything, I struggled to get my bike off the rack, and it was somewhat discouraging to be the only person left in the transition area when I got to my bike. I got to me mentally and my already semi-discouraged psyche took another hit. Just keep moving.
A lot of the bike course covers the same ground as the River Bank Run 25k that I’ve run twice, so I was ready to face several miles of rolling hills. I was particularly glad that unlike the 25k, the hills were in the first half of the bike route. It certainly didn’t make them easy, but it made them not as heinous either! I quickly found a pace that felt comfortable, but still a challenge. I’m not sure what was going on with my gears, but anytime I tried to switch into first or second gear, it felt like I was going nowhere. I ultimately spent the entire 14.8 miles in third gear or higher which is a bit exhausting!! There wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it, short of trying to fix the gears on the bike course and that wasn’t going to happen. It was a lot of quiet time on the course which was somewhat lonely, but moreso a good time to just think and take it all in without worrying about the cyclists around me. It certainly is a beautiful course and I was enjoying the time to just be alone with nature.
As I was coming up to the dismount line, I was going faster that I thought I was and completely wiped out! It could have been so, so much worse and I’m extremely thankful it wasn’t. That being said, it still hurt a LOT and I’ve got a nice patch of road rash on my leg to show for it.
There’s irony, I think, in that my first fall was at the last possible moment I could have fallen during my first tri. In reality, I think that as much as it hurt, it shook me up more mentally than anything else. I was already feeling overwhelmed and this didn’t help. I was so thankful for the volunteers and athletes that had finished that helped me get back on my feet and into the transition area. I was in such a daze that their help was invaluable.
Thankfully, since I don’t have fancy cycling shoes, all I had to do for the bike to run transition was rack my bike back up, take my helmet off, and start running. Still enough to worry about, but very doable.
Switching from biking to running is always a bit rough for me, and with a bleeding, hurting leg, it was a bit harder than I was ready for. I saw Jacqueline and Sara again about a quarter mile in and I completely lost it emotionally. I told them that I fell, that I was hurting so badly, and I just wanted to be done. I was crying, I was frustrated, and I didn’t want to be there anymore. I wanted to be done right then and there. I never really had the intention to stop, I just needed to get all that pent up emotion out of my system before I could push through those last few miles.
I knew that I would be amongst the last of the finishers, but I didn’t care anymore. I was 3.1 miles away from being a triathlete! The run leg went surprisingly fast (even if I wasn’t!). I ran as much as I could and walked when I needed to. I ignored the voices in my head discouraging me that I was slow, that everyone else was already done (not true!), and that I wasn’t worthy of this. I AM WORTH IT! During the last half mile or so, I saw a steady stream of finishers leaving with their families and gear. On one hand, it was discouraging and I wanted so much to be done, but so many people were cheering me along as I plodded my way toward the finish line.
Soon enough, I rounded the corner to the finish line. I saw Jac and Sara one last time and it gave me the last little boost I needed to run the rest of it out! Crossing the finish line felt so amazingly awesome!! As much as there’s a part of me that would have loved a better time overall, I don’t even care because my time doesn’t change the fact that I finished!! I can officially call myself a TRIATHLETE!!! I was sad there weren’t finishers medals, because I was really excited for a little more bling to add to my medal rack.
In all honesty, even though each leg was a bit slower than I would have liked, given the minimal training these past few weeks and the walls I hit during the race itself, I am completely okay with how things actually turned out.
I’ve gotta say it again because I am so freaking proud of myself for sticking with it when I wanted to quit, pushing through the miles that hurt, and not letting a fall keep me down: I am a triathlete and nobody can take that away from me!!
As for more triathlons? Yep, pretty sure that’ll happen. I’ve got a PR to beat, after all!