Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Learning to Tri: MyFirstTri at The 6th Annual Orlando Women's Triathlon

It was hard. It was encouraging. It made my legs scream. It made my lungs cry for air. It made me smile. It made me a triathlete.

Post Race, rocking my race tee, with Eleanor, my beloved bike.

Here is the story of My First Tri at the 6th Annual Orlando Women's Triathlon. Enjoy the ride. (and swim, and run!)

The Swim: 17:17

The beautiful sunrise over Lake Mary Jane. 
Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

It was a beautiful, but chilly, morning on Saturday, October 22nd 2011 and as promised, I was shivering from both the 60 degree F air and a fair share of nerves. My Mom and her friend Anni, aka my cheering squad, had made a wrong turn on the highway, resulting in a 15 mile detour, so I was all alone on the beach of Lake Mary Jane, watching the sunrise and listening to last minute instructions from the race director.

As the pre-race meeting broke up Mom arrived, sweet sign in tow, and just in time to snap a few photos before my wave took off into the water.

Showing off my body markings.
At 7:20 am (ish-we were ahead of schedule) my wave of "My First Tri-ers" wadded ankle deep into the rather warm water of the lake.
"What buoy are you hitting?"
Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

After one last buoy check, the horn sounded and we were off into the water. As planned, I ensured that I was the last one into the water, to avoid any flying limbs from my fellow competitors. One girl ahead of me freaked out when we were only chest deep in the water. I called out to her "it's ok, you've got this!" but she powered past me to the shore. 

Left Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

As soon as I was fully in the water, I found my breathing to be incredibly rapid, shallow and on the cusp of ragged-aka-out of control. I flipped on my back for a few strokes to calm down, but every time I would turn back on my stomach and start to "crawl" without putting my face in the water I would start to breathe too quickly again. This problem continued for the entire swim, and I spent most of it on my back, doing the "squid."  (note to self: learn how to do a proper backstroke).

 I ended up staying at the back of the pack for the entire swim, since I couldn't get into a strong rhythm. A really great lifeguard in a kayak hovered around, calling out encouragement and helping me sight, since I was on my back. I did contemplate asking for a noddle at one point, but since you legally can't advance with one, and I can get my breath just as easily on my back I just kept doing what I was doing. 

At one point, after I had made the last turn and was really starting to slow, I was just staring up at the sky, noticing how lovely the day was becoming, I thought "hey, this is nice, I could say out here all day" but then I remembered "um, you have another 20km bike ride and a 5km run waiting for you, hurry up!" Frustratingly, when I flipped back on my stomach to try and power my way back to the shore, the shoreline was rotating around on me. Ack. Talk about instant sea-sick. Back to the safety of my back I went.

Eventually I got back to shore and staggered my way out of the lake. I literally was cross-stepping like a drunk! 

Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

Run from water to transition zone: 2:41

I don't know which sadistic member of the race committee thought a 1/2 mile run to the transition area would be perfect after an open water swim, but at the moment I sure could have punched them. I jogged the 1/4 mile along the beach, but once we turned on the asphalt of the park driveway I ended up hobbling/walking along to the transition itself. 

Transition 1: 3:10

Wow! Can't breathe, my feet are wet and grassy, I forgot to untie my sneakers. Are we having fun yet?

The Bike: 57:11

As I predicted, the bike portion of the race was my strongest leg. I just settled into a groove as best I could, and lordy, with the headwind we were all fighting for a good 85% of the ride I needed that groove!

My pace was generally around 14mph, but at one point I slipped down to 10mph! Luckily, I made up for that slow time, when I kicked it up to 17mph for a while, when the wind was (finally!) at my back.

Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

Overall, I had a great ride, and passed a few other competitors, but by the end of the ride my feet felt like frozen blocks of ice, so I was very happy to turn back into the park and hit the bike finish line! 

Transition 2: 2:04

The Run: 45:00

The run, also as expected, was really tough. I was very under trained for this leg, since I haven't been running much at all.  This is when I was thankful for the cool weather, because my cardio control was actually pretty good. But my legs, oh my legs. I've always said my legs have a mind of their own, as in I'll decide to run to a particular place, but a good 10 paces before my "finish line" my legs will just stop!

I actually had a bit of the opposite on this run. I would suddenly start running again, and it felt great! The course was slippery in places, so that was interesting. I literally got confused at one point, when a volunteer seemed to be directing me into the woods, off the trail. I actually stopped moving and just said, "what?"  He assured me it was correct and with a shrug, off I went. 

Only to see the the finish chute looming in the distance! I picked up my pace and with a huge smile on my face (and fighting back tears, for some reason) I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon!

See me in the distance?

Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

Total Time: 2:07:25

I ran straight into my Mom's arms and started fighting back tears, all the while fighting to get my breath!

Aren't these photos of Anni and Mom by Gray Quetti Photography fantastic?

Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

The entire race course, Moss Park and the surrounding neighborhood, was abundant with Sand Hill Cranes, aka Space Chickens, which were yet another reason my run went so well, so I had to take a picture with one!

One of the best things about this race experience was the support. Everyone on the course was so supportive and kind. The phrases "you got this" "hang in there girl" "you are about to become a triathlete" hung heavy in the air all over the race grounds. But one woman made a huge impact on me.

Meet Jessica:
Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

In addition to having a really awesome name, this wonderful woman was the most inspiring/supportive person during the race. She was competing in the Olympic distance and passed me both on the bike and the run portions. Both times though, she said something encouraging and was so incredibly sincere. Oh and she won the entire Olympic division! I tried to find her after I finished to say thank you, but I couldn't find her. So, thank you Jessica, you really made my race! 

Oh and in case you were wondering I finished 4th in my age division. And yes, I will for sure be doing another triathlon in the future; in fact I've already been looking up sprint distance tri's in the spring. In the meantime I'll be spending more time on the road, both on foot and two-wheeling, plus a lot more time both in the pool and open water! 

Love to all,
~the "hey, I'm a triathlete, look at me!" gal Jess 


Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

I really enjoyed reading this, and I am so blown away and proud of you, this is amazing! Congrats girl! -Elana

Danielle Dillard said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Jess! Awesome job on your first triathlon!!! That's so awesome. I just did my first one recently and I'm hooked! Also, I'm an Orlando peep too : ) Always nice to come across local blogs. Funny enough, i was at this race last Saturday too but I wasn't racing I was working. Not sure if you came by the big red Mix1 tent but I was under there passing out all-natural recovery shakes :)

Also, Jessica Crate (who you mentioned above and won the olympic) is one of our Mix1 sponsored athletes and I know she would LOVE to know that she made an impact one someone. I'm going to let her know about your blog, but if you wanna tweet her or something i know you'd make her day. She rocks!! Here she is on twitter:

Again, congrats on your tri! What's next?! I'll have to read to find out won't I!

Marsha said... Best Blogger Tips

Jess, It was great reliving your 1st Tri. What an incredible day for you. I am so very proud of you and glad I was there to be part of your support team. Wish I had near the ambition you have when I was your age.

Love you - Mom

Jessica Crate said... Best Blogger Tips

Congratulations Jessica! It was so awesome to see you out there... You ROCKED your first TRI! Thank you for sharing this blog with us. It's people like you that encourage & inspire ME! You did such a great job capturing all of the amazing aspects of each race segment and I look forward to keeping up with you and racing together soon! Keep running strong, SMILE, & never, EVER give up girl! :-)
~Jessica Crate

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