Race Report for the OBX Olympic Distance!
This was the longest event I’ve ever done. It was just over 5 hours from start to finish. I almost quit after the swim. But Jason pushed me to keep going and I finished, which was my goal. I had three big ones for 2017 – The April race in FL, the Half IM swim in June, and this one – my first Olympic distance. I finished them all. Last year in 2016 I could not have done any of these events. I was also really glad to wear the TriMafia kit and rep for Velocity Sportswear, love that company! This past weekend really challenged me – here is what happened…
Before we left, I had to get my nails done. I forgot to do it last time & felt weird! So, Jason does my nails…really. These are the colors of the race logo and they were super cute! I also had to get my Velocity tats on as well. Those things are important too!
I learned how to “finger knit” this past week out of the blue. Then I realized how much of a good distraction it could be so I bought some yarn and knit several infinity scarves in the car on the 3 hour drive from Raleigh to Manteo. So….if ya’ want a scarf, lemme know. : / It was a great distraction from how anxious I was. This shows 3 but I did 6 total!
The weather seemed really good on race morning. For whatever reason the swim buoys seemed really far out, farther than they should be. And the swim was going in the opposite direction around the buoys than last year. I’ve done a few open swim events now so I knew what to expect. Or, I thought that I did. I underestimated how hard that swim would be. I heard from someone that the buoys were set out further than they should be – so a 1500 swim was really more like a 2000 swim, and I totally believe that was true. I’ve heard horror stories of swims being really aggressive and dangerous. This wasn’t quite that, but it was the most aggressive swim I’ve been in. My goggles got kicked off my face (not completely off my head) which could have been really bad…I nearly missed an elbow to the head….and people were swimming over me. There was one person who would go fast, then do the breaststroke, then go fast, then do the breaststroke right in front of me. That’s a horribly dangerous way to swim in a pack. The kick in the breaststroke is powerful and could really hurt someone. I couldn’t get around this person. Then after you turn the first buoy you’re swimming straight into the sun and there are NO sight buoys along the way. NONE! They set them out for the Half distance but not for the oly distance. So the sun is in your face and there is no way to sight. And at this point the wind must have picked up so there are waves constantly in your face and I’m taking in tons of water.
During the last half of the swim I started trying to think of reasons why I couldn’t move forward in the race. I could say I got kicked in the water, that’s a good excuse. I could say that I felt dizzy, that’s a good excuse too. I was trying to come up with reasons why I should stop and take a DNF. (Later Jason tells me that several people got pulled and rode the kayak back in. I heard later that someone got a concussion, probably from a kick to the head.) I finally got out and looked at Jason and said…”I don’t know about this.” Meaning, I don’t think I can continue. I was exhausted. And knew 26 plus 6.4 miles were still ahead of me. That was just the first mile. He said something brilliant to me: he said, ‘Just take a walk up to transition & figure it out there. Just start walking.” As I’m walking, one of the volunteers asked me if I needed a medic. So, obviously, I did NOT look good or give any indication that I was excited about moving forward in this event. It was the hardest swim I’ve ever done.
Oh, I forgot to mention that I did this on the same weekend as my 45th birthday! So I also didn’t want to have a DNF on my birthday. That would really suck and make me feel like a loser. So there was some added pressure to keep going just for that alone.
I get to transition and something clicks as I’m putting my cycling shoes on. I make the commitment that I’m going to finish this damn thing. The swim is over, I’m not going to talk about it, or think about it, or dwell on it. It’s over. Time to move forward. I’m heading out and the bridge is coming soon. It’s several miles of a bridge over the sound. Heading out I’m holding close to 18 mph and having a great time. I’m also aware that coming back will be a head wind and it’ll be slooooow. I get to the turn around point, switch my water bottles, and head back. When I get to the bridge again I’m going about 8-10 mph into the head wind. Sooooo slow. The last mile on the bridge was torture. But I did it and I made it back in. All 26 miles are done. I could have pushed harder if it was just a ride, but I still had a 10k to walk/run so I intentionally kept it slow.
The run. The 10k run. It was hot. I was really glad I had prepared with water & gels on the bike. I was glad I had bought that $30 hand held water bottle with Nuun tablets and some extra gel in the pocket. All the practice this summer had paid off. I walked most of it but I did run some. And all of a sudden at 2 places on the run, Jason shows up to say hey! He was following along in the car to greet me at a couple of places. I started crying when I saw him & told him I almost quit at the swim but I didn’t come this far to ONLY come this far. I was really glad to see him. The end of the run takes place on a dirt/grass/weird path along side the airport. It’s just a big field and it’s the worst part of the whole thing. It’s wide open so you can almost see the finish line, at least you can see the finish area, but it’s deceptive how far you still have to go. It feels close, but it’s not.
Finally the finish line! I did it and crossed the finish line! I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon at the OBX. Last year I did their sprint and this year I did the Oly. I learned a lot from doing this. It’s crazy to think that the next step up is the Half Ironman distance….which I will NOT be doing any time soon. I will one day. But not soon, for a lot of reasons. I want to keep this fun and right now the longer distances won’t be much fun for me. I’ll finish the season with my 20th triathlon next month, where it all began, at the Ramblin’ Rose in Chapel Hill. One more to go!